Ali Bey – My Finest Hour (2015)

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Ali Bey’s My Finest Hour is a sleek and swinging recording, one that features an abundance of grooves and a whole of funk. The bassist delivers the stuff of Detroit by not downplaying the connective tissue between musical genres. There’s funk, jazz, rock, R&B, and even gospel flavors simmering in this stew.

Bey took up the bass guitar at the age of 11 and surrounded himself with quality musical influences, like his parents and the jazz instructor Donald Walden. He honed his skills and formed his first quartet in 2009, connecting with the likes of drummer Timothy Stroud and guitarist Larry Andrews. The group seared through the Metro Detroit area.

With My Finest Hour, Ali Bey slims down and uses a trio setting. Stroud is back on the kit and Andrews supplies the guitar. Other musicals include Raphael Statin (soprano saxophone), who was in that original quartet, and saxophonist Ladarrel Johnson. Drummer Eric Joe touches down on three tracks and Larry Tucker also hits the sticks on “Ace in the Hole.”

The sound is agreeably rhythmic from the outset, with the kickoff jam “‘Dam’ I Got a Toothache” warming things up. Bey pares out the melody, while Andrews strums in. Joe’s drums provide plenty of colour and his fills are fiery without running a fever. The cymbal splashes are energetic accent points, dotting the funk-infused phrases that lead to Andrews’ solo.

“Larry and Ali’s Theme” continues the vibe but jacks up the pace, thrusting through an accelerated that once again benefits from Joe’s hot fills. There’s a point in which Andrews and Ali Bey almost get tangled up in strings and the resultant routine brightly spreads out to the main melody line.

Other highlights abound, like the neon evening roll of “Brooklyn Blues.” Johnson’s saxophone is a welcome presence because it provides a sense of richness without crowding the unit. And his return on “Ace in the Hole” blends fluidly with the melodic foreground.

While My Finest Hour isn’t always the most innovative work, it does feature roughly 46 minutes of sweet and soulful sounds. It’s a funky, groovy midnight run of a record, a satisfying listen that parks Ali Bey right where he needs to be in the world of jazz fusion.

Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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