The Louie D. Project
Outta Control, the new independent release from local sax master Louis Dixson and his entourage, begins with a laid-back, almost goofy song called "Funky Charleston." A fun horn lick repeats between lines, celebrating the beauties of the Holy City. Dixson raps about each member of the Project on the title track, too. It's party-time wedding-band material at its best. But fans know there's more to the Louie D. Project than their novelty songs.
The rest of the album goes in a different direction, through, keeping some easy vibes, but showing off serious musicianship and emotional depth. While Dixson is the main songwriter and singer, the other members take their turn pulling the album into their own worlds. And it works.
"You are the Only One," written and sung by drummer Paul Walls, is a quieter, slow-jazz ballad that brings some much-needed modesty to the album. And while Dixson's "Don't Take Sand to the Beach" retains the party mode, the music has a more prominent role, with little phrases underneath every line and a great guitar solo on top of the driving rhythm.
"Oteoa," an instrumental written by bassist Jesse Anderson, features a nice, catchy melody and mild jamming, with solos on top of solos. But it never loses its cohesiveness, like so many noodling sessions do. It stays within itself.
Meanwhile, guitarist J.R. Getches' "Smells Funky" grooves with strong melodic lines. Dixson does a little more singing than rapping on the track — a nice contrast to the first songs on the disc. He also complements the rhythm section with one of the best sax solos on the album. The next song, "That's The Way," also written by Getches, has a Caribbean feel, with Dixson singing in a beachy reggae style, "That's the way, that's the way that I wanna go." The horns are jumpy and fun without being too cheesy.
On the back of the disc, a note from Dixson pays homage to the "late, great Jessie Scales," a friend who bought Dixson his first saxophone. The instrumental gives each member a longer solo. They all shine, especially Anderson, who makes his bass sound smoother than butter. After guest trumpeter Ken Stewart's plaintive trumpet solo, Dixson caps it off with a similarly buttery sax run. Scales would be happy to know it's the best track on the album.
Despite occasionally weak lyrics, this bouncy collection is ultimately saved by the quality of the musicianship in its second half, when it's really allowed to shine through. (louied.com)
The Louie D. Project performs at the Rooftop Bar at Vendue Inn at 7 p.m. on Fri. Nov. 25.