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Grits - Rare Birds CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.32 | 12 ratings

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3 stars Grits were a jazzy prog band from the Washington DC area in the 1970s. During their existence, they never released an album, but the Cuneiform label dropped two archival releases during the 1990s. While the first one, As the World Grits, concentrates on their studio material, the second one, Rare Birds, captures them in an intimate live setting "in the Muffins' backyard", as the liner notes say. The sound quality is pretty good, not fantastic, but good enough.

The pieces are mostly lengthy instrumentals based around jazzy electric piano, with fluid guitar leads (resembling Zappa's style at times), and occasional violin and/or viola (the bassist and guitarist both double on bowed instruments). The style and execution should appeal to fans of Frank Zappa's Petit Wazoo period (1972), The Muffins, Canterbury, and even early Samla Mammas Manna (bits remind me of their Maltid album). The final magnum opus "Rare Birds" even hints at classical music, with violin taking the lead on a playful melody.

While I was expecting a jam-heavy effort with all the long running times, I was surprised to hear how much of this elaborate music is carefully written and arranged. There are solos, but this is no backyard jam session, this is a talented band giving their all, probably just for a small group of friends in the audience. This isn't the most original band in the world, but they've got chops to spare, and it's nice that someone had the foresight to record this band and at least get them some belated recognition.

HolyMoly | 3/5 |


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