Music Review: Toph-E & The Pussycats - No Ordinary Day
“Bebop wasn’t developed in any deliberate way.” — Thelonious Monk
The Pussycats are actually “cool cats” and cast significant individual feline shadows. Collectively, they cast an imposing shadow in which many artists would be honored to stand. These guys have been together for ten years and share a common interest in rhythm and blues — jazzed up R & B.
No Ordinary Day is their latest studio album and represents their typical repertoire, a mix of their own compositions, contemporary favorites, and jazz standards (Miles, Monk, Hancock, and Duke Ellington). In this case, their chosen standard is the classic, “Maiden Voyage” by Herbie Hancock, which gets a Latin treatment. Also included is their cover of an early 80’s song that was popular with the Portuguese, “Of Everything I Know”, a crowd pleaser in Pussycat live performances.
The title track, “No Ordinary Day” is a Lee/Mann composition inspired by love. Says Lee, “We’ve seen couples leave the venue after hearing this song, only to return an hour later and request it again…” This reviewer played it last night and my wife was certainly influenced!
In addition to their cover of Hancock’s classic, my personal favorite is the opening track, “Pussyfoot”, another Lee/Mann composition. Lee says this piece was inspired by one their favorite groups, Fourplay, and the cats don’t pussyfoot around with it. It’s an appropriate example of why no guitar is included in the quintet — more room for solos and interaction from the rhythm section. (Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk made the same choice with their groups.)
Toph-E and The Pussycats is made up of Chris Parker on drums, Will Lee on bass and vocals, Ralph MacDonald percussionist, Clifford Carter on piano and keyboards, and finally David Mann on saxophone. The list of collaborations is long and impressive, from Sinatra and Dylan to James Taylor, James Brown, Queen Latifah, and Sting, just to name a minute few.
It is noteworthy to mention that Ralph MacDonald started with Harry Belafonte and went on to write Grammy-winning hits for other artists: “Just the Two of Us”, “Where is the Love”, and “Mister Magic” — all crowd pleasers in live performances.
Slip No Ordinary Day into the CD player, uncork a bottle of wine, and you’ll find out where the love is! Release date is October 26, 2010 and it’s available at Amazon, iTunes, and CDBaby now.