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The Big Motif
Artist: The Big Motif
Label: indie
Length: 5 tracks / 28:45

The Big Motif's self titled EP comes on strong. A power-packed half-hour (almost) of hard hitting but sophisticated rock, jazz, funk, reggae and psychedelia, The Big Motif features a quartet of young musicians that play with taste and fury far beyond their years. Tony Pacello (guitar and vocals), Hunter Roberts (bass), Jeff Jani (drums and percussion), and Sam Crowe (sax and flute), aided and abetted by producer Dave Beegle on keyboard, steam through five original tracks that, despite Pacello's fine vocals,  could stand alone on the instrumental chops of these fine players.

“The Daily Motion” starts the CD off with an infectious riff which grows to include the whole band in a tight, soulful, blues-infected jam.

“Funkadelia” is exactly what the title implies: a funky romp that segues into a spacey psychedelic vamp before getting back into the original theme.

“Colors” is a delightful reggae tune with jazzy moments. Next is “Paper Crane,” which features the disc's most interesting vocal arrangements, allowing Pacello to combine his raw style with a bit more of a pop feel, and featuring a good, strong reggae foundation. The Stevie Winwood style organ by Beegle, and Crowe's flute bring to this track a sense of _John Barleycorn_ era Traffic ­ not only a fine standard to reach for, but a good indication of the potential musical avenues this band can go down.

 Closing things out is a showcase for the band: “Bad Cat” is muscular rock, with a blues foundation and a smart dose of jazz thrown in, just because they _can_. Pacello's guitar work is fiery and inspired, with fluid lines and funky rhythmic strumming. Roberts' bass work is solid (as it is throughout) and his soloing here is melodic and strong. The drumming is tight and jazzy, but powerful enough for rock and roll. Crowe's playing is mature and assertive. Four and-a-half minutes into this track the band breaks out into a full-tilt jam before mellowing out into some tight, cool jazz to close the proceedings.

Totally eschewing the cliches of modern rock ­ especially the indie scene ­ these four exceptional musicians bring to mind the fire of Santana, the jamming of the Allman Brothers, the Texas blues of Johnny Winter and the funk/jazz of Stuff. Obviously, this band's strong suit is that _they can play. The Big Motif_ is a pleasure to listen to right off the bat, and anyone that can appreciate a good jam will agree. The production, by Beegle and the band, is pure and powerful:  highlighting _the music_ _- not the studio gear. The vocals, certainly competent and appealing, are  secondary ­ and the lyrics (in the face of this visceral unit) are even less important.

I'm looking forward to their first full-length project.

Bert Saraco  

4 ½ TOCKS 

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