By Doug ColletteJune 06, 2012
To proclaim that Lettuce avoids the usual pitfalls of contemporary funk is a left-handed compliment for sure, but it does say more than a little about the power and cohesion of Fly.
In the diversity of material and arrangement, not to mention the savvy musicianship and production by which the band parlay their skills, this album is the sound of a group full of the confidence that comes with validation of their chosen style.
Acting as an understated introduction to the twelve tracks that follow, the title song is just the first of nine tunes here written or co-written by drummer extraordinaire Adam Deitch. Perhaps the unsung hero of Lettuce in years past, the septet now pivots around him in more ways than one: for example, his "Lettsanity" is tightly compacted rhythm only slightly less syncopated, and explosive, than the following cut "Ziggowatt."
There the horns of trumpeter Rashawn Ross, alto saxophonist Ryan Zoidis mesh with Eric Krasno's molten electric guitar, a stellar example of how Lettuce interpolates the spontaneity of true improvisation with deeply-dug grooves. The grandeur of "Madison Square" also exhibits the deft touch of individually skilled musicians equally well-versed in seamless ensemble playing. Rhythm is more prominent on "Bowler," written by keyboardist Neal Evans (like Krasno a member of Soulive, the trio who morphed from the original Lettuce lineup), and the transitions between melodic motifs are quicker and sharper, indicative of the thought put into the track sequencing of Fly
“Jack Flask" is similarly structured, with a fairly extended guitar interlude squarely placed in between sections of bouncy beat. The band's road experience with this material prior to the recording enhances the fluidity with which they play--nowhere do they sound merely mechanical here--and their own participation in the mixing insured the sound magnifies the impact of the band.
The sole non-original here, an instrumental cover of War's "Slippin' Into Darkness" illustrates, simultaneously, how faithful Lettuce is to their roots and how they have transcended those influences. Only one vocal track appears here and thankfully, “Do It Like You Do,” is so abbreviated, it doesn't interrupt the momentum one iota.