Urban Knights – Urban Knights IV

Urban Knights IV Urban Knights IV
Urban Knights
(Narada Jazz – 2001)
by Ray Redmond

This latest effort from Ramsey Lewis’ crew is good for the most part, and better than their last outing overall The Message starts you off on the right foot. Melodious horns riding a smooth wave of percussions, trumpet crooning the melody like a somber storyteller. Moving pictures is very piano-centric, very Ramsey Lewis influenced with rambling, innovative piano lines. Slick finally gets you into that Urban A/C groove you expected in the first place. Percussion and bass abound here, with a bluesy/Benson-ish guitar.

Latin Flavor has a touch of the flamenco in it’s A/C stew. There’s also a strong cover of the Terrence Trent D’Arby hit Sign My Name that hits the mark. The sax work is very controlled and authoritative, communicating the tone of the tune convincingly.

The vocals on Thinkin’ About Your Love are sweet, and are complimented by the ‘correct’ piano riffs and melodies. It reminds me of the feel I got from the old Bohannon track Thoughts and Wishes… very carefree and easy, if sparse on lyrics. The One is straight R&B, good but not jazz and a little out of place on this release.

Then High Heeled Sneakers comes along and gets you back into the groove. Bouncing keyboards and popping basslines romping out at you from the speakers, showcasing their real talents. Clubland goes from pensive to Tampa nightlife in a few short phrases. This is a very copa-cabana, B-3 era track and again shows the versatility of the Urban Knights Crew.