Poogie Bell Band: Exhibition Continues

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Drummer Poogie Bell has built up an extensive musical CV, not just with his own band but also as a sideman for the likes of Marcus Miller, Erykah Badu, Chaka Khan and even David Bowie. Exhibition Continues is the sixth album by the Poogie Bell Band, five years on from their previous release Suga Top (2013).

The music follows a stylistic precedent set by earlier work: that of jazz-funk and fusion. This is something that is achieved perfectly competently but doesn’t necessarily feel strikingly new or original.

Tracks like “Untold Story”, “Fall” and “Black Methany” have a familiar lounge-like vibe, but not quite to the effect that they sound like cheesy muzak or – thankfully – “on hold” music. The quality of playing deserves more credit than that, and Kenny Peagler’s acoustic piano comes through particularly well when given space to solo.

The album also has several vocal tracks. On the whole, the songs are of a very typical neo-soul and R&B style – and the use of vocoder in some tracks is similar to other contemporary groups like the Robert Glasper Experiment – though there are a few covers in there as well including Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote” and Same Cooke’s “Change Is Gonna Come”. The latter cover has some of the hallmarks of classic gospel and soul, as well as some great solos in the saxophone, organ and harmonica. For me, this was one of the best songs featured, where the vocals felt at their strongest, and a personal favourite of the album.

Although the material isn’t exactly cutting edge, Exhibition Continues is a fine album, and Poogie Bell is a talented drummer and bandleader.

Discography
(1) When I Think of You; (2) Graduation Day; (3) Unforgettable Tale; (4) Untold Story; (5) Change Is Gonna Come; (6) Fall; (7) Black Methany; (8) Lady; (9) Coyote; (10) Electric Glasses (58.09)
Bell (d); Brett Williams (kyb); Tony Depaolis (b); Mike Stephenson (s (type of sax not specified), v); Belove Sanaa (v); Vincent Henry (ww, bar, hca, g); Kenny Peagler (p, org); Ben Sherman (g); Winston Bell (as, ts); Chris Parker (ag); Bobby Broom (eg); Howie Alexander (vocoder); Tyrique Jones (g); Miguel Sague (pc); The Pittsburgh Strings. The Church Studios Pittsburgh, USA. 2017
Jazzline 77053