"Live At Montreux 2002"
Mandrill's brassy and inspirational blend of funk, Afro-Caribbean, jazz, rock and gospel is often heard by proxy on the airwaves these days, sampled by the likes of Brandy, Kanye West, Nas and Floetry. But the veteran and always exuberant ensemble gets its due on this combination CD/DVD release in which it is showcased in concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2002.
Because the Panama-born, Brooklyn-bred Wilson brothers -- Lou, Ric, Carlos and Wolf -- are natural-born mixmasters, their band's concert performances always seem in flux. Here, the siblings get a chance to revisit and refresh some of Mandrill's biggest hits, including "Peace and Love," "House of Wood" and "Mango Meat," while fronting their nine-piece ensemble.
Beginning with the horn- and organ-powered "Outta Da Bush," the band alludes to a long parade of influences, including James Brown, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri, Herbie Mann, Carlos Santana and Curtis Mayfield. Old school R&B vocal harmonies envelop "Rollin' On" and "House of Wood." Cha-cha-cha rhythms animate "Cohelo." Salsa grooves and funk vamps surface here and there. In addition to singing, the Wilsons play a wide variety of instruments -- brass, reeds, bass and percussion -- and are colorfully supported by longtime drummer Neftali Santiago, organist Arlan Schierbaum and guitarist Marc Rey, among others.
The DVD includes bonus material -- additional performances, interviews, a video tour diary and a brief segment concerning the plight of the band's endangered West African namesake. Some features are of marginal interest, but the concert footage consistently attests to the band's winning showmanship and eclectic tastes.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Saturday at Carter Barron Amphitheatre.