Wise Monkey Orchestra

Hard work pays off. Just ask the good folks at Wise Monkey Orchestra. The more the seven headed rhythm monster from Ocean Beach, California, tours, the more awesome they become. And they tour all the time. Fresh off a successful ten city run through the ski towns of Colorado back in February, WMO locked down San Diego Recording Studios the -day after- returning home. The results are stunning.

Virtually recorded "live" in the studio, "Pathways," is the best of both worlds - lush studio soundscapes spangled with the urgent intimacy of a hot and sweaty club performance. Blurring the lines between jazz and funk with an array of Mardi Gras, reggae, soul and Latin influences, WMO lays down edgy, horn driven grooves with a sexy, shake-yer-booty swagger. But there’s much more to "Pathways," than just a shoot-from-the-groin-bump-and-grind good time. A lot more.

For starters, the vocals are outstanding. Fronted by Alley Stewart, an intoxicating May West/Acid Queen cocktail, WMO shifts effortlessly from post-hippie cool to full throttle, cyberspace buzz generator. Mix in the super-smooth, poly-octive, "pure jazz" vocal stylings of Tim Pachecho (percussion, trumpet), and the textural dynamics are undeniably scrumptious. Haven’t had goosebumps in a while? Just give a listen to the male/female back and forth on "Doodweeda."

Musically, WMO has perfected the dynamic sophistication they’ve been working on since the band’s early days. Nobody on the scene uses horns as effectively. Just ask Dave Ellis (Charlie Hunter Trio, The Other Ones, Ratdog). The super busy saxman supreme took time out of his hectic schedule to sit in and record with slide trombone ace "AG" Geib and Pachecho for several tracks.

As for the rest of the band: Scotty Homan on guitar is a knock-’em-down-smiling rhythm master and soloist from another dimension; founding monkey, Sean Hart, is an 88-key freak station pioneer - his ambient techno-gurgles and playful approach put the fun in this barrel of monkeys; on bass, Chad Stewart is a rock-steady, bottom end beatnik who fuels the highly combustible pulse of Ed Fletcher’s flawless drumming. Together, Wise Monkey Orchestra has a unique and compelling sound. It’s impossible to predict what the future holds, but with "Pathways" this good, the journey is its own reward. Hoy Hoy! ###