Stuart Wade’s ‘Down To The Bone’ are the UK’s premier jazz funk band and, maybe surprisingly, they’re even bigger in the US than in Britain. Their clean, catchy, smooth, groove-based sound seems to have touched the sensitivities of US smooth jazzers who made one of their early albums, ‘Manhattan To Staten’, a no. 2 chart hit. Since then Down To The Bone’s albums have all been steady sellers Stateside and already a track from this, their latest long player, is a US jazz radio chart topper. Tune in question is the hypnotic and infectious ‘The Sweetness’. It has all the elements that have won Down To The Bone so many fans…. it’s groove-led, melodic, tight, brassy, bassy and features some cool keys- smooth jazz, yes, but never bland.

Indeed you could say that about any of the other 9 tracks on ‘Dig It’. Wade has used the cream of the UK’s session scene… people like Oli Silk, Incognito bassist Julian Crampton, Davide Giovannini on drums and guitarist Mark Jaimes, who has recently been working with Rod Temperton. Seasoned campaigners all, they have the ability to get Wade’s soulful sonic ideas onto tape (or whatever they record on these days) and the result is always infectious.

Apart from the aforementioned ‘The Sweetness’ other album highlights include the mellow ‘The Bounce’, the tight ‘Meteorite and the bumpy ‘Getting It Together’. Best of the bunch though is the set’s opener – ‘Dropping Knowledge’… a kind of a mix of that particular Incognito sound and Rodney Franklin’s The Groove’.

‘Dig It’ also boasts two vocals featuring sometime Incognito lady Katie Leone. ‘Happiness Is A Healer’ has a whiff of funk about it while ‘Put A Different Spin On It’ treads a typical British modern soul groove; both add real variety to a set that offers the same quality grooves that we’ve become used from DTB’s previous nine LPS.

(BB) 4/5