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Naked Jazz pleasant enough, but where's sizzle?

Takes Off
Takes Off
By Naked Jazz

Savoy / Denon Records: 1997

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This review first appeared in the January 24, 1998 edition of the American Reporter.

The name of the combo Naked Jazz is not, founder/leader Eric Vaughn emphasizes in his liner notes, an attempt at pornography.

Too bad, that. The music could have used the spark such an intent might have provided.

While this album contains some nice ensemble work and solid solos in a straight-ahead vein, it never really lives up to its title and takes off.

Drummer Vaughn has assembled a cast of musicians whose names are mostly unfamiliar – all can play, though. Flutist Kofi Burbridge has the most distinctive instrumental voice of the ensemble, followed by the uncredited guitarist who plays a hollow-body guitar in the mold of Barney Kessel or Mundell Lowe. Vocalist Audrey Shakir turns in a first-rate cover of the Gershwins' "But Not for Me."

But the album fails to ever light a fire, instead offering a warm mood like something you'd hear from a top-notch local band in any large city.