[Review] Rich Lerner & The Groove – Jammin’ With Juma

Jam bands cannot – and will not – be killed in any decade, as science has proved. Likewise, dad-centric rock and rollers will live long past the time when bedroom pop idols have become soft and uncaring, still bandying about covers of late 60’s hits and hollering out allusions to the 27 Club. Rich Lerner and The Groove, alongside Juma Sultan, present this feat of modern science very well on the release Jammin’ With Juma, a record that becomes so instantaneously synonymous with one’s hometown Saturday afternoon music scene, one can almost hear the vino being poured from cup to cup from the first few seconds of the opening track.

Bongo and conga madness abound on the album, particularly resonating on the track “Ghosts of Jimi,” an ode to the Seattleite who infamously ended his career with a decidedly Santana-esque band outfit. The group’s cover of “Spill The Wine” seems obligatory with the collection of tunes at hand – a necessary crowd-pleaser. Juma Sultan, the record’s titular figure with whom Rich Lerner is jammin’ is, in many ways, the heart and soul of the whole affair. Sultan provides an indelible Afro-American piquancy to the record as an actual link to Hendrix (having playing with Jimi at Woodstock.) Sultan is undoubtedly talented and prolific – bringing jams alongside The Groove that certainly feel authentic.

For the amount of musical experience in cumulative years that the musicians own on this record, it’s no wonder it sounds like Nixon-era festival jam group – Juma and the boys are fighting the good fight to keep the grooves going.

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