Sousaphonist Kirk Joseph puts his solitary mark on the hard-driving opener, “Backyard Groove.” He and guest, saxophonist Donald Harrison, who lays down his own distinctive stamp, engage in some fine bobbing and weaving with solid riffing by the horns of trumpeter Raymond Williams and saxophonist Sherik Akbar. Drummer Kevin O’Day is just all over this tune. Expect the unexpected on this package from the sousaphone master as the next voice—and piano—up is Dr. John, on the aptly titled “Laid Back.” It’s a natural to slide right into the good doctor’s easy frame mind on this relaxed number. Here, guitarist Hironari Mano gets some well-utilized solo time. Throughout the disc, there’s a bunch of mixing it up with various musicians and styles. For instance, rap meets brassy funk on “A Walker’s Groove” and a tropical sway brushes “Thinking of Her” with “Mean” Willie Green on wickedly wonderful percussion. Of course, funk is the main ingredient at the barbecue though Joseph takes advantage of the presence of Dr. John and Harrison at the roast and allows some quiet time as he thoughtfully backs them on the ballad, “I Can’t Get Started.” The Bonerama horns turn up for “Blackout” and later Theresa Andersson brings her violin and voice to join an array of other guests on the skanking “No Meat.” There’s plenty on the grill to select from this Backyard Groove bash.
Geraldine Wyckoff, offbeat.com