Monday 6 July 2020

'Tripwire' by Zbonics

'Tripwire' is the brand new single from the Zak Najor-helmed Zbonics collective, now aligned with the excellent Color Red Records.

And there really is an incredible amount of exciting elements to unpack from the above statement.  Firstly, let's jump into the exciting news of a very welcome return for Zbonics... following his time away from the revered Greyboy Allstars collective, Najor launched his Zbonics project with 'Time To Do Your Thing' marking the band's debut record released back in 2013.  Showcasing a dream team line-up of Najor on drums, fellow Greyboy Allstar Karl Denson on saxophone, (the dearly departed) Melvin Sparks on guitar, organist Adam Scone and the added bonus of contemporary jazz's premier vocalist, Gregory Porter, gracing five of the album's tracks with his exquisite vocal.

Zbonics masterfully straddled that oh-so-middle-ground between jazz and funk, and with production by Najor and Justin Prizant, genuinely created something incredibly special.  A project that certainly paid homage to a classic aesthetic but still one that confidently paved its own unique path forward.  Songs like the awesome jazz-funk of 'He Said', the moody swagger of the album's title track and in particular 'Nowhere To Run' featuring Porter on vocals who had the luxury on appearing on songs completely different from anything he had graced before or has done since.

Although it's now seven years since 'Time To Do Your Thing', Zbonics's return features some notable changes in their line-up and joining Najor and Denson on this go round is Chris Stillwell on bass, Robert Walter on keyboards, Andy Gelb on trombone, Kianna Cameron on guitar, Steve Haney on percussion... and scratches from DJ Greyboy.  Now, the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed some colossal inclusions within the 'Tripwire' cast list with Najor, Denson, Greyboy, Walter and Stillwell all comprising part of the original line-up of the Greyboy Allstars.  The now legendary band (which, at the time, also comprised of guitarist Mike Andrews) was initially formed in 1993 as the house band for DJ Greyboy before their on stage chemistry led to them releasing their now classic debut 'West Coast Boogaloo' in 1994 and a further four albums since then.

With Justin Prizant returning for production, this revitalised version of Zbonics is like an amalgamation of two wonderful bands coming together in an Avengers Assemble style mash-up that whets your appetite for more.  Those fusion inspired elements that made 'Time To Do Your Thing' such a treasure are still prevalent but with Greyboy's magic touch and the addition of Najor on vibraphone, as well as drums, it feels like there's more innovative ground being covered.

Fingers crossed for more from Zbonics who now have now found a wonderful new base with the pioneering Color Red Records.

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