The first thing that makes you smile is their clever name – which makes you think of a jazz legend and an era when wax and grooves were the main way we consumed the music we loved. Those good vibes extend in booming, brassy, bold volumes to the extraordinary debut by the thunderous old school 4-horn, 4-rhythm section ensemble whose existence is the sizzling, barn burning response to group mastermind (songwriter, producer, arranger, trombonist) Steve Wiest’s query: “What would Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears and Tower of Power sound like if they started out today?” Yep, probably something like what they band calls “Rocked Out Seriously Funky Jaw Dropping Ear Candy!”
The keys that unlock the loads of spirited, super-soulful high octane fun are the sandpaper and honey lead vocals of Lisa Dodd, whose emotions run from tough to tender; Wiest’s lively, freewheeling but also sometimes thoughtful and sensitive arrangements; and killer solos by ensemble members Ryan Davidson (guitar), Eric Gunnison (keyboards), Ray Herrmann (tenor sax, flute) and Gerald Stockton (bass).
It’s testament to Wiest’s insightful, edgy, socially conscious songwriting that his five originals stack up nicely with the group’s re-imagining of classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Rare Earth, Paul McCartney and Bill Withers. Vinyl Hampdin is retro-minded but never stuck on nostalgia, taking a classic cherished style and making it a socially and sonically relevant and necessary part of the world today.