Heavyweight sax man Jeff Coffin keeps a pretty tight schedule with his teaching programs, as a founding member of the Flecktones, and now with the Dave Matthews Band. However, he still finds time to offer an album from his side project the Mu’tet every so often, and his most recent Mutopia is nothing short of miraculous.
The album is a star-studded effort with help from friends like Futureman, Kofi Burbridge, Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck, Felix Pastorius, and many others. On recent tours, the Mu’tet billing included Pastorius, Burbridge and Futureman, so their presence is heavily represented throughout the album. Pastorius’ walking bass line starts things off with “TAG” before being joined by swinging sax, trombone and some tasty Wurlitzer from Burbridge. Coffin tears into a sax solo two minutes in that easily shows his serious chops, and why he such an in-demand artists.
“Al Greens” starts off in this spacey haze; however, a mighty blow from Burbridge’s sensual flute pushes into to a flowing groove. Pastorius and Wooten trade off some mesmerizing bass solos as Futureman keeps the time behind the kit with a lazy tempo. Then “Bubble Up” hits with signature Bela Fleck banjo rolls, Alana Rocklin’s “best in show” bass performance. Rocklin shows out with thunderous plucking and slapping on her bass as she pushes the groove along with Futureman on drums.
“One In One Out” is one of the most fun tracks on the album. The beat is swinging and Black Cat Sylvester’s turntables kick it up a notch along with Burbidge’s B3 organ play. The entire album is not all high-energy funk and jazz. “Sweet Magnolia” slows things down to waltz with beautiful piano and emotional tenor sax from Coffin. Then things jump in line with Joe Murphy’s Sousaphone for a little second line.
Mutopia is yet another wonderful offering of diverse musical stylings from Jeff Coffin. His day jobs are great, and his side projects are even better.
Mutopia is out now on Compass Records.