By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Tommorow Sound Now for Yes Music People
It's been six long years since the public had a new slab from Paul Cebar to slip into the box and feel those simmering grooves effervesce into a soulful nirvana down New Orleans (or Havana) way. 2001's live disc Suchamuch captured the rambunctious in-the-flesh pleasures of Cebar, a happy seeker of all music organically rooted to the essence of a time or place, and his redoubtable Milwaukeeans. Tommorow Sound Now for Yes Music People—a mouthful, but overflowing with tastiness—was hatched in studios from Wisconsin to London, but again revels in Cebar's delicious synthesis of vintage R&B, soul, New Orleansiana, Cubano bop, slithery Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and tantalizing esoterica from around the globe.
At heart, Cebar is a musicologist who unearths obscure nuggets that he can't resist playing, complete with twists culled from all the other great stuff he's found. Here he rides a sweet, Sam Cooke-style voice into the soul-rich "I'm Qualified," an early '60s southern hit cut in Muscle Shoals by Jimmy Hughes. (Yes, that.) Nick Lowe stirs in some sharp harmonies while Bob Jennings lays gospelly organ right down its spine.
"Hey Hey Honey" is a marvelous a capella gospel/folk tune from Virginia's Bright Lights Quartet that juggles Cebar's muscular, shouted lead about an upcoming assignation with a "long, tall yellow gal" with bristling responses in four-part harmony. "Do Me Justice," meanwhile, is a lilting, calypso-like tune from Sierra Leone's S.E. Rogie, who was king of an intoxicating local style called palm-wine music.
Such intriguing covers find their ultimate fruition in Cebar's originals, which draw from myriad sources. The scintillating rhythms and brash horns of "The Gimp Sparrow" could fuel carnaval in a dozen hot spots. The funky shuffle of "The Same Dog," driven in part by Cebar's piquant guitar figures and written with zydeco accordionist Terrance Simien, seems to bring together Memphis, the Crescent City, Elvis Costello, and the Band.
"I Got Trouble" is more straightforward New Orleans, a tale of hapless woe that could have come from Jessie Hill, Earl King, or Lee Dorsey. It's all wonderful stuff, a funky global tour from the shores of Lake Michigan, thanks to the obsessively curious Cebar and his Milwaukeeans, easily among the country's most underappreciated working musicians.
PAUL CEBAR opens for Tower of Power on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15 at the MINNESOTA ZOO WEESNER AMPHITHEATER; 952.431.9200. This event is sold out.