By Christopher Bussmann - Bop and Beyond - 01/25/2005

There is something decidedly vintage about Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, a sound out of synch with the times in which it has been produced. Maybe it is the cover-art, with it's saturated colors and stylized font size, or the fact that the chair, the lamp, even Sharon's hair is clearly throwback - a product of its immediate past. That is not to say that Sharon and co. are content to retread old ground or peddle a product mined from the ore of others. Oh no... they are too good and clever a band to do that. From the opening moments of "How Do You Let A Good Man Down," it is clear that although this is a record steeped in the funk and soul of the late 60's and early 70's, it also has a life of its own - one that is entirely modern and designed to catch the ears of those unversed in the lore of James Brown and Sly Stone.

Sharon Jones also has one hell of a voice, akin to that of Roberta Flack and Nina Simone. Those are some heavy hitters, and Sharon, even more so live than on record, deserves to stand among them. And what sets her apart from such modern contemporaries as Jill Scott and Erykah Badu is her dedication not just to her craft as a singer but to that of the band that's behind her.

Although the name reads Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, they - the Dap-Kings - are every bit as important as Sharon herself, effortlessly lending support to one of the greatest voices to be found on two sides of a vinyl lp or one side of a cd. This should come as no surprise when one considers that The Dap-Kings comprise of several (current and former) members of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and The Sugarman 3 & Co. That is one hell of a pedigree.

With ten tracks of shimmering soul and blistering funk, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings' Naturally is not to be missed. Nor is the band itself (they'll be in town on April 28th at El Salon).

Naturally is an easy candidate for my jazz album of the year.