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Now Hear This: Jammin' With Juma - Rich Lerner and the Groove

Rating: ***1/2

Rich Lerner and the Groove are back and this time they brought the cavalry with them. Legendary percussionist, Juma Sultan joins them on this full-length effort appropriately titled "Jammin' With Juma".

Juma Sultan is best-known for playing on several albums with Jimi Hendrix in the 70's so his legendary status isn't an overstatement. I'm a fan of Rich Lerner and the Groove as I've reviewed their stuff on the site before so needless to say this addition has me very interested in checking out the new dynamic to the sound.

I'm gonna give it a listen and report back as I do. Stay tuned.

Watch the audio video for "Be Here Now" on Youtube below:

We get things started with the Hendrix cover "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" and it's a groovy and slightly psychedelic track that really gets you in the mood to listen to jamband music at it's very best. The harmonies on the chorus are especially dope. It does sufficient justice to the original and that's a gargantuan challenge to begin with. "Seven Sunsets" has a great guitar intro and a nice easy vibe. "Be Here Now" isn't a George Harrison cover and that's ok. This one stands out on its own anyway. The Ram Das message still stays strong regardless of the artist and this is no different. Solid rock track. "Spill the Wine" is an Eric Burdon & The Animals cover and it falls a little flat in my opinion. The original is such a classic and this one doesn't do enough with it. "Ghosts of Jimi" is a rock-heavy tribute to the fallen legend and one of the highlights of the album thus far. "Paranoia Blues" borrows a song title from Paul Simon, but it isn't a cover. It's more of a Dylan-esque jam and another solid original track. "Am I Grooving You" is a Ronnie Wood cover that pays gorgeous homage to the original. This is just such a fun track. Listen to the original also. Such a good tune. "Be Here Now (reprise)" brings back the earlier tune for an encore of sorts before we get into the final track on the album "Sunset Dub (head mix)" which is a remix of "Seven Sunsets" in a way more stony way. I actually prefer this version for its more "out there" energy.

Really solid classic rock sounds from this latest effort. Where it lacks in covering new ground it more than makes up for in jamband feel and well-played instruments. I recommend this one to my friends from the Woodstock-era and just classic rock fans alike.

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