Eric Gale

Ginseng Woman/Multiplication

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BGO's 2013 two-fer pairs Eric Gale's first two albums for Columbia, Ginseng Woman and Multiplication. Both records were produced by Bob James, who brings a synth-savvy snap to these '70s fusion platters, sessions that were designed in the wake of Donald Byrd's vocal-heavy jazz-funk but carry perhaps just a few too many analog synths. Gale doesn't begin to dominate until Multiplication -- Ginseng Woman is so thoroughly a groove album it's hard to discern solos underneath its pristine veneer -- but soon he starts carving out space for some seriously satisfying single-line runs. And those grooves are enjoyable too -- perhaps the reggae revision of "Sara Smile" doesn't quite gibe and there are certainly too many incidents of thick backing vocals on both albums, making this heavily redolent of its time, but much of the appeal is its polyester shimmer, and when these two records are seen as RB-heavy fusion workouts, not jazz sessions, they're fun pieces of fleeting mood music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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