There's no denying drummer Gene Dunlap
's résumé -- stints in support of Grant Green
and Roy Ayers
are the funk equivalent of earning Ph.D.s from Harvard and Yale -- so it's little surprise that his debut LP, It's Just the Way I Feel
, is such an effective and engaging listen. Dunlap
's operating well outside the jazz sphere, however, and despite some obvious fusion-inspired moments, this is first and foremost a straight-up soul album, with a strong balance between slick, dancefloor-ready groovers and heartfelt ballads. Most impressive is the handful of tracks featuring the Ridgeways
, an all-girl vocal trio whose sexy harmonies mesh perfectly with Dunlap
's crisp, supple rhythms.