What’s now known as “acid jazz” has gone by many other names–and whatever you want to call it, the Greyboy Allstars play that funky music, with its irresistible pulse and soul-fortified solos, like there’s no tomorrow. But they do have a keen awareness of yesterday: the Greyboys make no bones about their allegiance to the bluesy and popular recordings that defined the Blue Note label in the 1960s–the funky sanctification of Herbie Hancock’s Takin’ Off, the boogaloo-laced beat of Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder–or to the electric turns the music took with the fusion-era Brecker Brothers; and the guiding spirits of James Brown and his straw boss, saxist Maceo Parker, always hover close by. (Leader Karl Denson says, “We’re basically just a boogaloo band.”) In the 70s, plenty of groups traveled this route, most of them forgettable. But when you haven’t heard this stuff in a while–and when it’s been even longer since you heard it played with fire and proficiency–it sounds as fresh as your first electric keyboard. The Greyboys came together five years ago, spearheaded by San Diegans DJ Greyboy (no longer with the band) and Denson, a splendid, in-the-trenches tenor saxist who previously backed Lenny Kravitz. They now travel as a quintet, with guitarist Elgin Park sharing the front line; he and Denson make a strong team, the guitarist matching his round, slightly ringing tone to the big, broad-backed sound that pours out of Denson’s horn. Meanwhile, the rhythm players stick together like Siamese triplets, with bassist Chris Stillwell’s simple and utterly centered rhythms supplying the rubbery cement. The Greyboy Allstars have released two albums on their own Greyboy label, appeared in one film (Zero Effect), and packed such a wallop at last year’s Metro show that listeners left checking for bruises. Even middle-aged white guys were dancing–I know. Saturday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.