Pegging Curtis Mayfield as the godfather of Kings Go Forth's feel-good groove isn't hard seeing as Kings vocalist Black Wolf sang backup for the R&B pioneer long before band founder and bassist Andy Noble asked him to join Danny Fernandez at the microphone. The Milwaukee big band, which released its Luaka Bop debut this spring, layers rich 1970s-style soul, but the essential element is disco: shimmering percussion, relentless bass, and vocal proficiency. To that, they add Philly-style horns, the brassy punch of TSOP, and/or the O'Jays. Like a live soul train, the Kings roared through a set smoking with original showstoppers including "Paradise Lost." Mayfield was feted by a pulsing cover of the Impressions' "Stay Close to Me," rocked on the axis of Wolf and Fernandez's finely blended falsettos. Closing with a blistering arrangement of gospel classic "Wade in the Water," Wolf – an imposing man with a chieftain's aura – dropped to his knees not like James Brown but the black Wolf of another era, Howlin' Wolf. In a flash, the Kings Go Forth vocalist was back on his feet, holding the audience in the palm of his hand.
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