Hector Ward & the Big Time
Reviewed by Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., Oct. 21, 2016
Left wheelchair bound at 19, Hector Ward has proved a formidable bandleader, commanding the horn-revved ninepiece Latin big band with a throaty growl. The locals' third album leads with its title, Evolution, the 22-track live record bottling Saxon Pub performances 2010-14 like a locomotive through the eclectic tapestry of 2009's Freightline Funk and genre amalgam on Sum of All two years later. Live, the songs morph into footloose funk jams that boast an off-the-cuff vibe as Ward rips runaway solos engulfed in brawny sax billows. On the first disc, "Uncle Chas" flickers an intimate country sit-down by the fire, while "Gypsy River" transforms into a beer brawl. Disc two beats incandescent blues culminating in James Brown-flexed funk ("Takin' Lightnin' Home"), and "Mr. President" floats wah-wah licks over off-beat shuffles that reverberate to Ward's no-war politics.