Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays Introducing Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays

Canada isn't exactly renowned for producing multitudes of cool soul records, but here's one we can be proud to claim. Gary "Slim" Moore is no novice, having been around since the '70s, performing with the likes of Gregory Isaacs and Yellowman (he's of Jamaican descent). This is the Montrealer's debut album and it concentrates on old school orchestral soul with a distinct '70s vibe. The full sound of the eight-piece Mar-Kays features a four-piece horn section, while the One Faith Gospel Singers and guest string players add to the widescreen sound. The album was recorded live on a vintage eight-track tape machine in a friend's basement and has a correspondingly warm vibe. Moore has a convincingly versatile and soulful voice, and it's in top form on Syl Johnson's Southern soul classic "Is It Because I'm Black," the only cover song here. Moore also co-wrote most of the material with multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Thibeaux Toussaint (aka Pierre Chretien of Souljazz Orchestra). Breezy instrumental "Mar-Kays' Theme" could be a cousin to "Grazin' in the Grass," while another instrumental, "Cool Breeze," lives up to its title. Forget the over-hyped Mayer Hawthorne and give this cat a listen. (Marlow)