I was introduced to Fat Freddys Drop through through Gilles Peterson Worldwide, and immediately hunted out Based on a True Story, which I thought was a superb album. When I found out that they had recorded a live album I decided that I really had to give it a listen.
Released in 2001, some four years before before Based on a True Story, Live at the Matterhorn is a completely different beast to their debut studio album. Containing a mere four tracks, what we have here isn't the focused reggae/funk/jazz sounds that we have come to expect from The Drop, but instead some long, drawn out, gentle funky jazz pieces that settle into a groove, and just lay down some lovely rythms. Well, that does sound very much like Fat Freddys Drop, admittedly, but the shortest track on this album is twelve minutes long, two others being eighteen minutes long, and the longest being twenty one minutes long. That's what I mean when I say they settle into a groove, settle and then some! Slow, drawn out, but wonderfully focused, occasionally improvised, it's just the seven piece enjoying themselves, feeling the grooves, expanding upon them subtly and just generally proving that they are superb musicians with a great understanding of music.
Lou Donaldson described it perfectly when he said "I don't care what kind of style a group plays as long as they settle into a groove where the rhythm keeps building instead of changing around. It's like settin' tobacco in a pipe. You put some heat on it and make it expand. After a while, it's there. It's tight." He may not have been reffering to The Drop, but he hit the nail right on the head. An awesome album, and if you can handle twenty minute long jazz tracks, go get it.