Robert Starks & the Diamondtones Danceband’s newly re-released standard

A lightly textured beat. A slow-churning rhythm. The sensuous glow of a broken jazz harmony. Seamlessness met with an avant-garde jaggedness. In the center of it all, a soul-driven vocal that could crush just about anything that gets in its path. This is “Text-MEE-Baby,” Robert Starks & the Diamondtones Danceband’s newly re-released standard that is stirring up a lot of talk in discerning jazz circles this summer – and for good reason. Starks, better known as Congaman, personifies the very essence of cool in this single; utilizing every inch of sonic space that the master mix affords him, he conjures up a multicolored melody that slashes through the very notion of boredom in an instant. His focus is unparalleled, his sensitivity to the most minute of nuances within the music impeccable, and while he’s backed by a very credible group of musicians in the Diamondtones Danceband, there’s never any doubt as to who the true star of this show is. “Text-MEE-Baby” is a glimpse into a one of a kind sound from an artist worth taking a second look at this August.

Starks’ vocal is woven into the fabric of the instrumentation perfectly, adding to the surreal quality of the music substantially without stepping into overly postmodern territory. He takes an experimental approach to the dispatch of the verses here, but it doesn’t interrupt the steady flow of the Diamondtones Danceband at all; on the contrary, the contrasting grooves make “Text-MEE-Baby” even more hypnotic.

Cosmetics aside, the structure of this song is really solid, and obviously the handiwork of an artist who knows his way around the recording studio just a little better than most do. While a lot of younger songwriters might have been inclined to put the percussion a bit higher in the mix than Starks does, it actually makes a heck of a lot more sense to do what he did with this particular track. There’s an evenness to the sound that you just don’t find everyday when cruising the local FM dial, and besides the fact that it lends authenticity to the Congaman’s brand, it’s also something that makes he and the Diamondtones Danceband stand out in a crowd.

If you’ve never heard the music of Robert Starks, this is definitely the song that I would tell you to start your Diamondtones journey off with, as it embodies most everything that this group of players can do when there’s nothing to get between them and their beloved medium. For these musicians, the material means so much more than a livelihood; this is a lot like a religion, and the audience is rewarded with the worship that they commit to master tape every time they enter the studio together. “Text-MEE-Baby” is a very black and white crossover composition on paper, but thanks to the erudite technique of Robert Starks and his comrades, it feels more like a multifaceted symphony of R&B tonality than it ever does a basic jazz beat with a sexy lead vocal. To put it simply, singles like this one are the foundation of an entire subgenre of music.

Clay Burton

The music of ROBERT STARKS & THE DIAMONDTONES has been heard all over the world due to the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Records. Learn more –