Friday, June 27, 2008

Eddie Henderson - Mahal

Mahal from '78 include the fantastic up-tempo version of Herbie Hancock's Butterfly featuring the man himself on keyboards, along with most of the Headhunters. This album also includes another jazz-funk favorite, Prance On and Amoroso, a beautiful mid-temp track which illustrates Eddie's trumpet playing. Another track from this album Cyclops became a club hit at the time with some DJ's playing it at 45 RPM instead of 33!!

1. Butterfly
2. Cyclops
3. Emotions
4. Prance On
6. Mahal
7. Ecstasy


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ronnie Laws - Mr. Nice Guy

The music Ronnie Laws created in the 80's has always tended to be miscatagorized under the name of jazz. And such as with his previous album Solid Ground this recording contains very little that resembles even jazz FUSION let alone acoustic music. What you get in both cases is wonderfully crafted modern funky pop/R&B with some pop-jazz references. Overall the music here is closer to being that of an 80's era Jr.Walker (a fact not betrayed by the fact his classic hit "What Does It Take" is covered almost by wrote here).

As for this album taken on it's own Ronnie Laws has taken the slick elements he began adding as far back as 1979's Every Generation and updated them with more mid 80's elements such as lightly gated drums and hand claps. The odd chords on the excellent shuffling album opener "Can't Save Tomorrow" are innovative and like so much music of this era contains a strong inspiration from Stevie Wonder's compositional style. The same use of chords shows up on the eerie near instrumental "Rolling". In between that the album emphasizes nothing but uptempo tunes of which the bouncy title track,"In The Groove","You" and "Off And On Again" offer in abundance. Ronnie takes a few more little creative soujourns on "Third Hour" and "Big Stars" but generally keeps the sound intact and the material consistant. Those people who have been collecting Ronnie Laws recordings all along will find this yet another in a string of solid consistant recordings he's made since 1975. And for reference purposes I actually like Ronnie's smooth soul singing on these songs and never had a problem with it at all; don't many believe as me that in the case of Laws, Norman Connors and Michael Henderson that vocals actually enhance their music? Either way this is a must have for any Ronnie Laws fan.

1. Can't Save Tomorrow
2. Mr Nice Guy
3. In the Groove
4. Third Hour
5. You
6. Big Stars
7. Rolling
8. What Does It Take
9. Off and on Again

with thanks to Will for All

Ronnie Laws - Every Generation

A great little set of soulful fusion -- played by one of the artists who helped invent the genre! Ronnie's mixing soul and jazz easily here -- hitting a sweet groove that's a bit more electric than ever, but which still has all the warmth and depth of his 70s work. A few tracks feature Ronnie singing lead vocals -- but most of the numbers are instrumentals that focus on his extremely catchy work on saxophone -- in that rhythmically soloing mode that first broke big on the earlier hit "Always There". Backing vocals on the set are by Eloise Laws and Miki Howard -- and titles include "Young Child", "Tomorrow", "Every Generation", "As One", "Love's Victory", and the sublime mellow cut "Thoughts & Memories".

Personnel include: Ronnie Laws (vocals, saxophone); Pat Kelly (guitar); Hubert Laws (flute); Joe Sample, Larry Dunn, Patrice Rushen, Ronnie Foster, Bobby Lyle (keyboards); Barnaby Finch (Moog synthesizer); Nathaniel Phillips (bass instrument); Eloise Laws, Miki Howard (background vocals)

1. Young Child
2. Never Get Back to Houston
3. Every Generation
4. Tomorrow
5. O.T.B.A. (Outta Be A Law)
6. Love's Victory
7. Thoughts & Memories
8. As One


Monday, June 23, 2008

Cannonball Adderley - Soul of the Bible

Prime material from Cannonball and David Axelrod -- and despite the biblical leanings of the title, the record is pretty darn funky! As they did for the Zodiac, Cannonball and Adderley take a trip through a host of cultural milestones -- stopping along the way to turn each one into a new pillar of soul, working with Rick Holmes, who narrates the set in the same way he did on the Zodiac albums. Brother Nat Adderley and George Duke are among the players in the album's very funky backing -- and tracks include "Make Your Own Temple", "Amani", "Space Spiritual", "Eternal Walk", and "Gone". Oh for the days of the double LP concept jazz record!

1. In The Beginning
2. Yield
3. Obeah
4. Fun In The Church
5. The Eternal Walk
6. Krukma
7. Gone
8. Behold
9. Psalm 24
10. Make Your Own Temple
11. Taj
12. Psalm 54
13. Amani
14. Space Spiritual

Part 1
Part 2

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Larry Young - Lawrence of Newark

Incredible stuff from the jazz underground of Newark! This is one of the rarest albums ever recorded by jazz organist Larry Young -- cut for the tiny Perception label during the early 70s, and featuring some of the cream of the New Jersey jazz underground. The album's got playing that bridges a number of Young's different styles -- from his straighter soul jazz work at Blue Note, to his harder jamming with Santana and John McLaughlin, to his more fusion oriented albums for Arista. James Blood Ulmer's on guitar, but there's also a large ensemble of excellent players, and lots of other percussion and cool instrumentation that really gives the album an "out there" sound! Titles include "Sunshine Fly Away", "Saudia", "Hello Your Quietness", and "Khalid Of Space".


Pharoah Sanders Sax (Tenor)
Abdul Sahid Drums
Armen Halburian Bells, Percussion, Conga
Stacey Edwards Conga, Percussion
Dennis Mourouse Electric Saxophone, Sax (Tenor), Saxophone
Alain Beard Liner Notes
Reginald Wickham Photography
Sarah Southin Design, Reissue Design
Umar Abdul Muizz Conga, Percussion
Howard King Drums
John Reed Coordination, Reissue Coordination
James Blood Ulmer Guitar
Fred Stark Design
Joony Booth Bass
Cedric Lawson Piano (Electric)
Charles Magee Electric Trumpet, Trumpet
Eddie Korvin Engineer, Remixing
Diedre Johnson Cello
James Flores Drums
Poppy LaBoy Percussion
Abdul Hakim Bongos, Percussion
Jumma Santos Conga, Cowbell, Tom-Tom, Whistle (Human), Tambourine, Percussion, Hi Hat
Don Pate Bass
Larry Young Bongos, Keyboards, Organ, Remixing, Producer, Percussion, Main Performer, Vocals
Art Gore Drums, Piano (Electric)
Juini Booth Bass

1. Sunshine Fly Away
2. Khalid of Space, Pt. 2 Welcome
3. Saudia
4. Alive
5. Hello Your Questions (Islands)


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kenji Omura - Kenji Shock

Japanese guitar player Kenji Omura released this sought-after classic in 1978 on Alfa Records, it was produced by Harvey Mason and features Jeff Porcaro, Harvey Mason, Lee Ritenour, Bill Meyers, Greg Mathieson, David Paich, Abraham Laboriel, Mike Porcaro, Steve Lukather, Jerry Hey, Larry Williams and Kim Hutchcroft.

1. Left-Handed Woman
2. Better Make It Through Today
3. Yumedono
4. Shock
5. Rhythm Road
6. Boston Flight
7. Bamboo Bong
8. The Mase


Friday, June 20, 2008

Bill Connors - Assembler

Jazz fusion guitar fans will recognize Connors as that blazingly explosive and technically precise legato guitarist in Return to Forever who left after one release to pursue a quieter acoustic guitar path. Connors has always been ranked in the upper echelons of fine fusion axe-men. Yet the guitar releases from Connors have come slowly, been severely under-appreciated, and after this release -- it seems no more solo works are ever forthcoming. Let's hope I am wrong.

After leaving Return to Forever, Connors released three excellent acoustic albums in the '70s, did some work with Stanley Clarke on Clarke's solo releases, and played with the Jan Garbarek Group. Connors then returned to releasing hard-hitting yet elegantly soulful electric fusion guitar albums in the '80s. They were shorter length, LP time-length format, offering sonic snippets of Connors' electric visions.

Comparisons can be made easily between this release's guitar stylings to that of Allan Holdsworth's technique. This is not surprising as Holdsworth has always sought that horn sound and flow of John Coltrane and Connors too idolizes Coltrane. Convergent evolution perhaps? Connors has more of a rocking and visceral edgy attack than Holdsworth. His legato phrasing is totally different as well as his guitar voicings. Connors will also lean funky, syncopated, and have more of a groove going on in his compositions. Connors demonstrates he is a guitarists' guitarist with evident passion for his instrument. In conversation with Connors' brother I was told that Bill was always practicing for hours upon hours. It shows clearly on this release.

Assembler marked the final electrified release of this triune fusion CD offering of the '80s.

2.Sea Coy
3.Get It to Go
5.Add Eleven
6.Tell It to the Boss
7.It Be FM


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bill Connors - Double-Up

Guitarist Bill Connors has forged a successful career by mixing light, pop-oriented fusion cuts with more ambitious works that showcase his considerable solo abilities and compositional skills. This was a trio date with Connors (who doubled as producer) playing in an introspective vein, showing his funk and rock side, and then playing with more imagination and style. The playing time was quite short (35 minutes-plus), but there was enough of Connor's guitar work presented to satisfy his fans and fusion/pop/light jazz followers.

1. Subtracks
2. Tud
3. Floor to Floor
4. Crunchy Cuts Up
5. Long Distance
6. Out by Twelve


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bill Connors - Step It

This session accented the funk/R&B and rock elements of Connor's arsenal; the eight selections were dominated both by drummer Dave Weckl's prominent backbeats and Connor's riffs and dashing licks, as well as catchy hooks, progressions, and patterns from bassist Tom Kennedy. Such songs as "A Pedal," "Brody," and the title cut weren't melodically sophisticated, but had a bass-heavy structure and quick, animated solos. Althohugh the date is a bit old, its qualities prove a perfect fit on several new adult contemporary and lite-jazz outlets.

1. Lydia
2. A Pedal
3. Step It
4. Cookies
5. Brody
6. Twinkle
7. Titan
8. Flickering Lights


Monday, June 9, 2008

Yusef Lateef - The Gentle Giant

Damn funky Yusef Lateef! The record's one of Lateef's best on Atlantic -- as it combines the funky style the label was working him in, with some of the more complicated, tripped-out styles he was forging on earlier records. The standout cut is the long take on Kenny Barron's "Nubian Lady" which begins the record -- and Kenny also contributed the tighter grooving "Jungle Plum". Other tracks include "African Song", "Queen Of The Night", "Poor Fishermen", "Below Yellow Bell", and a strange version of "Hey Jude" that goes on for a long time, and really messes with the volume -- listed on the cover with the note "Do not adjust the playback level on your audio equipment -- readjust your mind!"

1. Nubian Lady
2. Lowland Lullaby
3. Hey Jude (Do not adjust the playback level on your audio equipment -- readjust your mind!)
4. Jungle Plum
5. Poor Fishermen
6. African Song
7. Queen of the Night
8. Below Yellow Bell

with thanks to ISounds

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ray Draper Quintet featuring John Coltrane - New Jazz 8228

Ray Draper was only 17 when he led this date (all four of his sessions as a leader were made before he turned 20) and was brave (or foolhardy) enough to team up with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane (who was 14 years older and already a major name) in a quintet also including pianist Gil Coggins, bassist Spanky DeBrest, and drummer Larry Ritchie. Draper had ambitious dreams of making the tuba a major jazz solo instrument; the tuba/tenor front line is an unusual and generally successful sound, although Draper's solos on this reissue -- on three of his originals: Sonny Rollins' "Paul's Pal," the show tune "Under Paris Skies," and a tuba feature without Coltrane, "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" -- are clearly not on the same level as those of Coltrane or Coggin. One does admire Draper's courage, and it is a pity that he hardly recorded at all after 1960 because he had strong potential.

Ray Draper: tuba;
John Coltrane: tenor sax;
Gil Coggins: piano;
Spanky De Brest: bass;
Larry Ritchie: drums

1. Clifford's Kappa
2. Filidia
3. Two Sons
4. Paul's Pal
5. Under Paris Skies
6. I Hadn't Anyone Till You


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Freddie Hubbard - Sky Dive

Along with Keep Your Soul Together and In Concert (w/Stanley Turrentine), this album was one of Freddie Hubbard's last good albums before he signed to Columbia and started putting out commercial schlock. For starters, just look at the band on this date: George Benson, Hubert Laws, Keith Jarrett, Ron Carter, and Billy Cobham plus the usual extended cast of CTI studio musicians. Few bassists can lay down the funk tastefully like Carter, and his intro on "Povo" will make you say "Good Gracious!" For groove addicts like myself, this and the title track are alone worth the price of the album. There aren't too many surprises on Sky Dive, and it lacks the fire of Hubbard's earlier masterpieces Straight Life and Red Clay, but it's a real treat to hear all these guys coming up with some creative, funky music before things descended into disco hell. By the way, this is also great driving music.

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Alan Rubin, Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn); Wayne Andre, Garnett Brown (trombone); Paul Faulise (bass trombone); Tony Price (tuba); Phil Bodner (piccolo, flute, alto & bass flutes, bass clarinet); Wally Kane (piccolo, bass clarinet); Hubert Laws (flute, alto & bass flutes); George Marge (flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet); Romeo Penque (flute, alto flute, clarinet, oboe, English horn); Keith Jarrett (acoustic & electric pianos); George Benson (guitar); Ron Carter (bass); Billy Cobham (drums); Ray Barretto, Airto Moreira (percussion).

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on October 4 & 5, 1972.

1. Povo
2. In A Mist
3. Naturally
4. Godfather, The - (from "The Godfather")
5. Sky Dive
6. Naturally - (previously unreleased, alternate take)

Part 1
Part 2

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mongo Santamaria - Explosion

This is a re-issue on Riverside Records by percussion player Mongo Santamaria, there is no year of release stated on the sleeve but the material must be from the 60ies, players are Mongo Santamaria on congas and bongos, M. Sheller on trumpet, R. Caper on sax, H. Laws on sax and flute, R. Garant on piano, V. Venegas on bass, C. Garcia on timbales, F. Lucas or J. Cobbs on drums, C. Martinez on cow bell, W. Kortwright on guiro and Nat Adderley on cornet.

1. Skins
2. Fatback
3. Hammer Head
4. Dot, Dot, Dot
5. Corn Bread Guajira
6. Dirty Willie
7. Sweet 'Tater Pie
8. Bembé Blue
9. Dulce Amor
10. Tacos
11. Para Ti


with thanks to Smooth

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freddie Hubbard - A Soul Experiment

This is a funky and groovy album by trumpet player Freddie Hubbard, released on Atlantic Records in 1969, personnel is Carlos Garnett on sax, Billy Butler or Eric Gale on guitar, Gerry Jemmott on bass, Kenny Barron on piano, Gary Illingworth on organ and Grady Tate or Bernard Purdy on drums.

1. Clap Your Hands
2. Wichita Lineman
3. South Street Stroll
4. Lonely Soul
5. No Time To Lose
6. Hang 'Em Up
7. Good Humor Man
8. Midnite Soul
9. Soul Turn Around
10. A Soul Experiment


with thanks to Smooth