Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crusaders: 1

The Crusaders 1, was one of the first Jazz albums, and Jazz groups, that I was exposed to at a young age by my Dad, along with Grover Washington, and George Benson.  This album was an interesting one for the Crusaders, as they began the transition from the Jazz Crusaders to the Crusaders, a more fusion-oriented group.  They really laid out the funk on this one!  Here is the track, "Three Children", a nice slab of funk with some tasty piano keys underneath the funk. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

When Nothings Left

Song of the day, featuring Exile sampling Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is".  I loved Exile's production on Blu Below the Heavens album, and while I'm not necessarily feeling this album as a whole, I really enjoy this track.  Magic can still be created on a 4 track!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Lure of Abbey Road

The Beatles Abbey Road
The Beatles Abbey Road appeared to well-liked among jazz and soul types alike.  Within a year after the release of The Beatles classic, George Benson released his take on Abbey Road, titled The Other Side of Abbey Road.
 The Other Side of Abbey Road featured wonderful jazzy, soulful, and funky renditions of the Beatles songs with the likes of Herbie Hancock on organ and piano, Latin great Ray Barretto on percussion, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, and Bob James on the keyboards, among many others.  It also featured a few versions of Benson singing a few of the songs, word for word.  Here is one of my favorite tracks off of Benson's The Other Side of Abbey Road, "I Want You", featuring Benson's vocals and Freddie Hubbard on the trumpet.

 In 1970, Booker T was a huge fan of The Beatles Abbey Road album, so much so that we wanted to record a tribute to the album as well.

McLemore Avenue (the street in which Stax Records in Memphis is located) is a well-executed, soulful rendition of The Beatles classic.  It's amazing to think when Booker T assembled The MGs to record this, most of the band players were not familiar with the album Abbey Road.  Steve Cropper pulls off some wonderful guitar solos.  It seems like he's fully aware of the structure of The Beatles songs, so it's just amazing to me that he was basically instructed by Booker T on what chords to play.  I love their meditative version of "Because". 

You may ask, why were a few of the soul and jazz greats so attracted to The Beatles Abbey Road?  Surely, they could sense the musical brilliance of the fab four, as Booker T commented later on how attracted he was to the chords they used, and the melodies that came out of the chords.  This is probably why an outstanding band like The MGs could turn a beautiful track like "Because" into a beautiful, soulful instrumental.  Great bands and musicians respected The Beatles musical chops.     

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Mohawks: The Champ

Picked up The Mohawks on cd last week.  I've been familiar with their hit "The Champ", but wasn't aware (until google) how often that song has been sampled.  Now, it makes sense when realizing that I own albums by Redman, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, Edan, KRS-One, and De La Soul, that I listened to frequently back in college, in which the "The Champ" has been sampled.  And of course, Onyx's hit "Slam" back in high school, where they took the chorus of "The Champ".  Anyway, the album The Champ is a good listen beyond just the title hit.  Alan Hawkshaw, the British composer and performer who has done some great funky Library music from the 60's (see the compilation Bite Hard for some of his funky solo instrumentals), is the main man behind The Mohawks, with the rest of the band featuring various session musicians.  I love Hawkshaw's Hammond Organ playing, can't get enough of that sound.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Good Vibrations

Bobby Hutcherson
There's always room for plenty of jazz music in my life, and there's certainly room for a vibraphone player on my jazz records.  Some of my favorite jazz vibraphone players are Roy Ayers, Bobby Hutcherson, and Milt Jackson.  I thought I'd feature a track from each of my favorite vibraphone players off my favorite albums of theirs. 

Taken off of Bobby Hutcherson's 1966 release Happenings, "Aquarian Moon" starts out slow, then begins to seriously cook a little over a minute into the song.  A great opening track to a great album!

I love me some good CTI albums, and Milt Jackson's Sunflower is one of my favorite albums from the label.  With an all-star cast featuring the likes of Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard, I decided to feature the song "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life".  This is a moody opening song for an album, but I love it.  Some people argue that CTI's releases can sound overproduced, especially with the added strings.  However, the strings on "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life" add a mysterious, soundtrack-like quality to the composition that I really enjoy. 

I have a lot of Roy Ayers albums, but my favorite track of his is "Coffy Is The Color" off of the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film that he composed.   His vibe solo near the end of the track is amazing.  Seriously cooks, and like many of Ayers releases, you can't go wrong with it.