Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival (1972/1996)

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival
Original release 1972 Polydor (Japan)
1996 CD reissue Verve Records 314531641-2

Dipping back into the Roy Ayers Ubiquity catalog, this live performance hails from pretty early in their trajectory, and this version was expanded from the original LP to include 4 extra tracks for what is probably a pretty complete representation of their set.  (more below the break)

1 Daddy Bug
2 In A Silent Way
3 Move To Groove
4 Ayers Monologue
5 Thoughts
6 Sketches in Red, Yellow, Brown, Black and White
7 He Gives Us All His Love
8 Your Cup Of Tea
9 Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head

Recorded June 20, 1971, at Montreux Jazz Festival

Bass – Clint Houston
Drums, Percussion – David Lee
Electric Piano – Harry Whitaker
Vibraphone, Percussion – Roy Ayers
Vocals (Track 3) – Harry Whitaker and Roy Ayers

Engineer – Carlos Olms
Producer – Chris Whent


 

The original LP, released only in Japan, was comprised of tracks 1-3 and track 8 (Daddy Bug, In A Silent Way, Move To Groove, and Your Cup of Tea).  The first two tracks almost seemed designed to reassure the Montreux crowd of Ubiquity’s jazz bonafides – back when the festival was  still largely jazz focused (although the 1971 festival they performed at also featured Melanie and Pink Floyd, as well as soul superstars Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack).   Daddy Bug, an older Ayers original, gets intense and fusion-inflected, and Miles’ In A Silent Way, played here at a rapid tempo, features Ayers’ vibraphone being processed with distortion at times, a sound that fellow vibes player and ’71 festival artist Gary Burton was also experimenting with at the time.  Once they’ve established their jazz cred, they jazz-funk that the group is best known for with Move To Groove, a tune written by frequent Ayers collaborator Edwin Birdsong.  Of the extra tracks released on this 90’s CD edition, the only one that is really up to par and makes you think they should have included it on the original LP is Sketches in Red, Yellow, Brown, Black, and White, another fine original composition that lets the band stretch out at their best.  The others are pleasant enough but probably not essential.  Thoughts is an atmospheric tone-scape where drummer David Lee only contributes some cymbal swells.  The mileage you get out of His Gives Us All His Love may depend on whether you fondly remember the time when Randy Newman was known for something besides churning out fluff for Pixar Studios.  Ayers must have gotten it from the Norman Lear comedy Cold Turkey, which came out in 1971 –  Randy Newman did not put it on one of his records until 1972’s Sail Away.  It fits a tradition of Ayers’ idiosyncratic choice of pop and film music interpretations, with a nice middle section for some solos, and the results are better than Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.  Ayers included a studio recording of Raindrops on the 1970 album titled simply “Ubiquity” before his christened his ensemble with the name.  It closes out this live set, which is just as well. At least here it gets a long instrumental bridge to almost make you forget the schmaltzy B.J. Thomas tune (penned by Bacharach/David), but by the time it returns with the main theme, I’m ready to say “Ok, that’s enough Roy Ayers for today,” and listen to something else.  Which is a shame because his unique group deserves more live documentation than it received.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you! I very much enjoyed this Roy Ayers/Ubiquity record. Do you think he meant to give us a visual pun on the cover of being a “basket case”?

  2. Guitarradeplastico your favorite musician

    Many thanks

  3. Thank you!

  4. I thank you very kindly for this unheard Ayers!

  5. Hey,

    This may very well be a dumb question… but I can’t find the password to expand the rar file anywhere… Could you please tell me where to find it? Thanks a lot.

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