Eumir Deodato – Os Catedráticos 73 (1973)

Eumir Deodato
“Os Catedráticos 73”
originally released 1973
This reissue 2008 on Atração Fonográfica (ATR41066)

Remastered by Cláudio Abuchaim
This album is no stranger to the blogosphere, being posted about on quite a few blogs featuring Brazilian music and rare groove delights. This post highlights a recent reissue on the label Atração Fonográfica that has given us a new remastering and fancy fold-out digipack graphic design, the same they have used for their other Deodato issues. I suspect that this album is so popular among rare groove enthusiasts because it has the same musical sensibility of post-bossa Brazilian jazz fusion infused with North American soul and funk that characterized his more famous recordings for CTI, but here they shine completely free of the sterile and sterilizing production prison of Creed Taylor. One other difference, however, is that Deodato almost exclusively plays the Hammond organ on this disc, with some occasional electric and acoustic pianos hanging back in the mix on a few cuts. An ignorant reviewer at AMG (which I realize is a redundant phrase..) talks about this record as some revolutionary marriage of the organ with Brazilian music that hadn’t been done before, which is of course utter bullshit — Walter Wanderley and Ed Lincoln were exploring this territory long before Sr.Eumir. But Deodato definitely takes the funky factor up a notch, and also incorporates the rhythms and cadence of other Latin American musical traditions — something he most definitely picked up in multicultural North America, and *not* in Brazil. And like all of Deodato’s work, there is a dose of “lounge” in the sound that is either an asset or a detriment depending on your orientation, but this album manages to swing pretty hard even when it gets ‘light,’ and anyone in their right mind has to give props for the arranging skills shown here. It should be mentioned that Os Catedráticos was also the name of a jazz-bossa combo that Deodato put together in the 60s, but as far as I can tell this record is a total reinvention with completely different musicians involved.The lineup on this album is rather crowded and confusing, so I have taken the liberty of using Doug Payne’s breakdown of it which is the most thorough I have seen, albeit a little tricky to read. It’s worth noting the presence of drummer Mamão from Azymuth and percussionist Orlandivo. Payne has also given a release history of the various labels this has appeared on (minus this more recent reissue on Atração). The album has also been issued as ‘Skyscrapers’ in some countries, with different song titles in English, and there has been at least one bootleg version on vinyl with the original cover according to Discogs.com. Note also the writing credits on two tracks to the Brothers Valle.

from the website of dougpayne.com

Eumir Deodato (p,org,arr,cond); Durval Ferreira (g, el-g); Zé Menezes (12 string g); Sergio Barroso (el-b); Ivan Conti (Mamão) (d); Bebeto (cga); Helcio Milito, Orlandivo (perc).

overdubbed in New York City: September and October 1972
Marvin Stamm, John Frosk (tp,flhrn); Phil Bodner (ts, c-flute); Romeo Penque (bs, g-flute); Eumir Deodato (el-p,arr,cond).

a. Arranha Céu (Skyscrapers) (Eumir Deodato) – 4:49
b. Flap (Marcos Valle/Paulo Sergio Valle) – 3:17
c. Rodando Por Aí (Rudy’s) (Eumir Deodato) – 3:09
d. O Jogo (Soccer Game) (Pacífico Mascarenhas) – 2:28
e. Atire A 1a Pedra (aka The First Stone) (Ataulfo Alves-Mário Lago) – 3:18
f. Puma Branco (The White Puma) (aka Elizeth)
(Marcos Valle/Paulo Sergio Valle) – 3:30
g. Passarinho Diferente (The Bird) (aka The Byrd) (Eumir Deodato) – 1:52
h. Extremo Norte (The Gap) (Eumir Deodato) – 3:52
i. Tô Fazendo Nada (Down The Hill) (Eumir Deodato) – 2:55
j. Menina (Boy Meets Girl) (Eumir Deodato) – 3:10
k. Carlota & Carolina (Carly & Carole) (Eumir Deodato) – 3:12

Issues: a-k on Equipe (Br) EQS 100.001, Ubatuqui (Sp) UBCD-105 [CD], Bomba (Jap) BOM-22068 [CD]. a-k also on Irma (It) 509563-1, Irma (It) 509563-2 [CD] titled SKYSCRAPERS.

Samplers: b & f also on Irma (It) 507901-2 [CD] titled SUMMER SAMBA.

Producer: Eumir Deodato. Executive Producer: Oswaldo Cadaxo (Equipe (Br) EQS 100.001). Eumir Deodato, Arnaldo DeSouteiro. Executive Producer: Carl Rosenthal (Ubatuqui (Sp) UBCD-105 [CD], Bomba (Jap) BOM-22068 [CD], Irma (It) 509563-1, Irma (It) 509563-2 [CD]).

Engineer: Ary Perdigão & Walter, George Klabin

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password: vibes

Cal Tjader – Solar Heat (1968)

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Cal Tjader
“Solar Heat”
Released 1968 on Skye Records (SK-1)
Reissued 1994 on DCC Jazz Compact Classics (DJZ-618)

1. Ode To Billy Joe 2:55 (Gentry)
2. Never My Love 2:48 (D. R. Addrissi)
3. Felicidade 2:35 (Jobim , De Moraes)
4. Mambo Sangria 2:38 (Tjader)
5. Here 3:25 (David MacKay)
6. Fried Bananas 2:36 (McFarland)
7. Amazon 2:25 (Donato)
8. La Bamba 2:56 (Tjader)
9. Eye Of The Devil 2:16 (McFarland)
10. Solar Heat 2:30 (Tjader)

Arrangements by Gary McFarland

This is a short but sweet record by the still-under-appreciated Cal Tjader. Two things happened to me this week in relation to this album. I found myself listening to this in my car, twice on the same day (a rarity in itself), and then later received an email from a blog follower who mentioned that he first came to this blog expecting to find lots of albums featuring the vibraphone. And that got me reflecting — DAMN! There really aren’t that many records featuring the vibes at Flabbergasted Vibes. How did that happen? And particularly – Cal Tjader has been on my “short list” for a post since the beginning, but alas, that list has grown ever longer since then.

So here it is, the first of several Cal Tjader posts, and this one is a solid winner. Just look at the lineup of musicians, to start with:

Vibraphone – Cal Tjader, Gary McFarland
Upright Bass – Bobby Rodriguez
Electric Bass – Chuck Rainey
Electric Piano, Harpsichord – Mike Abene
Organ – João Donato
Percussion – Orestes Vilato , Ray Barreto
Drums – Grady Tate (who is left off the album jacket, but credited in the liner notes…)

“Solar Heat” was the first of a handful of albums that Cal recorded and released (in rapid succession) for the short-lived Skye label, for which this record was the inauguration. The title cut is one bad-ass piece of soul-jazz groove that does everything exactly right in performance, production, conception, and pure coolness. I almost feel like you don’t deserve to preview the track before hearing the whole album, that you have not earned the right… But then I discovered the tune was released as a 7-inch single anyway so my sanctimonious fanfare comes crashing down. Check it out and watch the record spin:

Still not convinced you need to embrace this record like a lost orphan? Well then check out this uptempo version of Vinicius & Jobim’s “Felicidade.” It shouldn’t work as well as it does – it’s upbeat happy foot-tapping buoyancy is practically the antithesis of bossa nova, enough to make João Donato’s comadres back home roll their eyes and make jokes about him as a male piano-tickling Carmen Miranda. (*note: I have no proof that this ever happened.)

Speaking of things that don’t work, I always hated the song “Never My Love.” For the first few bars of this version, I held out a hope that Cal Tjader could rescue the tune from the schmaltz graveyard in the sonic netherworld to which it has been banished in my universe, but even he is not powerful enough to inject integrity into this godawful tune. This would be more forgivable if the song didn’t follow a good version of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe” which is a GREAT song that nobody can ruin. Well you can’t have everything, I suppose.

Other noteworthy nuggets are João Donato’s own ‘Amazon’, another smoking jazz-bossa, and the two Gary McFarland compositions “Fried Bananas” and “Eye of the Devil,” which was written about McFarland’s membership in and subsequent disillusionment with Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan. But what is more demonic about all this is – DOUBLE VIBES PENETRATION! Two vibraphones, at the SAME TIME!

Did I mention that Ray Barreto and Bobby Rodriguez are on this album? Those guys are great. I really like those guys. Oh, and Chuck Rainey. He is a swell guy too.

This album’s rarity was briefly alleviated by VampiSoul issuing it together with “Cal Tjader Sounds Off on Burt Bacharach”, but if I am not mistaken that disc is out of print. I have never had that pressing but this DCC reissue almost certainly sounds much much better in terms of audio quality.

Gil Evans – Gil Evans & 10 (1957)

Gil Evans – Gil Evans & Ten (1957)
Original release, Prestige 7120
This release Fantasy/Prestige (OJCCD 346-2)

Remember
(Irving Berlin)
Ella Speed
(Ledbetter , Lomax)
Big Stuff
(Leonard Bernstein)
Nobody`s Heart
(Lorenz Hart , Richard Rogers)
Just One Of Those Things
(Cole Porter)
If You Could See Me Now
(Sigman , Dameron)
Jambangle
(Gil Evans)

Bass – Paul Chambers
Bassoon – Dave Kurtzer
Drums – Nick Stabulas
French Horn – Willie Ruff
Piano – Gil Evans
Saxophone – Zeke Tolin (Lee Konitz) , Steve Lacy
Trombone – Jimmy Cleveland
Bass Trombone – Bart Varsalona
Trumpet – Jake Koven , Louis Mucci

Drums – Jo Jones (tracks: 1)
Trumpet – John Carisi (tracks: 1)

Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in Hackensack, NJ, September and October 1957

Remaster by Phil De Lancie in Berkeley, 1989

A casual look at the composition credits might tend to assessment that the listener is in for no big jazz surprises on this 1957 record, treading the songbook stalwarts of Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, and Cole Porter. But then there is the inclusion of Leadbelly, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Big Stuff” which he wrote for Billie Holiday. And the inclusion of an 11-piece ensemble on the record utilizing instruments like French horn, bass trombone, and bassoon. If Gil’s arranging skills aren’t enough to entice you, there is the buoyant bass of Paul Chambers, and great sax riffing from Steve Lacy and Lee Konitz (playing under the pseudonym of Zeke Tolin.. not sure why, contractual issues perhaps?). Jimmy Cleveland’s trombone is a treat, and Gil’s parsimonious piano never sounded sweeter. And I do mean SOUND too – Van Gelder works all his magic here, and the muted piano tones that Evans favored float nicely atop the lush sonorous carpet. Thanksfully, this is an original CD issue of the Prestige OJC pressing with Phil De Lancie’s mastering work, so we aren’t left at the mercy of Rudy’s recent travesties in remastering his own recordings… Thanks to ****** for providing the original rip of this one to me. (You know who you are.) 1957 was a very busy year for Gil Evans, and this album is among his best work.

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Hugh Masekela & The Union of South Africa (1971) (with The Crusaders)

Hugh Masekela and the Union of South Africa
Originally released on CHISA records (Chisa 808)
This reissued, Motown / MoJazz (31453-0329-2) from 1994

01 – Goin’ Back to New Orleans (5:07) (Hugh Masekela)
02 – Ade (3:47) (Caiphus Semenya)
03 – To Get Ourselves Together (2:52) (Hugh Masekela)
04 – Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive (3:57) (Eric Songxaka-Jonas Gwangwa)
05 – Mamani (5:23) (Caiphus Semenya)
06 – Shebeen (4:02) (Jonas Gwangwa)
07 – Dyambo (3:49) (Caiphus Semenya)
08 – Caution! (5:41) (Caiphus Semenya)
09 – Hush (Somebody’s Calling My Name) (3:34) (Joe W. May)

In my morning ritual of working on this blog over some coffee, I decided that the way I was going to show my support for Brazil in today’s World Cup match would be by posting this album of anti-Dutch liberation music from Hugh Masekela & The Union of South Africa. It’s a great record and should make for a cathartic listening experience no matter how things turn out today.

It was hard to decide what songs to include on this little sample below, since they really are all excellent. I decided on one vocal number and one instrumental, because in a way the album almost sounds like it can’t decide which way to go in that respect. The instrumental numbers sound a whole hell of a lot like the early Crusaders material (unsurprisingly.. see below), while the vocal numbers are something else. Although described by some as an “Afro-rock” album, these tracks have more in common with the pop sensibilities that made Masekela an international superstar with the song “Grazin’ in the Grass.” Tightly arranged harmonies that draw as much or more from United States gospel, soul, and blues musics than from ‘traditional’ vocal styles of the Motherland. And there is absolutely no problem with that – the result is a beautiful album. Except for the tunes “Ade”, with its boogie funk and fuzzy guitar, and “Dyambo” (another funky number… can anyone out there tell me if the lyrics to this are in Swazi or Zulu, or any of the other ELEVEN “official languages” of South Africa???), there is little to be called “rock” here, unless its to be understood in the sense that The Crusaders are sometimes called “jazz rock”.

So, as I was saying… Two songs here to give you a taste – the vocal number “To Get Ourselves Together,” souljazz with a slow-funk backbeat (hmm, well the ‘turnaround’ between verses here is kind of rock-like in a delicious way); followed by “Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive” which is kind of a High Life song as played by The Crusaders. If this doesn’t whet your appetite for more, then I simply don’t know what to say and you probably close this page on your browser and go back to listening to whatever floats your musical boat.

Although not credited anywhere on this Chisa / Motown reissue, this record (recorded entirely in Hollywood, California) relies heavily on members of the mighty CRUSADERS as the backing band, with the album jacket listing only the horn players Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa (trombone) and Caiphus Semenya (alto sax) as comprising “The Union.” I am not sure if The Crusaders members on these sessions (Joe Sample, Wayne Henderson, Wilton Fedder, Stix Hooper) were listed on the original Chisa vinyl, but if not I am sure there must have been good reasons – they were willing collaborators and had recorded for the label (even changing their name at Masekela’s suggestion).

Recording in a cluster of sessions spanning April 5 – 9, 1971, exactly who played on what is rather confusing. Thanks to Doug Payne’s excellent website, we know the following details (note that a bunch of these tracks did not appear on the original album presented here):

HUGH MASEKELA & THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
Hugh Masekela
Hollywood, California: April 5, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).
overdubbed in Hollywood, California: April 9, 1971
Hugh Masekela; King Errison (perc).

a. Ade (Caiphus Semenya) – 3:47
b. Dyambo (Weary Day Is Over) (Caiphus Semenya) – 3:49

Hollywood, California: April 5, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).

c. Ku Ku Di

Hollywood, California: April 7, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).

d. Mabasa
e. This Stuff Is Killing Me
f. To Get Ourselves Together (Hugh Masekela) – 2:52

Hollywood, California: April 9, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl); King Errison (perc).

g. Mamani (Caiphus Semenya) – 5:23

Hollywood, California: April 7, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).

h. Goin Back To New Orleans (Hugh Masekela) – 5:07
i. Railroad
j. Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive (Eric Songxaka/Jonas Gwangwa) – 2:52
k. Caution! (Caiphus Semenya) – 5:41
l. Shebeen (Jonas Gwangwa) – 4:02

same or similar.

m. Hush (Somebody’s Calling My Name) (Joe W. May) – 3:34

Note: Dudu Pukwana, a member of Masekela’s Union Of South Africa around this time, later authored and performed a song titled “Baloyi” on his 1973 recording IN THE TOWNSHIPS (Caroline 1504, Earthworks 90884-2 [CD]) that bears notable similarities to “Shebeen” above.

Issues: a, b, f, g, h, j, k, l & m on Chisa CS 808 (issued May 1971), Rare Earth (E) SRE-3002, MoJazz 31453-0330-2 [CD] (issued August 1994).
Singles: b (2:35 edit) & l (4:00 edit) also on Chisa C 8014F [45]. l also on Tamla Motown (SA) TMS 373 [45].
Samplers: a also on Hip-O B0007383-02 [CD] titled THE BEST OF HUGH MASEKELA – 20th CENTURY MASTERS – THE MILLENNIUM COLLECTION. a, f, g, h, j & m also on Spectrum (E) 9810227 [CD] titled THE COLLECTION. b also on Tapecar (Br) LPS X0-4 titled SOM ECODINAMIC PART TWO, Motor (Ger) 525 444-1, Motor (Ger) 525 444-2 [CD] titled MOJO CLUB PRESENTS DANCELOOR JAZZ VOLUME 4: LIGHT MY FIRE and Strut (E) STRUTLP007, Strut (E) STRUTCD007 [CD] titled CLUB AFRICA 2. b, g & j also on Verve (Ger) 06007 5328250 [CD] titled HUGH! THE BEST OF HUGH MASEKELA – PRESENTED BY TILL BRÖNNER. b, b (stereo promo version) & l also on Hip-o Select B001157902 [CD] titled THE COMPLETE MOTOWN SINGLES VOLUME 11A: 1971. l also on ? (SA) ? [CD] titled MESH MAPETLA PRESENTS JAZZ IN SOUTH AFRICA VOLUME 1.
Producer: Stewart Levine
Engineer: Lewis Peters

Rabbits & Carrots – Soul Latino (1969)

Rabbits & Carrots
“Soul Latino” 1969
Reissue on Vampisoul 2007 with extra tracks (Vampi CD 088)

1. Pais Tropical
2. Hip City
3. Romeo Y Julieta
4. Funky Chicken
5. Jarabe
6. Las 4 Culturas
7. Everyday People
8. Oh Calcuta!
9. Los Pelos Tiesos
10. Workin’ On A Groovy Thing
11. Spill The Wine
12. We Got More Soul
13. Sex Machine
14. Express Yourself

The first time I heard this all-instrumental record I was skeptical. Why bother, I asked myself, covering James Brown and Sly Stone in the late 60s when those artists were still putting out great music at incredible levels of productivity? The second time I listened to this, I asked myself, “Why the hell not?” This record is a lot of fun, even if the hype from Vampisoul about the hip DJ’s who spin it doesn’t do anything to excite me (in fact its more likely to make me ignore it..)

How can I *not* like a record that opens up with a soul-jazz take on País Tropical with a slightly-overdriven pseudo-Wes Montgomery guitar lead playing the vocal melody? If you can’t find that catchy then you’re hopeless. On first hearing this record I had thought that maybe these guys were Nuyorican because of the emphasis on black American music. Imagine my surprise to find out they were a bunch of Mexicans. Rabbits & Carrots were basically a nightclub / bar band in Mexico City, founded by Salvador Aguero with his brothers, that included mostly a lot of anglophone contemporary hits in their repertoire. But whereas there were tons of Mexican rock bands at the time with fuzzed-out guitars playing psychedelic or progressive rock with long wanky guitar solos, English lyrics, and beards, these guys were enamored with soul and funk music. Jorge Ben, Rufus Thomas, Kool & The Gang… Neil Sedaka.. Oddly enough the liner notes mention that the song “Las Quatras Culturas” is the one original composition on the album, somehow “about” the May 1968 massacre of students in Mexico City, when really the song is a blatant James Brown rip-off. But no matter, it’s still pretty cool albeit a little too upbeat for a song ostensibly about state repression. My favorite tune on here is an arrangement of a traditional tune, “Jarabe” that shows off just how well this band could cut loose in a style that really did blend a Latin rhythmic sense with soul from its northern brothers. On the whole this record has a lounge lizard, rather cheesy quality that must be what the ironic hipsters are enamored with, but the band approaches their material with enough inspiration (and some serious jazz chops from saxophonist Ramón Negrete) to make them stand apart from just a generic bar band.

 

The last four tracks on this disc come from an EP released years later by their label Musart. The band rather tragically abandons the exclusively instrumental approach they had adhered to in favor of incorporating a singer, identified only as “Max” in the typically ramshackle liner notes provided by Vampisoul. Although I can appreciate the effort of attempting to translate “Sex Machine” into Spanish, this guy is no James Brown. The results are kind of hilarious, but still doesn’t qualify as “so bad it’s good.” In fact I would have to say that these four tracks are just fucking godawful. Repeated listens only confirm how awful they are. The version of “Spill The Wine” just makes me want to pull out my Eric Burdon & War LP from my dusty archives. These songs require a vocal swagger and charisma that the singer just lacks, and I must say the results of the translation are questionable. They fall flat, and are rather embarrassing, and I think Vampisoul would have done these guys a service by leaving them off the album. But they are kind of a sketchy label anyway, seemingly consulting with nobody on these reissues (they have even been sued by Fania, for example), but they have been unearthing some nice treasures from the musicial seen of D.F., Mexico, for the rest of the world.

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Bobby Hutcherson – Now! (1969) with Eugene McDaniels & Harold Land

Bobby Hutcherson – Now!
Released 1969
BlueNote Records (BST 84333)

This reissue BN 73164

The first time I ever heard Bobby Hutcherson was probably on Eric Dolphy’s “Out To Lunch.” Even though everything on that album is noteworthy, memorable, and intriguing, I found Hutcherson’s work there particularly deserving of those superlatives. Capable of delicate texture and agile flight in his playing, he more than earns his reputation of a big fish in a rather small pond (post-bop vibraphonists). This album is something of a best-kept secret – the presence of not only Harold Land, whose other collaborations with Hutcherson are acclaimed by critics and audiences, but also Eugene McDaniels and Candido, should make this record stand out on anyone’s radar.

Eugene McDaniels’ career had one of the strangest trajectories in music: coming into his art as a bop jazz crooner who would sometimes share stages with Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, and Ornette Coleman, and then being catapulted to pop stardom with a string of R&B hit records in the 60s, morphing into a politicized soul-jazz-funk artist who made two amazing albums for Atlantic in the early 70s, then writing some notable songs (including a #1 hit) for Roberta Flack, and then mostly disappearing. These sessions were cut slightly before his landmark “Outlaw” album was released (coming soon to a blog near you, by the way).

The usage of a vocal chorus on this album remind me somewhat of “Up With Donald Byrd” (1965) but way more abstract. The album “Now!” is associated with Black Power consciousness. McDaniels’ lyrics may not be as weirdly radical as on his own Atlantic releases that inspired Kissinger to suggest wiretapping his house or whatever, but they are still pretty out-there. They unfold more in the form of tone-poems than straightforward lyrics. Some of them are rather hard to make out (the song ‘Now!’ for example) and a search around the interwebs yielded no results for transcriptions. Here are some samples from the opening cut –

Free soul soul free touch me heal you change
Lock your lost key touch me heal you change
Free soul soul free touch me free me
Touch the spiral falling upwards
God is watching, God is dying, slow change

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Eugene McDaniels

Anchoring the quintet is drummer Joe Chambers, whose albums credits also include Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, Charles Mingus, and Archie Shepp. His work, described somewhere as “cymbal-driven forward motion” is propulsive and staggering, bringing that motion to the brink of collapse in places, a mimetic counterpoint to the lyrics.

The next track, “Hello To The Wind”, written by Chambers, is gorgeous in description-defying ways. It would be better to let the listener to experience this with no preambling words of introduction or commentary. It grabs you from the opening measures of the guitar arpeggios and McDaniels voice. A little more than halfway through this piece McDaniels breaks into some vocalizations that fall somewhere between Qallawi singing and Leon Thomas, curling my toenails and raising the hair on the back of my neck, and Candido breaks into very heavy and relentless santería territory on the congas. This cut might well be the best example I can think of that blends accessible melodic figures (damn near ‘pop music’) dropped amid post-bop intimations of free jazz

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I was thinking the other day that I have most likely overused the word “haunting” during the nearly two years this blog has been active . What do we mean when we call a piece of music haunting? Do we mean that a melodic line lingers in our consciousness long after the music comes to a stop? Wouldn’t we just call that “catchy”? Or is it the sensation of that melody, harmonic internal, rhythmic change, coming back hours and hours later, “coming back to haunt us”? Does it remind us of things we can’t forget, or refuse to forget? Or do not want to forget. Not yet. All the tales of wandering spirits roaming among us have at least this much in common – that such shades and ghosts call to us because they have not received the proper rites required for a peaceful rest in the afterworld. This is where the difference between forgetting and letting go is salient. There are things we should not, ever, forget – the experience of love found or faded; our friends and ancestors gone from this earth; the rape of your land, your sisters and mothers; the enslavement of your people. Finding peace is no easy road and there are plenty of reasons we might not want to find it, or let it find us. We become haunted. It abets our hunger for vengeance or vindication, it is aided by the sting of slights, loss, and injustice. The song “Now!” was composed by Hutcherson for a lost friend, the bassist Albert Stinson.

After the song-suite of the first side, the second side of this record stretches out. Wally Richardson plunks down dissonant squalls of understated guitar on “The Creators,” the electric piano of Stanley Cowell punching out a carpet of sound, the bass and drums locked in a smoky and deliciously repetitive paean to the old gods ending in hand-claps and more Candido. The final cut “Black Heroes” is more hard bop and the lyrics here are the ones most obviously connected with black consciousness and civil rights. The word “now” again enters our awareness. “Lies are wearing so thin the people can see through them now. Now. Freedom now! Right now!” Harold Land takes the first solo, twisting around the main theme in contortions of Coltrane; Hutcherson follows with quick jolts to our blood pressure. Be careful. Did I mention Bobby Hutcherson is on this record? I haven’t talked about him much because it goes without saying that he is in his element here as master of ceremonies. This album qualifies for the Flabbergast stock phrase of “a singular addition to his discography.” It really is. I wouldn’t lie to you.

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After the original album are bonus tracks from a 1978 platter called “Blue Note Meets the L.A. Philharmonic” (BN-LA870) that also featured Carmen McRae and Earl Klugh. Normally these Blue Note CD’s feature alternate takes from the same sessions, a practice that tends to appeal mostly to the jazz fanatics. But this time it’s quite different, as we get to hear the song-suite from the original album’s first half played 8 years later with full orchestra and new arrangements. I miss the inspired playing of the original quintet (especially Chambers and Land) but these guys aren’t chopped liver either and Eddie Marshall lays down some serious funk. The real treat here is the orchestra, giving a fifth dimension to what were already transcendent pieces of music. The sound is nothing short of stunning on this live recording. Bereft of McDaniel’s lyrics, the orchestra still manages to bring out the grace and fluidity of his contributions, hanging in the air like an after-image on our aural retinas. After the reprise of “Now!” we can hear an enchanted audience in what is almost certainly a standing ovation. Rather than the often-repetitive alternate takes for the jazz scholar, this addition to the CD version is a wonderful coda to what may be Hutcherson’s most overlooked album.

1 Slow Change 7:14
2 Hello To The Wind 5:56
3 Now 2:44
4 The Creators 12:32
5 Black Heroes 7:03
6 Slow Change 5:05
7 Now 2:49
8 Hello To The Wind 3:06
9 Now (Reprise) 1:43

Personnel: Tracks 1 – 5: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibraphone; Harold Land: Tenor Sax; Kenny Barron: Piano; Stanley Cowell: Piano; Herbie Lewis: Bass; Joe Chambers: Drums: Wally Richardson: Guitar, Electric Guitar; Candido Camero: Conga; Gene McDaniels: Vocals; Hilda Harris: Vocals; Albertine Robinson: Vocals; Christine Spencer: Vocals.

Tracks 6 – 9: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibraphone Manny Boyd: tenor and soprano saxophone; George Cables: piano; James Leary: bass; Eddie Marshall: drums; Bobbye Porter Hall: percussion; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Calvin Simmons.

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