I’m not typically a huge fan of the CTI catalog. Creed Taylor’s production aesthetic leans towards a sterile polish, with a dampened sense of dynamic, and with the listener feeling like they are hearing everything through headphones even when they’re not. Everything feels close-mic’d to me — the drum sound favors close-mic techniques over overhead microphones that are more common in jazz recordings from the hard-bop era where cats like Hubbard cut their teeth, resulting in a drum sound that doesn’t “breath” or have much “air,” to use the usual sound engineer metaphors. And all this in spite of the fact that the one and only Rudy Van Gelder was manning the controls as lead engineer. But I don’t really know anything about what the CTI situation was like behind the scenes.. Perhaps some kind blog visitor will set me straight.
But this record stands as a shining exception for me. Not that those production elements aren’t still there to some extent, but Hubbard’s vibrant arrangements and the energy of this ensemble overcome them easily. To borrow some imagery from my friend Clint Striker, CTI records are often just too “clean” — they could benefit from being more “dirty.” Well this one still has some grit to it, some “dirt,” particularly in the lovely Fender Rhodes work from Herbie Hancock and Johnny Hammond, the latter on the previously unissued live performance of the title track. This track is in itself worth the price of admission of this remaster. It highlights the funky loose-booty tightness and explosive dynamism that Hubbard’s band was capable of when they were not reined in by Taylor’s hermetic controls.
I think the best way to hear this album is on wax. If I had time – which I don’t — I’d give you all a vinyl rip. But this remaster, loud and brash as it may be, should hold you over. Enjoy!
Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay (1970) 320 kbs in em pee three
Originally released on CTI
Reissued in 2002 as a Legacy Remaster
This pressing 2006, Hi Fly Reocrds
1 The Panther 2:29
2 Soul Fiesta 2:08
3 Africadelic 2:16
4 African Battle 3:00
5 Black Beauty 2:50
6 African Carnaval 3:16
7 Moving Waves 4:03
8 Afro-Soul 2:44
9 Oriental Sunset 1:47
10 Monkey Beat 2:42
11 Wa-Wa 3:03
12 Percussion Storm 1:54
AFRICADELIC is the classic 1973 album composed and recorded in the span of one week by Manu Dibango, after the encouraging success of his monster hit “Soul Mokossa.” Here he continues to fuse Afro-Caribbean flavors with the contemporary Latin … Full Descriptionand funk influences of the day, resulting in a highly soulful, highly danceable album.
DUSTY GROOVE says
Incredibly funky work from Manu Dibango — a set that’s easily as great as his classic Soul Makossa album — but which is a lot more obscure overall! The work’s got a fiercely-jamming quality all the way through — lots of rumbling percussion at the bottom, and also a bit of keyboards as well — served up in a heady brew that turns out to be a perfect setting for Dibango’s sharp-edged reeds! The record’s got a few especially great break tracks, but all numbers are pretty darn great too — filled with more funky changes, flaring horns, and 70s-styled grooves than you might ever hope to find in a single album! Tracks include “Black Beauty”, “Soul Fiesta”, “The Panther”, “Africadelic”, “Moving Waves”, “Afro Soul”, “Wa Wa”, “Percussion Storm”, “Monkey Beat”, and “Oriental Sunset”.
It might be an attempt to quickly cash in on the success of Soul Makossa, but it’s still an amazing record from start to finish. Enjoy!
Check out the very very nice Manu Dibango Discography over at Soundological Investigations!
Caroline Crawford – Nice And Soulful (1979)
A stunning set of soul tunes from the lovely Caroline Crawford — produced by Bohannon, and some of his best work from the time! Caroline’s got a great style that moves past other club singers of the time — much more soulful and sophisticated than simple disco diva styles, drenched in a deeper soul sound that grounds the album nicely in a strong tradition of 70s soul. The production is tight, but unobtrusive — a bit like some of the best work that Barry White did with singers of a similar style — and the whole album sparkles with a freshness that will make you say “Hey, why I have I been missing this one all these years?” Titles include “The Strut”, “I’ll Be Here For You”, “Havin Fun”, “Facts Of Life”, and “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone”.
1. I’ll Be Here For You
2. Can’t Hold Me Back
3. Love Me Or Leave Me Alone
4. The Strut
5. The Facts Of Life
This is a highly underrated album, a result of Gil’s trip to Lagos with Caetano Veloso. Caetano recorded “Bicho”, also a classic, but this record holds its own against it any day. In my opinion, this is the last of Gil’s records that you can truly call a “classic.” It’s groundbreaking stuff that presages “world music” but the production values here are still nice, warm, and analog (no Peter Gabriel “Real World studios” sounding stuff here!).
Contains complete artwork!!
Review by Philip Jandovský
Unlike his friend and fellow Brazilian musical legend, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, through the years, has had a strong tendency to follow the temporary shifts in styles and trends that occur within popular music. Because of this the music of Gil usually has sounded very up to date when it was released, but often his recordings haven’t at all aged as gracefully as the timeless music of Caetano Veloso. The tracks on many of the albums of Gilberto Gil have also been of very uneven quality. Refavela is clearly one of the exceptions to this rule. Heavily inspired by traditional African and Afro-Brazilian sounds and rhythms, the songs on this album have aged very well indeed. The title of the album, Refavela, of course, refers to the slum quarters found in the large Brazilian cities, which are called favelas. Among the more famous songs on this album are the beautiful title track, “Refavela,” the funky “Babá Alapalá,” and the Afro-Brazilian rhythmic “Patuscada de Gandhi” and “Ilê Ayê.” There is also a cover of Tom Jobim’s “Samba do Avião.” Refavela is, without doubt, one of the most consistent and probably the best of all albums recorded by Gilberto Gil.
THE CHISA YEARS (Rare and Unreleased)
2006 BBE Records
Review by Thom Jurek
Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine met in 1961 at the Manhattan School of Music. They became friends, roommates, and collaborators. They began experimenting with putting together groups of African singers, studio musicians, and a fusion of South African township jive and urban gospel. The two started the CHISA label together in 1966 just before the pair scored big with Masekela’s smash, “Grazin’ in the Grass.” After the success of that track, they put more money into their label, and scored a distribution deal with Motown. The 14 sides here, on Chisa Years: 1965-1975 (Rare and Unreleased) are little known or forgotten tracks from the CHISA years. It’s true that the Crusaders recorded for CHISA in this period, but there are no tracks by them on this set — though most of the band appear here in one form or another. None of Masekela’s hits are here either. And it’s just as well. What is collected on this disc is a vibrant slew of cuts recorded by the pair. First there’s the smoking “Afro Beat Blues,” by Masekela and his band Ojah, who hailed from places like Nigeria and Ghana, that had been recruited during a successful African tour in 1973. The players had been introduced by Fela Kuti in Lagos. Other cuts here include the stunning “Mahalela,” “U Se Mcani,” “Macongo,” and “Melodi (Sounds of Home),” by Letta Mbulu. These are unreleased cuts from her debut and second albums from 1970 and ’73, respectively. The band includes four members of the Crusaders, Arthur Adams, Wayne West, Masekela, and Francisco Aguabella on percussion. The latter track is one of the most joyous and successful attempts to pull together the world of soul and township jive ever. Elsewhere, on “Amo Sakesa” by Baranta (featuring the great vocalist Miatta Fahnbulleh) funk grooves meet the music of the Soweto street in glorious aplomb. The four selections by Baranta are the most adventurous on the set. (Check the fuzz guitar, Nigerian funk bass line, and staggered drum breaks in “Ahvuomo.”) There are three tracks here by the Zulus. All of these register from the earliest sessions. This group included Mbulu as well as Caiphus Semenya, and contained seven vocalists as well as a rhythm section. Dig the hard-driving hand drum grooves in “Za Labalaba.” The polish and sophistication of the sounds in this song are literally astonishing, and prove a perfect, seamless meeting of American gospel and South African street music, but a close second is “Aredze,” with breezy Les Paul-styled guitar by Bruce Langhorn. The gospel piano in “Awe Mfana,” by the Johannesburg Street Band sidles up magnificently to the horns played by Masekela, the Crusaders’ Wilton Felder, and Wayne Henderson, and Al Abreus with tight Steve Cropper-styled guitar by Arthur Adams. In sum, there isn’t a weak moment on this entire collection. It’s appeal is wide and deep and one can only hope this is the first of many volumes of this material to appear. BBE Records has done a stellar job in making this slab available.
Various Artists – Bollywood Funk (2001)
Little is known about this compilation of Bollywood soundtrack cuts. The liner notes are not helpful at all – they don’t even reference the films these are from, let alone the artists. Even the discogs website has no idea. There is a review over at AMG but I prefer not to put it here because I don’t like to support their hack music journalism over there, and the review is particularly bad in it’s smarmy indie-boy kind of way. This is a great compilation, not necessarily “funk” but definitely funky and also pretty psychedelic, ranging (I’m guessing) from the mid-60s through the early 70s. Anyone who can help out with more info, please leave some comments!