I’ve always loved Ronnie Laws’ brand of jazz-funk
since I first heard the opening percussion on “Always There”.
I’m therefore delighted that on the date I’m writing this
(June 20, 2005) Blue Note have released this gem on CD for what I
believe is the first time.
I never owned the vinyl album but had four of the
eight songs on singles. So
I’m already familiar with the haunting title track with its
thought-provoking lyric and swirling strings.
I’m also a big fan of the flat-out dancer Young Child,
the oh-so-funky Tomorrow and O.T.B.A Law, which allows
bassist Nathaniel Phillips (yes, the guy who laid down the that phat
line on Pleasure’s “Glide”) to go nuts.
The supporting musicians on this album are outstanding
and include Hubert Laws, Patrice Rushen, Joe Sample and Earth, Wind
& Fire’s Larry Dunn.
From the songs I’m hearing today for the first time,
the breezy, hand-clapping As One is my favourite.
Like all the best Laws tracks, it makes you feel good to be
available on CD we’ve currently got “Pressure Sensitive”,
“Fever”, “Solid Ground”, “Every Generation” and “Friends
and Strangers”. Come on,
Blue Note, it’s time to re-issue Flame and please reproduce the album
art as vibrantly as you have on “Every Generation”.
…Melange by Victor Saumarez
British-born but now California resident
guitarist Victor Saumarez displays an energetic and humorous style on
the opener, John Coltrane’s Impressions.
My first instinct is to call it a gypsy style – it’s so
uninhibited. In the same
vein, Jerome Kern’s All the Things You Are can’t help but
make you smile. Accomplished session bassist Timothy Powell can be heard on
upright bass on this and three other songs.
That’s not to say that this is a feelgood CD all the
way through: Estate is a gorgeous Latin-tinged piece with a
melancholy slant, which really grows on you.
Similarly, the minor chords in Benny Golson’s Whisper Not
are rendered sensitively and the atmosphere is sombre.
My favourite song is Robbin’s Nest.
I think the guitar is multi-tracked here but it remains an
uncluttered sound. My first
reaction was that if Quentin Tarantino picked up on this song for one of
his stylish soundtracks, Mr Saumarez could enjoy some serious exposure.
The title of the CD is very apt: mélange is the French word for
“mixture” and this set offers fans of unadulterated (and
well-recorded) jazz guitar an enjoyable mix of moods and tempos.
This CD is not on sale as I write this but I’d urge you to keep
your eyes on Victor’s award-winning site www.myjazzguitar.com
for details of when and where you can buy it.
One of the pleasures of writing about music is that
you never know when a friendly email will be followed by a CD in your
mailbox which surprises you.
Israeli saxophonist Tevet Sela just sent me this
ten-song set and I’m really impressed by the quality of composition
and performance. I heard
sound clips on his website www.tevetsela.com
before I received the CD and I couldn’t help comparing his music with
that of the Yellowjackets. Not
only is his tone similar to that of Marc Russo at times, but his writing
is adventurous too.
grips you and is more of a jam than a song.
Sela’s sax and Michael Avgil’s frenetic drums battle it out
for two intensely funky minutes. The
reggae-fied One Light makes me smile; the sax winds beautifully
around Ben Hendler’s bassline while the piano adds a touch of
Back to my Yellowjackets comparison: The Prophecy
is an intense song propelled by a tight rimshot and kickdrum pattern.
This hardens up in the chorus and the sax gets meaner.
The percussion which Amos Ben David delivers to open up the
wistful Just for a Moment is gorgeous.
Production values are very high and the space around the drum
sound, even though it has piano and sax for company, indicates that
someone behind the mixing desk has very good ears indeed.
The title One Inch Journey is intriguing and
the song is full of energy, with a backbeat that’s almost like soca
and again lots of space in the sound so that where a cymbal or some
percussion drops in, it sounds just right.
The same light touch on the desk is evident on the heart-rending I
May Cry. It’s just
piano and sax and it would sound devastating with strings.
As it is, the song allows you to appreciate Sela’s beautiful
phrasing and the maturity of his songwriting.
Tevet sent me a one-hour live DVD featuring his
quartet. It’s not for
review but I’ve just got to say that if he sounds that cool and funky
on his next CD, he won’t need to send me a copy because I’ll be
you want to know the kind of stir this band created with their first
my review is on this site. This
sampler reminds the converted of the great songs that appeared on the
first SounDoctrine and Jim
Couchenour albums and gives a tantalising taste of what the
forthcoming SD album could offer.
Phil the Beat’s sneaky bassline and some sneaky sax
open the languid but still nas-tay Once Upon a Groove.
Chi Tea has the funkiest drum sound, which is tough enough
to avoid being submerged by layers of synth.
It’s a really busy song.
sounds like a Christmas record that I know but can’t put a name to.
The throaty tenor sax reminds me of Wilton Felder’s sound and
the whole thing has a nice, loose Crusaders feel.
Hold onto your speakers when the subterranean bass on Boney’s
Jam kicks in. My guess is that the final cut of this song will have the
bass lower in the mix and maybe less reverb on that dreamy sax.
is the title track of an old Joe Sample album.
I confess I’ve never heard it and maybe that’s good because I
can listen to this on it’s own terms.
It’s fantastic – heavy but fluid bass with some lovely
rimshots from bandleader and drummer Jere B keepin’ you moving.
The piano chords are lush (in that Joe Sample style) and the
staccato sax is joyous – sounds a little like Maceo Parker on some
phrases. This rocks – please come and play this on a stage near me!!
I hope Jere is reading this and remembers one of
SD’s biggest fans when the copies of “Endurance” are ready –
expected to be sometime in September 2005.
I got a DVD with the sampler, which includes live footage of the
band. Boy, these guys work hard to connect with audience and spread
the Christian funk message! Their
success is well deserved. Funk
on over to www.soundoctrine.com