everybodydigs#49 George Benson – Bad Benson

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

Preceding Breezin’, his crossover smash for Warner in 1976, Bad Benson shows the guitarist still hanging on to his Wes Montgomery roots in places while stretching his soul-jazz persona into even funkier arenas. CTI had a formula for making funky, accessible jazz and fusion records that in 1974 still held true. Arranged by Don Sebesky, Bad Benson is a collection of delicious, varied, and sometimes confusing choices. Benson’s own playing is precise and smooth as always, and guitarist Phil Upchurch keeps a large color palette for him to draw from, as in the funkified version of “Take Five.” Other notables are the stellar “My Latin Brother,” which begins as a Debussy-ian impressionistic string study before becoming a heavily arpeggiated variation on the samba. Kenny Barron’s pianism here is the driving force behind a rhythm section that also includes drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Ron Carter. They give Benson a harmonic floor for one of the most inspiring solos of his career. These intensely meaty cuts — along with Upchurch’s stellar swinging in the pocket groover “Full Compass” — are juxtaposed against ballads such as “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams” and “The Changing World,” a pair of ballads that ape Montgomery’s later snore-fest session for A&M. Thankfully, Legacy’s remastered CD version includes three bonus tracks from the session: a hip and syncopated read of “Take the ‘A’ Train” (with truly surreal and shimmering colors courtesy of Sebesky’s string section) and the amazingly driving, greasy funk of “Serbian Blue,” as well as a simply beautiful — and brief — solo from Benson called “From Now On.” Not a great album, but a very, very good one. (allmusic)

Personnel: George Benson (guitar); Phil Upchurch (guitar, electric bass, percussion); Alan Shulman, Charles McCracken, Frank Levy, Jesse Levy, Paul Tobias, Seymour Barab (cello); Garnett Brown, Warren Covington, Wayne Andre (trombone); Paul Faulise (trombone bass), Alan Rubin, Joe Shepley, John Frosk (trumpet); Al Regni, George Marge, Phil Bodner, Ray Beckenstein (woodwind); Brooks Tillotson, Jim Buffington (french horn); Steve Gadd (drums); Margaret Ross (harp); Ron Carter (bass); Steve Gadd (drums).

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#38 Jaco Pastorius – Jaco Pastorius

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

With one album, this self-titled first release, bass phenomenon Jaco Pastorius was catapulted into the position of the greatest electric bass player that ever lived. Officially discovered by Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Colomby, Jaco’s revolutionary use of the bass as a solo instrument made him one of the most compelling instrumentalists of the electric era. Indeed, this record marked a turning point in the history of music–from the period before Jaco Pastorius and the period since.

Personnel includes: Jaco Pastorius (bass); Sam Moore, Dave Prater (vocals); Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone); David Sanborn (alto saxophone); Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone); Howard Johnson (baritone saxophone); Randy Brecker (trumpet); Peter Graves (bass trombone); Peter Gordon (French horn); Hubert Laws (piccolo); Max Pollikoff, Arnold Black (violin); Julian Barber, Al Brown (viola); Kermit Moore, Beverly Lauridsen (cello); Herbie Hancock (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards); Alex Darqui (Fender Rhodes piano); Homer Mensch (acoustic bass); Narada Michael Walden, Lenny White, Bobby Economou (drums); Othello Molineaux, Leroy Williams (steel drums); Don Alias (bongos, congas, bells, okonko y iya, afuche, percussion).

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#30 George Duke – The Aura Will Prevail

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

In 1975, George Duke was dabbling in R&B vocals. But instrumental jazz-fusion was still his primary focus, and he had yet to be played extensively on any of the genres’ stations. When The Aura Will Prevail came out that year, no one bought the LP for its occasional R&B vocal — the main attraction was Duke’s keyboard playing. “Fools” is a melancholy soul ballad that finds him singing lead and predicts what was to come on R&B-oriented releases like Don’t Let Go (1978) and Master of the Game (1979), but it isn’t typical of the album on the whole. This is a fusion effort first and foremost, and Duke has plenty of room to stretch out and improvise on instrumentals that range from the insistent “Floop de Loop” to the Brazilian-influenced “Malibu” (which shouldn’t be confused with the Hole/Courtney Love gem). Two of the songs were written or co-written by Frank Zappa: the fusion instrumental “Echidna’s Arf” and the gospel-minded soul item “Uncle Remus” (another tune that gives Duke a chance to sing lead). Without question, The Aura Will Prevail is among this artist’s finest fusion-oriented albums. (allmusic.com)

Personnel: George Duke (keboards, vocals); Alphonso Johnson (bass); Leon “Ndugu” Chancler (durms); Airto Moreira (percussion); Sylvia Saint James (vocals); Kathy Woehrle (vocals).

Rappamelo’s favorite track: