People Make the World Go Around

2 04 2010

CTI LogoThis is a great tune from legendary vibraphonist Milt Jackson’s CTI album Sunflower. The 70’s Philly Soul/R&B group, The Stylistics, originally wrote this song but this one is so good you might as well forget the original ever existed. The title of the album is an abbreviated take on what might be considered the title track, Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower”. Freddie plays trumpet and flugelhorn on this album as this was in the prime period of CTI when he was a regular on most of the sessions. Joining Milt and Freddie is a phenomenal line up of Herbie Hancock on piano & Fender Rhodes, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Cobham on drums. Although there are some string & horn arrangements by Don Sebesky and acoustic guitar from Jay Berliner, this song is one of the more straight forward tunes on the record that is stripped down to just the quintet. It’s for the better because they have all the room they need to stretch out and have fun with it. The entire album is absolute perfection. In my opinion, it’s not just Jackson’s best CTI album, it’s probably the greatest of his incredible career… Not to mention the album cover is super cool. The whole album is a perfect representation of the CTI aesthetic.

There are a few covers of “People Make The World Go Round”, including one by the Jackson 5 but the only one that is even close to Milt’s is this cool version by lesser known Jamaican reggae singer Hortense Ellis. Hortense is the younger sister of the more popular Alton Ellis, so it’s no surprise it’s so good.

The Stylistics original “People Make The World Go Round”

The Jackson 5’s version

References:

More info on Sunflower from AllAboutJazz

More info on Milt Jackson from AllAboutJazz

More info on The Stylistics

More info about Hortense Ellis

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Idris Muhammad | Loran’s Dance

24 03 2010

This one is from my own personal collection. I threw this video together so that it was accessible for all to hear at a moments notice. It’s a phenomenal song from a really great album by famed New Orleans funk and soul jazz drummer, Idris Muhammad. The first few bars of the song were sampled by The Beastie Boys for an interlude on Paul’s Boutique. In fact, many of Idris’ beats have been sampled over the years because they’re so damn funky. “Loran’s Dance” is from the album Power of Soul which is a prized CTI session that includes an all-star lineup typical of this era (1974). The full band breakdown is Grover Washington Jr (sax), Randy Brecker (tp), Bob James (ep), Joe Beck (gtr), Gary King (bass), Ralph McDonald (prc), and of course Idris (drums). One listen and you will hear why it’s so compelling. The overall synergy and dynamics between the group is amazing. The thing to keep in mind is that there is a lot of improvisation in this session so although they are playing around the arrangement, they are really letting their sensibilities guide them in a collective effort.

As a little aside, I wanted to introduce CTI Records as I will be featuring work from this incredible label of yesteryear in future posts. CTI stands for Creed Taylor Inc. Creed Taylor was a producer for various major labels and their subsidiaries until he created CTI. Before CTI, he was most notable for not only creating Impulse! but also signing John Coltrane to essentially be their flagship artist. He was also responsible for starting the Bossa Nova craze in the US as he is the one who gathered Antonio Carlo Jobim and Stan Getz for “The Girl From Ipanema” sessions while at Verve. CTI is his real legacy though. His work there captured the ideals of the time in a way that jazz is intended to do. What really made it a success was that he always had access to the top players of the day. He would contract guys like Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Jack Dejohnette, Ron Carter, Stanley Turrentine, George Benson, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Nina Simone and so many more. He also used legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder to record his sessions. Van Gelder was considered a genius for his innovative recording techniques and had long been used by Lyons & Wolfe at Blue Note because of the incredible sound of his studio. One thing you will notice about all of his work with CTI is that it has a very specific and distinctive aesthetic that for some reason cannot be duplicated. Like Blue Note, Taylor always used some VERY cool imagery on his album covers which only enhanced the appeal. So it was this powerful combination of resources and Taylor’s own point of view that shaped the history of jazz within this era. Unfortunately, some say it was also Taylor who is primarily responsible for the eventual emergence of what we would now call smooth jazz and Muzak. Taylor was an absolute master at balancing artistry and commercialism and that would later be bastardized by jazz artists who tried to copy his model throughout the 80’s & 90’s. During his tenure, he often introduced pop tunes of the day into the predetermined repertoire for a given album. Basically, he would take really great, well-known songs and let his master musicians have their way with them in the studio. Because of this, the music was extremely accessible for all music fans and remain so to this day. I’m a huge fan and will likely be featuring CTI material again.  Until then, there are some links below to learn more about Creed Taylor and his impact in jazz and the recording industry as a whole.

Creed Taylor on Wiki

Creed Taylor on All About Jazz

Rare interview with Creed

Full CTI (+ Kudu/A&M) Discography

Idris Muhammad on All About Jazz

Power Of Soul session details








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