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


Boogaloo Joe Jones

18 03 2010

My man, Boogaloo Joe Jones, was one of the first soul jazz artist I ever heard. It was Joe who turned me on to the whole thing during my days of almost exclusively classic rock, reggae and the jam scene. Not that I didn’t dig R&B and Jazz back then but I never really had a “jones” (pardon the pun) for the stuff. I got a compilation disc of Joe and that was it… forever converted.

His real name was Ivan Joseph Jones but his debut as an artist was with the name Joe Jones. At that time, there were at least 5 other guys in popular music using the name Joe Jones. So, upon his second release he started billing himself as Boogaloo Joe Jones. It was to distinguish himself from the others and it made sense given a song on that album was titled “Boogaloo Joe”. It can get a bit confusing because later in his career he started using Ivan “Boogaloo Joe” Jones, so there is material with all 3 names on it. Joe was a pioneering guitarist during the Boogaloo movement of the late 60’s. Back then they didn’t know what to call it. It was blues mixed with soul music, some early rock n’ roll and it definitely bordered on jazz given the strong blues influence and the fact that it was all instrumental with some improvisation sprinkled in to the arrangements. So what did they choose? …Psychedelic Soul Jazz. Not a great genre name in hindsight but it was descriptive nonetheless and suited their needs at the time. It eventually would be dubbed Boogaloo with the help of the man himself, Boogaloo Joe. Joe had plenty of originals but some of his best tunes are his reinterpretations of classic popular music. In many ways he help create that model in soul jazz.  Below is “I Feel The Earth Move’ from the What It Is album. This tune is originally a Carol King song. You may recognize the sound of the sax player as Grover Washington Jr… a Philly legend who is famous for both his own work like “Mister Magic” as well as collaborations with guys like Bill Withers on “Just The Two Of Us”.

Here is one of Boogaloo Joe’s originals that’s pretty laid back. It’s the title track from the same album… “What It Is”.

Here is a great cover of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”. Cool version of a great song.

Another original but this one is hot. It just has a really great push to it all the way through.  This one is “No Way!” from 1971.

Here is a song from Joe’s famous sideman/session player,  organist Butch Cornell. It’s called “Sunshine Alley”. It was also recorded on another one of Butch’s famous gigs for saxophonist Stanley Turrentine’s CTI hit Sugar.

More on Ivan “Boogaloo Joe” Jones on Wiki

*Interestingly, I think Rafael Saadik looks A LOT like Boogaloo… check it out. It’s a good look, even in 2010!

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