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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NEW – On The Turntable

22 02 2010

The ‘On The Turntable’ page has been updated. If you still want to access the old stuff from last month you can via an archive I set up in the sidebar to the right. It is located below the other archive links. You have to check out the page to see it all but here is a little taste of what is new…

It’s a little bit of Curtis/Live!, a great live Curtis Mayfield album from 1971 recorded at The Bitter End, here in The Village of downtown NYC. These 3 songs are a few of my favorites from the album:

We’ve Only Just Begun

People Get Ready

We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue

I especially like the Carpenters’ cover of “We’ve Only Just Begun”. Written by the songwriting team of Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics), the song originally debuted in a commercial for Crocker National Bank in California in 1970, with Williams providing the vocals. It has since been played by many different artists with the Carpenters’ version being the most popular. I found this instrumental version by jazz guitarist Grant Green, which I really like too. It’s from his 1971 album Visions from Blue Note and features one of my favorite drummers from this period, Idris Muhammad.

Some might argue this type of “pop song turned instrumental jazz” style is in fact the precursor to the Muzak we mock today but I really like the way the rhythm section drags and pushes on this one, it gives it a great soul jazz feel that is indicative of what was going on in the genre at this time.

*Buy Curtis/Live online

**Buy Grant Green’s Visions online








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