Guess I was feeling kinda classic this week, there’s a lot of “vintage cuts.”
“Mr. Welfare” by Gladys Knight & The Pips is from the soundtrack to a wonderful, but long-forgotten 70s movie “Claudine,” starring Dihann Carrol & James Earl Jones (pre-Darth Vader, Virginia.) The music was composed and produced by the legendary Curtis Mayfield (best known for “Superfly” and “People Get Ready”) who wrote for many films in the 70s including Superfly, Sparkle & Short Eyes. Hiphop fans may recognize elements of “Big Sur Suite,” one of many “breaks” from Johnny Hammond (aka Johnny “Hammond” Smith.) A well-known name around the house when I was a child was Eddie Kendricks, the falsetto (sometime lead) vocalist for Motown’s Temptations. “My People” was recently covered by Erykah Badu and is Eddie Kendricks’ song from the 70s to uplift African-Americans (although it is applicable to many others of various heritages) feeling beleaguered by the various torments of the times. Lightening things up a bit, “Wizard Island” is an upbeat jazzy track from the 80s by The Jeff Lorber Fusion. As a note of interest, the saxophone on this tune is played by one Kenneth Gorelick — better known as “Kenny G.” As you can hear, the guy can really play — too bad about the sappy-sounding stuff he later made his name on. Back when another 80s icon seemed to be ruling the pop world, namely Prince, this next song “Cool” popped up and was attributed to a group called The Time. If you listen closely, you can hear Prince all over this track and according the “real” credits on an unofficial site for The Time called What Time Is It? Morris Day is the additional lead vocalist, there are background vocals by Lisa Coleman (from the Revolution, Prince’s band) and all other vocals (including lead) and instruments are by Prince. Roy Ayers is a man who has managed to successfully bridge the gap between jazz, funk, disco, soul, hip-hop and house. “Don’t Stop The Feeling” is Roy Ayers in a jazzy funk mode with some disco appeal–sounds stupid in print, but it works sonically. “Maxxed Out” is by sideman extraordinaire, Greg Phillinganes (Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton) flexing his vocoder-funk style. Sounds a bit like Herbie Hancock, but he’s not a bad person to be compared to, y’know? “Robot Return (Modern Sleep Over Part 2)” by Talc is an contemporary example of the enduring appeal of vocoding (the technique of making instruments, usually keyboards, sound as though they are “singing.”) An odd bit of history about vocoders: invented by Homer Dudley at Bell Labs, the technology precedes World War 2 and was invented to transmit more than one call at a time over telephone lines. Later it was used to guard Winston Churchill’s telephone calls from Axis spy attempts. The musical uses came much later as much of the information about vocoding was kept secret until the 70s. “Dead End” is from another 80s jazz album called “Ghetto Blaster” by The Crusaders. The main composer of The Crusaders is Joe Sample (the keyboardist) who was speaking on “Tales (Reprise)” by Marcus Miller a few weeks ago. The Crusaders were initially known to record-buyers as The Jazz Crusaders and were much more straight-ahead jazz-oriented initially. As they became more “soul jazz” oriented their name changed to simply The Crusaders. “Morris Brown” by Outkast closes out this week’s show and is another song from a movie. The film, Idlewild,features both members of Outkast–Big Boi & Andre 3000.
By the way, if you want to dig a little deeper with some of the classic soul & jazz featured on this show, check out some of the “Blogs I Dig…”
Enjoy & see you next time!