CHARLES EARLAND IN CONCERT contains 2 LPs on 1 CD: LIVE AT THE LIGHTHOUSE (1972)/KHARMA (1974).
Personnel: Charles Earland (electric piano, organ, synthesizer);
Dave Hubbard (soprano & tenor saxophones, flute); James Vass (soprano & alto
saxophones); Jon Faddis, Elmer Coles (trumpet); Clifford Adams (trombone);
Maynard Parker, Aurell Ray (guitar); Ron Carter (electric bass); George Johnson (drums); Kenneth Nash (congas).
Recorded live at the Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, California and Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland in 1972 and July 6, 1974.
Personnel: Charles Earland (electric piano, organ, synthesizer); Aurell Ray, Maynard Parker (guitar); Dave Hubbard (flute, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Jimmy Vass (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Jon Faddis (trumpet); Clifford Adams (trombone); Ron Carter (electric bass); Darryl Washington, George A. Johnson, Jr. (drums); Kenneth Nash (congas).
Audio Mixer: Baker Bigsby.
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Audio Remixer: Skip Shimmin.
Liner Note Author: Robert L. Doerschuk.
Recording information: Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, CA (??/??/1972/07/06/1974); Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland (??/??/1972/07/06/1974).
Photographer: Tony Lane.
This two-fer CD pairs 1972's Live at the Lighthouse with the less impressive, though still worthy, 1974 album Kharma, which was recorded at that year's Montreux Jazz Festival. As the head of a sextet on Live at the Lighthouse, Earland spearheaded some first-class soul-jazz, which integrated some funk and rock of the early '70s without sounding like a watered-down cocktail of all those styles (as many other soul-jazz-pop albums of the time did). The horn section of James Vass on sax and Elmer Coles on trumpet leaned more toward soul than jazz, as heard on the opening instrumental cover of Sly & the Family Stone's "Smilin'." The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" wasn't the greatest tune to attempt, though Earland gamely put it into a boppish swing arrangement. Better were his originals, like "Black Gun," which really cooked with the combo of his forceful organ, peppy off-to-the-races brass, and wah-wah effects. Though Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" flirted with fusion, Woody Shaw's "The Moontrane" got back into the kind of bopping groove lovers of the classic mid-'60s Prestige sound love, with some almost dizzy rapid-fire trills taking it into edgier territory during the solos. Earland was getting into mixing up his customary organ with electric piano and synthesizer by the time of Kharma. While this sometimes broadened his tonal range impressively, at other times it worked against his best strengths, and his best instrument, the organ. Still, this is a respectable and energetic set, containing some real flights of inspiration, as when he seems to be barely keeping some demons in check during the more frenzied solos in "Joe Brown" and "Morgan." There's a good share of space for the three horn men in the lineup, and he lets loose with some pretty combative outer space electronics once he gets into the two-part, 16-minute "Suite for Martin Luther King," complemented by some nearly free jazz soprano sax by Dave Hubbard. That piece mellows into some near-fusion in its second half as Earland moves to electric piano, a mood that carries over to the closing "Kharma," probably the most pop-R&B-friendly of the five tracks (all Earland compositions). Note that "Morgan" appears here in a slightly edited version in order to fit both albums onto one CD. ~ Richie Unterberger