Recorded between 1972 & 1987. Includes liner notes by Lee Hildebrand.
Personnel: Patrice Rushen (vocals, electric piano, Clavinet, hand claps); Freddie Perren (vocals, electric piano, synthesizer); Charles Meeks (vocals, electric bass, hand claps); Josie James (vocals, hand claps); Virginia Ayers, Sherman Davis, Leo Miller, Jeanie Tracy (vocals, background vocals); Fonce Mizell, Louis Patton, Gregory Matta, Helen Lowe, Jerry Wilder, Larry Mizell, Merry Clayton, The Blackbyrds, Augie Johnson (vocals); Marlon "The Magician" McClain (guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, background vocals); Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitar, electric bass); David T. Walker, Craig McMullen, Jimmy Ponder, Al McKay, Lee Ritenour , Melvin Sparks, Orville Saunders, Ray Obiedo, Roland Bautista (guitar); Dennis Springer, Ernie Watts, Stephen Johnson (saxophone); Hank Crawford, Marshall Keys (alto saxophone); Arnold Sterling, Ronnie Laws, Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone); Donald Byrd, Tony Collins (trumpet, flugelhorn); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Clifford Adams, George Bohanon (trombone); Clarence McDonald, Billy Preston (piano); Mike Cavanaugh (electric piano, Clavinet); Lincoln Ross (electric piano, ARP synthesizer); Joe Sample (electric piano); Jimmy McGriff (organ); Michael Hepburn, Donald Hepburn (keyboards, background vocals); John Barnes, Kevin Toney (keyboards); Nathaniel Phillips (electric bass, background vocals); Chuck Rainey (electric bass); Steve Gutierrez, Vance James, Harvey Mason, Sr. , Keith Killgo, Jack Cooper, James Gadson, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Bruce Carter (drums); Bill Summers (congas, bongos, percussion, background vocals); Joe Clayton (congas, tambourine, flexatone); Andrew Richardson (congas, percussion); Buck Clarke (congas); Munyungo Jackson (timbales); Darrell Cox, Ronnie Williams, Francois-Emmanuel Porche, Danny Vicari, Nathan Alford, Jr., Charles Mims, Jr. (hand claps); Bruce Smith (percussion, background vocals); Stephanie Spruill, Bobbye Hall (percussion); The 3 Pieces (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Phil Kaffel.
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Author: Lee Hildebrand.
Recording information: Angel City Sound, Los Angeles, CA (11/24/1972-06/16/1987); Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA (11/24/1972-06/16/1987); Hit City West, Los Angeles, CA (11/24/1972-06/16/1987); Sound Factory, Hollywood, CA (11/24/1972-06/16/1987); Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (11/24/1972-06/16/1987).
Arranger: Larry Mizell.
This is a solid, top-to-bottom compilation of the crossover jazz that blossomed in the 1970s, also known as groove jazz. Different than the soul-jazz of the 1960s it grew out of, the groove jazz that came out of the '70s and '80s was deeply entwined in funk and R&B -- in many cases inseparable from it. Perhaps the best case for this is on the album's opener, "Happy Music" by the Blackbyrds, a group who grew out of Donald Byrd's album by the same name and was led by trombonist George Bohannon and saxophonist Ernie Watts and featured Merry Clayton on vocals. "Happy Music" was a smash 12" that was played on dancefloors all over the country and in Europe, but also featured enough of the jazz idiom in its rhythmic sophistication to not be called a straight funk number. On the following "Black Byrd" by Donald Byrd, we can see just how far the trumpeter was willing to take his integrated vision of jazz, funk, and soul. Produced by Larry Mizell, "Black Byrd" is the most quintessential Detroit jazz funk track, rooted in a step-down groove, with killer piano fills by Joe Sample (one of two electric pianos on the cut) and Byrd's trumpet providing an in-the-pocket groove mode for hand percussion and Harvey Mason's slip-beat drumming. Byrd's trumpet is placed through layers of effects bleats like Miles Davis' on Bitches Brew, but carries the outside melodic fringe the whole way. Other cuts here are also classics of the genre: Patrice Rushen's awesome "The Hump," with its off-kilter bassline; Stanley Turrentine's "Hope That We Can Be Together Again Soon"; the Hank Crawford/Jimmy McGriff collaboration "The River's Invitation," built on Percy Mayfield's original vocal number; and McGriff's excellent read of Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'," which is drenched in funky soul power. The album closes with the Three Pieces' Philly-drenched "I Need You Girl," a vocal track with a harmony chart that is as sophisticated as any in jazz. The music here may be commercial music, or at least it was then, but it is full of a quality of presentation and musical sophistication that keeps it well within the jazz family album. ~ Thom Jurek