Tracks 11



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This diverse set of favourites was put together by Dr. Bob Jones, a British club DJ whose career spans most of the last 30 years. His opening selection is the energy-laced jazz funk classic Zaius, a long-time favourite of mine performed by the enigmatic Eddie Russ. Bob's sleeve notes curiously credit a Hammond B3, but I am sure it's a Rhodes that Eddie initially leads and solos with. Originally this track was on an album called See The Light which I have seen high prices asked for (his 70's material seems to be fairly rare - in the UK at least), so it's a very welcome inclusion on this compilation.

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This double CD neatly contains the three albums Herbie recorded for Warner Bros between 1969 and 1971. They make fascinating listening as they span the artistic divide between his acoustic Blue Note period and the full on funkiness of Headhunters and beyond. The earliest recording was Fat Albert Rotunda, an album that extended a soundtrack he had recorded for a TV cartoon series (called Fat Albert). It contains some excellent funky solos on tracks like Fat Mama(1), and the title cut(2). The basis of the sound on these up tempo tracks is the soul/jazz hybrid that many other artists were exploring right through to the mid 70's. Herbie himself though, influenced by Miles Davis, had already quickly moved on (and how!) in time for the next release called Mwandishi. This album features long, complex fusion tracks that are reminiscent of some of his later work, the superb solo on Ostinato(Suite For Angela)(3) being the most energetic and accessible example. The abstract approach continued unrelentingly, with the final album Crossings consisting mainly of the marathon 24 minute Sleeping Giant suite. There are some fine Rhodes moments to be found on it (4), but on this as on the other tracks, they are a little lost in the scale of the pieces.

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Japanese DJ and programmer Yoshinori Sunahara blends both kitsch and funky flavours from the past for this brand new album of mid tempo club grooves. Inspired by the theme of air travel (hence the title, Pan Am - The Sound Of The Seventies) the music consists of mainly instrumental tracks often with looping or weaving electric pianos and keyboards. Both the unimaginatively titled Rhodes Funky Dub(1) which jolts along very nicely, and the only full vocal cut, the Latin styled Sun Song '70(2) have effective e.p. parts played by Ken Shima. Swing The Clipper(3) features a looping riff that could be a sampled Rhodes and is typical of the project's overall sound, which though a bit gimmicky at times is still a good listening alternative.

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The 32 Jazz label are building up a fine catalogue of reissues and it includes several albums of interest for their e-piano content. A good example is this 1974 date, originally on Muse, for highly respected pianist Kenny Barron. He goes electric on three tracks with superb results, Peruvian Blue(1) is a long driving fusion track with a great sounding Rhodes and there is some cool echoing sustain applied at the start. Kenny works it hard in similar style on Two Areas(2) and gets extremely funky on In The Meantime(3), this one also has a particularly good introduction (4). The sleeve notes make an interesting point about the electric piano being 'an instrument that seems to have a mysterious power to homogenise nearly all players who use it.' This is quite a common view among those with a more intellectual/purist approach to jazz and is not one I really follow. It is possible to sound bland on the instrument, but that is a pitfall awaiting the uncommitted player on many other instruments too. I think the Fender Rhodes in particular offers great expressive range and it's sound can be highly tailored to the artists preference, you cannot take it for granted though, and the best players don't.

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Oscar Peterson is a true piano colossus, the virtuoso Canadian has recorded a vast catalogue over five decades and is rightly considered one of jazz's all time greats. This album is a rare opportunity to hear him perform almost exclusively on electric piano and it doesn't disappoint. The six tracks were recorded in 1979 and Oscar is accompanied by guitar, drums and bass in a variety of styles and tempos. My favourite cut is Teenager(1) an excellent piece of jazz-funk composed by Oscar himself that makes one wish he'd explored this area a lot more. Dancin' Feet(2) is a bright and cheerful foot-tapper with a cute riff that speeds along, and on the nine minute Soliloquy (Blues For Dr. John) the playing starts off quite mournfully (3) before slowly building into some nice mellow blues(4). If you like e-piano and jazz you need this album......

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The soundtracks of so called blaxploitation movies have endured well, maintaining a cult status throughout the years. Their funky scores portrayed life on the street so effectively that the influence of this style reached the mainstream quite quickly, resulting in almost every TV crime show of the 70's having credible music. The Dynamite Brothers is perhaps one of the genre's lesser known examples, and the only one I think composed by the late Charles Earland. He is best known as a 'Hero of the Hammond' and all but one track on this album features the organ. However on Betty's Theme he switched to Rhodes with great results - firstly backing the horns with some nice touches(1) and then an excellent long solo(2).

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