Tracks 9



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The title song on Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes 1975 album Expansions(1) became one of the musical cornerstones of the jazz-funk era. As well as Cecil McBee's legendary bass line, and the typically spiritual lyric sung by Lonnie's brother Donald, there is some distinctive keyboard playing on this popular track. Lonnie developed a very individual sound on the electric piano and I remember reading years ago that his instruments were specially modified to help achieve this. For me one of the great strengths of the Rhodes is the way that, with various techniques and effects, an artist can create their own musical signature. Voodoo Woman(2) also demonstrates his style well with a nice long solo over a funky backing.

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Isotope are a new trio from The Netherlands who play excellent, fusion influenced jazz. Pianist Rob van Bavel, who chooses Fender Rhodes for many of the tracks, is partnered by bassist Udo Pannekeet and drummer Bas Cornelissen. The tracks were recorded live, real jazz ethics being an important element of the project. Playing original compositions the three players make a pure, uncluttered sound, Equator(1) represents this well with subtle urgency in the playing, Assemblem(2) is another of my favourites. It's good to see fusion of this quality and sophistication being made as we approach the new millennium.

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Miles Davis' quest to break new musical ground made him an influential figure, and his approval of the electric piano I am sure helped it's popularity - particularly amongst the more avant-garde players. 1969's In A Silent Way helped point the way forward for the developing fusion movement of the early seventies. Stacked with talent in all departments it boasts Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul on electric piano. There are only two, very long tracks (both seem to be comprised of two compositions), and in the main the e.p. content provides a cool backdrop. This is done brilliantly for extended periods, however a little bit of solo action does eventually occur on Shhh/Peaceful(1). Echoing textures accompany the leads at the start of In A Silent Way/ It's About That Time(2) while this chord sequence(3) is the backbone of the central section, which develops into a groove similar to later material by Weather Report.

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Supergrass are a popular British rock/pop band who are now in the process of releasing singles from their eponymous, third album. The trio are not particularly associated with keyboards as far as I know, but, on the latest single (November 1999) Mary, they continue to show their retro tendenciess with the whole track being underpinned by electric piano. As is often the case in rock, there is no opportunity for the guest player to solo but his contribution to the overall sound is important. The clip is the intro to the song which I am sure this will be another hit for the group, putting some welcome e.p. playing in the sterile top 40.

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This is a various artists compilation by DJ Russ Dewbury of cuts that have proved their worth in his jazz club sets. The main track of interest for e.p. content is by Clare Fischer, an American keyboard player/composer/arranger with a keen interest in Latin music. He has often worked with vibraphonist Cal Tjader , provided arrangements and keys on many sessions as well as recording over thirty solo albums. Descarga-Yema Ya dates from 1978 and is a bright mix of chanted vocals, assorted percussion and flowing Rhodes - all with a classic Latin jazz feel. I have just ordered more music by this artist so if this is to your liking check for further entries quite soon.

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Three Dog Night enjoyed massive success stateside from the late sixties through to the mid seventies, a fact that escaped me at the time in Britain, where they only enjoyed a couple of hits. They are best remembered here for their quirky rendition of Mama Told Me Not To Come(1), a song originally penned and performed by Randy Newman. It contains some amusingly woozy-sounding Hohner Pianet playing by the band's keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon which compliments the song nicely. Their other UK hit, Joy To The World(2) also contained electric piano - this song was the best selling US single of 1971, clearly showing the popularity their crafted and versatile sound achieved.

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