Curtis Mayfield's solo work and his work with the Impressions are highwater marks in popular music, representing the Chicago soul music constituency popular in the 1960s and '70s. His influence is yet to be fully realized or understood today, making his creative corpus a very tantalizing source of material for modern players. Jazz Soul Seven, an all-star septet under the leadership of guitarist Phil Upchurch, pays a fully-realized tribute to the music of Mayfield on Impressions of Curtis Mayfield.
This is the highest caliber of music made by the highest caliber of musicians. Arrangements are dense and funky, capturing well the essence of Mayfield's generous gift while constantly feeding new ideas and sound combinations for consideration. Mayfield's touchstone, "People Get Ready," offers a case in point. This piece could have been arranged in any number of ways, all being more than acceptable. But the arrangement allows pianist Russell Ferrante to play a skewed gospel vibe, one that does not fully resolve itself into traditional harmonies. He still manages to find the soul and funk supporting the other's solos. The effect is fresh. Trumpeter Wallace Roney's muted-bell is as sophisticated as tenor saxophonistErnie Watts's solo. Guitarist Phil Upchurch takes the band out on a wordy guitar note, after adding damped filigree to the song's interior. This is a most excellent cover of a most excellent song.
Correction to article 01/26/2020: Mr. Phil Upchurch corrected me that it was he who assembled and led the Jazz Soul Seven and not Terri Lynn Carrington. I regret the information provided me and originally published here.
Freddie's Dead; It's All Right; Move On Up; We're a Winner; Superfly; Beautiful Brother of Mine; Check Out Your Mind; I'm So Proud; Keep On Pushing; People Get Ready; Gypsy Woman; Amen.
Terri Lyne Carrington: drums; Russ Ferrante: piano; Master Henry Gibson: percussion; Bob Hurst: bass; Wallace Roney: trumpet; Phil Upchurch: guitar; Ernie Watts: saxophone.