All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

102

Jazz Soul Seven: Impressions of Curtis Mayfield

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
While he may not be as recognized as Stevie Wonder or James Brown, Curtis Mayfield left an indelible mark on American popular music as a pioneering instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and R&B producer. His compositions—including the score for the iconic blaxploitation film Super Fly (1972)—are compelling, incorporating the heritage of urban soul and gospel music and providing socially conscious messages—commentaries on the Vietnam War, inner city poverty, drug abuse and the tumultuous struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. His legacy is celebrated on Impressions of Curtis Mayfield by the Jazz Soul Seven, a band of ace jazz stars whose members include older and younger "groove aficionados" such guitarist Phil Upchurch and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

The band's depth and sophistication imparts Mayfield's genius with equal doses of soul and swing in sweet rebirthings of popular tunes ("Move On Up") and forgotten jewels ("Beautiful Brother of Mine"). The melodies are unspoiled, allowing for creative liberties such as Upchurch's smooth fretwork on "Keep On Pushing" or the Yellowjackets's pianist Russell Ferrante's perfectly phrased comps on the gospel-influenced "People Get Ready." The rhythmic foundation of the band is exemplified by the resilience of bassist Robert Hurst and Carrington's wonderful swing-walk drumming on the killer version (no pun intended} of "Freddie's Dead."

Veteran horn masters Wallace Roney and Ernie Watts provide the juice with muted horn cries and burnished sax lines that radiate both heat and cool. The late Master Henry Gibson's percussion ignites the already uplifting sentiments of "We're a Winner," elevating Roney's dynamic horn. The band's bond tangibly provides memorable highlights such as the conclusion of "Superfly," where the horns repeatedly echo the song's verse, "trying to get over," as Upchurch burns out a copacetic solo.

The many highlights include an ultra-tight "Check Out Your Mind" and the hit ballad "I'm So Proud," which was first recorded by the Mayfield-led pop group, The Impressions, in the 1960s. It's re-imagined here with an upbeat tempo and a West African flavor, the horns trading the amorous melody. From start to finish, the Jazz Soul Seven's dedication to Curtis Mayfield doesn't falter. The music suggests that, while yesteryear's Afros, platforms shoes and bell-bottoms were super cool, Mayfield's message was much deeper and still holds relevance today.

Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: Terri Lyne Carrington: drums; Russ Ferrante: piano; Master Henry Gibson: percussion; Bob Hurst: bass; Wallace Roney: trumpet; Phil Upchurch: guitar; Ernie Watts: saxophone.

Title: Impressions of Curtis Mayfield | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: BFM

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba CD/LP/Track Review
iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Globe Unity - 50 Years CD/LP/Track Review
Globe Unity - 50 Years
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Accelerator CD/LP/Track Review
Accelerator
by Doug Collette
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Little Big CD/LP/Track Review
Little Big
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Shades CD/LP/Track Review
Shades
by Doug Collette
Published: October 20, 2018
Read "The Groove Hunter" CD/LP/Track Review The Groove Hunter
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 27, 2018
Read "Frescalalto" CD/LP/Track Review Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read "Hawthorne" CD/LP/Track Review Hawthorne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 9, 2018
Read "Plays Hendrix" CD/LP/Track Review Plays Hendrix
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Higher" CD/LP/Track Review Higher
by Jim Trageser
Published: August 16, 2018
Read "Reaching Out" CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018