All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

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 Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Hidden Details CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Details
by John Kelman
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Selective Coverage CD/LP/Track Review
Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read "First Impressions" CD/LP/Track Review First Impressions
by Chris May
Published: March 29, 2018
Read "Humanities" CD/LP/Track Review Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Powered by Life" CD/LP/Track Review Powered by Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "The Heart Of Infinite Change" CD/LP/Track Review The Heart Of Infinite Change
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Everybody Loves Angels" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody Loves Angels
by Henning Bolte
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Locked & Loaded" CD/LP/Track Review Locked & Loaded
by John Kelman
Published: May 26, 2018