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Rusty Bryant: Legends of Acid Jazz Vol. Two

Douglas Payne By

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Two of the greatest and most sought-after anthems of the acid jazz craze are the title tracks to the two LPs compiled on this one CD. The tough, Gene Ammons-influenced tenor Rusty Bryant (1929-91) recorded eight records for Prestige Records between 1969 and 1974. All are worth hearing. But the two from 1971 featured here in their entirety, Fire Eater and Wildfire, are undoubtedly the best.

Bryant rarely played outside of his Columbus, Ohio, home, traveling to New York only occasionally to record. That probably explains why he's not better known today. But the music contained in Legends of Acid Jazz: Rusty Bryant: Vol. 2 is the cornerstone of his musical legacy.

From Columbus, Bryant brought bandmates Bill Mason on organ and guitarist Wilbert Longmire for these sessions, adding rhythm kingpin Idris Muhammad to the magical brew. All contribute mightily to the heavy-hitting funk of the disc's best tracks: the raw and rampaging "Fire Eater," the smoldering blues groove of "Free at Last" and the stampeding funk of "Wildfire" (based on Sly Stone's "Thank You").

Organist Leon Spencer replaces Mason for two original blues, "The Hooker" and "Mister S," both perfectly suited to Bryant's full-blooded bar-honking style. And Bryant rarely strays from his strengths, though the ballad "It's Impossible" and a silly cover of "Riders on the Storm" give the listener a brief reprieve from the high-voltage music elsewhere.

But it's "Fire Eater" and "Wildfire" that make Legends of Acid Jazz: Rusty Bryant: Vol. 2 required listening and, thus far, the best in Prestige's Acid Jazz series.

Songs:Fire Eater; Free At Last; The Hooker' Mister S.; Wildfire; It's Impossible; Riders on the Storm; The Alobamo Kid; If You Really Love Me' All That I've Got.

Players:Rusty Bryant: tenor saxophone; Bill Mason, Leon Spencer: organ; Wilbert Longmire, Jimmy Ponder, Ernest Reed: guitar; Idris Muhammad: drums; Buddy Caldwell: conga.

Title: Legends of Acid Jazz Vol. Two | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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