“Epic Records” is in the process of reissuing sixteen titles from the popular 70’s contemporary jazz label, “CTI.” Formed by produced Creed Taylor, this label may have been the forerunner for what now is coined, “smooth or contemporary jazz.” Hence, many of the recordings by artists such as pianist, Bob James, flutist, Hubert Laws, and others, might signify an antithesis to the ear candy we currently hear on the light-jazz airwaves. Besides, “CTI” bore a signature audio sound thanks to legendary engineer, Rudy Van Gelder’s innovative techniques, where many of the instruments shared an equal sonic mix, amid dashes of echo and other techniques. Quite a few of the jazz artists who recorded for “CTI,” enjoyed some newfound breadth and popularity, thanks to the semi commercial nature of these productions. In fact, outings such as guitarist, George Benson’s White Rabbit
and trumpeter, Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay
are now considered minor classics.
Being enamored with this label’s then, stylistic mode of operations, I never managed to acquire New Orleans reared drummer, Idris Muhammad’s Power Of Soul. No doubt, Muhammad is one of the most influential jazz/funk and R&B drummers on the planet. Known for his infusions of hip, snazzy grooves into jazz-based formats and other genres, Power Of Soul signifies his first solo effort.
Clocking in at a mere thirty-four minutes in length, Muhammad and then prominent “CTI” recording artists, keyboardist/arranger, Bob James, and the late saxophonist, Grover Washington Jr. render some truly inspiring performances. However, this date denotes a team effort, where everyone plays a vital role, witnessed from the onset of the musicians’ forceful and brassy rendition of Jimi Hendrix’ “Power Of Love.” Consequently, electric guitarist, Joe Beck adds a bit of psychedelia to this Hendrix classic, largely due to his quasi, jazz-fusion Hendrix-like distortion drenched solo.
Bob James’ “Piece Of Mind,” features a rather saccharine, yet thoroughly tuneful hook. Here, James’ electric piano work serves as some sort of imaginary shroud for this outing. Perhaps no other musician was as consistently entrenched in Creed Taylor’s line of product than James. Otherwise, Washington provides the required edge via his brilliantly constructed, soul-drenched lines, while performing on soprano sax. The band is conveying vivid notions of serenity and calm on this most intriguing piece, whereas the dual horn section executes warm, breezy choruses on the unforgettably melodic, “Loran’s Dance.” Ultimately, quality wins out over quantity throughout this LP length production as, “EPIC Records has provided a service to the modern-day jazz community, by reinstating these titles from the “CTI” vaults. Emphatically recommended!