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Harvey Mason: Ratamacue

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Every time Harvey Mason decides to record a new album he calls on a few old favours and boy it still amazes me who the Mason gang comprises of. The above looks like a ' who's who ' of the fusion jazz music industry. The musicians who didn't appear were probably on tour or on a holiday on the moon. Joining Harvey on this album too are family members Harvey Junior and Heather, who like the maestro himself, are wonderfully gifted all round musicians.

' Ra ta ma cue ' is a basic music rudiment used exclusively in drumming and who better to use this for a title for his new album than Harvey Mason. He has appeared on some 800 albums or even more during his career which even included playing with such jazz greats as Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Dave Samuels, Bob James, Ron Carter and John Scofield in Carnegie Hall back in 1974.

He has been one of the most sought after session musicians for many years as well as touring with almost all of the Atlantic and GRP musicians at one time or another.

His new album ' Ratamacue ' sees Harvey display his versatile talents on drums, vibes, percussion, marimba and keyboards. His album opener is a vibes led version of the Paul Desmond's classic ' Take Five ' which absolutely glides along as if the listener was in a trance. The self penned ' 8.22 A.M. ' sees Harvey joined by the melodic Bob James and the unmistakable guitar playing of Lee Ritenour on this laid back and easy drifter whilst the title track is a vibes driven speed merchant with trumpet and sax solos from Herb Alpert and Bennie Maupin. What is noticeable about this track is the syncopated use of percussion by Sheila E and Harvey.

The beautiful and haunting ' Noble places of the heart ' shares the center stage honours between Harvey on vibes, Hubert Laws on flute and Paul Jackson Junior who incidentally returns the favour and invites this whole gang back to appear on his wonderful new album entitled ' Never Alone: Duets '. This masterpiece could grace the stage of any of our inner daydreams and fantasies.

Harvey and son Harvey Junior wrote most of the tracks on the album including my killer cut ' Scream ' featuring the funky bass of the talented Me'Shell NdegéOchello and the brilliant playing of George Duke on keys. Ronnie Foster contributes with the Hammond B3 sound with Paul Jackson Junior on guitar.

Taxi man ' Bob James ' joins the party once again for the smooth ' Whatever it is ' and shares the spotlight with Harvey on the equally beautiful ' Take it slow ' whilst Phil Perry adds his dazzling vocals to the smoocher entitled ' Crush ' ably assisted by saxman Gerald Albright. If you play poker and you were dealt a Royal Flush with every hand you can begin to realize the quality of musicianship assisting Harvey on this album. I wonder does he have to pay everyone ?


Title: Ratamacue | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Atlantic Jazz


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