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Here's a tight set of funky soul-jazz grooves served up hot by electric bassist and studio kingpin Chuck Rainey (born 1940). First released on the Skye label in 1968, it's the first of only three discs (I think) the bassist released under his own name during a long career that's included playing with Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Steely Dan and many, many others.
The overall sound will be familiar to anyone who enjoys Atlantic jazz records from this period. That's mostly because this set features all of Atlantic's house musicians (Richard Tee, Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, etc). But the groove also suggests a blueprint for the "Blaxploitation" sound that would become familiar just a few years later and, more significantly, lay the foundation for the Saturday Night Live spin-off band Stuff (three Stuff members are heard here). The guitarists (Dupree, Gale or Billy Butler) usually carry the melody. But Rainey's distinctive and familiar string slurs are prominent throughout and he sounds appealing the few times he takes the lead ("Harlem Nocturne"). Highlights include Rainey's "First Love" (later covered by Richard Tee on his excellent 1979 Tappan Zee debut, Strokin' ), "How Long Will It Last" (covered by Cornell Dupree on his 1973 Atlantic debut, Teasin' ), "Genuine John" (with Selwart Clarke's great string arrangement) and "The Lone Stranger." Good stuff, if you'll pardon the pun. And – despite its short 33-minute playing time – it's inexpensive and worth hearing.
Tracks:Eloise (First Love); How Long Will It Last; Genuine John (Colors); The Rain Song; Got It Together; The Lone Stranger; Harlem Nocturne/Zenzile; It's Gonna Rain; Theme From Peter Gunn.
Personnel: Melvin Lastie: trumpet; Trevor Lawrence: tenor sax; George Stubbs: piano; Richard Tee: organ, piano; Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale, Billy Butler: guitar; Chuck Rainey: electric bass; Bernard Purdie, Jen Rice; Herb Lovelle, Jim Johnson: drums; Warrren Smith, Specs Powell: percussion; Montego Joe: congas; Selwart Clarke: strings conductor; strings.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.