Home » Jazz Articles » Quincy Jones And Bill Cosby: The Original Jam Sessions 1969

353
Album Review

Quincy Jones And Bill Cosby: The Original Jam Sessions 1969

By

Sign in to view read count
Quincy Jones And Bill Cosby: The Original Jam Sessions 1969
The phrase "your opinion of this album may depend on what you think of TV theme music" is generally not meant as praise.



But this "long-lost" collection of funk-jazz written by Jones and Cosby bears no resemblance to the syrupy soundtracks of modern shows like "The West Wing" and "Law And Order." Instead it offers up a collaboration of various big-name jazz players in a casual and free-spirited, if uneven, set of studio jams. Most of the time it seems like the players are just having fun and, by association, listeners get a chance to do the same.



The linear notes state the recordings are from jams preceding work sessions for "The Bill Cosby Show," which aired during the late 1960s and early '70s. Most weren't intended for release, the notes claim, as a way of explaining away rough edges in sound quality and composition.



Bassist and bandleader Ray Brown is the consistent anchor for most of the album, but it's the various collection of notables who steal the show with contributions at various points. Pianist Les McCann, sax man Ernie Watts, and guitarist Arthur Adams get a seriously enjoyable bit of soul going on "Groovy Gravy," laying down those fun 'n' funky solos that better players were always working within the minimalist chord schemes of the era. Those put off by Tom Scott's rather empty sax work on his fusion albums may be surprised to hear him display legit chops on "Toe Jam." Jimmy Smith offers a brief but tasty bit of his Hammond B3 on the interlude "Jimmy Cookin' On Top." For someone looking for nothing more than a nice sampler disc of artists of the times, this is a great pick.



In true TV fashion, the weakness of this album is the early material—call it the pilot—which sets a standard that doesn't last. The too-laid-back playing of Joe Sample and Monty Alexander on "Monty, Is That You?" feels like lightweight background funk intended to not draw away attention from visual action, and "The Drawing Room" isn't much more than a minute-long throwaway change-of-pace contribution by an unknown violinist.



Jones and Cosby don't actually perform, save for Cosby contributing improvised vocals on a reprise of the show's theme, "Hikky-Burr," at the end of the album. Hearing the star do his rather rambling thing is an entertaining novelty—and certainly beats listening to William Shatner's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," at least artistically—but it's probably best it's limited to this track and a remixed version that closes out the album.



Those tempted by the album's performers or premise will likely be satisfied, as will listeners looking for a bit of whimsey from the era. Hard-core fans of the artists and times won't find this a pinnacle of achievement by any means, but if they're that serious in their demands for perfection, they probably won't enjoy the concept anyway.

Track Listing

1) Hikky-Burr; 2) Groovy Gravy; 3) Oh Happy Day; 4) Jimmy Cookin' On Top; 5) Toe Jam; 6) Jive Den; 7) Eubie Walkin'; 8) Monty, Is That You?; 9) The Drawing Room; 10) Hikky-Burr (reprise); 11) Hikky-Burr (remix by Mix Master Mike)

Personnel

Eddie Harris, tenor sax (1, 10, 11); Marvin Stamm, trumpet (1); Milt Jackson, vibes (1, 3); Arthur Adams, guitar (1, 2, 7, 10, 11); Joe Sample, keyboards (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11); Ray Brown, bass (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8); John Guerin, drums (1, 2); Les McMann, piano (2); Jimmy Smith, Hammond B3 (4); Tom Scott, soprano sax (5); Ernie Watts, tenor sax (7); Monty Alexander, keyboard, piano (7, 8); Paul Humphrey, drums (3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11); Victor Feldman, vibes (5); Jimmy Cleveland, trombone (6); Clare Fisher, Fender Rhodes and piano (6, 9); Carol Kaye, bass (10, 11); Bill Cosby, vocals (10, 11).

Album information

Title: The Original Jam Sessions 1969 | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

In a Funk
The Justin Haynes Jazz Collective
Live In Lisbon
Ben Monder / Tony Malaby / Tom Rainey
Reminiscing at Rudy's
Houston Person

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.