Black Roots Various Artists (Atlantic)


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And all hail to the genius of Atlantic Records. Because as we enter that most future of years - well after 1984 and that blew it - we've prepared for the release of a monster of a compilation that really shows some far out thinking amongst the jazz and progressive funk community in the late 60s early 70s.

We have music going back to its most basic of objects, the drum. In Black Root Roland Kirk, takes us back to the street parades of New Orleans and with the primal screams of his horns gets straight to the heart of the matter. Dr. John brings in the Voodoo spirit for his seminal I Walk On Gilded Splinters, hippy trippy nonsense, which somehow is something more. Eugene McDaniels who used to be plain Gene crooning pop hits. In the 70s he subsidised a politicised solo career as the Left Rev. McD by writing big pop hits for Roberta Flack. Here he may or may not be taking on the egotism of certain pop stars - but he definitely does it over one hell of a groove that was one of the key breaks on Tribe Called Quest's debut LP.

Mixing in elements of funk into the overall stew are David Newman on Roy Ayers Blaxploitation classic Foxy Brown and Shirley Scott playing it fairly straight with the Isleys' It's Your Thing. Adding the final ingredient of a touch of latin flavour is Mongo Santamaria who takes Neal Creque's Windjammer away from the islands and into a Nu-Yorican funk flier.

Keeping it more into an R&B roots thing is Yusef Lateef, who takes on the sought-after Nina Simone cut See Line Women in his normal commanding style. Eddie Harris is equally as commanding on his own Mean Greens - a much underrated horn player giving it the most.

Lateef was renowned for introducing Eastern influences into jazz, and taking up his challenge here is Duke Pearson with the amazing The Fakir which has the much underrated James Spaulding on flute. More authentic and just as good is the Joe Harriott - John Mayer Double Quintet. Taking it into another place are the Native American chants that Jim Pepper brings to Witchi Tai To.

So as we said let's hail Atlantic Records and its messing in a wide variety of music. Never has the past sounded so modern.

By Dean Rudland


Track listing


Side 1

  • 01 Preview I Walk On Gilded Splinters - Dr John the Night Tripper

  • 02 Preview Jagger The Dagger - Gene McDaniels

  • 03 Preview The Windjammer - Mongo Santamaria

  • 04 Preview It's Your Thing - Shirley Scott

  • 05 Preview Foxy Brown - David Newman

  • 06 Preview Mean Greens - Eddie Harris

  • 07 Preview See Line Women - Yusef Lateef

  • 08 Preview The Fakir - Duke Pearson

  • 09 Preview Raga Megha - Joe Harriott/John Mayer Double Quintet

  • 10 Preview Witchi Tai To - Jim Pepper

  • 11 Preview Sufur - Rufus Harley

  • 12 Preview Black Root - Roland Kirk

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