Feel The Heat Bill Summers


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Summers’ debut album “Feel The Heat” was released in 1977. Obviously keen to make the record one that summed up his musical influences, he gathered around him some of the hottest musicians, including fellow Headhunter Paul Jackson, Mark Soskin on keyboards, drummer Alphonse Mouzon and a horn section comprising Roger Glenn, Julian Priester and Hadley Caliman. There was a future jazz star on vocals in the form of 20 year-old Diane Reeves and on the final track a small platoon of percussionists.

The structure of the LP was carefully thought out, with each side having its own distinct flavour. The first side, comprising high quality adult soul music that would have sounded perfect on late night radio, opens with the Skip Scarborough and Diane Reeves-penned ‘Just A Matter Of Time (Before The Beat Gets Your Mind)’, a wonderful swaying soul number showcasing Reeves’ voice. The rest of the side follows in a similar vein with each cut featuring a different lead vocalist. Deborah Thomas sings the lead on Alphonse Mouzon’s ‘Come Into My Life’, Sigidi features on Summers’ ‘People Know’ and Charles Meeks takes the lead on ‘No One’.

The second side opens in a completely different vein with the up-tempo fusion workout ‘Brazilian Skies’ featuring Reeves’ wordless vocal, Mark Soskin’s vibrant piano solo and a percussion breakdown from Summers, a relentless track that became a firm favourite on the UK jazz dance scene in the 1980s. Roger Glenn wrote ‘Check It Out’ and gives the latin-flavoured cut a distinctive feel with his flute playing. ‘Que Sabroso’ is something else, a fairly authentic rhythm-propelled salsa track. The album ends with the African-influenced ‘Drum Suite’, a tribute to the history of the drum and a throwback to the sort of record Art Blakey had made in the late 50s. While the album wasn’t a big hit, it laid the path for Summers’ next work.

By Dean Rudland


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