I’m not gonna front like I knew what this record was before it came across my desk, because I didn’t. In all my years digging jazz records, paying special attention to Blue Note and Donald Byrd titles especially, I have never heard of or seen this LP in the wild before. Maybe it just never caught my eye, lacking the angular graphic design that defined both Blue Note’s classic 60s bop aesthetic and the mid 70s jazz-funk era. Honestly, it looks more like a Stax record or something (quick check: photo and art direction by Norman Seeff, responsible for some of the weirder Blue Note covers from the period like Bobbi Humphrey’s Dig This and Ronnie Foster’s Two-Headed Freap). The band is sort of a jazz generation mish-mash with Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Joe Sample (still can’t get over dude’s name) on organ, Ed Greene on drums and more. Accomplished Motown guitarist Greg Poree does his thing on side B with the help of David Walker and Don Peake. The record is basically two extended tunes bridged by a shorter ballad (“Jamie”), and the longer sides (“The Emperor,” “The Little Rasi”) are super funky with breaks galore. If you’re into straightforward, rolling grooves without all the jazz-funk pretense, this is for you. Official 180g pressing with a fresh remaster celebrating 80 years of Blue Note, recommended.
- 180g black vinyl pressing
- all-analog remaster from the original tapes
- Blue Note 80th anniversary edition
- music label: Blue Note Records 2019
reviewed by nick nightingale 08/2019