Four albums from the great Ben Sidran – a mighty hip jazz singer, and a great pianist too! First up is Free In America
– a great little set all the way through – and about as classic as you can get for Sidran in the 70s! The album's got a bit more soul in the mix, but still has some jazzy elements in the backings – and where things were sometimes messed up in the past, they're much more straightforward here – in ways that make the record really sparkle nicely! Ben's voice is still really compelling, and as on his best albums, there's some nice funky grooves in the mix that keep things fresh. Players include Phil Upchurch on bass and guitar, Woody Shaw on trumpet, David Newman and Sonny Seals on saxes, and Richard Tee on organ. Titles include the great instrumental "Let's Make A Deal" – a fast groover with guitar and keyboards riffing away, sounding like some lost jazz funk gem from the Fantasy Records catalog – plus "Beg For It", "Cuban Connection", "Free In America
", "New York State Of Mind", and "Feel Your Groove". Doctor Is In is one of Ben Sidran's biggest records from the 70s – a smooth combination of jazz, fusion, soul, and a bit of New Orleans groove! There's still a very unique feel to Sidran's music here – a sense of personality that really makes the whole thing sparkle – and which keeps the record from sounding too much like anyone else. Grooves are a great mix of jazz and soul elements – in territory that certainly has a 70s LA sort of quality, but which never gets too poppy or commercial – thanks to Ben's vocals, and mostly small combo backings from players who include Phil Upchurch on bass, Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Larry Carlton on guitar, and Tony Williams on drums. Nick DeCaro adds in a bit of extra strings from time to time – and titles include "Silver's Serenade", "Charlie's Blues", "Be Nice", "Goodbye Porkpie Hat", "One Way Grave", and "See You On The Other Side". Little Kiss In The Night is one of our all-time favorites from the great Ben Sidran – thanks to a strong dose of fusion in the mix! The grooves here are somehow a bit sharper than the few Sidran records before – with a quality that almost reminds us of Fantasy Records soul from the mid 70s, or some of the best jazz-tinged R&B sets of the time – all linked back nicely to Ben's rootsier elements from the start. As always, Sidran's got some really top-shelf musicians on board to help him find his groove – including Phil Woods on alto sax, Blue Mitchell on trumpet, and Arthur Adams on guitar – and arrangements on many numbers are by Mike Melvoin, who sounds even funkier here than we'd expect. There's a great instrumental on the set called "The Cadillac Kid", which has a nice hard fusion groove – and other cuts include "Face Your Fears", "Doing You", and "Moose The Mooch". Live At Montreux is tightly funky work from Ben Sidran – thanks to a strong lineup of players, and the open-ended relaxed setting of Montreux! The tracks here are a bit longer than some of Ben's studio sides for the label at the time – and almost hearken back to the more open flow of his Blue Thumb years – with plenty of room not only for Sidran's great vocals, but also from instrumental contributions from Steve Khan on guitar, Mike Mainieri on vibes, and the Brecker Brothers on horns. Titles include "I Remember Clifford", "Eat It", "Song For A Sucker Like You", "Midnight Tango/
Walking With The Blues", and "Come Together".