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✨✧ Aquarian DreamFantasy/Chance To Dance ... CD
Elektra/Expansion (UK), 1977/1978. New Copy ... $16.99
A pair of great albums from this Norman Connors side project! Fantasy is righteous soul, but with a wicked groove too – a killer set from Aquarian Dream, made even better by some great Norman Connors production! In a way, Aquarian Dream were to Norman Connors what Ramp were to Roy Ayers – in that the group wasn't really that dominated by Connors, but they did benefit a lot from his groundbreaking work in the jazz funk field – getting a level of sophistication in their sound that's really wonderful – and mixed with almost equal parts soul, funk, and jazz in the instrumentation! Vocals are often in a harmony mode – again in the manner of Ramp – and there's a classy yet cosmic sound to the record that we totally love. (And there's also one more Roy Ayers-like connection in the vocal department – since the group features Sylvia Striplin, who later recorded for Roy's Uno Melodic label!) The album's got a number of nice groovers with a strongly off-beat sound – and titles include "Friends", "It Ain't Whatcha Say", "You're A Star", "Play It For Me", and "Gentle Thoughts". On Chance To Dance, Aquarian Dream step out on their own – working for the first time without Norman Connors at the helm, but in a groove that's still plenty nice! The clubby aspects of the group's sound are played up by arranger/producer Jeff Lane – who'd worked often with BT Express and Brass Construction, and finds a similar groove here with Aquarian Dream – one in which all the best elements are focused strongly on the rhythms! A few mellower moments round things out nicely with a jazzy vibe – and titles include "Disco Juice", "Gettum Up And Dance", "Big Boy", "Why Can't We Do It Like We Used To", "Dirty Trick", and "Love Slave". CD
 
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✨✧ Oscar Brown Jr.Sin & Soul (And Then Some) ... CD
Columbia/Legacy, 1960. New Copy ... Temporarily Out Of Stock
Trend-setting vocal work from Oscar Brown Jr – one of the hippest singers of his generation, and a vocalist who really took things to the next level in the 60s! Brown's got a sound that's partially influenced by the vocalese of Eddie Jefferson, Jon Hendricks, and other singers of the 50s – but his groove here is also a bit more fluid and lyrical too – thanks to some great lyrics penned by Oscar, some of which went on to become classics over the years. Like his predecessors, many of the tunes chosen by Brown got their start as jazz instrumentals, but sparkle anew here with fresh lyrics that really liven them up a lot – tales of sin and soul and a lot more, often delivered with a good sense of wit. Titles include great vocal versions of "Dat Dere", "Work Song", and "Afro-Blue", plus some of his great original compositions, like "Brown Baby", "But I Was Cool", and "Rags and Old Iron". The arrangements are great, with a nice jazzy sound – and the group includes the excellent Floyd Morris on piano! CD features 5 bonus tracks that include "Straighten Up & Fly Right", "Forbidden Fruit", "World Of Grey", "Mr Kicks", and "Hazel's Hips". CD
 
 
 



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