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✨✧ Richard EvansRichard Evans ... CD
Horizon (Japan), 1978. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
One of the few albums as a leader by Chicago Soul genius Richard Evans – a key late 70s effort that perfectly sums up all his genius on record for countless other artists! The album's got a warm, smooth groove that's totally great – one that builds tremendously from the sophisticated soul advances on the Chicago scene of the 70s – and which features bits of jazz, soul, and even Brazilian influences gliding wonderfully through the mix! There's a sense of pride, power, and confidence here that graces every single number – and in a way, the album's almost like a Quincy Jones effort from the same stretch – with Evans' showcasing a new side of his talents, and his collaborators, on every different number. Linda Williams sings vocals on the groovy "Capricorn Rising", Eddie Harris plays on "Do Re Me For Soul", Billy Durham sings on "Windy City", Tower Of Power guest on "Educated Funk", and the group offers up a remake of Evans' Soulful Strings classic "Burning Spear". CD
Also available Richard Evans ... LP 9.99
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Dorothy AshbyRubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby (Japanese paper sleeve edition) ... CD
Cadet/Universal (Japan), 1970. New Copy ... $31.99
Incredible work from the amazing Dorothy Ashby – a brilliant set of funky and spiritual tunes, set to full backings from Chicago soul arranger Richard Evans! This album is easily one of Ashby's greatest, and it's dedicated to the writings of Omar Khayyam – one of the forces guiding Dorothy's more spiritual sound at the end of the 60s, clearly opened up in a way that's not unlike the direction of Alice Coltrane's work, but a lot more focused and a lot more funky! Ashby not only plays her usual jazz harp, but also koto as well, and even sings a bit too – and the larger group directed by Evans features work by Stu Katz on vibes and kalimba, Lenny Druss on flutes, and Cash McCall on guitar – all in a groove that's really a precursor to the Earth Wind & Fire generation of the Chicago scene! Titles include the amazing break "The Moving Finger" – worth the price of the album alone – plus "Dust", "Joyful Grass & Grape", "Heaven & Hell", "Wax & Wane", "Shadow Shapes", "For Some When Young", "Myself When Young", and "Drink". CD
(SHM-CD pressing!)

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Pastor TL BarrettLike A Ship (Without A Sail) ... CD
Light In The Attic, 1971. Used ... $7.99
A soul record we'd put up there with some of our favorite ones that the city of Chicago produced in the early 70s – and it's literally a soul record – a beautiful gospel set by Pastor TL Barrett & The Youth For Christ Choir, of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, on the city's south side! There's genuine spirit and passion in this record to make it an exceptional gospel record, but it's the deep secular soul production touches and instrumentation that makes this one of the true, uh, holy grails of Chicago soul. The album was cut at the affordable Sound Market Studio, but behind the soaring, spirited lead and chorus vocal arrangements are players supervised by Chess Records sax player and arranger Gene Barge – with legendary players Richard Evans and Phil Upchurch in on the recordings. Raw drums, grooving organ, and incredible bass lines lay the foundation, but it's the voices that really shine on this completely wonderful, totally essential set! Includes "Like A Ship", "Wonderful", "It's Me O Lord", "Ever Since", "Nobody Knows", "Joyful Noice", "Medley...Dr. Watts Hymn & The Disciples Prayer" and "Blessed Quietness". CD

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Kenny BurrellOde To 52nd Street ... CD
Cadet, 1967. Used ... $7.99
Less of the bop tribute that you might think – given the title – and more of a groovy batch of jazz tracks, with arrangements by Richard Evans, in the soulful bouncy style that was his best standard for mid 60s work at Chess! Evans' work is what really makes the record sparkle – and Kenny's soloing here in a Verve-ish mode, floating over the top of a variety of material, both mellow and upbeat. Side one features the extended "Suite For Guitar & Orchestra" – and side two features "I Want My Baby Back", "Soulero", "Con Alma", and "Blues Fuse". CD
(Out of print.)

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Gil EvansSvengali ... CD
Atlantic (Japan), 1973. New Copy ... $14.99
A great example of the way that Gil Evans really opened up his groove in the 70s – moving here way way past the cool jazz and third stream of earlier years – into a soulful style that's far groovier than might be expected! Part of the strength of the set is because of the players – as Gil's working with a group of younger soul jazz and spiritual soloists that include Ted Dunbar, Billy Harper, and Hannibal Marvin Peterson – as well as the older soul modernist Richard Williams. But there's also some other specifically Evans-like touches to the record that stand out – like Gil's stark notes on acoustic piano and his lighter work on the electric keys – plus a bit of inventive synthesizer from David Horowitz, who makes a few tracks really crackle with energy. Tracks include "Zee Zee", "Blues In Orbit", "Cry Of Hunger", and "Thoroughbred" – the latter two of which are lovely compositions by Billy Harper! CD
(SHM-CD pressing!)

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Salsoul OrchestraStreet Sense (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Salsoul/Big Break (UK), 1979. New Copy ... $8.99 13.99
Brillant work from the Salsoul Orchestra – some of their most sophisticated work ever, and right in line with a soulful orchestral style that runs back through the work of Barry White into the early experiments of the Soulful Strings! The album marks a shift for the group – now led by the mighty Tom Moulton, after the departure of Vince Montana – a new force who really takes the group in some great directions, and stretches out the tunes here even more than before – which makes for a lot more musical complexity as well! Thor Baldursson helps out on some of the arrangements, and the pair really work magic with the tight Philly lineup of the group – soaring out on great versions of two massive Richard Evans groovers – "Zambesi" and "Burning Spear", both killers that were originally performed by the Soulful Strings – plus the original numbers "212 North 12th", "Street Sense", and "Sun After The Rain". CD features bonus tracks – "Somebody To Love (single)", "Street Sense (single)", "Sun After The Rain (12" disco)", and "Sun After The Rain (12" inst)". CD

Possible matches7
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VariousChess Uptown Soul ... CD
Chess/Kent (UK), Mid 60s. New Copy ... $11.99 18.99
The cooler, classier sound of Chess Records in the 60s – the side of Chicago soul that really showed that the Windy City was onto something special Sure, Chess gave the world plenty of blues and R&B, but the label also really helped open the door to a special side of soul music – the heady brew of new sounds that were coming from Chicago – in the hands of arrangers like Richard Evans, Johnny Pate, and Phil Wright – plus tracks recorded farther in the field, but which found a perfect home at Chess Records – as the label was able to balance the deep soul styles of the singers with some of the richer styles used in the backings and production! Yet all the while things still kept on with a nice groove – the kind of stepping sounds that got Chicago soul dancefloors going, and which still made them special well into the 21st Century – thanks to killer cuts like these. The whole thing's a really well-chosen batch of soul that goes way beyond simple Chess Records hits – and titles include "Jerk & Twine" by Jackie Ross, "Oh What A Feeling" by James Phelps, "Go Away Little Boy" by Marlena Shaw, "The Soul Of A Man" by Fontella Bass, "I Had A Talk With My Man" by Mitty Collier, "So Much Love" by Maurice & Mac, "Here You Come Running" by Sugar Pie De Santo, "Nothing But You" by The Chessmen, "Wear It On Our Face" by The Dells, "I Believe She Will" by Eddie & Ernie, "Sitting In The Park" by Billy Stewart, and "It Ain't No Big Thing" by The Radiants. Also includes the amazing instrumental "Two In The Morning" by Spooners Crowd – a killer cut from Fame Studios! CD

Possible matches8
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✨✧ Penny GoodwinPortrait Of A Gemini ... CD
Athens Of The North (UK), 1974. New Copy ... About October 28, 2016
A legendary bit of jazzy soul – recorded by an obscure female singer from Milwaukee! Penny's got a warm style that's pretty darn nice on its own – but it's made even better by the great arranger Richard Evans, who helped out a lot on the session. The feel is very much in the Chicago sophisti-soul mode – and at times, the record sounds a lot like Marlena Shaw's best work in the 70s, particularly her sides for Blue Note in the early part of the decade. Includes the great original "Too Soon You're Old" – a jazz dance classic for many years – plus a stellar cover of Gil Scott Heron's "Lady Day & John Coltrane", and the tracks "What's Goin On", "Slow Hot Wind", "He's Come Back", and "Rain Sometimes". CD

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Ramsey LewisHang On Ramsey/Wade In The Water ... CD
BGO/Cadet (UK), 1965/1966. Used ... Just Sold Out!
Ramsey Lewis grooving in 2 of his best modes of the 60s – live, and with funky studio backings from Richard Evans! Hang On Sloopy is easily one of Ramsey Lewis' most successful records – done in the hit soul jazz style that he forged with the Young/Holt rhythm combo, honed to perfection before a live crowd at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. The record's a key part of Ramsey's live recorded output – showing the trio in pyrotechnic form before the kind of packed-house audiences they were playing to nightly at the time. Includes swinging versions of "Hard Day's Night", "High Heel Sneakers", and "Hang On Sloopy" – plus the original cut "Movin Easy". On the album Wade In The Water, Ramsey's funky piano is backed by some soulful arrangements handled by Richard Evans – in a really tight style that includes great percussion, electric bass, and an all-out kicking style that makes even the mellowest tunes groove! Evans really adds a lot to the set – expanding the core groove of the Lewis trio with a proud and righteous Chicago approach – really bringing some "soul" to the soul jazz sound of the group, with incredible results! Titles include "Money In the Pocket", "Wade In the Water", "Ain't That Peculiar", "Up Tight", and "Hold It Right There". CD

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✨✧ Nina SimoneSingle Woman ... CD
Elektra, 1993. Used ... Temporarily Out Of Stock
A great later set from Nina Simone – quite sensitive at times, and with a different feel than some of her 70s work – but one that's still pure Simone all the way through! There's a return-to-classic feel going here – the sort of album that Jimmy Scott and others were making in the same early 90s stretch – when record labels realized that all the clunkier modes vocalists were saddled with in the 80s just weren't working, and that everyone was much better off with warmer strings and jazzier instrumentation pulled from years past. The approach gives the album a more classic jazz vocal style than some of Simone's other work, especially on the ballads – and tunes were arranged by Nina, Richard Evans, Jeremy Lubbock, and John Clayton. Titles include "A Single Woman", "Lonesome Cities", "Papa Can You Hear Me", "Just Say I Love Him", "The More I See You", and "Love's Been Good To Me". CD

Possible matches11
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✨✧ VariousBlack Gold – Samples, Breaks, & Rare Groove From The Chess Records Archives ... CD
Chess/Universal (UK), 1960s/Early 70s. New Copy 2 CDs ... Out Of Stock
Incredible sounds from the Chess Records catalog – not the blues that you might know the label for, but a huge range of funk, soul, and jazz tracks from the headiest years of the 60s and 70s – a time when the Chicago scene was really turning out some incredible musical hybrids! As you'd guess from the title, all the cuts here have had a new life in recent years – thanks to samples by hip hop artists or other producers – but the original grooves are even better than the tracks that used them, and come together here to make one of the most mindblowing collections of Chess material we've ever heard! The package is nicely heavy on sounds from the Cadet/Concept years of the label – with more than a few contributions from producers Charles Stepney and Richard Evans – and the package features 42 wonderful tracks – including "Fonky Thang Diamon Ring" by The Dells, "Windmills Of Your Mind" by Dorothy Ashby, "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun" by Rotary Connection, "Jelly Jam" by Jack McDuff, "The Getaway" by Alvin Cash, "In My Body's House" by Gene Chandler, "Cross Country" by Archie Whitewater, "Memory Band" by Rotary Connection, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Jimmy Ponder, "Inside Out" by American Gypsy, "Go Go Power" by Sugar Pie DeSanto, "Shake It Up" by The Vibrations, "Up Above The Rock" by Ray Bryant, "Bad Moon Rising" by Bo Diddley, "Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Be Do Da Day" by Eddie Fisher, "Humpin Bumpin & Thumpin" by Andre Williams, "Who Got The Number" by Pigmeat Markham, "Walk On By" by Jo Ann Garrett, "Chocolate Candy" by Soulful Strings, "Got To Get Your Own (7" version)" by Reuben Wilson, "Hanky's Panky (7" version)" by Shirley Scott, "Liberation Conversation" by Marlena Shaw, "Look Of Love" by Monk Higgins, and "Think About It" by Odell Brown & The Organizers. CD

Possible matches12
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✨✧ Natalie ColeInseparable/Natalie/Unpredictable ... CD
Capitol/BGO (UK), 1975/1976/1977. New Copy 2CD ... Out Of Stock
A triple pack of early magic from Natalie Cole! Inseparable is Natalie's stunning debut for Capitol Records in the mid 70s – a real surprise, and a set that should have had the singer blossoming even more than she did at the time! As with some of the other Capitol soul sessions of the time, the album's done very firmly under the guidance of Charles Jackson and Marvin Yancey – a pair who give Natalie just the right sort of backing to launch her career – a sound that's full and rich, deeply sophisticated – but also still plenty soulful, almost in the mode of some of Minnie Riperton's work at the time. Given the pair's Chicago roots – and the arrangement help from Richard Evans – that comparison is no surprise, and Natalie rises to the occasion nicely. Titles are all originals too – and include "Needing You", "Joey", "I Can't Say No", "Something For Nothing", "I Love Him So Much", "You", "Your Face Stays On My Mind", and the huge hit "This Will Be". Next up is Natalie – a record that really has Natalie Cole finding her groove – not needing any help from her famous familial legacy, thank you – and instead stepping out with a tight, proud mode that really helped refine the sound of female soul in the 70s! The album's got plenty of influences from the Chicago soul scene – including songwriting and production from the team of Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy – and work from key session players like Richard Evans and Gene Barge, who worked in the Curtom Studios to craft the grooves on the set! Titles include "Keep Smiling", "Mr. Melody", "Heaven Is With You", "Can We Get Together", "Touch Me", "Hard To Get Along", and "Good Morning Heartache". Unpredictable is an album that reunites Natalie Cole with the smooth soul team of Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancey – the team who did such a great job with Natalie's Capitol debut, and who really continue the groove here too! The album's got a rock-solid approach through and through – a quality that has Natalie really standing out on her own as a positive young artist in soul – without any need to nod towards her father, as in later years. And Jackson and Yancey bring a nice dose of Chicago soul class to the affair – which turns out to be a perfect match for Natalie's vocals! Titles include "Be Mine Tonight", "Party Lights", "This Heart", "I've Got Love On My Mind", and "Still In Love". CD

Possible matches13
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✨✧ Natalie ColeThankful/I Love You So/Don't Look Back ... CD
Capitol/BGO (UK), 1977/1979/1980. New Copy 2 CDs ... Out Of Stock
Classic early work from Natalie Cole – packaged here in a sweet 2CD set! First up is the album Thankful – the third record in a tremendous early creative and commerical winning streak for Natalie! Thankful has her sweet, soulful voice out from of prodcution by Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy of the Independents, and they give her a nice jazzy sound that made the record one of her best of the 70s. Richard Evans and Gene Barge arranged, which probably had something to do with that, too – but Natalie truly deserves most of the credit of the strength of this set. It includes the standout groovers "La Costa" and"Annie Mae", but the whole record is really sweet – with "Lovers", "Our Love", "Be Thankful", "Just Can't Stay Away" and "Keeping A Light". I Love You So is a Capitol killer from Natalie Cole – a really great record from the time when she really seemed to be starting out her career with a bang! As with other gems on Capitol, the record features some great production work from Marvin Yancy and Chuck Jackson, getting a bit of help here from Gene Barge too – all wrapped up with a strong, sophisticated sound that shows plenty of Chi-soul touches in the music – a great approach for Natalie's maturing vocals. The sound is wonderfully balanced, and really stays away from easy hit modes – leaving the lady in a space that's all her own, on tracks that include "The Winner", "I Love You So", "Oh Daddy", "Sorry", "Stand By", and "Who Will Carry On". Don't Look Back is an overlooked gem from Natalie Cole – a set that still has her working strongly with songwriter Marvin Yancy, who really helped her find her sound and style during the early years of her career! Natalie actually helped with writing a fair bit on the record herself – sometimes with Yancy, sometimes alone – and the result is a surprisingly personal batch of tunes that really show a deepening of spirit in the singer, especially in the mellower moments. Gene Barge handles the arrangements – still bringing a bit of Chicago soul roots to the record – that mix of deep and sophisticated modes that always brought out the best in Natalie. Titles include "Don't Look Back", "I'm Getting In To You", "Paradise", "Hold ON", "Danger UP A head", and "Someone That I Used To Love". CD

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