Crown Heights Affair may not have actually struck gold in the charts with this set, but the album's one of their better later efforts – and has the funky club group hitting a strongly boogie-driven groove! The tunes are long, and the album rolls along on a snapping bassy bottom – working a style that's a leaner interpretation of the group's earlier funk sound, but which is still honed to a nicely focused groove. Titles include the hip hop tune "Rock The World", which features vocals by Fredrick "MC Count" Linton – plus "Put Me In Gear", "Is It As Good As It Looks", and "I Struck Gold". CD
(Out of print.)
Lionel Hampton —
Works ... CD Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada), Early 70s. Used ...
Double-length work from Jimmy McGriff – 2 albums in 1 from the Groove Merchant label! The first half of the set features the album Fly Dude – some great down-home work from Jimmy McGriff, and a session that's a bit less funk-based than some of his others for the Groove Merchant label, but still plenty darn great! The set's kind of a nice link between the straighter soul jazz of McGriff's 60s years, and his return to the format at the end of the 70s – and the group's a quintet, with Ronald Arnold on tenor, George Freeman on guitar, John Thomas on rhythm guitar, and Marion Booker on drums. There's some slight funky undercurrents – especially from Freeman's guitar lines, which have a nice degree of grit – which Jimmy seems to match nicely. Titles include "The Groove Fly", "It's You I Adore", "Jumping The Blues", and "Healin' Feeling". Next is the album Let's Stay Together – an early 70s gem from Jimmy McGriff! Jimmy's grooving with a larger group here – but in a funky 70s mode that makes for a great update of the rawer sound he laid out on some of his Sue sides in the 60s. The best tracks are the covers of 70s soul material – like "Shaft", "What's Going On", and "Let's Stay Together" – hewn in the organ funk mode that Jimmy pioneered and honed with his trademark expertise. Another highlight of the record is an original called "Tiki", that has a slight exotica feel to it, coming off very nice with Jimmy's organ work! Other tracks include "Georgia On My Mind" and "April In Paris". CD
A nice bit of funky organ work from Jimmy McGriff – a set that's got his famous talents on the Hammond out front of a larger ensemble – but in a way that's very different than some of his albums of that type from the 70s! There's lots of electricity in the mix – electric piano from Horace Ott, bass from Richard Evans, and guitar from Wayne Bennett – mixed with sharp work on horns from Cliff Davis on tenor and flute, Murray Watson on trumpet, and Johnny Beard on baritone – three players who really flesh out the sound! The album's got some excellent stone funky classics – like "The Bird", "Groove Grease", and "Plain Brown Bag" – plus some surprisingly funky readings of standards like "Canadian Sunset" and "Mr Lucky", both made to sound super-nice, thanks to excellent work on bass and drums! CD
One of the grooviest albums ever from Jimmy McGriff – a hard-wailing session that's filled with plenty of cooking lines on the organ, and a few especially funky tracks! The groove here is tight, short, and very sharp – strongly in the mode of other post-Sue sessions by McGriff – like The Worm or other Groove Merchant sides – with a style that's often much more focused than Jimmy's earlier years, and strongly turned towards the rhythms of the tunes! A few numbers are more familiar soul jazz, but these are nicely offset by the harder funk numbers of the record – like the romping, stomping break classic "The Main Squeeze", the totally groovy "The Worm Turns", and the fast-vamping "GMI". The group features Jimmy Ponder on guitar and Connie Lester on alto sax – and other titles include "The Sermon", "Stella By Starlight", and "The Blues Train To Georgia". CD
Jimmy McGriff —
Red Beans ... CD Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada), 1976. Used ...
Jimmy McGriff picks up a few more keyboards than straight Hammond organ – but that's ok with us, given the great results of the set! The album's got McGriff working on electric piano and clavinet alongside the organ – plus supporting arrangements from Brad Baker, in that fuller, Kudu-styled approach to jazz funk that Groove Merchant used strongly in the mid 70s – a slightly smoother sound than before, but still plenty darn great, and definitely filled with more than enough jazz to keep things real! Pat Rebillot plays some additional keyboards on the album – in that funky style he used well at the time – and there's almost a spacey Fantasy Records quality to some of the best numbers here! Titles include the incredible tripped out break cut "Space Cadet", plus "Love Is My Life", "Sweet Love", "Big Booty Bounce", "Red Beans", and "Cakes Alive". CD
A great little CD – not only for the very nice price, but for the fact that the double-length set brings together two albums' worth of work that Carmen McRae recorded for the Groove Merchant label in the early 70s! The style here is strongly jazzy, but with a firm dose of soul too – all in a mode that follows nicely from Carmen's late 60s sessions for Atlantic Records, but with a sound that's almost even more focused and in the pocket. The band is largeish, but the rhythms are tight – and even the mellower tunes seem to have a nice sort of lilt at the bottom, one that goes great with the way that Carmen spaces out her vocals on the set. Players include Joe Pass on guitar, Larry Bunker on vibes, Zoot Sims on tenor, and Dick Shreve on piano – and the CD features 19 tracks that include "Hey John", "Inside A Silent Tear", "The Right To Love", "You & I", "Sunshine Of My Life", "The Good Life", "It Takes A Whole Lot Of Human Feeling", "Livin", "Masquerade", "You're Mine You", and "There Will Come A Time". CD
Hard-swinging Buddy Rich from the prime early 70s years – not exactly an all-out funk affair, but still a great groover, with plenty of hip little big band numbers! The groove here is nice and lean – and Buddy and the group are working at Buddy's own club – hitting that trademark all-out Rich sound, but still leaving plenty of room for the soloists. The group's got some great soul jazz players – including Sonny Fortune on alto, Jack Wilkins on guitar, and Kenny Barron on piano – as well as some really smoking tenor work from Sal Nistico, who's always adaptable to a setting like this. The album's got a tasty version of Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon", plus other nice tracks that include "Sierra Lonely", "Nica's Dream", "Billy's Bounce", "Cardin Blue" and "Jumpin At The Woodside". CD
Lonnie Smith's a long way from his Blue Note years here – but the sound is still plenty darn great, thanks to some fuller arrangements from the great Brad Baker – of B Baker Chocolate Company fame! The whole thing's quite electric – with Lonnie on Fender Rhodes and other keyboards on most tracks, and rhythms that bring in bits of strings amidst the smaller jazz combo vamping – a blend that's smoothly soulful, but still more than funky enough to please our ears. Lonnie even sings a bit on the record, too – in this slightly-spacey quality that has echoes of Stevie Wonder – but the main focus overall is on his keyboards, which step out nicely over the backings. Titles include "Keep On Lovin", "What I Want", "No Tears Tomorrow", "Sizzle Stick", "Lean Meat", and "Filet O Sole". CD
Joe Thomas —
Masada ... CD Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada), 1975. Used ...
The cover's a bit righteous, but the grooves are wonderfully smooth – that shift towards warmer, club-based styles that Joe Thomas took in the 70s – an approach that comes off surprisingly well! Brad Baker's handling most of the arrangements here – with a fusion of jazz, funk, and club that's similar to some of the work coming out of the CTI/Kudu labels during the same stretch – and Joe's use of tenor sax on the album almost comes off like Stanley Turrentine in a similar setting, although with a bit less bite. Instrumentation includes keyboards, horns, and strings – and there's also a slight bit of chorus vocals on a few tracks too. Titles include "Poinciana", "Flame", "Let's Love", "Gemini Flyin' High", "I'm Gone & I'm Glad", and "Masada". CD
The Kay-Gees' funkiest record ever – a set that's harder and sharper than anything else they'd ever record in years to come! Grabbing this one up is like finding a lost Kool & The Gang album from the early years – which is no surprise, since Ronald Bell of the group produced, and wrote a lot of the songs with the group – maybe acting as their mentor, and definitely giving the young group a great showcase for their boundless energy, and tight skills in the groove department! The band are incredibly tight – with lots of hard drums, choppy guitar, and the rolling party feel that made Kool & The Gang so great during their best years – captured here with a similarly raw production style. There's some great horns that blast in and out, sounding very off-beat at the best moments – like the classic "Who's the Man With the Master Plan", sampled by YZ many years ago – or other funky cuts like "Ain't No Time", "Get Down", and "You've Got to Keep on Bumpin". CD also includes 3 extra cuts, which were released only as singles! CD
Wonderfully baroque funk from the great O'Donel Levy! The album's got some very cool arrangements by Manny Albam that mix together strings and funk – in a super-dope way that sounds a lot like the work coming out of Cadet during the late 60s – and the rest of the set features Levy playing with a smaller group, one that includes Chester Thompson on drums and Charles Covington on organ. The approach is great on both types of sets – complicatedly funky, in a way that's held up incredibly well over the years – and which warrants greater discovery of Levy's work from the time. The album's got covers of "We've Only Just Begun", "Let's Stay Together" and "It's Too Late" – plus some groovy originals like "Cherries", "The Chocolate Horse", "Ideal", and "Breeding of Mind". CD
O'Donel Levy —
Windows ... CD Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada), 1976. Used ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
A great later album from O'Donel Levy – recorded after his initial flurry of work for the Groove Merchant label, but still plenty darn nice! The sound here is slightly smoother and a bit more electric than before – with Levy's sweet guitar work snaking out over some larger backings that almost have a funky soundtrack feel. The groove is still great, and O'Donel brings plenty of his trademark chromatic lines to the set – guitar parts that almost sound even better in this setting! Titles include "Moisturizer", "Green Machine", "Panama Red", and a track called "I Believe In Miracles", which is not the Jackson Sisters' hit, but a nice mellow groove with vocals that sounds like some of the George Duke soul cuts! CD
Michael Longo —
Funkia ... CD Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada), 1974. Used ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
Quite possibly the greatest record ever by Mike Longo – a wicked batch of electric funky piano tunes, recorded with a sublime 70s feel! The set's got a really stripped down group – with Ron Carter on bass, Mickey Roker on drums, and Patato Valdez on percussion – all grooving behind Longo's work on electric and acoustic piano, creating some magical rhythms that snap a groove out of just about every single tune! The whole set's great – not just a "one number" funky jazz set – and titles include versions of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", Dizzy Gillespie's "Ole' For the Gypsies", Les McCann's "Samia", and Longo's own "Southern Soul" and "Funkia". CD
(Out of print Canadian pressing.)
Lucy Pearl —
Lucy Pearl ... LP Pookie/Unidisc (Canada), 2000. New Copy 2LP (reissue)...
Out Of Stock
The only album ever from Lucy Pearl – but a groundbreaking soul classic that still holds up strongly over the years! The group is something of an all-star trio – with a young Raphael Saadiq and Ali Shaheed Muhammad at the helm of the music, and Dawn Robinson of En Vogue on vocals – but all working together at a sound that's unlike any of their previous groups – tight, fresh, and even with a style that so many others in the underground would follow in years to come. Titles include the hit "Dance Tonight" – plus "La La", "Everyday", "Without You", "Don't Mess With My Man", "You", and "Do It For The People". LP, Vinyl record album
A double-length set from Dakota Staton – featuring 2 of her albums for the Groove Merchant label! First up is I Want A Country Man – very hip work from Dakota, and one of her great early 70s albums for the Groove Merchant label! Backings here are by the band of Manny Albam – in a mode that's jazzy, but inflected with plenty of soul – and which has the same sort of rhythmic pulse that you'd find in Lou Rawls' best later work for Capitol. The style's a great one for Dakota – one that brings a bit more focus and energy to her music, and which almost sets her up more as a soul singer than a jazz one. Titles include "Girl Talk", "Country Man", "Heartbreak", "Make It Easy On Yourself", "How Did He Look", and a really great version of "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know". Madame Foo Foo is rougher and rawer than we're used to hearing Dakota Staton – and a tasty little session done with Groove Holmes on organ! The tunes are mostly standards, taken at a slower bluesier pace than on some of Dakota's earlier sides – and Groove gets in plenty of licks on Hammond, sneaking behind Dakota's vocals, and working with a group that includes Bernard Purdie, Cornell Dupree, and Horace Ott. Titles include "Blues For Tasty", "A House Is Not A Home", "Candy", "Deep In A Dream", and "A Losing Battle". CD
The 3rd album by Oneness Of Juju (not counting the lost Bush Brothers & Space Rangers set) – and a great little set that has them changing things up for the dancefloor! The standout number is their classic "Every Way But Loose" – a tune that was so big it was later licensed for the New York scene, and a great number that still has some Afro jazzy touches. Plunky's at the head of the group here, and the album's actually got some really great soul numbers that kind of bubble and sparkle in an Earth Wind & Fire-inspired mode! Other tracks include "Make A Change", "Loves Wonderland", "Run Away Bay", and "Higher". LP, Vinyl record album