Four soulful fusion classics from keyboardist Rodney Franklin – all together in a single set! First up is In The Center – wonderful keyboard work from the amazing Rodney Franklin – a player who sounds equally great on acoustic and electric piano! This album does a wonderful job of mixing them both – showing Rodney's more sensitive side on a few acoustic numbers, but then really taking off in a much more groove-based mode for the electric ones – which have a soaring, spacious style that's in that best blend of fusion and soul that was going down at Columbia in the late 70s – but with some spacier Bob James touches too! Most of the cuts were arranged by Byron Olsen, who's got an equally sensitive ear as Franklin – and although there's a bit of vocals on the record, most of the focus is on instrumental grooves – especially Rodney's work on the keys. Titles include the classics "I Like The Music Make It Hot", "Spanish Flight", and "On The Path" – plus "Yours", "Life Moves On", and the extended "Spring Suite". You'll Never Know is fully-formed genius from the amazing Rodney Franklin – one of the best keyboard stars to emerge from the late 70s scene! Franklin's got a great talent for balancing influences from jazz
and soul in ways that are similar to contemporaries George Duke and Bobby Lyle – and like both of those players, he still stands strong in jazz
, but makes some key nods to soul music on this set – adding in a bit of vocals where needed, and moving into some R&B-drenched fusion lines that all sound pretty darn hip! As on previous records, Rodney plays both acoustic and electric keys – blending them wonderfully for a very deep sound – and the group behind him features some especially nice work on reeds, which bring sharper edges to some of the best tracks on the set. There's a wonderfully deep feel to the whole thing – way more than you'd expect for a major label release
at the time – and titles include "Felix Leo", "The Watcher", "The Groove", "Journey", "You'll Never Know", "Return", and "Parkay Man". Next is the self-titled Rodney Franklin – tremendous work from Rodney Franklin – one of our favorite soulful fusion players from the end of the 70s! The album's a keyboard delight through and through – and Rodney plays both acoustic and electric piano, often on the same track – which creates this nicely expanded sound that works well with the album's tight arrangements! There's a fair bit of soul in the mix too – some rhythms that make a few numbers great groovers, courtesy of Tom Tom arrangements – and some other full moments handled by Patrick Williams. Titles include a wonderful version of "Windy City" – the cut you might know from a classic Carl Davis recording – plus "On The Path", "I Like The Music Make It Hot", "Life Moves On", "Creation", and "In The Center". Endless Flight is a brilliant mix of jazz
, soul, and fusion – smoothed together nicely, but never in a way that's slick or commercial! Franklin's got a keen ear that lets him sit on both sides of the fence wonderfully – in a way that so many other players tried in later years, but never managed to do without losing their groove or selling out too much. Part of the strength of the album is the way that it mixes together acoustic and electric keys from track to track – deepening the spirit of the album through a good sense of pacing and mood, and also offsetting vocal tracks with some key instrumental numbers. Tom Washington produced and heavily helped in the arrangements – and titles include "Vibrations", "Benetta", "Cancion Para Mi Mama", "Dance Tonight", "Endless Flight", "Return To The Source", "Mensaje De Dios", and a surprisingly great funky take on "Hill Street Blues". Includes one bonus track – "The Groove (single version)".