Review: Saxophonist and flautist Harold Alexander recorded and released his debut album, Sunshine Man, way back in 1971. Now considered something of a must-have for fans of both jazz-funk and fusion, it was recorded with the assistance of some notable musicians including legendary drummer Bernard Purdie and prolific session bassist Richard Davis. There's no doubt, though, that Alexander was the clear star of the show. As this essential reissue proves, his saxophone and flute playing was on-point throughout, arguably reaching its' peak on the incessant and epic title track (which, incidentally, also includes some sublime keys-work). Other highlights include the restless hustle of "Mama Soul", where Alexander's urgent flute solos are accompanied by note-for-note scat vocals, and the relaxed fusion flutter of "Anguilla".
Review: Ceaser Frazier's debut album was something of an all star cast. Idris Muhammad on drums, Melvin Sparks on guitar, Prestige's most prolific saxman Houston Person and a selection of covers of the likes of Isaac Hayes ("Ellie's Love Theme") and Quincy's "Hicky-Burr". Pure jazz funk early 70s style, Caesar's command of the keys weaves a gossamer thread throughout the instrumental trip weaving and bobbing amid Bridgewater's wild trumpet narrative ("Hail Ceasar!"), the rippling wah wahs on Sylvester Stewart's "Runnin' Away" and plenty more. Close to 50 years old and still sublime; this reissue is long overdue.
Review: Although "Africa" is not one of the harder Pharoah Sanders albums to find on vinyl, jazz heads have long complained about the sound quality of the original single-vinyl edition of the 1987 album. It's for this reason that this Tidal Waves Music reissue, which stretches the set across two slabs of wax and adds two previously CD-only tracks ("Heart To Heart" and "Duo"), will simply fly off the shelves. That and the fact that it remains a superb album: a bright, breezy, contemporary jazz masterpiece that sees the legendary saxophonist accompanied by drummer Idris Muhammad, pianist John Hicks and bassist Curtis Lundy. Highlights include the arguably definitive version of Sanders' classic "You've Got To Have Freedom" and a superb update of John Coltrane standard "Naima".
Review: Listen up, wise up, Sparks up: Melvin's fourth album, 1973-released Texas Twister, enjoys its first ever European reissue with this limited RSD special. Capturing Sparks' ever expanding palette that broadened throughout the 70s to encompass everything from rhythm & blues to soul boogie to raw, frazzled funk, this album is a great crossroads of his styles. Ranging from the dizzying funk of opener "Whip! Whip!" to the freeform fast-lane jazz guitar solos of the finale "Star In The Crescent" by way of the super polished soul jazz of "Ain't No Woman", it's a generous spread that connects all the best soul dots and reminds us why he was already playing with BB King by age 13.
Review: Stone Alliance's 1974 debut album has long been in-demand with jazz collectors. The trio of Don Alias, Gene Perla and Steve Grossman originally recorded it following a six-month jaunt around South America. As this reissue proves, that trip had a bearing on the outfit's trademark style, which was showcased for the first time on Stone Alliance. It contains tracks that fuse various styles of jazz - freestyle, spiritual, post-bop and jazz-funk amongst them - with percussion that drew heavily on Afro-Cuban music. The result is a varied but always thrilling set that contains both experimental workouts and smooth, late night grooves.