Repackaging ‘rare’ cuts from influential artists and overlooked genres has become a lucrative operation of late. The people at the Soul Jazz label have virtually built their reputations around the idea, releasing near-faultless volumes of roots, funk and the legendary ‘Dynamite’ series.
Not to be outdone, Warner Jazz now present the latest instalment of their ‘The In Sound’ collection, a tasty dip into the no doubt sizeable vaults of Atlantic and Warner records.
As with the earlier ‘Modal & Jazz Waltz’ album, the experience is a fruitful one. Compositions range from the (almost) conventional acid jazz of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s ‘Freaks For The Festival’ to the avant-garde anti-war recitations of ‘This Is Combat I Know’ by the imperious Freddie Hubbard.
Hubbard is featured twice, with both ‘…Combat…’ and ‘Threnody for Sharon Tate’ taken from his 1971 album ‘Sing Me A Song Of Songmy'. Both tracks act as eerie diversions from the other music here, and are closer to B-movie excerpts than songs. But then, given that their parent album was originally billed as “a Fantasy For Electromagnetic Tape”, this should perhaps come as little surprise.
Also deemed worthy of a double inclusion is Yusef Lateef. A virtuoso saxophonist and bassoonist with a staggeringly large back catalogue, his contributions are the accessible instrumental ‘Back Home’ and a track called ‘Raymond Winchester’. The latter features continuous interjections from…well, it could be an unnamed ‘vocalist’, or it could be somebody playing a kazoo – either way, it sounds like a strangulation is taking place throughout the record. Which is not something you hear every day.
Considering the heights Sun Ra and his Arkestra reached on the landmark 1972 ‘Space Is The Place’ LP, anything taken from the following year’s album, ‘Live In Paris At The Gibus’ was always going to be worth a listen. ‘Spontaneous Simplicity’, while not quite emulating the likes of ‘Images’ or ‘Sea Of Sounds’, is nevertheless still an amazingly complex and impressive piece of free-form jazz.
Other highlights include Charlie Mariano’s ‘Mirror’, which falls somewhere between the sound of Miles Davis’s ‘Bitches Brew’ and Herbie Hancock’s ‘Headhunters’ album, and ‘Vibrafinger’ by Gary Burton, an electrically-charged funk romp, which, as the album’s opening track, gives a rather skewed impression of what is to follow.
With only eleven tracks on offer, this compilation alone can hardly claim to be an extensive or definitive guide to psychedelic jazz or soul, but the chosen material contains enough quirks and rewarding moments to at least whet the appetite.
8Jonathan Rawcliffe's Score