Rusty Bryant was the kind of big-toned saxophonist that switched easily between r&b and jazz. In the late sixties Bryant recorded in the funk jazz vein. With Soul Liberation Rusty Bryant arguably delivered the grooviest funk jazz set of his career.
Rusty Bryant (tenor saxophone), Virgil Jones (trumpet), Charles Earland (organ), Melvin Sparks (guitar), Idris Muhammad (drums)
on June 15, 1970 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
as PR 7798 in 1970
Cold Duck Time
The Ballad Of Oren-Bliss
s the title track demonstrates, from the first lines Bryant grabs you by the throat and thence builds a heated solo, inspired by an equally fiery line-up. There’s Idris Muhammad. The steamroller! The funky wizard! The eloquent groovemaster! Competent in many facets of jazz, of course Muhammad is admired mostly for his groundbreaking soul jazz grooves. On this album Muhammad’s trademark press rolls ‘on the one’ are plentiful.
At the time, Muhammad mostly played with Lou Donaldson. Other Donaldson alumni are Earland and Sparks. Furthermore, all four sidemen played on Charles Earland’s masterful Black Talk. Thus they have some experience playing together and would continue to play on other recordings the following year. Charles Earland is a great organist but often demonstrates an unnerving form of bombast in this session, wasting powder and shot and leaving us wondering which solo climax is next. Yet the heavy ground beef he delivers for Rusty Bryant’s Big Wopper is wholly satisfactory.
Virgil Jones is an exciting trumpet player who shows an appetite for the exuberant blowing of Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. Melvin Sparks’ gritty, r&b-influenced play, at times echo-reverberating quirkily, is also an asset for a party record such as Soul Liberation; to boot, in Lou-Lou – a Charles Earland original dedicated to Lou Donaldson – the second part of Spark’s straightforward, bluesy solo is preceded by whimsical, spiraling, Oriental turns. Very charming.
Rusty Bryant sets the pace with Eddie Harris’ Cold Duck Time, shouting brusquely and throwing in some flashy bop phrases as well. Apart from the impeccable Ballad Of Oren Bliss Bryant continues to blow hard. Try putting on this album during your bi-annual house party. It’ll simultanuously prompt people to tip-toe to your linoleum dance floor and have their ears perked up well enough to notice whoever on Soul Liberation is currently cookin’.
YouTube: Cold Duck Time
Around 1966 Grant Green’s life and career had fallen into a slump, due to a major drug problem and an alleged dissatisfaction with the music business that kept him from recording on a steady basis. This album, and how aptly titled it is, marked his comeback as a leader on the Blue Note label in 1969. It is a testimony to the funk.
Grant Green (guitar), Claude Bartee (tenor saxophone), Willie Bivens (vibes), Clarence Palmer (electric piano A1-3 B1), Earl Neal Creque (electric piano (B2), Jimmy Lewis (bass), Leo Morris (a.k.a. Idris Muhammad, drums)
on October 3, 1969 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
as BST 84327 in 1970
Hurt So Bad
I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I’ll Get It Myself)
Cease The Bombing
reen manages to bring a relatively mellow touch to funk gems such as The Meters’ Ease back
and James Brown’s I don’t want nobody to give me nothing
. It might have something to do with Green’s soft-hued tone, that blends well with his trademark fiery, repetitive runs that keep your head spinning as if it’s become a wheel on the merry-go-round. Its lightness is also in large part due to the airy sound of Clarence Palmer’s electric piano, which production-wise is a succesful left turn away from the equally soulful but dimmer sources of Hammond Boulevard. By 1969, Grant Green had assembled a tight outfit. In the hands of New Orleans native Leo Morris (a.k.a. Idris Muhammad), whose drums sound as crisp and clear as ever, and tenor saxophonist Claude Bartee, who stands out in particular with a red hot solo in Green’s uptempo sole original Upshot
, grittiness is guaranteed.
Carryin on might not have won over fans of Green’s earlier work. Yet it appealed to a new fanbase that was hip to musical and social changes and in doing so, along with a batch of contemporary recordings such as those of Lou Donaldson and Lonnie Smith, created a new vibe in modern jazz. Of course by now we know that same vibe from the mid-eighties on started a breakbeat craze that lasts well into this day.
Back then Grant Green wouldn’t have imagined this, but trying to be a business man of sorts, with a knack for popular tunes and a reputation as one of the few top guitar players in jazz, Green must have asked himself a question: why not me? If my boy (George) Benson can do it!
And who could blame him? Versatile beyond comprehension, Green pulled it off as far as being groovy is concerned and soon Grant Green records came of Blue Note’s assembly line like cupcakes again. Although, in the end, they wouldn’t give him the greenbacks he so well deserved.