The good folks at Craft Recordings’ rich Jazz Dispensary subsidiary unearthed a handful of tasty jams toward the end of last year including near-forgotten albums by two of the greatest drummers in music history. Issued in limited colored vinyl editions of 1,000 in conjunction with the equally dedicated team at Vinyl Me Please, these albums were all mastered from original tapes, with lacquers and 180-gram colored vinyl pressing done at the respected RTI (Record Technology Incorporated) plant.
Jack DeJohnette’s Sorcery is a 1974 gem that pushes a lot of boundaries into free jazz, groove and near-psychedelic free-for-all. For the latter, I use the word “near” because if you’ve listened to Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa and later period John Coltrane you’ve no doubt heard explosive momentum like this. That isn’t a bad thing, mind you but I wanted to paint a picture with words so you know what to expect.
Sorcery is a diverse album with moments of beauty and sadness (“Four Levels Of Joy,” “The Reverend King Suite”) and elation (the chanting on “The Right Time”). “Epilog” wraps the album with a sweet funky jazz fusion groove that is only missing Jean Luc Ponty soloing spacey electric violin over it. The lovely stone grey vinyl is perfectly quiet and well centered so the music just jumps out of the speakers. The fidelity varies as this was recorded at some different studios including Bearsville in Woodstock, NY. its not a bad sound at all here but don’t go into this expecting a Rudy Van Gelder (RVG) vibe. Sorcery is its own thing with much magic and wizardry happening courtesy of players like John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Bennie Maupin. Not surprisingly Sorcery has been sampled a lot (click here to explore whosampled)
Idris Muhammad’s Black Rhythm Revolution on the other hand is a RVG jam recorded from 1971 that gets right down to the funk-sou-groove from the opening notes of “Express Yourself.” For those not in the know, the formerly-named Leo Morris was an important player coming out of New Orleans having played on Joe Jones massive hit “You Talk Too Much”) and perhaps most notably –according to the wiki and some sources — Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” (note: the wiki and other sources also indicate that Wrecking Crew legend Earl Palmer played on that track so keep that in mind). He worked with Jerry Butler and even was in the cast of Hair for three years in New York, he also toured with Lou Donaldson.
Black Rhythm Revolution is a groover through and through including a smoking cover of James Brown’s “Super Bad” — this album is worth the price of admission just to hear the snap of his snare drum here. “Wander” has some incredibly over-the-top Tom Tom pitch-bend soloing going on in the middle of what turns into an epic sound safari.
Surprisingly this particular album hasn’t had seen a lot of sampling traction according to WhoSampled.com but others of Muhammad’s album have so that might explain some of the demand for an album like this. With guitar work by no less than Melvin Sparks and Clarence Thomas on saxes plus great trumpet work by Virgil Jones, Black Rhythm Revolution is a winner.