top
Impressions of Curtis Mayfield

Impressions of Curtis Mayfield

Jazz Soul Seven

Label: Challenge Records
Format: CD
Barcode: 0608917335620
barcode
Catalog number: CR 73356
Releasedate: 22-08-12
As a subject for tribute, Curtis Mayfield is undeniable. Performed by all star line up Terry Lyne Carrington, Russ Ferrante, Master Henry Gibson, Bob Hurst, Wallace Roney, Phil Upchurch and Ernie Watts. This band would have made Curtis smile.
  • Jazz Soul Seven: an all star line up!
  • Terry Lyne Carrington, Russ Ferrante, Master Henry Gibson, Bob Hurst, Wallace Roney, Phil Upchurch, Ernie Watts pay a well deserved tribute to Curtis Mayfield
  • This band really would have brought a smile to Curtis’ lips
  • Phil Upchurch handpicked four Los Angeles- based players and two special imports, all well-known in jazz circles but with the earthy sensibilities to grasp and interpret the gospel and funk of where Curtis was coming from
  • Terri Lyne Carrington is a distinctive presence in the drum world
  • Russell Ferrante is a prolific composer, arranger and producer, an outstanding acoustic and electric keyboardist
  • Ernie Watts is one of the most versatile and universally respected wind and reed players in music
  • Bassist Robert Hurst emerged to prominence as a member of The Branford Marsalis Quartet which led to a high-profile gig as a member of “The Tonight Show” band
  • Trumpeter Wallace Roney came up through the hard-hitting bands of drum gods Art Blakey and Tony Williams
As a subject for tribute and exaltation, Curtis Mayfield is undeniable. And for a tribute steeped in the freedom and complex expressiveness of jazz, the man proved to be an unexpected natural. For this unique album producer Brian Brinkerhoff and musician Phil Upchurch handpicked four Los Angeles- based players and two special imports, all well-known in jazz circles but with the earthy sensibilities to grasp and interpret the gospel and funk of where Curtis was coming from.

Curtis Mayfield is a peerless prophet of American popular music – a gentle giant who walked this earth with enough third eye insight and empathy for his fellow man to tower above us all. Instead, he stood among us – an iconic artist with an unwavering sense of purpose that made a conscious choice to remain earthbound and ever accessible.

As a musician, Mayfield was an intuitive innovator – a man who unwittingly tuned his guitar to F-sharp which, on the piano, most righteously represents all of the black keys. This had guitarists around the globe fumbling to emulate his golden, silken sound. Then there was Curtis’ voice, a soft, wisdom-filled wonder that slid from a forthright tenor to a shimmering falsetto.

Curtis Mayfield’s lyrics remain the undisputed truth: from coffee grounds bitter to maple syrup sweetness. We’re talking intrinsic truth woven into songs so precise and poetic they flowed like genius from the mouth of a newborn - eye- opening, mind-blowing, spirit-healing and hope-infusing... culturally specific yet with the goal of unifying all. Curtis’ words resounded with purpose when they were written yet still ring with ever-relevant urgency today.

Though he will always be acknowledged as a beacon of light and fortitude for African Americans, Mayfield delivered most missives for all denominations. As the ‘60s segued into the ‘70s, Curtis’ thematic interests began to broaden. Beyond the horrific issues of Vietnam and civil rights, junkies and pushers, and the general unraveling of man’s moral core, Curtis broke it on down to insist that what we all needed is love and understanding. Brother Mayfield told me years later, “The times brought about a feeling in me that there need to be songs that relate not so much to civil rights but to the way we as people deal with our lives. We all have similar fears, shed similar tears and die in so many years.”
For this unique album producer Brian Brinkerhoff and musician Phil Upchurch handpicked four Los Angeles- based players and two special imports, all well-known in jazz circles but with the earthy sensibilities to grasp and interpret the gospel and funk of where Curtis was coming from.

Ernie Watts is the most versatile and universally respected wind and reed player in music. His yearning tone has been the solo voice of choice for hundreds of pop and R&B sessions, concerts, films and jazz ensembles - from Quincy Jones and Gerald Wilson to the Rolling Stones and Barbra Streisand. In addition to his eclectic solo recordings as a leader, Watts is a member of Charlie Haden’s Quartet West.

Russell Ferrante is a prolific composer, arranger and producer, an outstanding acoustic and electric keyboardist, and a founding member of the fusion band Yellowjackets (which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011). His distinctive touch has been glowingly showcased in work with singer/songwriters Michael Franks and Brenda Russell.

From late night TV talk shows to gigs with Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield and Cassandra Wilson, Terri Lyne Carrington is a distinctive presence in the drum world. At 12, she was accepted on a special scholarship to the Berklee School of Music. Today, she is an artist in residence professor on the campus boasting several all-star recordings.

Bassist Robert Hurst emerged to prominence as a member of The Branford Marsalis Quartet which led to a high-profile gig as a member of “The Tonight Show” band, solo albums and a host of first-call sideman and session credits. The first of the imports is New York-based trumpeter Wallace Roney, who came up through the hard-hitting bands of drum gods Art Blakey and Tony Williams. He performed side by side with his hero Miles Davis at Montreux, toured with alumni from Davis’ classic ‘60s quintet in a Grammy-winning tribute band, and has recorded a steady stream of acclaimed solo albums.

The second import is percussionist Master Henry Gibson, actually a Chicago native who flew all the way from his adopted Sweden with his lovely wife Anne to take part in this tribute. Why? Aside from sessions with jazz legends like Stan Getz and Ramsey Lewis, Gibson played with Mayfield, non-stop in venues around the globe, for seventeen years. Most famously, you can hear Gibson on Mayfield’s Superfly soundtrack (playing his signature roto-toms on “Pusherman”) and see him in the movie playing congas in the nightclub scenes. His conversation-like responses in the music lent touchstones of familiarity and authenticity to the proceedings. “I emulate the emotions of melodic instruments like guitars on my congas,” he explains. “With Curtis I was mostly inspired by the content of his lyrics – coloring in what he talked about in the songs. For this album I had to rethink my approach. Jazz makes different demands.”