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Mr Moo - Funky Freak Out In 70's Jazz



Mr Moo Funky Freak Out In 70s Jazz
Mr Moo - Funky Freak Out In 70's Jazz
(MP3 Podcast on ParisDJs.com) T.I.M.E.C., 2008-03-03

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Tracklisting :
01. Southern Energy Ensemble - Energy
(from 'Southern Energy Ensemble' album, Late 70s / Black Fire Records)
02. The Lightmen Plus One - The Phantom
(from 'Enery Control Center' album, 1972 / Lightin' Records/Now Again)
03. Boscoe - Money Won't Save You
(from 'Boscoe' album, 1973 / Kingdom Of Chad Records /Numero)
04. Luis Gasca - Little Mama
(from 'For Those Who Chant' album, 1972 / Blue Thumb Records
05. Okyerema Asante featuring Plunky - Asante Sana
(from 'Drum Message' album, 1977 / Black Fire Records
06. Experience Unlimited - Funk Consciousness
(from 'Experience Unlimited' album, 1977 / Black Fire Records)

Original artworks :


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Info :
At first this mix was intended to be a special tribute to Black Fire Records but it evolved from that to what you're about to listen, partly for survival purposes, the thing was getting too heavy on jazz or way too trippy for mass audiences (yeah,folks! that's what we're aiming for nowadays...) and partly because i felt like it. However it kept elements of both Jazz & Psychedelia while being consciously funky in an afro way, hence the title.


01. Southern Energy Ensemble - Energy
(from 'Southern Energy Ensemble' album, Late 70s / Black Fire Records)

This amazing band produced (only) one album thanks to the Black Fire crew. The record company was started in 1975 by Plunky and Jimmy Gray a Washington DJ and a promo rep for CTI, Stata-East, Tribe & Black Jazz among others.
The Juju tribe that drifted from Frisco to NY to then Richmond, Virginia (uh!?), was engaged in a spiritual, political, communal, and independent way of life that inspired them to create this label. The move down south was apparently because Plunky's little brother Muzi Branch lived there... A beautiful bass player, he was also responsible for most of the LP's artwork at the time, including this cover. The new rhythm section he provided with Ronnie Toler (drums) personified the geographical and musical shift Plunky's gang was going through, from instrumental spiritual & radical avant-jazz to afrocentric tripped out funk & jazz soaring with electric guitar and some of the strongest vocals you ever heard, from Juju to Oneness Of Juju.
Now, Southern Energy Ensemble, a local viginian band I believe, shared two member with the Juju family: Nat Lee on keys and Judy Spears who sings lead on the non-instumentals tracks but blatantly not on this one; they also had connections to Trussel who were Evelyn Champagne King's first touring band and that's all the information you're gonna get!



02. The Lightmen Plus One - The Phantom
(from 'Enery Control Center' album, 1972 / Lightin' Records/Now Again)

The Lightmen Plus One hailed unexepectedly from Houston,Texas and was led by their drummer Bubbha Thomas, teacher of Ronnie Laws Hubert's cadet brother (it's all about the little fellas!) and formerly a student of Conrad Johns who later directed the Kashmere Stage Band. They released a fourth album on the self-operated Lightin' Records, a grittier but less spiritual release, obviously when you switch your 'Energy Control Center' to 'Country Fried Chicken' you end up in grease, man.



03. Boscoe - Money Won't Save You
(from 'Boscoe' album, 1973 / Kingdom Of Chad Records /Numero)

Chicago, home of Al Capone, the most brutal wind known to man, free jazz & electric blues, holds so many keypoints in the history of the african diaspora that its impact on Earth culture (and most of the solar system by now) still has be measured by hordes of sociologically depressed sociologists. Let's start with the great depression (not the latter's) and the mass exode of african americans leaving the rural delta to find jobs in the big cities up north. While playing bottleneck on the porch at dusk suits the deep south mood like a pearl of sweat on the upper lip, many pickers found it hard to compete with the noise of Chicago crowded streets & factories armed with a mere acoustic guitar, not the loudest string instrument, thus electrifying the motherfucka! Survival of the fittest uh! Another pivotal point was reached later on in the 60's when Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hattaway, Syl Johnson, Terry Callier... brought consciousness into soul music while Charles Stepney, Ramsay Lewis, Earth Wind & Fire, Eddie Harris crissed-crossed it with their jazz. On the other side of the black light spectrum you had the nucleus of the free scene heavy in african and space themes: Sun Ra, the whole AACM movement with The Art ensemble Of Chicago as it's spear and Philip Cohran & the Artistic Heritage who introduce the balafon or thumb piano to Maurice White (EWF) then with The Ramsay Lewis Trio, and subsequantly to the world.
So, all this for introducing Boscoe? Ooh yeah! They sure damn well deserved and reflects all those influences as much as their musical kins: Pieces of Peace, The Pharaohs, Brute Force, Southside Movement and to a lesser extent Rasputin Stash. Solid material, no covers, recorded live with real studio sound, tight & wiggly as a snake's ass with the chops to carry a tune beyond the mapped territory, it shouldn't have take 35 years for this sextet to create a buzz, but then again if it was not for unsung heroes there wouldn't be much to rediscover now wouldn't it? And maybe there wouldn't be much heroes around...



04. Luis Gasca - Little Mama
(from 'For Those Who Chant' album, 1972 / Blue Thumb Records

Ok that's the freak out, right here, but what a line up, man! You take The whole 1972 Santana Band including Carlos, you kick their green-eyed junkie-ass bass player out and put Stanley Clark instead, add Lenny White on drums and Coke Escovedo on percussion, top it with soloing Georges Cables, Joe Henderson, the trumpeter himself, what you got? A funkafied In-a-Silent-wayish chicano jam among the stars for day-offs only. This is Luis Gasca's second 'solo' release since 'Giant' with Herbie Hancock, Mongo Santamaria, and Bernard Purdie, located in San Francisco he kept himself busy in between sessioning all around, arranging horns for Big Brother & The Holding Company (Janis Joplin's 1st chaotic band) and playing with Malo. He was reported dead in Hawaï in the Late 70's, the level of his drug abuse makes it almost true, he just stopped playing for 20 years.



05. Okyerema Asante featuring Plunky - Asante Sana
(from 'Drum Message' album, 1977 / Black Fire Records

Okyerema Asante a master drummer from Ghana, who later went on to play with Hugh Masekela, Paul Simon, Hamiet Bluiett, Chief Bey, Jack De Johnette and members of Osibisa just to name a few, recorded his own album with Oneness of Juju plus guests in 1977. It's a highly percussive opus that bridge the gap between 'Space Jungle Luv' and 'Bush Brothers and Space Rangers'. Brian Jackson (Gil Scott-Heron's partner in crime) who befriended the Juju tribe in their Strata-East years together is playing piano there like he oftenly used to on Black Fire stuff. But it's Judy Spears who takes the lead vocal that rises first and shines best. Her performance is stunning, coming out of the shadow that Eka Ete Jackie Lewis's talent was somehow casting upon her (The voice of "African rhythms"), she really spreads her wings and takes it to the sky, add a call and response with a violin courtesy of Sister Tee(?) you hold one my favorite track ever, enjoy the peace while it last!



06. Experience Unlimited - Funk Consciousness
(from 'Experience Unlimited' album, 1977 / Black Fire Records)

This album is dedicated to the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, and all the positive people in the world is what Experience Unlimited's 1st LP's backcover reads, just for a hint. Recorded in 1976, there's still echoes of spiritual jazz but heavier on guitar & funk than their labelmates; these cats may be younger too. No info on the 'hippie' years of this DC band who shortened its name to E.U. before taking a big step out of obscurity onto the Go-Go scene in the 80's scoring a hit with the massive: 'Da butt'.


I'll strongly advise you to dig all those albums, you really get the a greater view of the talents involved once you hear them in their conceptual continuity, no weak track. In other words the whole is better than the sum of its parts.

Peace
Mr Moo


Credits :
Selected, mixed and annoted by Mr Moo (T.I.M.E.C.)
Cover artwork by Djouls, photo from Mr Moo's private collection
TIMEC
Djouls

Djouls

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BJ BJ ·  04 March 2008, 08:05

Great selection ! Asante Sana is also my favorite track of this mix. But in fact they're all great ;-)

Bilou Bilou ·  04 March 2008, 12:09

Man, where do you find all those f# talents? Thanks!


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