Monday, March 15, 2010

Quincy JONES – Smackwater Jack 1971

Quincy JONES – Smackwater Jack 1971


Quincy Jones had jazz fans wondering when he released his killer GULA MATARI album in 1970. That set, with a gorgeous reading of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with a lead vocal by none other than Valerie Simpson, pointed quite solidly into the direction Jones was traveling: unabashedly toward pop, but with his own trademark taste and sophistication at the forefront. Its follow-up, SMACKWATER JACK, marked Jones, along with Phil Ramone and Ray Brown in the producer's chair, and knocked purist jazz fans on their heads with its killer meld of pop tunes, television and film themes, pop vocals, and big-band charts. The personnel list is a who's-who of jazzers including Monty Alexander, Jim Hall, Pete Christlieb, Joe Beck, Bobby Scott, Ernie Royal, Freddie Hubbard, Jerome Richardson, Ray Brown, Jaki Byard, Toots Thielemans, and many others. But it also hosted the talents of new school players who dug pop and soul, such as Grady Tate, Bob James, Joe Sample, Chuck Rainey, Paul Humphries, Eric Gale, and others. And yes, Simpson was back on this session in an epic reading of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On,'" that featured Carol Kaye and Harry Lookofsky on soulful, psychedelic jazz strings and a smoking harmonica solo by Thielemans. The title cut, of course, is a reading of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King number, done in a taut, funky soul style with Rainey's bassline popping and bubbling under the entire mix. Other highlights include a rocking version of the television theme from Ironside, and "Hikky-Burr," the now infamous theme from the Bill Cosby Show with a guest vocal from Bill. The version of Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" is one of the loveliest tracks here. The album's final cut is a Jones original that sums up the theme of the entire album. Entitled "Guitar Blues Odyssey: From Roots to Fruits," it travels the path of Robert Johnson and Skip James through toJimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton with stops along the way at Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, and Grant Green. This set has provided some key samples for rappers and electronic music producers over the years--and there's plenty more to steal -- but as an album, it is one of Q's true masterpieces.
This is where a lot of serious jazz purists get off the train but for the rest of us, this is an exciting journey into Quincy Jones territory where labels are meaningless. Though Q takes us deep into Hollywood and TV with his themes to Ironside, The Anderson Tapes and the first Bill Cosby Show (with humorous vocals from the Cos' himself), his jazz base remains intact in these fascinating charts, and stellar friends like Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Toots Thielemans, and Jim Hall are left alone to shine. The centerpiece, "Guitar Blues Odyssey: From Roots to Fruits" is the first of many attempts by Q to summarize musical evolution in one fell swoop. Moreover, this ambitious collage actually works -- and it's great fun to hear Thielemans, Hall, Eric Gale and Joe Beck try to mimic guitarists from Robert Johnson to Wes Montgomery to Jimi Hendrix. One can't be quite as enthusiastic about Q's rather weak-kneed vocals on two tracks, but that's about the only stumble in this hugely enjoyable project
By Richard S. Ginell. AMG.
Bass [Fender]- Carol Kaye , Chuck Rainey
Bass [String]- Bob Cranshaw , Ray Brown
Drums- Grady Tate , Paul Humphries
Flugelhorn- Freddie Hubbard , Marvin Stamm
Flute, Saxophone [Tenor]- Hubert Laws
Guitar- Arthur Adams , Eric Gale , Freddie Robinson , Jim Hall , Joe Beck
Guitar, Harmonica, Whistle- Toots Thielemans
Organ- Jimmy Smith
Percussion- George Devens , Larry Bunker
Piano- Bobby Scott
Piano [Fender Rhodes]- Bob James , Jaki Byard , Joe Sample
Piano [Tack]- Monty Alexander
Piano, Harpsichord [Electric]- Dick Hyman
Saxophone [Soprano, Tenor]- Jerome Richardson
Saxophone [Tenor]- Pete Christlieb
Synthesizer [Moog]- Paul Beaver
Trombone [Bass]- Alan Raph , Dick Hixon* , Tony Studd
Trombone [Tenor]- Garnett Brown , Wayne Andre
Trumpet- Buddy Childers , Ernie Royal , Eugene Young , Joe Newman
A1. Smackwater Jack 3:23
    Backing Vocals - Barbara Massey , Joshie Armstead , Maretha Stewart* , Marilyn Jackson , Valerie     Simpson
    Vocals - Quincy Jones
A2. Cast Your Fate To The Wind 4:25
    Written-By - Vince Guaraldi
A3. Ironside (Theme From "Ironside"; NBC-TV) 3:53
A4. What's Going On? 9:52
    Backing Vocals - Barbara Massey , Joshie Armstead , Maretha Stewart* , Marilyn Jackson
    Vibraphone - Milt Jackson
    Violin - Harry Lookofsky
    Vocals - Quincy Jones , Valerie Simpson
B1. Theme From "The Anderson Tapes" 5:16
    Synthesizer [Moog] - Edd Kalehoff
    Vibraphone - Milt Jackson
B2. Brown Ballad 4:18
B3. Hikky-Burr (Theme From "The Bill Cosby Show"; NBC-TV) 5:03
    Vocals - Bill Cosby
B4. Guitar Blues Odyssey: From Roots To Fruits 6:38

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