By the late 1960s, drummer Roy Porter had already worked with some of jazz’s true greats (Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie included), spent time in prison and weened himself off heavy drugs. It was at this point that he founded Roy Porter Sound Machine, a heavyweight jazz-funk combo with a penchant for raw rhythm and blues. The band’s 1971 debut LP, Jessica, is one of the most magnificent sets in his vast discography. Featuring sweaty, floor-ready rhythms from Porter, beefy bass, wild electric piano licks, fuzzy guitars and some fine brass arrangements, the album is as good a collection of jazz-funk/funk fusion tracks as you’re ever likely to hear.
“Sweet Tea (With My Sweetie)” was originally destined for inclusion on Lucky Brown & The SG’s 2018 album “Mesquite Suite”, but for one reason or another ended up getting cut. Happily, Tramp Tapes has decided to make it available as a 7-inch single instead. As with previous Brown excursions, the title track sounds like it was recorded sometime in the late 1960s, with authentically fuzzy production, punchy horns, Meters style Hammond licks and sweet, eyes-closed guitar riffs riding a loose but punchy funk-soul groove. “More Sweet Tea” sees the assembled band offer up a jazzier, solo-heavy instrumental revision of the title track that’s even dustier and heavier than the A-side.
This is a short recap of what our readers enjoyed most on Hipodrome, a top 3 of the most appreciated albums, compilations, mixes and other stuff.
Vakula – Metaphors [Leleka]
The most appreciated album by our readers is ‘Metaphors’, the album from the Ukrainian master Vakula. ‘Metaphors’ is slightly different from some of his full-length excursions, focused as it is on the gently unfurling, head-in-the-clouds world of ambient music. Of course, much of the music is still gently rhythmic but the vibe remains thoroughly horizontal throughout.
Lucky Brown delivers another album for Tramp Records. Since he joined the Tramp family in 2007, Lucky has developed his own trademark production and sound whose depth and honesty form a basis from which his work will ever remain timeless. On “Mesquite Suite” he is forging new paths by soaking up musical styles from all over the world to infuse with his own totally unique way of producing. It has been Lucky Brown’s aim to paint for the world a picture of the vernacular jazz that America’s neighborhoods once crafted as their own homegrown cultural heritage. Lucky Brown’s music is a rejection of the elitism, classism and status of the music industrial complex and is an antitoxin to it’s resultant homogeneity. He wants with his heart and his art to transmit an everyday people’s sound, made by everyday people, dedicated to the upliftment of all people.
It is a rare occurrence, especially when you consider that we are writing this in the year 2017, that an unreleased soul/disco album from the 1970s surfaces after 40 years. The Tramp crew first heard about the album while discussing the re-release of Teakwood’s sole 45RPM single release “Can You Dig It” with former band leader and founding member of the group, Fred Forsh. It was in 1972 when two new Berry College freshmen met and realized that they were both music majors which led to an impromptu jam session in the lower level of the student center. This was the beginning of what would soon become Teakwood. “Those two original members, Ralph Moore on saxophone and me on piano, along with five others went into the studio in 1976 and recorded two songs for our first and only single”, remembers Fred Forsh. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Moore and Forsh parted ways but Teakwood continued with four remaining members plus two new ones and with this new lineup, went into the studio in 1977 to record nine songs under the collective title “A Distant Star”. However, for some obscure reason the songs were never released but luckily the reel-to-reel master tapes survived. The tapes were sent to the head quarters of Tramp Records in early 2016. In the end it took several attempts at three different recording studios to transfer them successfully.
The ‘Movements’ saga started to discover, study, and properly represent great black American music that is at risk of being lost or forgotten. Today, his illustrious label: Tramp Records, proudly releases the 6th volume of this essential series. Though the track listing still contains amazing music you may never hear elsewhere, the series has matured since its first volume. The track selection has become more open minded, compiling ballads and soul-jazz tunes, even proto-disco in addition to the rare funk Tramp fans expect. Tracks are selected in chronological order so that the listener may get an impression of the development of of the art form from jazz to rhythm and blues to rock & roll to soul and of course – funk. As the website states: ”we ain’t going for bootlegs,” so, whenever possible, Tramp sought out and was granted permission to release each track from the original musicians who are very often in their late seventies now. He took that opportunity to interview them about their careers, their groups, and the recording sessions from which these gems arose. The artists’ stories are meticulously published in extensive liner notes which are printed in the included full-color booklet. Their own words illuminate the colorful backstory behind each track.