28 July 2007
THE LEON THOMAS ALBUM
Leon Thomas for Flying Dutchman from 1970.
One of my favourite Leon Thomas lps primarily for the epic side long "The Journey" and the 11 minute percussion heavy "Um Um Um "which features a bass line reminiscent of Silver's "Senor Blues".Thom Jurek gets it right when he asks "Why wasn't this guy huge?".A truly amazing album of spiritual jazz.Highly recommended.
On the follow-up to the mind-blowing Spirits Known and Unknown, singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and composer Leon Thomas decided to take a different track. Far from the sparely orchestrated ensembles of the previous works, Thomas loaded this set with jazz luminaries such as Roy Haynes and Billy Cobham, Billy Harper, Donald Smith, James Spaulding, Sonny Morgan, Ernie Royal, and many others as well as a backing chorus of female voices. Side one is the up-tempo jazz ride, as Thomas and company rip through a host of his own tunes, such as the scatted post-bop of "I Am" and the nearly bar-walking blues of "Come Along." But the side is graced by an absolutely stunning read of Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove," with Harper leading a five-horn section. The real gem on the album is "Pharaoh's Tune (The Journey)," which comprises all of side two. After setting up a live audience with a narrative laced with sound effects from the vanguard jazzers, the tune develops its groove about four minutes in and the bells and yodel come out, and from here it's Thomas at his improvisational best as both a singer and a bandleader. Everybody here is inspired, especially the two drummers. Harper, Spaulding, and Smith weave snake-charming lines around one another, and the entire thing just lifts off and never returns. It's a breathtaking ride made all the more so by the long, jazzed-out setup of side one. Why this guy wasn't huge is a mystery. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
Billy Harper Sax (Tenor) Arthur Sterling Piano Howard Johnson Sax (Baritone) Billy Cobham Drums Bob Cunningham Bass Leon Thomas Flute, Percussion, Main Performer, Vocals Richard Landrum Percussion James Spaulding Flute John Williams Guitar (Bass) Oliver Nelson Arranger, Conductor Gene Golden Percussion Ernie Royal Trumpet Donald Smith Flute Roy Haynes Drums Sonny Morgan Percussion Jerome Richardson Sax (Alto)
Ripped @320 from the original vinyl-no cd issues.