Over the past few years Dean Rudland's name has become synonymous with quality compilations that have skilfully mined the deep seams of 60s and 70s American jazz. This time he's put together 15 tracks that place themselves squarely on the 70s sidewalks of big city America. It was time when funk grooves and in particular 'breaks' were beginning to be stretched out by DJs no longer content to play three minute singles. The dancers wanted more and, at, first enterprising jocks would mix two 7"s together until eventually one club favourite, Ultra High Frequency's We're On The Right Track made it onto the now cherished 12" format. On the other side of the street, dance-floor friendly extended jazz workouts had been in vogue long before the arrival of the 12" single and it's these, bolstered by Hammond organ and wah wah guitar that provide the thread to this selection.
Opening with Isaac Hayes' faithful, yet fuller, interpretation of the Bill Withers' classic Use Me we then move to the first of three previously unreleased tracks, Tami Lynn's take on Light My Fire. Just when I thought the world needed another version of this like Aston Villa needed another Stan Collymore, what sounds like a demo kicks off confidently with a sample-worthy intro before giving way to Lynn's vocal and a warm acoustic guitar-led groove. Caesar Frazier's established jazz dance classic Mighty Mouse builds beautifully around organ and brass whilst elsewhere You finds Spanky Wilson's distinctive vocals riding rough-shod over a funky guitar and bold brass backing. Houston Person's Sweet Buns & Barbeque and the Pazant Brothers' Loose & Juicy instrumental jazz cuts both perfectly demonstrate how far funk had permeated the basement jazz clubs.
Meanwhile around another corner we find Cal Tjader's vibes tackling the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter admirably. Ripple's I Don't Know What it Is But It Sure Is Funky may lack lyrical inspiration but the combination of vocal chants over a tight backing have made this a dance favourite since the 'Rare Groove' scene resurrected it in the 80s. The jazz blues of Dave Hamilton's previously unreleased instrumental Marriage Is A State Of Vibes provides welcome respite from Idris Muhammad's power-house rhythms on Brother You Know You're Doing Wrong whilst the Fatback Band's Mister Bass Man signals the party hasn't quite finished in Rudland's yard. Add to this Preston Epps explosive instrumental Afro-Mania and it's clear you should try and get to hear this compilation.
By Johnny Chandler