The final studio album from Thomas’ classic period – a glorious combination of soul, funk and jazz.
Leon Thomas’ final album for Flying Dutchman marked a change in his career. In the previous five-year period he had always been moving forward, with four studio albums and several live recordings. Afterwards he recorded only a handful of singles and a couple of albums in the years until his death in 1999.
The St Louis-born vocalist had made his mark as a bluesy wailer in the Count Basie Orchestra in the early 1960s. He then developed his own style by hanging out with contemporary jazz players on both the East and West Coasts. His break came when he joined Pharoah Sanders’ group and after the success of ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ he signed to Flying Dutchman and began his career as a leader.
By 1972 he was widely considered the leading jazz vocalist of the new generation and his album “Blues And The Soulful Truth” was an attempt to cross him over to a wider audience. It didn’t quite succeed but attracted the attention of Carlos Santana who asked him to join his band. “Full Circle”, recorded as Thomas was about to join Santana, was another attempt at widening his appeal.
The album featured a cover of Santana’s ‘Just In Time To See The Sun’, a song that suited Thomas’ voice very well and sat well alongside his own compositions ‘It’s My Life I’m Fighting For’ and ‘Balance Of Life (Peace Of Mind)’. He excelled on versions of B.B. King’s ‘Sweet Little Angel’ and Johnny Ace’s ‘Never Let Me Go’. Aimed squarely at the soul charts, the album also included covers of three Motown numbers: Michael Jackson’s ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’, theJackson5’s ‘Got To Be There’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘You Are The Sunshine Of My Life’.
“Full Circle” sold well without ever crossing over. Thomas went off to tour with Santana and never returned to Flying Dutchman. It was the end of a vibrant and productive chapter in his career.