It's a New York summer's day circa 1971.The year makes no difference to the temperature. It's HOT! The sky when you can see it in between the towering skyscrapers is blue, heat rises from the tarmac, and even the most simple of tasks requires a supreme effort and a shower afterwards. But this isn't bothering you, you've slipped into a loose fitting white suit, your lapels and trouser legs more than a touch wider than they would have been a few years before. In your hand is an iced martini, and your companion is wearing the sort of flowing dress that Halston does so well. You've turned up at the prestigious "Concerts In The Garden" season at the Museum Of Modern Art, and are looking forward to a fine evening's entertainment to soothe your browe. Mistake! As soon as the Pazant Brothers take the stage there is no way its going to get anything here but hotter. The opening number P Soul is frenetic, and when it is followed by an extended take on the Martha and the Vandellas hit Dancing In The Street you know that the latin roots here are straight out of Spanish Harlem rather than Tijuana. The Pazant Brothers and their band were hot, sweaty and funky, and could cook and cut it like the best club funk band in the world.
If you had been on the pulse you would have known this. Al and Ed Pazant had first come to prominence in Lionel Hampton's band, they then played with Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers, being present and correct to record that band's definitive take on Gladys Knight and the Pips Got Myself A Good Man - virtually our theme song here at BGP. As the Pazant Brothers they recorded a bunch of stuff with producer Ed Bland that appeared as 45s for both as the Pazant Brothers for RCA and GWP, and as the Chilli Peppers for GWP, as well as backing Betty Barney for her GWP single. These showed a band that was mixing R&B, soul, latin and jazz influences to create a funk sound that was both unique and dynamic.
Later on they would have singles on both the Priscilla and Vigor labels before releasing a very collectable album on Vanguard, which was also produced by Bland. However, if you were a patron of the Museum of Modern Art would you have had your finger on the pulse of obscure street funk 45s? You may have dug the Temps, or a bit of Isaac, but what would have prepared you for the invasion of your world by the Pazant Brothers? Well perhaps Ed Bland would have. It was Ed who was the co-ordinator of the summer "Concerts In The Garden" season, hence the Pazants' booking. The tapes of that concert lay around for 30 years until Al gave them to Ady Croadell and he passed them to me.
The CD we now present includes sizzling live versions of most of the early singles and three vocal cuts from the fantastic Betty Barney, who continued to work with the Pazants right through the 1970s. This is live street funk at its height, something that was so rarely recorded that we are very lucky to have this fantastic archive piece. Just spare a thought for the poor art patrons who had there ears surprised by this.
by Dean Rudland