King Curtis – Soul Twist (1962)

FrontCover1.jpgCurtis Ousley (born Curtis Montgomery; February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971), who performed under the stage name King Curtis, was an American saxophonist known for rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, blues, funk and soul jazz. Variously a bandleader, band member, and session musician, he was also a musical director and record producer. Adept at tenor, alto, and soprano saxophone, he played riffs and solos on such hit singles as “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, and “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters (the latter of which later became the inspiration for Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax”) and his own “Memphis Soul Stew”

R&B tenor sax great King Curtis recorded for a variety of labels during his career, including stints at Capitol and Atlantic, but what is arguably his finest session came for Bobby Robinson’s Harlem-based label Enjoy Records in 1962. Curtis apparently regarded this as a trial run, since he left Enjoy without signing a contract that same year, in spite of having “Soul Twist” sitting on top of the R&B charts.


Whatever the chemistry was at these sessions (the complete results of which are included here), Robinson managed to convince Curtis not to blow the house down every second of every track, and the ensemble feel that emerged between the saxophonist and organ player Ernie Hayes and guitarists Billy Butler and Joe Richardson is strong, loose, and darn near perfect. Featuring mostly instrumentals, the Enjoy sessions spotlight a studio band (billed as the Noble Knights) that has a little of the same magic that would later make Booker T. & the MG’s so special, a certain soulful exactness, and yet still loose enough to swing. “Soul Twist” is a classic. Curtis’ strong, stuttering tenor sax is a major part of why things work, but these 15 cuts are solidly a group effort, and King Curtis never really bettered the feel he found with these musicians. because King Curtis never sounded better or more relaxed … King Curtis never sounded better or more relaxed. (by Steve Leggett)


King Curtis (saxophone)
The Noble Knights ‎ (a bunch of unknown studio musicians)


01. Soul Twist King (Curtis) 2.51
02. Twisting Time (Curtis) 2.44
03. What’d I Say (Charles) 2.29
04. I Know (George) 2.54
05. Sack O’ Woe Twist (Adderley) 2.40
06. Camp Meetin’ (Ousley/Pierce) 2.35
07. Wobble Twist (Curtis) 2.34
08. Irresistible You (Kasha/Dixon) 2.54
09. Big Dipper (Curtis) 3.06
10. Twisting With The King (Curtis) 2.47
11. Midnight Blue (Ousley/Butler) 5.36



King Curtis (February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971)

Curtis was stabbed on August 13, 1971, during an argument with a pair of drug dealers he discovered on the steps outside his Manhattan apartment. Curtis was attempting to carry an air conditioner into his apartment when Juan Montanez refused to move from the entrance. A fight ensued and Montanez stabbed Curtis. Curtis was transferred to Roosevelt Hospital, where he died. (by wikipedia)

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