Average White Band – Feel No Fret (1979)

FrontCover1The Average White Band (also AWB) are a Scottish funk and R&B band that had a series of soul and disco hits between 1974 and 1980. They are best known for their million-selling instrumental track “Pick Up the Pieces”, and their albums AWB and Cut the Cake. The band name was initially proposed by Bonnie Bramlett. They have influenced others, such as the Brand New Heavies, and been sampled by various musicians, including the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, TLC, The Beatnuts, Too Short, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Christina Milian, and Arrested Development, making them the 15th most sampled act in history. As of 2018, 46 years after their formation, they continue to perform.

Feel No Fret is the seventh album by Scottish funk and R&B band Average White Band (also AWB) released in 1979 on the RCA label in the United Kingdom and the Atlantic label in the United States.

It reached No. 15 in the UK charts, with 15 weeks in total on the charts, and No. 32 in the US charts. (by wikipedia)

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From their self-titled sophomore album of 1974 to 1978’s Warmer Communications, the Average White Band enjoyed a commercial winning streak in the ’70s; all of the albums they recorded for Atlantic during that period went either gold or platinum in the United States (and that is in addition to their impressive sales in Europe). But if any AWB album demonstrated that all good things must eventually come to an end, it was Feel No Fret. This 1979 LP marked the first time since 1973’s Show Your Hand (also known as Put It Where You Want It) that an AWB album didn’t enjoy either gold or platinum sales in the U.S., and it was also the most uneven album they recorded in the ’70s. So what went wrong? Perhaps the absence of Arif Mardin was a factor; Mardin had produced all of AWB’s previous Atlantic releases, whereas they produced Feel No Fret themselves. If Mardin had been encouraging the Scottish soul/funk band to go that extra mile, they settled for decent or competent on this record.

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Feel No Fret is far from a total meltdown, and the material is generally likable — especially the good-natured “Atlantic Avenue,” the slow-grinding “When Will You Be Mine,” and a remake of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David favorite “Walk On By” (which became a minor hit and made it to number 32 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart). But after Mardin-produced treasures like AWB, Soul Searching, Cut the Cake, and Warmer Communications, AWB followers had become extremely spoiled — they expected excellence, not a record that was merely adequate. Nonetheless, hardcore devotees (as opposed to casual listeners) will want to hear this album.

Oh yes, I´m a hardcore freak …

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Personnel:
Roger Ball (keyboards, synthesizer (saxophone)
Malcolm Duncan (saxophone)
Steve Ferrone (drums, percussion)
Alan Gorrie (bass, vocals, guitar)
Onnie McIntyre (guitar, vocals)
Hamish Stuart (guitar, vocals, bass)
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Mike Brecker (saxophone on 05. + 09.)
Randy Brecker (trumpet on 05. + 09.)
Zeca de Cuica (cuica on 06.)
Lew Delgatto (saxophone on 05. + 09.)
Airto Moreira (percussion on 06.)
Luis Carlos Dos Santos (surdo on 06.)
Luther Vandross (background vocals on 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. When Will You Be Mine (Gorrie/White) 4.20
02. Please Don’t Fall In Love (Ball/Gorrie) 3.42
03. Walk On By (David/Bacharach) 4.00
04. Feel No Fret (Stuart/Gorrie/Ferrone) 6.31
05. Stop The Rain (Gorrie/Stuart) 4.32
06. Atlantic Avenue (Ferrone, Gorrie, Average White Band) – # 24 UK chart[6]
07. Ace Of Hearts (Ferrone/Gorrie/Stuart) 3.52
08. Too Late To Cry (Stuart) 3.45
09. Fire Burning (Gorrie/White) 3.15

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Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express – Happiness Heartaches (1977)

FrontCover1Brian Albert Gordon Auger (born 18 July 1939) is an English jazz rock and rock music keyboardist who specializes in the Hammond organ.

Auger has worked with Rod Stewart, Tony Williams, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Sonny Boy Williamson, Eric Burdon. He incorporated jazz, early British pop, R&B, soul music, and rock into his sound. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1965, Auger played on “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds as a session musician. That same year, Auger formed the group The Steampacket with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, and Rod Stewart. Due to contractual problems there were no official recordings made by the band; nevertheless, nine tracks were laid down for promotional use in late 1965 and released on a CD by Repertoire Records in 1990 (licensed from Charly Records) as well as 12 live tracks from Live at the Birmingham Town Hall, February 2, 1964. Stewart left in early 1966 and soon thereafter the band broke up.

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With Driscoll and the band Trinity, he went on to record a cover version of David Ackles’ “Road to Cairo” and Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire”, which appeared on Dylan Covered. In 1969 Auger, Driscoll, and Trinity performed in the United States on the NBC special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.

In 1970, he formed the jazz fusion ensemble Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express shortly after abandoning the abortive “Wassenaar Arrangement” jazz rock commune in a small suburb of The Hague. Oblivion Express cultivated the talents of several notable musicians, including Average White Band drummers Robbie McIntosh and Steve Ferrone, as well as guitarist Jim Mullen. In 1971 he produced and appeared on Mogul Thrash’s only album, Mogul Thrash. Two members of that band, Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan, would go on to form the Average White Band.

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Auger toured with Kim Simmonds, Gregg Errico, and Tim Bogert in the mid 1980s in a band they called Maestro. No album resulted from this collaboration and tour. In 1986, he played keyboards for the Italian singer Mango on the album Odissea.
Brian Auger after a show at the Cabaret de Monte-Carlo with bassist-arranger Pino Presti in 2006

In 1989, Auger was musical director for the thirteen-part film retrospective series Villa Fantastica made for German TV. A live recording of the series, Super Jam (1990), features Auger on piano, Pete York on drums, Dick Morrissey on tenor saxophone, Roy Williams on trombone, Harvey Weston on bass guitar, and singers Zoot Money and Maria Muldaur.

Auger toured with Eric Burdon in the early 1990s and recorded the live album Access All Areas with him in 1993. Oblivion Express was revived in 2005 with recording and touring. The group featured Brian Auger, his son Karma Auger on drums, his daughter Savannah Auger on vocals, and Derek Frank on bass.

In 2012, Auger released Language of the Heart, one of the few solo albums of his career, produced by Tea. It features Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Julian Coryell on guitars.

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In 2014, Auger was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with El Chicano as well as Alphonse Mouzon, David Paich, Alex Ligertwood, Ray Parker Jr., Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Salvador Santana, Marcos J. Reyes, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Spencer Davis. This major recording project is due for release in 2019.

In 2014 Brian Auger and Oblivion Express played at the KJAZZ festival in Los Angeles and toured in Japan and Europe with Karma Auger on drums, daughter Ali Auger on vocals, Alex Ligertwood on vocals, Yarone Levy on guitar, Les King on bass, and Travis Carlton on bass. (by wikipedia)

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Originally released in 1977, and reissued on CD by Wounded Bird, Happiness Heartaches is a rock solid date by the Oblivion Express. Along with Brian Auger’s gigantic musical personality, the set is also driven in equal part by former Miles Davis and Return To Forever drummer Lenny White, as well as percussionist Lennox Laington. Rhythm is the key to groove, and it is displayed here in overdrive. This is “groove jazz” with teeth, and a deeply funky and welcome alternative to the increasing presence of disco drum machines in jazz recordings. And make no mistake, Happiness Heartaches is a jazz record, a claim many of the era’s jazzmen who were recording cannot hope to claim, so complete was their cave in to disco’s chart influence. “Spice Island,” with its languid vocal line and melody, influenced by Airto and Flora to be sure, but also by Leon Thomas’ solo recordings, is a case in point. Auger’s contrapuntal solo coming as a tag off the vocal and being played foil to by Jack Mills’ guitar is simply sublime. On “Gimme A Funky Beat,” the band takes the notion of Brazilian Carnaval into overdrive, with a rollicking bassline by Clive Chaman.

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Alex Ligertwood’s vocals leave a bit to be desired, as he is clearly not a jazz singer, but they aren’t too irritating. The set ends with a tour de force by Auger entitled “Paging Mr. McCoy,” a keyboard orgy propelled by the rhytmnatist’s percussion team. It’s full of crescendos, stops, starts, and side passages (like a beautiful, sped-up quote from the theme of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”) as well as regal overtones. The only real complaint is a consistent one regarding Wounded Bird’s reissues: rather than recasting and re-contextualizing the original cover art, they just shrink it, and there are no liner notes, making for a shoddy little package. Nevertheless, the music’s the important thing, so despite the real lack of aesthetics shown by the label visually, this is certainly a welcome addition to ever Brian Auger collection. (by Thom Jurek)

Oh yes, this is the funky side of Brian Auger !

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (keyboards)
Clive Chaman (bass)
Lennox Langton (percussion)
Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar)
Jack Mills (guitar)
Lenny White (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Back Street Bible Class (Auger) 5.28
02. Spice Island (Mills/Auger) 8.56
03. Gimme A Funky Break (Ligertwood) 4.39
04. Never Gonna Come Down (Chaman) 5.34
05. Happiness Heartaches (Dennison/Ligertwood) 5.14
06. Got To Be Born Again (Langton) 4.18
07. Paging Mr. McCoy (Auger) 4.30

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Jorge Santana – Same (1978)

LPFrontCover1Guillermo “Jorge” Santana (13 June 1951 – 14 May 2020) was a Mexican guitarist, brother of musician Carlos Santana.

He was a member of Malo, who had a top twenty hit in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with “Suavecito” in 1972.

He released two solo albums on Tomato Records, Jorge Santana and It’s All About Love, featuring former Malo members. In the mid-1970s he played with the Fania All-Stars.

His distinctive guitar is a green Fender Stratocaster, acquired in the 1970s.

After a long split, Santana toured with his brother, Carlos. The album Sacred Fire: Live in South America was recorded in Mexico City on this tour, featuring Jorge Santana, who played a personalized orange Paul Reed Smith guitar.

In 1994 he recorded an album with his brother and Carlos Santana’s nephew, Carlos Hernandez, called Santana Brothers.

He passed away of natural causes on 14 May 2020, aged 68. (by wikipedia)

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Musician Jorge Santana, guitarist and a pioneer of the Latin rock sound of the early ’70s through the Bay Area-based band Malo, has died. The 68-year-old musician died of natural causes on Thu., May 14 at his home in San Rafael, Calif., according to family.

Carlos Santana posted a tribute to his younger brother on his Facebook page on Friday: “We mourn the loss of our beloved brother, Jorge. He transitioned unto the realm of light that casts no shadow. The eyes of my heart clearly see him right in between our glorious and magnificent mother Josfeina and our father Jose.”

Jorge Santana and Malo — initially the Malibus — had a brush with chart fame through “Suavecito,” a single from the group’s self-titled first album, released in 1972. Though the group disbanded after four albums, it has recently become a popular concert draw on revival oldies circuits.

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But while that single remains a Latino soul classic, Malo was much more than that: As we pointed out for NPR’s Morning Edition feature One Hit Wonders/ Second-Best Songs, Malo was a musically sophisticated amalgamation of many influences, such that it deserves a place alongside other early-’70s, genre-defying bands.

It could have been the toughest job in the music business: being Carlos Santana’s guitar-playing younger brother. But musician, bandleader and WBGO radio host Bobby Sanabria summed it up well on his Facebook tribute to Jorge Santana: “Picture Blood Sweat & Tears fused with Chicago, fused with Afro-Cuban rhythms and guitar driven rock. It was Santana on steroids.”

Jorge Santana’s early-’70s peak was a heady time for Latin music. The younger Santana came roaring out of the starting blocks with his self-titled first album. Sensing an appetite for something beyond the more mainstream Latin acts, like Trini Lopez and Jose Feliciano, a mini-movement of Latin rock bands began to find, and create, their own spaces. Among them were Southern California’s jazz-influenced El Chicano; the Bay Area’s Azteca, which featured more than 15 members and leaned much more heavily on funk than rock; and even War, the largely African-American outfit that borrowed from cha-cha-chá and mambo, mixing them with deep-groove R&B.

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It was also the era of lead-guitarist gunslingers — and Jorge Santana more than held his own. The below playlist illustrates his ability to offer perfectly placed poetry amidst the dynamic passion of Afro-Cuban percussion and intricate horn arrangements.

The tragedy of that era is that ultimately the mainstream music business at the time, seemingly, had room for just one “Latin” act.

Santana was central in helping to open ears and hearts to the various forms of Latin music — the result is that everyone, from Gloria Estefan to J.Lo to Bad Bunny, can now more ably find a seat at the table. (www.npr.org)

And here´s his debut album as a solo artist … but … sorry folk … this album was inspired from this Funk/Disco/Philly-Sound style of these years … and this is relly not the kind of music I like …

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Personnel:
Richard Bean (vocals, guitar)
Jerry Marshall (drums)
Kincaid Miller (keyboards)
Yogi Newman (percussion)
Carlos Roberto (bass)
George  “Jorge” Santana (lead guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Sandy (Bean/Santana)
02. Tonight You’re Mine (Bean/Santana)
03. Darling I Love You (Bean/Santana)
04. We Were There (Bean/Santana)
05. Love You, Love You (Bean/Santana)
06. Love The Way (Bean)
07. Seychells (Takanaka)
08. Nobody’s Perfect (Bean/Miller/Estrella)

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Guillermo “Jorge” Santana (13 June 1951 – 14 May 2020)

Tony Allen – Black Voices (1999)

FrontCover1Tony Allen, the pioneering drummer who helped define Afrobeat during his tenure with Fela Kuti, died Thursday evening. He was 79.

Allen’s manager, Eric Trosser, confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone, adding that Allen was taken to Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, where he died of abdominal aortic aneurysm. “He was in great shape,” Trosser added to France 24. “It was quite sudden.” Sahara Reporters first reported Allen’s death.

As a member of Kuti’s band Africa ’70, Allen helped revolutionize the art of drumming, simultaneously anchoring and propelling classic albums like 1973’s Gentleman, 1975’s Expensive Shit, and the Afrobeat legend’s most enduring work, 1976’s Zombie. Each release depended on Allen’s slippery, ferocious, polyrhythmic grooves. “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat,” Kuti once said. Damon Albarn and Brian Eno were also famously enamored with Allen’s playing; Eno called him “one of the great musicians of the 20th century — and the 21st.”

“There was no band like the Africa ’70,” Femi Kuti, Fela’s son, told Rolling Stone in 2017. “And there is no drummer like Tony Allen.”

“Tony Allen was one of the giants of African music — who, with Fela Kuti, created the highly original and influential hybrid that became Afrobeat,” Peter Gabriel wrote on Twitter. “As a musician and aspiring drummer, it was thrilling to get lost in their new, smart, sexy and political music full of killer grooves.”

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Allen was born in Lagos, Nigeria; he didn’t pick up the sticks until his late teens. He studied the work of a variety of jazz drummers, from Art Blakey to Elvin Jones to Philly Joe Jones to Gene Krupa. Speaking with The Wire, Allen credited Max Roach with turning him on to the potential of the hi-hat, which he believed many of his peers were neglecting. Allen later met the drummer Frank Butler, who influenced him to practice drumming on pillows. “It adds flexibility,” Allen told The Guardian.

Allen also picked up a wide-ranging musical education on the club circuit in Nigeria. “Latin American, African horns, jazz, highlife… you had to be able to play it all, because in the club they asked for it,” Allen said. He played in an outfit dubbed the Cool Cats and then moved on to help better known highlife artists like Victor Olaiya.

Kuti initially met Allen in 1964. “The first thing he asked was, ‘Are you the one who said that you are the best drummer in this country?’” Allen recalled. “I laughed and told him, ‘I never said so.’ He asked me if I could play jazz, and I said yes. He asked me if I could take solos, and I said yes again.”

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Allen went on to serve as the drummer in Kuti’s band Koola Lobitos. Initially, listeners weren’t sure what to make of the group. “It was like a revolutionary music style coming to the country,” Allen explained. “They were used to the highlife thing.… It was kind of strange for the people.”

After a visit to the United States in 1969, Allen and Kuti began to cement the endlessly copied sound of Afrobeat. This was full-band dance music, boosted by searing, intricate horn parts, scratchy, relentless guitar, and agitated, hyperactive bass lines. Like American funk, each instrument could function as a percussive engine, driving the song forward, but Afrobeat made more room for solos and inventive melodic digressions that sprawled out over 10, 12, or 17 minutes.

Allen was the whirlwind at the center of it all, producing a darting web of rhythm, invigorating but never overpowering, that entranced generations of musicians. “I was accustomed to a hard and rigid sort of drive in the drums,” Meshell Ndegeocello said in 2017. “Hearing Tony Allen really opened my mind up to fluidity and the understanding of agility within the pulse.”

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Eno bought a Kuti album on a whim in a London record shop in the early Seventies. “I think I liked the cover, and I think I liked the fact that the band had so many members,” he told The Vinyl Factory in 2014. “It changed my whole feeling about what music could be.… when I first met Talking Heads and we were talking about working together, I played [Kuti’s 1973 album Afrodisiac] for them and said: This is the music of the future.”

“I love the density of the weave between the players,” Eno added. “I love the relationship of discipline and freedom shown in this. It’s not jamming in the do-whatever-you-like sense. But it’s not constrained parts in the orchestral sense either.”

Allen and Kuti were a prolific and indefatigable team for more than a decade. Kuti released multiple albums a year with ease. He was also a tireless performer. “We’d play six hours a night, four days of the week with Fela,” Allen told Clash. “That’s what the people want.”

Kuti quickly became known for his blunt condemnations of government corruption and ineptitude. “What [Fela] was challenging, he was right,” Allen said in 2016. “But it was too direct and that’s why he got all this shit. There were too many arrests, too many bombardments. You’re a musician — why do you leave yourself to be beaten up all the time like that?” Government retaliations against Kuti became increasingly fierce, and Allen decided to strike out on his own in 1978.

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In addition to his work with Kuti, Allen was known for his collaborations with Albarn: Allen was a member of the Good, the Bad and the Queen alongside Albarn, the Clash’s Paul Simonon, and the Verve’s Simon Tong. That band released a pair of albums, a self-titled 2007 LP and 2018’s Merrie Land. Allen, Albarn, and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea — under the moniker Rocket Juice & the Moon — also released a collaborative album in 2012.

“The greatest drummer on Earth has left us,” Flea wrote on Instagram. “What a wildman, with a massive, kind and free heart and the deepest one-of-a-kind groove. Fela Kuti did not invent afrobeat, Fela and Tony birthed it together. Without Tony Allen there is NO afrobeat.”

In recent years, Allen reconnected with his jazz roots, recording a tribute EP for his “hero” Art Blakey and teaming up with Jeff Mills for 2018’s Tomorrow Comes the Harvest. Earlier this year, Allen released Rejoice, a collaboration with late South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.

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“Today, we’ve just lost the best drummer that has ever lived,” Mills said in a statement. “Rhythms and patterns so complex and on such a high level of communication, there are not words yet created to describe what he created. It was otherworldly. He was otherworldly! A master musician and a master thinker.”

While many listeners think drumming and clobbering a rhythm are synonymous, Allen never felt that way. “Some drummers don’t know what it means to play soft, it’s not in their book,” he said in 2016. “I know I can make my drums bring the house down if I have to. But I know how to make it subtle. You listen to it flowing like a river.” (

Promo album frontcover:
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Black Voices is Afro-beat drum groove originator Tony Allen’s return to action after leaving Nigeria, settling in Paris in 1985, and dropping off the map as far as making records goes. It’s a remix project of tracks from singles more than an LP per se, a largely two-person affair with Allen manning the drums and keyboards and Doctor L supplying the modern dub mixology. While it’s hard to imagine a minimalist or trip-hop take on a sound as big-band maximalist as Afro-beat and related rhythm forms, that’s pretty much what these two have come up with here. “Asiko” is an effective opener with updated Fela electric piano lines — Allen’s drums are the lead instrument and central to mix with the melodic shards darting in and out around the rhythms. “Get Together” is alternately sunny and weird with nice closing horns, and “Black Voices (We Are What We Play Mix)” is minimalist dub Afro-beat with a bass spine blended to spooky keyboard burbles, stabbing clavinet explosions, and whispered head-trip lyrics. Those misterioso internal musings sorta recall some Lee Perry dub or Tricky trip-hop. The fragmentary “The Same Blood” (is that a sample from Allen’s “Discrimination” in there?) ebbs and flows around a single guitar riff for too long and the minimal drums, voice, and occasional percussion of “Asiko (In a Silent Mix)” isn’t worth nine and a half minutes. The original mix of “Black Voices” is too low-key to sustain interest, but the fuller “Ariya (Psychejujumix)” does, with Allen’s drums complemented by guitar, bass, and vocal chants. Black Voices was obviously designed to connect Allen with the international electronica dancefloor crew, and it works fairly well on that level. But it also sounds like a strong EP — “Asiko,” “Black Voices (We Are What We Play Mix),” “Ariya (Psychejujumix),” and “Get Together” — padded with filler to make it a 50-minute, full-list-price CD. (by Don Snowden)

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Personnel:
Tony Allen (drums, percussion)
Cesar Anot (bass)
Fixi (keyboards, clavinet)
Seb Martel (guitar)
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Gary “Mudbone” Cooper (vocals on 02.)
Doctor L (percussion on 05.)
Da-Link (drums on 03.)
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background vocals:
Cathy Renoir – Mudbone Cooper

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Tracklist:
01. Asiko (Allen) 7.55
02. Get Together (Cooper) 5.55
03. Black Voices (We Are What We Play Mix) (Payne) 7.35
04. The Same Blood (Allen) 8.11
05. Asiko (In A Silent Mix) (Allen) 9.29
06. Black Voices (Payne) 5.41
07. Ariya (PsychejujuMix) (Allen) 6.57

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TonyAllen01Tony Oladipo Allen (12 August 1940 – 30 April 2020)

Herb Alpert & Hugh Masekela – Same (1978)

FrontCover1Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela is collaborative studio album by Herb Alpert and Hugh Masekela. It was recorded in Hollywood, California and released in 1978 via A&M Records and Horizon Records labels.

A mustachioed Herb Alpert breaks out of his ’70s blue funk to fuse himself with fellow horn player Hugh Masekela and producer/pianist Caiphus Semenya in a magnificent LP of South African/American pop/jazz. From the joyous opening strains of the South African oldie “Skokiaan,” to the haunting groove of “Moonza,” Alpert wholeheartedly melts into Masekela’s distinctive idiom, his trumpet a relaxed foil for the South African exile’s blazing flügelhorn. But Masekela can also lean the other way, joining Alpert in TJB-like dual harmony on “Ring Bell.” The band is mostly a coterie of L.A. sessionmen, but they can swing along to the township jive pretty well, and they have some excellent musical material (mostly by Semenya) to work with. Alpert sounds like he’s having more fun making music than he has in a long time. (by Richard S. Ginell)

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I got this album on vinyl when it first came out in the late 1970s, but lost my copy (along with the equipment needed to play it) in the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. I was reminded of how much I missed it when I heard on the radio a few minutes ago a version of one of the songs from it (“Skokiaan”) by local (New Orleans) trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. Ruffins is a great guy and a capable player, but his “Skokiaan” can’t hold a candle to the version done all those years ago by Alpert and Masekela.

At the time I first heard this album, I was the music editor of an Atlanta publication called “Creative Loafing.” In that capacity, I received dozens of free review copies of records and the opportunity to go out practically every night for club and concert performances, at no cost to me. Naturally, after a while I became as jaded about music as a prostitute probably does about sex. It took a lot to get me enthused about a record or a performance.

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In that context, “Herb Alpert/Hugh Masekela” managed to get my attention and win my affection with its irresistibly infectious combination of sunny melodies and African rhythms. Not quite jazz, but not fitting neatly into any other musical pigeonhole, either, this music has the power to transport the listener to an African savannah on a cloudless day, there to watch water buffalo leisurely enjoying a watering hole while gazelles cavort nearby. There’s a purity and simplicity about tunes like “Ring Bell,” “Happy Hanna,” and “African Summer” that makes them timeless, and they’re played with an apparently effortless ease. American Alpert and South African partner Masekela (along with their stellar bandmates) simply sound as if they were born to make music together. They sound as if they were born to make THIS music together.

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In a nutshell, the music on this record is a perfect respite from a world rife with economic distress and cynical political wrangling. The world truly NEEDS this kind of music right now, but no one’s playing stuff quite like this these days. That’s why it’s criminal that this record is out of print, and used CD copies start at $78.00. (Walter Bonam)

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Personnel:
Herb Alpert (flugelhorn, trumpet, background vocals)
Hotep Cecil Barnard (piano)
Paulinho da Costa (percussion)
Chuck Domanico (bass)
James Gadson (drums)
Hugh Masekela (flugelhorn)
Caiphus Semenya (piano, background vocals)
Ian Underwood (synthesizer)
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guitar:
Arthur Adams – Freddie Harris – Lee Ritenour
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Michael Boddicker (synthesizer on 06.)
Craig Hindley (synthesizer on 04.)
Louis Johnson (bass on 01.)
Tommy Tedesco (guitar on 05.) (tracks: 5)
Carlos Vega (drums on 05.)
Spider Webb (drums on 06.)
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french horn:
Marylin L. Robinson – Sidney Isaac Muldrow
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trombone:
Donald Cooke – George Bohanon – Maurice Spears
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background vocals:
Hugh Masekela – Lani Hall – Letta Mbulu

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Tracklist:
01. Skokiaan (Glazer/Msarurgwa) 3.46
02. Moonza (Semenya/Alpert) 4.43
03. Ring Bell (Weiss/Ragovoy) 3.29
04. Happy Hanna (Semenya/Barnard) 5.04
05. El Lobo (The Wolf) (Lobo) 7.24
06. African Summer (Semenya) 3.23
07. I’ll Be There For You (Semenya) 7.08

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(Eumir) Deodato – Love Island (1978)

FrontCover1.jpg1978’s Love Island found Deodato in pretty much the same space he’d been for much of the decade, concocting his own ineffable brew of fusion and funky disco, with the help of friends and cover songs along the way. Love Island finds him unleashing yet another passel of songs which are all pleasant to the ear, if not completely fresh — what makes it most interesting is that it could almost be considered a concept album, every song title apparently revolving around jungle tropics, warm winds, sandy beaches, and, more likely than not, a few beauties bearing cocktails to complete the picture. The album kicks off with “Area Code 808,” which places the initial action in Hawaii, a twitchy extended fusion revolving around quite a nice funk bassline. The remainder of the set carries on from there, with the groove ebbing and flowing from the punchy “Whistle Bump” to the pleasant and decidedly mellow strains of “San Juan Hut,” and on to the title track.

Deodato

It is unfortunate hindsight alone, and no fault whatsoever of Deodato’s, that it conjures up nothing so much as scenes from The Love Boat. Damn pop culture. Also of note is “Tahiti Hut,” co-written by Deodato and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, and buoyed by guest appearances by three more EW&F members: Verdine White, Freddie White, and the percussive genius of Philip Bailey. A pleasing piece of easy listening, Love Island probably won’t thrill the pants off anyone but the most rabid fan. By this late in the decade, one had kind of heard it all before. But if you should need to hear it all again, Love Island sounds great when the sun is shining. (Amy Hanson)

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Personnel:
Ray Armando (percussion)
Larry Carlton (guitar)
Joe Correro (drums)
Eumir Deodato (keyboards, percussion, whistle, synthesizer, vocals)
Jimmy Maelen (percussion)
Pops Popwell (bass)
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Philip Bailey (percussin on 03.)
George Benson (guitar on 05.)
Charlie Conrad (percussion on 01.)
Gordon Edwards (bass on 06.)
Victor Feldman (percussion on 05. + 07.)
Ray Gomez (guitar on 01.)
Rick Marotta (drums on 06.)
Harvey Mason (dums on 01. + 07.)
Al McKay (guitar on  0 + 08.)
Erica Norimar (vocals on 05.)
George Parrish, Jr. (guitar on 01.)
Tony Price (tuba)
John Tropea (guitar on 06., 07, + 08.)
Freddie White (drums on 03.)
Verdine White (bass on 03.)
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flute:
Jerry Dodgion – Joel Kaye – Romeo Penque – Wally Kane
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french horn:
Brooks Tillotson – Jimmy Buffington
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trombone:
Gerry Chamberlain – Sam Burtis – Wayne Andre
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trumpet:
John Gatchell, Randy Brecker, Bob Millikan
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violin:
Charles Lisbove – Charles McCracken
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violin + cello:
Charles Lisbove, Charles McCracken, Irving Spice, Jesse Levy, Kermit Moore, Max Pollikoff, Michael Comins, Michael Spivakowsky, Paul Winter, Richard Sortomme, Sandra Billingslea, Selwart Clarke, Stanley Pollock, Tony Posk

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Tracklist:
01. Area Code 808 (Deodato/Parrish, Jr.) 5.46
02. Whistle Bump (Deodato) 4.33
03. Tahiti Hut (Deodato/White) 4.28
04. San Juan Sunset (Deodato) 4.16
05. Love Island (Deodato) 6.41
06. Chariot Of The Gods (Starr/Mancha) 3.09
07. Piña Colada (Deodato) 5.56
08. Take The A Train (Strayhorn) 3.49

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Pee Wee Ellis & The NDR Big Band – What You Like (1997)

FrontCover1.jpgAlfred “Pee Wee” Ellis (born April 21, 1941) is an American saxophonist, composer and arranger. With a background in jazz, he was an important member of James Brown’s band in the 1960s, appearing on many of Brown’s most notable recordings and co-writing hits like “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”. He also worked closely with Van Morrison.

In the 2014 biographical movie Get on Up about James Brown, Ellis is played by Tariq Trotter (Black Thought, MC from the Roots).

In later years, he became a resident of England, living in the town of Frome in the county of Somerset.

Ellis was born Alfred Bryant on April 21, 1941 in Bradenton, Florida to his mother Elizabeth and his father Garfield Devoe Rogers, Jr. In 1949 his mother married Ezell Ellis, and the family moved to Lubbock, Texas where Ellis was given his nickname “Pee Wee”. He gave his first public performance in 1954 at Dunbar Junior High School. After Ezell Ellis was killed in 1955, the remaining members of the family moved to Rochester, New York. While attending Madison High School he played professionally with jazz musicians including Ron Carter and Chuck Mangione. In 1957 he moved to New York City, where he attended Manhattan School of Music and had regular lessons with Sonny Rollins. In 1960 he moved back to Florida working as a bandleader, musical director and writer.

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Ellis played with the James Brown Revue from 1965 to 1969. While with Brown he arranged and co-wrote hits like “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”. In 1969 he returned to New York City. He worked as an arranger and musical director for CTI Records’ Kudu label, collaborating with artists like George Benson, Hank Crawford and Esther Phillips. In the late 1970s he moved to San Francisco and formed a band with former Miles Davis sideman David Liebman, with whom he recorded “The Chicken”, that was to become a favourite of Jaco Pastorius.

Between 1979 and 1986 he worked with Van Morrison’s band as an arranger and musical director and then again from 1995 through 1999. He also gave occasional performances in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006 as guest appearances.[5]

In the late 1980s Ellis regrouped with some musicians he worked with during his time with James Brown to form the JB Horns. With Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker he recorded a number of albums that defined a version of jazz-funk. The group also toured in Europe. In 1992 he resumed his solo recording career. Ellis also appeared alongside Bobby Byrd in the J.B All Stars.

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In 1995, showing the diversity of his musical interests and talents, Ellis played tenor sax and arranged the horns for the album Worotan, by Mali’s Oumou Sangare, the so-called “Songbird of Wassoulou” and worked with many other artists on the World Circuit label including Ali Farka Toure, Cheikh Lo, Anga Diaz and renowned Cuban bassist Cachao.

His own group The Pee Wee Ellis Assembly have continued to work consistently since 1992, and Ellis is always busy guesting with multivarious artists, arranging and recording both his own albums and as a respected session player and teaching.

Between 2009 and 2011 Ellis toured an African tribute to James Brown, “Still Black Still Proud”, to much acclaim in both USA and Europe. Special guest in the project included Vusi Mahlasela, Maceo Parker, Cheikh Lo, Mahotella Queens and Ghanaian rapper Ty.

Since 2012 Ellis has been touring with the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, a quartet comprising Ellis, drummer Ginger Baker, bassist Alec Dankworth and percussionist Abass Dodoo.

In July 2014 Pee Wee Ellis was honored with a doctorate by Bath Spa University, and he continues to support local music as patron (and a principal performer) of the Bristol International Blues and Jazz Festival (by wikipedia)

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Leading the German NDR Big Band, saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis turns in a competent, occasionally stilted collection of soul-jazz and classic funk. The production and the playing is a bit too mannered for the music to actually catch fire, but there are moments — such as Fred Wesley’s cameo on “Tune with a View” or Van Morrison’s vocal spotlight on “I Will Be There” — that make the disc a worthwhile listen. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Pee Wee Ellis is a versatile cat. He claims that he doesn’t like pigeonholes, and yet he’s mastered all of them. Ellis’ stylistic diversity can be heard on What You Like (Minor Music), an album he recorded in ’97 that is finally hitting the streets. It’s Ellis’ first in a big-band setting since taking over the ensemble behind James Brown in 1967 at age 26, which came after he studied with Sonny Rollins and established solid jazz credentials. Then later it was on to Brother Jack McDuff and arranging for George Benson, Hank Crawford and Sonny Stitt.

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All the above influences can be heard on What You Like, from the boogaloo of “The Prophet” to the down-home groove of “Far From Home.” Jenni Evans contributes three fine vocals, but Van Morrison’s guest shot could have been phoned in. Ellis shows his balladic purity on “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and shows off a screaming flat five to end “2 Dock C” (based on Rollins’ “Doxy”). Add to that the excellent backing of the Hamburg-based NDR Big Band, the keyboard work of Steve Hamilton, the guitaristry of Tony Remy, the drumming of Michael Mondesir and the arrangements of Jorg Achim Keller and What You Like should please any demographic. (by Harvey Siders)

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Personnel:
Pee Wee Ellis (saxophone)
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The NDR Big Band directed by Jörg Achim Keller:
Wolfgang Ahlers (trombone)
Lennart Axelsson (trumpet)
Detlef Beier (bass)
Peter Bolte (saxophone)
Lutz Büchner (saxophone)
Ingolf Burkhardt (trumpet)
Egon Christmann (trombone)
Fiete Felsch (reeds)
Joe Gallardo (trombone)
Edgar Herzog (reeds)
Mark Mondesir (drums)
Michael Mondesir (bass)
Tony Remy (guitar)
Lucas Schmid (trombone)
Steffen Schorn (reeds)
Claus Stötter (trumpet)
Jon Welch (trombone on 05., 08. + 11)
Reiner Winterschladen (trumpet)
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Jenni Evans (vocals on 02., 07. + 10.)
Van Morrison (vocals on 04.)
Fred Wesley (trombone on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Prophet (Ellis) 5.00
02. Take Me To The River (Green) 5.24
03. Soul Pride (Ellis/Brown) 4.56
04. I Will Be There (Morroson) 2.45
05. I Get Along Without You Very Well (Carmichael) 5.12
06. Dock “C” (Ellis/Rollins) 6.02
07. (Your Love Is) So Doggone Good (Ervine/Love)
08. Far From Home (Ellis/Payne) 6.52
09. Tune With A View (Ellis) 6.12
10. Step (Ellis/Roper) 3.48
11. What You Like (Ellis/Brown) 6.05

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Buddy Miles Express – Bogger Bear (1973)

FrontCover1.JPGBooger Bear was an album released by The Buddy Miles Express in 1973. It was released in both stereo and quadraphonic formats. It made the Billboard charts in 1974.

The album received a positive review in the November, 23, 1973 issue of Billboard. The reviewer referred to it as a production of the first order with time and care being put into the selections. The songs “Why” and “United Nations Stomp”, both composed by Miles were singled out as solid entries. The album was also released in the Quadraphonic SQ Matrix. A review in the February, 24 issue Billboard for Quadrasonic albums mentioned the spectrum being opened up by the Columbia sound engineers. It also made the distinction between this album and most of the others that relied on the “Front” stereo approach, with the music in Booger Bear actually surrounding the listener. (by wikipedia)

Buddy Miles (1972)Not as good as them changes or express your skull but what is really. probably my 3rd favorite buddy miles album but it is pretty hard to beat the first two i mentioned (by R. Hale)

One of my favorite Post-Band of Gypsys albums by Buddy Miles. You can clearly feel it in the bluesy guitar work.
RIP Booger Bear! (by an amazom customer)

‘And we here real funky version of the Kinks classic “You Really Got Me” and a superb jazzy blues tune called “Louie’s Blues”.

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Personnel:
Donny Beck (keyboards, background vocals)
Steve Busfield (guitar)
Mingo Lewis (percussion)
Buddy Miles (vocals, drums, bass, guitar)
Roland Robinson (bass, drums on 03.)
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Bill Atwood (trumpet)
Robert Hogans (organ on 05.)
Pat O’Hara (trombone)
Peter Welker (trumpet)
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background vocals:
Annie Sampson – Jo Baker – Steve Busfield
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The Campbell-Kurban String Section

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Tracklist:
01. Booger Bear (Miles) 5.25
02. Thinking Of You (Messina) 4.25
03. Why (Miles) 3.52
04. You Really Got Me (Davies) 4.40
05. Love (Miles/Pantos) 3.45
06. United Nations Stomp (Miles) 4.44
07. Crazy Love (Miles) 3.06
08. You Are Everything (Creed/Bell) 4.10
09. Louie’s Blues (Miles) 7.27

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Buddy Miles
George Allen “Buddy” Miles Jr. (September 5, 1947 – February 26, 2008)

Various Artists (Keith Mansfield & Co.) – Pan-American Travelogue (1976)

FrontCover1.jpgThe KPM Themes International library is a resounding example of KPM’s heritage. Founded in the ’70s by renowned composers of the day, this library was created to get back in touch with the popular music of the times. The result is an incredible testament to the music of its era, and a fantastic collection of archival gems.

The Themes International Vinyl Series were recorded throughout the 1970s and ‘80s by some of the greatest session musicians of our time including Madeline Bell and Brian Bennett. Founded by Alan Parker, the collection encapsulates the true essence of those decades. From soulful jazz and ultra-cool funk to breezy, carefree easy listening; you needn’t look any further for a diverse, classic catalogue. (apmmusic.com)

And here´s a nice funky album from 1976

You know: soulful jazz and ultra-cool funk to breezy, easy listening ….

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Personnel:
A bunch of great British studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. Alan Parker: Home Freeway 2.56
02. Alan Parker: Unlimited Love 2.08
03. Keith Mansfield: Californian Freeway 3.17
04. Alan Hawkshaw: Broad Theme 2.30
05. Keith Mansfield: The Champions 2.19
06. Len Hunter: Underpass 3.03
07. Harry Roberts: Night Rider 2.40
08. Harry Roberts: Braziliana 3.19
09. Les Hurdle: Tequila Festival 2.22
10. The Frank Ricotti Quartet: Girl From Rio 2.55
11. Mike Moran: El Zoro 2.09
12. Keith Mansfield: L.A. Groove 2.55
13. Les Hurdle: Jellyroll 1.59

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Mike Moran

Saravah Soul – Same (2008)

FrontCover1Exploding out of the rich cultural mix in the melting-pot of London’s underground music scene comes the half-Brazilian, half-British, Afro-Brazilian Funk sound of Saravah Soul. Fronted by fiery break dancer Otto Nascarella, the intensity of their live shows has earned them a reputation for wild performances and a rapidly expanding fan base. Their self-titled first album caused an international stir amongst record labels eager to sign them, and the band seems set on an unstoppable rise.

Formed by Otto Nascarella, Saravah Soul was created to showcase a highly addictive style of late 60’s Brazilian soul-funk and samba, to create an exciting and original live flavour. Talented front man Nascarella, from Curitiba Brazil, combines the showmanship of James Brown with modern breakdance styles, whilst playing guitar and pandeiro; bass virtuoso Matheus Nova has performed with the likes of Brazilian samba divas Elza Soares and Alcione. Kiris Houston on Keys and guitar has worked with top soul artists including Jocelyn Brown and Estelle. Eduardo Marques is one of the most in demand Brazilian drummers in London, and works with top Brazilian artists, such as Ed Motta. Percussionist/flautist Jack Yglesias is legendary on the contemporary funk scene, having played with The Poets of Rhythm, Lee Fields, The Soul Destroyers, Quantic Soul Orchestra and Spanky Wilson.

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The horn section is led by the sax player Marcelo Andrade, who plays also on Jazzinho (freestyle records). Saravah Soul’s debut 7” single “Nao Posso Te Levar A Serio” was released in February 2008, followed by the album in March. The official album launch party was a festive, samba-fuelled affair at the Jazz Café in London, whipping up a frenzy with visceral Brazilian percussion and complete with a Rio Carnival-style march through the crowd. Saravah Soul headlined the legendary Jelly Jazz’s 15th birthday party in May 2008 and played a handful of festivals around the country over the summer. 2010 saw them release their second album, Cultura Impura and continue their ruthless touring … (by tru-thoughts.co.uk)

Enjoy this funky trip …

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Personnel:
Marcelo Andrade (saxophone, vocals, flute)
Graeme Flowers (trumpet)
Kiris Houston (keyboards, guitar, vocals)
Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Marques (drums, vocals)
Otto Nascarella (vocals, pandeiro on 05., guitar on 05. + 07.)
Matheus Nova (bass)
Chris Webster (trombone)
Jack Yglesias (percussion, flute & vocals on 01., 05., 07.)
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Luzmira Zerpa (background vocals on 01., 04. + 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Oil Is Thicker Than Blood (Yglesias/Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 4.37
02. Nao Posso Te Levar A Serio (Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 4.21
03. It’s Doing My Head In (Yglesias/Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 4.18
04. Arroz Com Feijao (Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 5.51
05. Funk E Saravah (Saravah Soul) 3.47
06. Roubada (Nascarella/Nova/Saravah Soul) 4.26
07. Role De Bike (Yglesias/Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 3.54
08. Supersossego (Nascarella/Yglesias/Saravah Soul) 4.55
09. Homesick (Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 3.08
10. It’s Doing My Head In (Instrumental) (Nascarella/Yglesias/Saravah Soul) 4.18

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