El chicano (1970) viva tirado (LP)

      El chicano     
       v i v a    t i r a d o     
     while el chicano is clearly a bridge between santana (the original group not the guitarist) and war, these chicanos understood that the instrumentations should be an integral part of the song (and not a reason to show off your chops).  they give the guitarist room to stretch his strings, and they sink into a groove and go with it, but they also understand restraint and understatement.  
     Maybe it’s a silly comparison but the album almost seems like a musical version of bullit, with the guitar playing the part of the mustang, teasing us with its presence, kicking it into high gear with the last two cuts.  the guitar’s clearly out of the hendrix tradition on final selection.  this is proceeded by a 25-second version of “light my fire.”  (by the end of the 70’s, everybody knew about economy, but el chicano understood it in the era of excess.)
     After 1970, they’d explore all sorts of soul sounds, but the first album sticks with the instrumentals, just a soul/latin jazz sound with some heavy rock leanings.  it’s all covers and there’s nothing innovative or progressive about it.  But it’s all good.  I can’t help wonder if war would have found their classic groove without it.  it’s definitely worth checkin’ out.

the eight track of course sounds the best (and I like how they added an edited title track to fill the third program), but the vinyl sounds good too, and the song order of the album seems organic and intentional. 
cover art 
     side one:         cantaloupe island (herbie hancock)
quiet village (les baxter)
the look of love (bacharach-David)
eleanor rigby (lennon – mccartney)
side two:
viva tirado (gerald wilson)
sometimes i feel like a motherless child (a. a. smith)
hurt so bad (randazzo-weinstein-harshman)
light my fire (the doors)
coming home baby (tucker-dorough)

Eddie Harris (1970) Come on Down! (LP) Atlantic 1554

Eddie Harris
Come on Down!
Atlantic 1554
produced by Tom Dowd

Rating:**** (Recommended)

Harris goes to Florida for some fresh-squeezed sounds, all the way to the warm climes of Miami but obviously inspired by the red-hot deep-fried soul food offerings of Memphis and Muscle Shoals.

Backed with a cracker-jack team (including Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass and Cornell Dupree on guitar), Harris cooks up a rocking soul-jazz groove on “Live Right Now,” slowly turning up the heat as the number progresses, building it up until the pot is bubbling, until you can almost smell the gumbo steaming.  “Really” comes up next on the menu, a slow-cooking soulful number, in sharp contrast to the cooker before it but equally powerful, Harris leading a soulful conversation, the cut unlike anything he’d done before.  The flipside sounds slightly mild after those red-hot numbers, but the set is fairly consistent, quite enjoyable from start to finish, closing on a strong note with “Why Don’t You Quit.”


Producer Tom Dowd had a knack for putting the essential elements upfront to give the music a punch, while filling the backspace to keep it interesting.  This set is certainly testimony to that.

— winch


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Les McCann & Eddie Harris (1969) Swiss Movement (LP) Atlantic 1537

Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Swiss Movement

Atlantic 1537
Produced by Nesuhi Ertegun & Joel Dorn
recorded June 1969
Rating:**** (Recommended)

Classic spontaneous combustion soul jazz from McCann/Harris (they’d never rehearsed or played together), the set opening with a definitive version of McCann’s signature tune “Compared to What?” (Gene McDaniels), the rest instrumental, cooking from the get-go, keeping it going from go to whoa, turning down the flame and getting a bit reflective on the cuts that close the sides.

Solid set from 1969, essential listen for fans.

— winch

Scott Bradford: Rock Slides (LP) 1969

Scott Bradford
Rock Slides

Probe 4509

Recommended ****

As the title suggests, this is rock-influenced jazz, soul-jazz with some heavy rock leanings,opens with two Bradford compositions, the group at first easing into it like a tank rolling over rocks, but the machine quickly kicks it into gear, pounding out some chunky rock-hard rhythms, the rhythm section creating a unique and muscular motor to power the thing along, two bass players, two percussionists, Phillip Catherine pick-axing away at the rock with his guitar, the horns helping punch it home.  While there’s a lot going on, the group is obviously working on one thing, driving the music like a bulldozer through a rock quarry.  Bradford’s organ helps establish that soul-jazz groove, and Nathan Davis offers some of the most wild contributions of his career, blowing his sax like he’s John Henry swinging his hammer, swinging and spinning around the rhythms.  If it sounds like it might run out of gas on the second cut, the whole thing climaxes with the third cut, a Davis number called “Mid Evil Dance,” a cat named Vinagre coming in on Afro-Cuban percussion to help deepen the groove so he can dance around in it.  Side two gets reflective and less interesting with Nathan switching to flute, but the pace picks up again for a second Davis contribution to close the set.
While jazz-rock fusion quickly focused on increasingly annoying music in the 1970s, this is another date to show that the fusion of these two musical styles at first created lots of interesting music.  Rock is just rock’n roll, and rock’n roll is R&B, but this album suggests that rock has its own sound, something that sounds like a boulder rolling.  This isn’t a great set, but it’s got a raw rock power that’s missing from the crystalized fusion that followed the 60s.  While that stuff was like polished sapphires, this rolls out chunks of raw granite.  — winch

(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Product Details

Les McCann & the Jazz Crusaders: Jazz Waltz (1963) LP

Les McCann 
& the Jazz Crusaders

Jazz Waltz

Pacific Jazz (81) 


Rating: ****(Recommended)
McCann teams up with the newly formed Jazz Crusaders for this set.  While the group provides a bigger sound than on some of McCann’s offerings, there’s an intimate small-combo feel to it.  The horn players get some room to show their stuff, but all the cuts are served up short order, all clocking in at under five minutes. McCann and Sample alternate between piano and organ, and the churning Hammond really helps fatten up the sound.  With the band cooking, the set sizzles.  Worthwhile grab for fans of soul jazz.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)