Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Jazz Humanist | New York City | 03/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is indeed a classic album! A wonderful collection of charts written by Don Sebasky, the house arranger for CTI Records. CTI had a classic sound to it -- very earthy, not quite fusion, not quite straight-ahead jazz -- but a synthesis of both! A very unique sound for the 70's. This CD is hard to fine -- but available. It is an import these days."
Like jazz? ok. like funk? Great. Like both? You'll love
Kevin W. Celebi | Greencastle, IN | 12/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CTI records (as I've discussed already with Blue Note Records and Verve records) was a huge family in the 70's, frequently bringing mainstays such as Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Hubert Laws, George Benson, and Milt Jackson together into the studio for jammin'. Don Sebesky, whose eclectic career has ranged from the jazz and funk of the 70's to arranging for up-and-coming R&B singers of recent years, was a behind-the-scenes man for CTI, similar to Sammy Nestico's role with the Count Basie band. In 1973, Sebesky finally got his own record session and a chance to bring all of his musical minions together to make some magic happen.
There are lots of sounds contained in this funky big band album, from the gimmicky wah-wah effects of keyboards and guitar to the blazing trumpet lines of Freddie Hubbard. Ultimately, there's only way to look at Giant Box: the friendly fusion of jazz and funk from the 70's usually fails to please either hard core jazz musicians or funk and rock enthusiasts, and this album will do little to change that perception. However, the more open-minded of music fans will find enough of both to please them in Giant Box.
And jam this band could do. The first track starts out with bass riffs and keyboard effects, not letting up. The fourth track, Psalm 150, is probably the best known track from this album. It boasts rich tapestries of harmony and an extremely breakneck tempo - probably 250. This track is featured on many "best of big band" compilations, and it's worth the price of the entire CD to hear Freddie Hubbard's solo. Hubbard was the star of CTI, and a cameo was enough to make any album worth listening to. He blows heavy, incinerating lines, not loosening the tempo or rhythmic accuracy by any means.
The album boasts slower numbers as well - listen to the mysticism of "Song to a Seagull." The first half of the song is glittering gold - a vocal feature that boasts just the right amount of mellifluousness before reaching mawkish territory. Of course, the second half of the track goes back to the jammin' and funk - but it's the 70's, so what do you expect? An alto sax ballad feature is also featured, with "Free as a Bird." The pedal keyboard and flutes in the background persist throughout the entire track, preventing the ballad from becoming boring or uninteresting.
But really - jazz enthusiasts, stray from this album. There's just so much funk, vamps, grooves, bass riffs, and repetition. It makes for great background music and even better soundtrack music - a great amount of tension and easygoing earthiness (yet strings + funk sometimes = what the hell?). Some of it strays into the territory of corny, but the amazing chops of Hubbard will rescue the music just when you start to get suspicious.
The album's availability is another problem - as of now, it's not even in print and the used copies are up there. So the question remains - is it worth seeking out? If you love jazz and funk to an equal degree, yeah, it is. If you're a Hubbard completionist, then yeah - you'll definitely want this album to hear him in prime form. Other than that, just go for the other CTI classics of the day - Red Clay, Sunflower, First Light, etc.
The album's strongest track is the finisher, Semi-Tough. It's almost experimental at the beginning, clashing brass against low strings in a way that would interest Gustav Holst. The song then bursts into a cacophony of string riffs against brass grooves, before Hubbard steps into the limelight to amaze the listener with endless fireworks and tricks. Such power, such range! The grooves of this track will strike awe in most hardhearted of listeners.
Well, the 70's are long gone - but you can always relive the decade's eclectic blend of funk, grooves, abstract jazz harmonies, and floating moods through albums like Giant Box. It is certified GROOVY, and you won't be disappointed in the plethora of soul contained within.