Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Smackwater Jack: Originals (Dig)
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Listen to Samples
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Among Q's Most Rewarding Records
allemande | Columbia, MO USA | 09/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having read some (likely justified) complaints from reviewers here about other releases in the Universal Music Group "Originals" series, I approached this one with rather low expectations. Surprise! This really fine early-1970s recording has received an excellent transfer to CD. I was impressed with the room-shaking bass energy captured on the disc, but the bass doesn't dominate the sound or upset the overall balance. Everything that should be heard, can be heard with clarity.
For those who aren't familiar with this album, Quincy Jones assembled an amazing group of session musicians, many of them jazz giants, and presented them with arrangements of his own and other composers' works. Q had begun, by this album, to incorporate more contemporary musical influences into his sound, but there are some really good jazz moments here. And given his sensibilities for popular appeal (he produced Lesley Gore in the '60s, and Michael Jackson's biggest-selling albums of the '80s), it is hard to imagine anyone not liking at least SOMETHING here.
I impulsively bought this recording years ago, not having heard a thing on it, but hoping that the "Ironside" theme listed on the cover would be the same recording being used on the TV series (it was), and also that "The Bill Cosby Show" theme--aka "Hikky-Burr"--would be the TV version (it wasn't; more on this later). When I took the record home and listened, I was gratified to find many delights, such as a tastefully mellow arrangement of Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind", and a multifaceted treatment of the Marvin Gaye hit "What's Going On" (some hot jazz playing in this one). Ray Brown (a co-producer of the record) contributed "Brown Ballad", very pleasant listening; and Q's own "Theme from 'The Anderson Tapes'" really swings. I hadn't counted on all the musical styles I found here, nor the virtuosity of the playing (not yet having seen the list of musicians involved).
As for "Hikky-Burr": again, it isn't the wonderful original recording used on Bill Cosby's late-60s TV show, but I have to say it has grown on me over time. There are at least a couple of places in this one that Cosby, in what I would have to call a kind of comical scat vocal, finds a good groove; they are brief moments, but they leave an impression. Cos and Q cook together.
I can't say enough how glad I am that there is finally a domestic CD release of this wonderful album. I would have been happy anyway, but having heard the high quality of the transfer to disc, I am almost beyond words. The CD may sound better than my LP did! This album represents an important phase in the long career of Quincy Jones, and if you are a fan of his at all--and don't already own this recording--you should definitely seek it out.
A word about the packaging: the CD is housed in a Digipak, evidently intended to somewhat resemble the gatefold sleeve in which the LP was released. All text and notes are reproduced to the original scale, i.e., practically unreadable without a magnifying lens. Although the packaging is not ideal, this is an essential disc for jazz lovers, and for anyone who has followed the remarkable musical odyssey of a gifted composer, producer, and arranger.
5 stars even with Qs vocals
jimac51 | Allentown, Pa United States | 01/15/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The important reason to jump for joy for Universal releasing this A&M gem is that the original,unedited version of "What's Goin' On" is included. Sure,it includes a lame vocal by Q,but when the band kicks in,this thing just swings like Marvin Gaye could never imagined. A true all-star effort,this includes solos by Freddy Hubbard,trumpet,Toots Thielmans tripling up on guitar,harmonica and whistling,Milt Jackson,vibes,Jim Hall,guitar,and Harry Lookofsky's strings mimicking Toot's earlier harp solo. This sucker clocks in at just under 10 minutes!
Another interesting track is the "Guitar Blues Odyssey",which is a 50 year history lesson in blues guitar condensed to 6:38 and featuring four guitarists takinbg nine solos:Jim Hall and Tooots,again,along with Eric Gale and Joe Beck-from Robert Johnson to Jimi Hendrix and into outer space...and back again to Robert Johnson,which is where the blues was headed in 1971."
What's going on?
James K. Pirtle | HUNTINGTOWN, MD United States | 02/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What's going on? This is a great album, but it appears to be missing at least one tune that was on the original release. The theme from "Sanford and Son". I hate when that happens."