Monday, May 7, 2018

Joe Beck - 1975 [1987] "Beck & Sanborn"

Popular crossover smash session linking two instrumental pop stars for a 1975 album. Beck played in a slick, light style, while Sanborn, although restrained, would occasionally slip in a hot blues lick or a fluid alto solo.

We are extremely fortunate that these two stellar players got together to make this album, as it is the definitive one of its kind. Sanborn has never sounded better, period, and Beck is incredible in his simplicity yet perfectly grooved playing. Beck's improvisational ideas, mostly low key, are the perfect contrast to Sanborn, who goes wild on this album as only he can. To measure Sanborn's impact on the generation of alto players that followed him, all one has to do is listen to this recording. He is simply outstanding and unique. The rhythm section is also utterly fantastic - they never get in the way and always create the hippest feel possible on every song. This is a must-purchase recording! It will blow you away!

This 1975 Kudu album by Joe Beck was never reissued on CD in the United States but available only as a Japanese import on the King label. Beck is a masterpiece of mid-'70s funky jazz and fusion. Beck retired in 1971 to be a dairy farmer. He returned to make this album his opus. Featuring David Sanborn, Don Grolnick, Will Lee, and Chris Parker, all of the album's six tracks were recorded in two days. Overdubs were done in another day and the minimal strings added by Don Sebesky were added on a third day. "Star Fire" opens the set and features the interplay of Beck's riffing and lead fills with Sanborn's timely, rhythmic legato phrasing, and the communication level is high and the groove level even higher. On "Texas Ann," another Beck original, Sanborn hits the blues stride from the jump, but Beck comes in adding the funk underneath Grolnick's keyboard while never losing his Albert Collins' feel. On "Red Eye," Beck's two- and three-chord funk vamps inform the verse while Sebesky's unobtrusive strings provide a gorgeous backdrop for Sanborn, who stays in the mellow pocket until the refrains, when he cuts loose in his best Maceo Parker. The deep funk of Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin's "Café Black Rose" showcases the band's commitment to groove jazz with a razor's edge. The composition is full of nooks and crannies and syncopated intervallic elements for the rhythm section. Steve Khan's slide guitar adds electric Delta feel to a Sly Stone funk groove along with a Jack McDuff riff makes the whole thing feel like a greasy good time. Beck is essential listening for anyone interested in mid-'70s commercial jazz. The chops are there, but far more than that, Beck leads a band into a soul-deep blowing session with killer charts, nasty tunes, and killer vibes.

This album was originally released as an LP in 1975. It had 6 tracks and was 36 minutes long. The CD release has two bonus tracks and the total time is now 50 minutes. The sound quality is very good. The US edition is out of print, but you can find an import version, that is more expensive.

The band is Joe Beck on guitar and David Sanborn on sax with many studio musicians backing them up. This very good jazz with twinges of fusion. It is very typical of the jazz styles of the mid seventies. It is much better than the Sunday Brunch style of music that would come in the late seventies and early eighties.

All of the compositions are very good and interesting. The music is very fluid. The first 6 tracks are more on the mellow side. The two bonus tracks are more lively and electric. If you are a fan of Spyro Gyra or other soft jazz bands, you might not like this. If you like intelligent music with good compositions, this is a good CD to get. It is not the best jazz ablum of the time, but it is certainly a good album.

Track listing:

1 Star Fire 4:31
2 Cactus 4:55
3 Texas Ann 7:53
4 Red Eye 7:10
5 Cafe Black Rose 4:23
6 Brothers And Others 6:23
7 Ain't It Good 7:29
8 Spoon's Theme 6:57


Guitar – Joe Beck, Steve Khan
Alto Saxophone – David Sanborn
Bass – Will Lee
Cello – Charles McCracken, George Ricci, Jesse Levy
Drums – Chris Parker (2)
Keyboards – Don Grolnick
Percussion – Ray Mantilla
Violin – Charles Libove, David Nadien, Frederick Buldrini, Harold Kohon, Harry Cykman, Harry Lookofsky, Joe Malin, Max Ellen, Peter Dimitriades

1 comment: