Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Deodato - 1972 [1987] "Prelude"

Eumir Deodato has participated as pianist/keyboardist, producer, or arranger in over 450 albums, and has won 16 platinum records. The list of top artists with whom he has collaborated is too extensive to cite, but includes Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jobim, Wes Montgomery, João Donato, Kool & the Gang (group with which he played between 1979 and 1983), Earth, Wind & Fire, and Michael Franks. He has also worked on the soundtracks of major films, like The Onion Field, The Exorcist, and many others. Artists who have recorded his compositions include Sarah Vaughan, Milt Jackson, Joe Pass, George Benson, Lee Ritenour, Perez Prado, and the Emotions.

Prelude is the eighth studio album by Brazilian keyboardist Eumir Deodato, released in 1973. With the signature track "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)" (an arrangement of the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), Prelude would become the most successful recording for Deodato and CTI Records.

The album features guitarist John Tropea on three tracks, bassists Ron Carter and Stanley Clarke, and Billy Cobham on drums. The funk-influenced version of the "Introduction" from Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra, entitled "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)", won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and went to number two in the pop charts in the US, number three in Canada, and number seven in the UK. In 1977, the album was re-released as briefly 2001.

Prior to Prelude, Eumir Deodato was primarily known, if at all, as a tasteful, lyrical, bossa nova-based sometime arranger for the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra, Wes Montgomery, and others. Enter Creed Taylor, who gave Deodato a chance to step out on his own as a pianist/leader, doing a few tunes of his own plus a healthy quota of CTI-patented jazz interpretations of classical pieces by Richard Strauss ("Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)"), Debussy ("Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun"), and bowdlerized Borodin ("Baubles, Bangles and Beads"). Well, "2001" -- a clever, up-tempo Latin-groove takeoff on the opening measures of Strauss' tone poem suddenly exploded and became an improbable hit single. In its wake, Prelude soared to number three on the pop LP charts, and Deodato was propelled out of the arranger-for-hire business. Though overshadowed by "2001," the other tracks also hold up well today, being mostly medium-tempo, sometimes lushly orchestrated, conga-accented affairs that provide velvety showcases for Deodato's lyrical electric piano solos. The record also made a temporary star out of John Tropea, whose electric guitar has a lot of rock & rolling zip and fire, and Hubert Laws, Stanley Clarke, and Marvin Stamm each get a little solo room too. This would be the biggest hit Deodato and CTI ever had, and though short on playing time (32 minutes), it still makes enjoyable listening.

A legendary album from the 70s funk scene – and one of the crowning achievements of keyboard maestro Eumir Deodato! Deodato got his start during the bossa years of the 60s – where his sophisticated charts were already enough to make his career a landmark – but in the following decade he picked up the Fender Rhodes, and really took off in a great new direction with classic records like this! The set's a wonderful blend of larger charts and jazzy soloing – with sublime Rhodes lines from the leader, plus a mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation in the best CTI mode – underscored by percussion from both Ray Barretto and Airto. The features Deodato's remake of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" into the funky "2001" – soaring with Fender Rhodes lines that set a new standard for the instrument, with a funky undercurrent that few would have expected for the tune. Other tracks are nice too – and include a great bossa-y version of "Baubles Bangles & Beads", plus "Spirit Of Summer", "September 13".

Track listing:

1 Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001) 9:00
2 Spirit Of Summer 4:04
3 Carly & Carole 3:38
4 Baubles, Bangles And Beads 5:20
5 Prelude To Afternoon Of A Faun 5:13
6 September 13 5:24

Personnel:

Eumir Deodato - piano, electric piano
Ron Carter - electric bass (solo on "Baubles, Bangles and Beads"), bass
Stanley Clarke - electric bass (solo on "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)")
Billy Cobham - drums
John Tropea - electric guitar (solo on "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)", "Baubles, Bangles and Beads", "September 13")
Jay Berliner - guitar (solo on "Spirit of Summer")
Airto Moreira - percussion
Ray Barretto - congas
Hubert Laws - flute (solo on "Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun")
John Frosk - trumpet
Marky Markowitz - trumpet
Joe Shepley - trumpet
Marvin Stamm - trumpet (Solo on "Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun")
Wayne Andre - trombone
Garnett Brown - trombone
Paul Faulise - trombone
George Strakey - trombone
Bill Watrous - trombone
Jim Buffington - french horn
Peter Gordon - french horn
Phil Bodner - flute
George Marge - flute
Romeo Penque - flute
Max Ellen - violin
Paul Gershman - violin
Emanuel Green - violin
Harry Lookofsky - violin
David Nadien - violin
Gene Orloff - violin
Eliot Rosoff - violin
Emanuel Vardi - viola
Al Brown - viola
Harvey Shapiro - cello
Seymore Barab - cello
Charles McKracken - cello

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