Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sonny Fortune - 1978 - Infinity Is

Sonny Fortune 
Infinity Is

01   Turning It Over 7:07
02 A Ballad For The Times 7:04
03 This Side Of Infinity 6:11
04 Perihelion 6:04
05 The Blues Are Green 5:38
06 Samba Touch 5:54
07 Make Up 5:10

Bass – Anthony Jackson
Congas – Sammy Figueroa
Drums – Steve Jordan
Organ, Synthesizer – Allan Zavod
Percussion – Rafael Cruz*
Piano [Acoustic], Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Larry Willis
Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar – Ray Gomez
Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flute – Sonny Fortune
Trumpet – Tom Browne

In the early 70's Jazz went through a period of transition when many artists followed Miles Davis' lead into the realm of what became known as Jazz Fusion. Out of that period came the adventurous sounds of groups like Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever and Headhunters. The mid 70's jelled around a more radio-friendly group of artists like Grover Washington Jr., Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith and Jeff Lorber. By the time the late 70's arrived, many Jazz artist were looking to take full advantage of this new paradigm. Sonny Fortune dipped into this pool by releasing two recordings - "Infinity Is" (1978) and "With Sound Reason" (1979). "Infinity Is" has some fine moments but is a clear departure from Sonny's previous excellent recordings that included the masterpiece " Awakening", the innovative "Waves of Dreams", and the festive "Serengeti Minstrel".

This recording kicks off in high gear with "Turning It Over". This percussion driven high-energy effort gets your head bobbing early as Sonny dives and swirls with accuracy and precision as he hits stratospheric levels of joyful expression. A great Santana-vibed solo from guitarist Ray Gomez keeps the track in orbit until Sonny returns for a second round of Soprano bliss. You can get a speeding ticket listening to this track while driving. "Ballad of the Times" slows things down with a gorgeous melody surrounded by a beautiful sadness that makes you want to lean back and close your eyes to fully absorb the moment. Bassist Mark Egan steals the show with a brilliant bass solo that would make Jaco Pastorious proud. These first two tracks are my favorite. The remaining material is good ear candy with subtle sound references to Grover Washington, Jr. on the title track. Lonnie Liston Smith's vibe comes to mind on the laid back "Perihelion", with Sonny playing some colorful Flute. "The Blues Are Green" feels like a true reference back to Sonny's earlier "Waves of Dreams" sound. Vamps from Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" popped into my head when I first heard the funky "Make Up". A lot of the compositions on this disc were penned by Larry Willis and that might explain the simplicity and subtle references to that late 70's vibe. No disrespect towards Willis is intended here, but I had grown used to stronger material from Fortune's three previous recordings. There is enough joyous music here to make this disc a good addition to a diverse music collection.

So enjoy this trip back to the 70's and simpler times. Sonny was and still is an excellent artist with a wide range of musical offerings. I want to personally thank Wounded Bird Records for bringing this music into 2010. Four Stars for the journey back in time. Peace!!

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