Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hubert Laws - 1979 - Land Of Passion

Hubert Laws 
Land Of Passion

01. Music Forever 5:13
02. Land Of Passion 5:45
03. We're In Ecstacy 7:07
04. Heartbeats 6:34
05. The Key 6:55
06. We Will Be 4:36

Bass – Bobby Vega (tracks: B3), James Jameson
Brass – Bobby Bryant, Snooky Young, Oscar Brashear, Raymond Brown
Cello – Nils Oliver, Raymond Kelly, Ron Cooper
Drums – Leon ''Ndugu'' Chancler, Raymond Pounds (tracks: B3)
Flute, [Alto] Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – Melvin Robinson (tracks: B3), Pat Kelley (tracks: B3), Roland Bautista
Percussion – Victor Feldman
Piano – Barnaby Finch (tracks: B3), Patrice Rushen
Saxophone – Ronnie Laws
Strings – Arnold Belnick, Bonnie Douglas, Dorothy Wade, Endre Granat, Janice Dower, Marcia Van Dyke, Paul Shure, Robert Sushel, Sandy Seymour
Synthesizer – Larry Dunn
Synthesizer [Moog] – Ronnie Laws (tracks: B3)
Trombone – Benny Powell, Garnett Brown, Maurice Spears
Vocals – Blanch Laws, Debra Laws, Eloise Laws, Johnny Laws

This album was recorded in October and December, 1978.

When Columbia released Land of Passion in 1979, the album received scathing reviews from jazz critics. They knew Hubert Laws for his work as a jazz instrumentalist, and for the most part, Land of Passion isn't instrumental jazz -- it isn't hard bop, post-bop, or even fusion. The main focus of this LP is mellow, mildly jazzy R&B/pop (with the occasional instrumental). So serious jazz standards shouldn't be applied. Unfortunately, the critics who trashed Land of Passion did apply serious jazz standards, which is sort of like a food critic lambasting an Italian restaurant because it doesn't provide Vietnamese or Cambodian cuisine. Land of Passion needs to be judged by R&B/pop and quiet storm standards, and when those standards are applied, one has to say that this record is likable but not mind-blowing. Laws was obviously going after the quiet storm crowd when he recorded gentle tunes like "Music Forever" and "We're in Ecstasy." Arguably, quiet storm music falls into two main categories: R&B/pop vocals (Luther Vandross, Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker) and R&B-minded crossover jazz (Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Lonnie Liston Smith). For the most part, this LP (which had yet to be reissued on CD when the 21st century arrived) falls into the former category, although it does contain two gently funky instrumentals: "We Will Be" and "Heartbeats." Neither are masterpieces, but they have a lot more substance and integrity than the sort of elevator Muzak that Kenny G and Richard Elliot were known for in the 1980s and 1990s. Not one of Laws' essential releases, Land of Passion must be taken for what it is: a pleasant but unremarkable collection of mood music.

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