Friday, December 18, 2015

Leon Thomas - 1972 - Blues And The Soulful Truth

Leon Thomas 
Blues And The Soulful Truth

01. Let's Go Down To Lucy's   
02. L-o-v-e   
03. Gypsy Queen   
04. Love Each Other   
05. Shape Your Mind To Die   
06. Boom-Boom-Boom   
07. China Doll   
08. C.C. Rider

Leon Thomas: vocals, percussion, bottle, writer, arranger
Pee Wee Ellis:tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, piano, organ, marimba, objects, arranger, conductor
Neal Creque: piano, electric piano, organ, writer
Cornell Dupree: guitar
Larry Coryell: guitar
Cecil Payne: baritone saxophone
John Blair: Vitar
John Eckert: trumpet
Dick Griffin: trombone
Gordon Edwards: bass
Stanley Clarke: bass
Donald Pate: bass
Bernard Purdie: drums
Airto Moreira: drums
Jesse Kilpatric: drums, writer
Gene Golden: congas
Baba Feme: congas, percussion
Tasha Thomas: backing vocals
Lani Groves: backing vocals
Carl Hall: backing vocals
Hilda Harris: backing vocals
Albertine Robinson: backing vocals

This is probably the best place to start for a Leon Thomas neophyte, and it's arguably his best all-around album (beating out "The Leon Thomas Album" by a hair in my book).  Besides featuring the absolute career highlight "Shape Your Mind to Die" - which features the funky interplay of Neal Creque on piano and Donald Pate's bass with John Blair's vitar backing up one of Thomas's most impassioned vocal performances - the album balances a couple of blues covers (the "Boom-Boom-Boom" take really letting Larry Coryell's guitar out of the bag) with some funky, soulful Thomas originals (the highlight of these being "Let's Go Down to Lucy," which really shows the influence of arranger Pee Wee Ellis's time in the J.B.'s).

For those reading that first paragraph who want more of the Thomas featured on Pharoah Sanders' "Karma," well then I present you with "Gypsy Queen," a 10 minute stunner that ranks alongside any of the longer, crazier free jazz pieces Thomas had been featured on before this.  Thomas works his way through several of the stylings in his vocal repertoire before joining some of his cohorts in raining down firecrackers on Airto Moreira's drums, while Stanley Clarke's bass keeps the whole thing anchored beneath the fiery playing of Ellis and Creque.

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