Those who’ve checked the production credits to find out who was responsible for that brilliant harp-enhanced string arrangement for the Tavares’ version of the Bee Gees’ disco anthem More Than A Woman will know it was the handiwork of the somewhat mysterious Quinn Harris. Beginner’s luck? Not a chance.
Eight years earlier, the Berklee alum was shaping the overlooked jazz-funk classic All In The Soul by San Francisco hotshots the Masterminds, currently being recirculated by the Undercover Brother label. The focus here is on small combo grooves – no elaborate string orchestrations – but the production is clearly a cut above what many indie bands were putting out in 1970. If tracks like the psych-soul stomper We Got To Get Together recall the work of Sly Stone, that’s probably because Masterminds frontperson Lady Bianca, aka Bianca Thornton, was getting cozy with the Family Stone. Vinyl junkies should note that a limited-run 7-inch of We Got To Get Together is making the rounds.
To this day, many West Coast jazz fans are probably still wondering whatever became of promising trombonist Lou Blackburn, who interned with Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and Count Basie before striking out on his own. By 1971, he’d vanished from the scene without a trace. Well, Blackburn wound up in Germany, where he hooked up with Kurt Edelhagen and soon found himself sitting in on public radio and television broadcast gigs with the Sender Freies Berlin (SFB) Big Band, which played the opening ceremony for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The following year, Blackburn formed the Afro-jazz combo Mombasa behind the two-volume African Rhythms & Blues series of devastating dance-floor bombs for Spiegelei, each of which will now set you back $150 on a good day. The good news is that the Sonorama label has just reissued both individually on CD and LP with the dope original sleeve art intact. Jazz heads may favour the first volume, while the second is aimed more squarely at the club crowd, but both will appeal to those seeking a more sophisticated approach to funky African fusion experiments with aspirations beyond easy-listening exotica. www.sonorama.de.
Now that Spin has discovered that Toronto has a hot music scene, it’s only a matter of time before German and Belgian labels start releasing reissues of Leslie Feist grunge singles and compilations of the art-punk projects of various employees of Rotate This and Soundscapes. But why wait for the expensive imports when you can simply pick up the colourfully packaged Fuck You Toronto LP w/CD collection lovingly assembled by the Haggard Beast silkscreen operation, which masquerades as a record label. The fab 13-track state-of-the-scene overview, which could be subtitled Bands We Saw At Wavelength And Their MySpace Friends, includes two snazzy tracks apiece from Hot Monogamy, Terror Lake, Problem, Captain Caveman, Lunchmeat and one each from the Guest Bedroom and electro threat 10,000 Watt Head, who deliver skull-cracking final blow BBBB, which would make for an awesome ring tone. There are only 299 numbered copies left and at $10.98, they’ll be gone soon. www.myspace.com/haggardbeast.