April 2012 CD of the Month

Jan 23, 2014

Jazz Soul Seven  "Impressions of Curtis Mayfield" BFM Jazz

When R ‘n’ B was evolving into soul music, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer from the “Windy City” became one of the pioneers of the new sound and contributed several songs that became the soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement. Curtis Mayfield was only a teenager when he began his career with the seminal vocal group, The Impressions. He made an immediate impact in various ways, Mayfield’s guitar playing had a unique sound due to his unusual tuning and he paved the way for the rise of falsetto singers that followed him after he emerged. Moreover, Curtis was a gifted composer who had his hand on the pulse of the African-American community during the struggles of the 1960s. Finally, after Mayfield went solo, he founded his own record label and produced many successful artists as well as composing songs that became hits for others. When writing the soundtrack for the film, “Super Fly”, Curtis broke away from the typical formula and turned the music into a social commentary against the story line of the film and its negative portrayal of the inner city. In 1990 a tragic accident paralyzed him from the neck down which led to his premature passing at 57 years of age in 1999. Curtis Mayfield is a member of several halls of fame as a prominent vocal group member, as a solo artist and as a composer. The album “Super Fly” and many Mayfield songs are ranked among the greatest music contributions ever!  

Guitarist Phil Upchurch called on some of his friends to come together to record an album of Curtis Mayfield music re-arranged into soul jazz, all of whom jumped at the chance to pay tribute to one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. It must have been a daunting task to choose only 12 songs to represent the greatness of Curtis, however once selected, the “Jazz Soul Seven” created a masterful reworking of them without losing any of the original essence of the songs. Called in from Sweden to participate in this session was former Curtis Mayfield Band member, Master Henry Gibson, a remarkable soul music percussionist. All of the players of the “Jazz Soul Seven” performed at a high level assuring the listener a delightful experience, start to finish. Regardless, if you’re partial to Curtis as one of The Impressions, as a solo artist or are an admirer of both sides of Mayfield, I’m confident Impressions of Curtis Mayfield, will be one of your most played CDs this year.