Idris Muhammad – Black Rhythm Revolution! – Prestige/Craft Recordings #CR 00523 – 180 gm vinyl – 1971 – ****
(Idris Muhammad – drums; Virgil Jones – trumpet; Clarence Thomas – tenor & soprano sax; Harold Mabern electric piano; Melvin Sparks – guitar; Jimmy Lewis – fender bass; Buddy Caldwell – conga)
Drummer,Idris Muhammad, born Leo Morris, in 1939, has been going strong since the late 1960s, and is still active on the jazz scene. Born in New Orleans, he grew up with a strong rhythm & blues background. His first album as a leader, Black Rhythm Revolution!, goes all the way back to 1971. Craft Recordings, a subsidiary of Concord Records, is happily re-issuing the LP in all-analog mastering from the original tapes. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, the acoustics are spot-on, with every drum strike, and horn tone just right.
Muhammad is in prime form in his early 20s, and surrounded by a great band from the 70s including guitarist, Melvin Sparks, trumpeter, Virgil Jones, and saxophonist, Clarence Thomas (NO, not that one, LOL…).
There are five tracks, with Side B, having two Idris originals. The three covers are super soulful, and include the hit, “Express Yourself,” and the James Brown hit, “Super Bad.” Side A is more on the funky side, with the flip side more in the jazz vein.
Who knew that Clarence Thomas could blow his horn with so much soul (Sorry, I couldn’t resist..). His solo on the opener, “Express Yourself,” is a highlight, along with the Melvin Sparks’ guitar magic. There are also great horn riffs, Harold Mabern’s electric piano stirs the pot, and the tune is a real “head-nodder.” Next is “Soulful Drums,” which is of course a feature for Idris. Jimmy Lewis’ walking electric bass adds to the mix. Idris takes his role here like a bass drummer in a marching band, and the horns get into a counterpoint. James Brown’s “Super Bad,” closes Side A, and has the leader escalating the high energy vibe.
Side B has two tracks, “Wander”, and “By the Sea.” The former was written for Idris’ daughter, who must have been “a very active child.” It’s a blistering track, utilizing re-tuned “tom-tom” drums. It goes in a modal direction, and the leader goes on a tour-de-force solo, with the horns blowing strongly as well. The closer, “By the Sea,” has Virgil Jones soloing over a percolating beat, while Muhammad uses a log drum from a tribe from New Guinea, for his drum solo. Thomas’ soprano sax solo, with its keening tone brings to mind Pharaoh Sanders.
This is first class release and comes highly recommended for funk fusion fans.
— Jeff Krow
Black Rhythm Revolution!
By the Sea
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