Saturday, August 8, 2009

CD of the Day - "Joe Farrell: Night Dancing"

CD of the Day
Joe Farrell: "Night Dancing" (Wounded Bird) 2009

Two longtime out-of-print Joe Farrell albums from the 70s were recently reissued on CD, for the first time ever, by the Wounded Bird label. Both titles - "Night Dancing" and "La Catedral Y El Toro", never before reissued not even in Japan! - were licensed from Warner Brothers, the company with which the late reedman signed a millionaire contract in 1977 after a series of seven great albums for CTI (not counting the unofficial releases nor the live dates with the CTI All Stars bands). However, Farrell was not able to reach the same momentum of his CTI heyday and, maybe due to the lack of good promotional efforts, his WB albums sold much less than the CTI ones.

"Night Dancing," Farrell's second and last album for Warner Bros. was made in 1978 after he moved to Los Angeles and soon became a star in California's jazz club circuit at that time (he reigned at "Carmelo's," "Donte's" and the "Comeback Inn" in Venice). The project also reunited him with Herbie Hancock, who had played on some of Farrell's best CTI sessions like "Moon Germs," "Penny Arcade," and "Upon This Rock".
The disco influence is evident on the title track "Night Dancing" (written & arranged by the album producer Trevor Lawrence) and on a nice version of Stevie Wonder's "Another Star". There are two mellow pop ballads that were mega hits by the Bee Gees ("How Deep Is Your Love", with Flora Purim's sexy vocals) and Rod Stewart ("You're In My Heart").

But the other half of "Night Dancing" is simply fantastic, including Jeff Lorber's romantic funky "Katherine" (Joe is featured on the soprano sax and Hancock plays his ass off on the acoustic piano, including some latin-tinged chord progressions during his marvelous solo), Farrell's own gorgeous jazz waltz "Silver Lace" (his flute intertwines with the wordless vocals of Lynda Tucker Lawrence & Andrea Robinson with great effect, while Herbie Hancock shines again, this time on the Fender Rhodes electric piano) and a superb a cappella performance (on tenor sax) of Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer's standard "Come Rain or Come Shine".

Victor Feldman (also playing Rhodes), drummers Harvey Mason, Jeff Porcaro & John Guerin, bassists Chuck Rainey, Abe Laboriel, Mike Porcaro & Robert W. Dougherty, guitarists Lee Ritenour & Jay Graydon, and Brazilian percussionists Airto Moreira (who plays on three tracks, adding cuica to "Casa de Los Sospensos", which sounds like a TV cop-show theme) & Paulinho da Costa (heard on congas) are among the featured sidemen. The horn section includes such studio veterans as Chuck Findley, Oscar Brashear, Garnet Brown, Lew McCreary, Joe Romano and Quitman Dennis. This remastered CD issue is definitely worth a listen. And now I hope to see, in a near future, digital reissues of Farrell's CTI albums that remain unreleased on CD format, such as the much sampled "Upon This Rock," "Canned Funk" and the splendid "Penny Arcade."

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