Friday, October 3, 2014

CD Reissue of the Month - "Hubert Laws: Then There Was Light, Vol. 1 & 2"

CD Reissue of the Month
Hubert Laws: "Then There Was Light, Vol. 1 & 2" (CTI/Wounded Bird) 1974/2014

Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded & Mixed by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studio (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA) in February 1974
Cover Photos: Pete Turner
Original Album Design: Rene Schumacher

Arranged by Clare Fischer, Rodgers Grant, Bob James & Hubert Laws
Featuring: Hubert Laws (flutes), Bob James (acoustic piano & Fender Rhodes), Clare Fischer (Fender Rhodes), Rodgers Grant (acoustic piano), Richard Tee (organ), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Airto Moreira (percussion), Dave Friedman (vibes), Gene Bertoncini (acoustic & electric guitars), David Nadien (violin), Emanuel Vardi aka Manny Vardi (viola) & George Ricci (cello)

These sessions were originally released on a 2-LP vinyl set in 1974, titled "In The Beginning." Two years later, Creed Taylor reissued them in 1976 with new cover art, new photos and as single LPs under the respective titles "Then There Was Light Vol. 1" and "Then There Was Light Vol. 2" of biblical inspiration. Although previously reissued on a digipak CD here in the U.S. by Sony, back in 1997, with its original title (and cover art) "In The Beginning," only now in 2014 we have this first CD reissue using the alternative title "Then There Was Light."
Curiously, a couple of years ago, unofficial vinyl reissues came out as single LPs titled "In The Beginning Vol. 1" and "In The Beginning Vol.2."

No matter the situations and titles, it's a superb and highly creative album that features keyboardists-composers-arrangers Clare Fischer (on his only session for CTI, although he had worked for Creed during the Verve years in the 60s), Rodgers Grant (his second and last session for CTI, after the George Benson "Tell It Like It Is" sessions that also yielded the "I Got A Woman and Some Blues" album released many years later, in 1984) and Bob James, who adapted Erik Satie's famous "Gymnopedie #1," the only track that includes a string trio (violin, viola & cello). My adored friend Gene Bertoncini plays acoustic guitar on the Satie piece, but goes electric on the other tracks. Ron Carter is, as always, truly perfect throughout the album.

Both Fischer and Grant, two late friends of mine, contributed fresh and stunning material. Fischer wrote the exquisite and intriguing title track, while Grant -- who had already written the fantastic title track for Laws' "Morning Star" album -- provided the lush "Reconciliation" and also shared the keyboard parts with Fischer on the latin-tinged "Mean Lene," which features a drums/percussion dialogue between Gadd and Airto. The drummer also shines on my personal favorite track, a splendid version of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin" played as duet between Laws (on flute, alto flute and piccolo) and Steve Gadd (alternating brushes and stick). Beyond words.

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