Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blu-spec CD of the Month - "Don Sebesky: The Rape of El Morro"

Blu-spec CD of the Month
Don Sebesky: "The Rape of El Morro" (CTI/King)

Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Creed Taylor
Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studios (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) on April & May, 1975
Cover Photo: Alan Kaplan
Album Design: Bob Ciano & Richard Mantel

Arranged & Conducted by Don Sebesky
Featuring: Don Sebesky (Fender Rhodes electric piano, electric calliope), Roland Hanna (Fender Rhodes electric piano), Pat Rebillot (Hammond organ), Don Grolnick (Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hohner clavinet, synthesizer), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Will Lee (electric bass), Steve Gadd (drums), George Devens (percussion, xylophone), Phil Kraus (percussion, tympani), Joe Beck (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Michael Brecker (tenor sax solos), David Rose (electric violin solos), Joan LaBarbara (vocals), David Sanborn (alto sax), Randy Brecker & Jon Faddis (trumpet), Wayne Andre, Barry Rogers, Sonny Russo (trombone), Tony Studd (bass trombone), Ray Beckenstein, Harvey Estrin, Walt Levinsky, George Marge (flute & alto flute), Al Regni (flute, piccolo), Charles Libove, David Nadien, Emanuel Green, Harold Kohon, Harry Cykman, Harry Glickman, Harry Lookofsky, Matthew Raimondi & Paul Gershman (violin), Manny Vardi & Jean Dane (viola), Charles McCracken & Seymour Barab (cellos)

One of my desert island discs. The follow-up to his first CTI album as a leader ("Giant Box"), Sebesky's second solo project for Creed Taylor was a second masterpiece. The epic title track, later retitled "El Morro" for a Sebesky-produced Chet Baker album ("You Can't Go Home Again"), features Joan LaBarbara, Brecker and Hanna, with Gadd killing on drums. A gorgeous arrangement of Chummy McGregor's ballad "Moon Dreams" (originally recorded on the historic "Birth of the Cool") takes you to heaven, again featuring Brecker and Hanna, but this time in very subtle performances, with Gadd showcasing his impeccable brushwork. Another outstanding piece, "Footprints of the Giant," was inspired by (and dedicated to) Bela Bartok. A genius paying tribute to another genius. It's a fusion of classical music and jazz-rock bringing guitarist Joe Beck to the forefront. Beck also shines on radio-friendly (at that time!) quasi-disco versions of Charlie Barnet's "Skyliner" and Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer." What an album!

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