Wednesday, January 11, 2017

CD Reissue of the Month - "Lalo Schifrin: Black Widow & Towering Toccata"

CD Reissue of the Month
Lalo Schifrin: "Black Widow & Towering Toccata" (CTI/Robinsongs) 

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

Produced by Creed Taylor
Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder & Joe Jorgensen
Arranged & Conducted by Lalo Schifrin

These albums feature some of the greatest jazz musicians of the period including Eric Gale, John Tropea, Steve Gadd, Hubert Laws, Don Alias, Sue Evans, Anthony Jackson & Joe Farrell to name but a few. Lalo Schifrin puts a jazz-funk vibe to some classic movie themes including Steven Spielberg's blockbuster "Jaws" which was released as a single and charted at 14 in the UK Singles chart, and became a worldwide Disco smash. Schifrin's CTI debut "Black Widow" proved a hit as it landed at no. 22 in the US list of Jazz bestsellers, and it also appeared on the R&B chart. There are stunning arrangements of "old" material: Ary Barroso's "Bahia" (Na Baixa do Sapateiro), Les Baxter's "Quiet Village", the lovely "Flamingo," and the standard "Moonglow" (Theme from "Picnic.") It's a joy to listen guitarists Eric Gale and John Tropea playing together in all tracks!

Buoyed by good sales and the encouraging public reception Schifrin returned to the studio to cut his second CTI album "Towering Toccata," featuring Jeremy Steig, Urbie Green, John Blair, Clark Spangler, Don Armando, Steve Gadd, Will Lee, John Tropea, Ralph MacDonald, Ronnie Cuber etc. Again there was plenty of effervescent disco-funk grooves (even on the title track, an adaptation of the famous "Toccata & Fugue in D Minor" by J.S. Bach!) plus big movie themes including "King Kong." But also some ballads like "Eagles In Love" and "France's Theme." My personal favorite track is "Midnight Woman," a song I've included in my compilation "CTI Acid Jazz Grooves" back in 1997, featuring Lalo's terrific solo on Fender Rhodes.

This reissue features liner notes by Charles Waring, contributor to MOJO magazine & Record Collector.
It's on sale at Dusty Groove and that's what they say:

A pair of CTI 70s classics from Lalo Schifrin – back to back on a single CD! First up is Black Widow – funky 70s work from Lalo – with a bit of a disco twist, and plenty of the electric jazz funk elements that were showing up in his soundtracks at the time! Lalo's on keyboards, playing a cool host of electric ones that give the record a nice spacey sound over the top of the funky arrangements. 

There's plenty of nice guitar work – either by Eric Gale or John Tropea – which gives the cuts some nice choppy funky bits that drive them a bit harder than you might expect. Includes an amazing funk remake of "Quiet Village", plus "Dragonfly", "Black Widow", "Baia", "Turning Point", and a version of the "Jaws" theme! 

Towering Toccatta is electric 70s work from Lalo Schifrin – with a tight uptempo funky sound that's similar to his strong "cop show" soundtrack themes of the time! This album's a pretty great testament to Lalo's durability as one of the great composer arrangers – sublime stuff from the late 70s, and a record that really works nicely alongside Schifrin's music for films. 

Lalo's got a great crew for the set, too – including Joe Farrell and Jeremy Steig on flute, Eric Gale on guitar, Anthony Jackson on bass, Steve Gadd and Andrew Smith on drums, accompaniment on keys by Chuck Spangler and a host of others! Titles include "Eagles In Love", "Macumba", "Theme From Most Wanted", "Theme From King Kong", and "Roller Coaster".

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