Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fusion CD Reissue of the Month - "Deodato/Airto: In Concert"

Fusion CD Reissue of the Month
Deodato/Airto: "In Concert" (CTI/Music On CD) 1974/2017
Release Date: July 08, 2017

Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded by Frank Hubach @ Madison Square Garden Center (New York, NY) on April 20, 1973
Mixed by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studios (Englewood Cliffs, NJ) in 1974 
Cover Photo: Pete Turner
Liner Photo (Airto): Frederico Mendes
Original album design: Bob Ciano

In April 1973, after having scored the monster hit and million-selling single "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (2001), Deodato recorded his second album for CTI. Despite its excellence, "Deodato 2" (40930) did not achieve the commercial success of Prelude. This ruined the relations between Creed Taylor and Deodato, and led to the artist’s departure from CTI to sign with MCA in late 1973. Creed never got over the loss.

In trying to capitalize on his former protege’s success, and possibly get additional mileage from his forthcoming MCA debut, Creed went back to the tapes of a concert Deodato and the CTI All Stars had given at the Felt Forum of Madison Square Garden in New York. To his surprise (and delight!), he found that the tunes performed at the concert included two that also were on the MCA release, the one posteriously chosen as the title track, “Whirlwinds”, and another intended as the first single, “Do It Again.”

Creed also selected another tune performed at the concert, “Spirit of Summer,” added two selections played by percussionist Airto Moreira (who had opened for Deodato at the Felt Forum), and rush-released "Deodato/Airto In Concert," which strongly diminished the impact of Deodato’s first album for MCA. In so doing, Creed also helped promote Airto, simply by not mentioning on the album cover that the two artists had played separately at the concert.

For 15 years, all the other tracks recorded at the Felt Forum remained unreleased till I was invited to work on "Deodato In Concert - Live At Felt Forum," released on CD in 1988 with the complete concert.

But, to add some extra confusion on the market, Sony decided to reissue "Deodato/Airto In Concert" in 2003, as the album appeared on vinyl, BUT adding 2 more tracks from Deodato's performance, with new remixes.

I have suggested that a 2-CD set with the complete concerts of Deodato and Airto should be released, but nobody seems to care.

Now, in July 2017, the Holland-based label Music On CD is reissuing in Europe the 2003 CD. The original vinyl (3 tracks by Deodato + 2 tracks by Airto plus 2 bonus tracks by Deodato)...What a mess!

Anyway, the musical content is great. The highly energetic repertoire performed that night included tunes which originally appeared on the "Prelude" album, and others that the arranger was still preparing to record for "Deodato 2."

Deodato's band was singularly skilled, the lineup consisting of John Tropea on guitar, John Giulino on bass, Rick Marotta on drums, Rubens Bassini and Gilmore Degap on congas/percussion, Burt Collins and Joe Shepley on trumpets, Garnett Brown on trombone and Joe Temperley on baritone sax.

A master on grooves, Deodato displays his dexterity to make the horn section swing along over funky, strong rhythms. In fact, it is interesting to note that the horn riffs on “Baubles, Bangles And Beads” are more reminiscent of R&B recordings than of jazz dates.

As a keyboardist, Deodato is equally capable of intense, very personal statements. Not only does he perform notable solos on “Do It Again” (an irresistible version of Steely Dan’s hit) and “Spirit of Summer” (a Deodato original in a haunting arrangement full of luminous orchestral textures, in which his keyboard work reveals a provocative harmonic imagination, with an exemplary use of dissonant chords).

Creed Taylor originally had no title for “Whirlwinds”, since that tune was untitled at the time of the Felt Forum concert, but because it showcased John Tropea’s powerful approach he called it “Tropea” (in a review of Deodato 2, DownBeat called Tropea “a master of pithy guitar…the most forthright new guitarist since Mahavishnu John McLaughlin”). The other musician featured on “Whirlwinds” is Brazilian Rubens Bassini, an incredibly underrated percussionist who worked with Deodato from 1973 to 1979, before joining Dave Grusin with whom he played up until his death in 1985.

After performing the best conga solo I have ever heard on a contemporary jazz recording, Bassini returns to the front line for a fiery interplay with Degap and Marotta on the frenetic “Skyscraper”, which also includes an exciting Garnett Brown solo, that had been shortned for the 1988 CD.

Airto's tracks are fabulous: "Paraná," featuring the composer Hugo Fattoruso whistling in unison during his Fender Rhodes solo, and "Branches," a duet between Airto and Flora Purim, who plays acoustic guitar and sings this gentle melody gifted with a folk quality. "Branches" is credited to P. Divina (sic), a big mistake, since its composers are Hermeto Pascoal's parents, Pascoal José da Costa and Divina Eulália Oliveira.

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