Friday, November 3, 2017

SACD of the Month - "Eumir Deodato: Prelude / Deodato 2"

SACD of the Month
Eumir Deodato: "Prelude / Deodato 2" (CTI/Vocalion)
***** (musical performance & sonic quality)
*** (reissue packaging)

Original albums produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded & Mixed by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studio (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey)
Photos: Pete Turner and Alen MacWeeney

The first Deodato SACD was just released on October 27 by the UK-based label Vocalion, that licensed the legendary albums "Prelude" and "Deodato 2" from Sony Music, which handles the distribution of the CTI 70s catalogue in Europe.

Actually, however, there's no 5.1 digital new mix. Vocalion, as usual, offers only the original stereo mix and the long out-of-print quadraphonic mix done by engineer Rudy Van Gelder in 1973 for the Quad vinyl; exactly the same thing they did recently with Michel Legrand's orchestral masterpiece "Twenty Songs Of The Century."

The cover art is horrible, though, with juxtaposed images of the two album covers, destroying both the iconic photos created by Pete Turner for "Prelude" and by Alen MacWeeney for "Deodato 2."

Anyway, the musical content is superb. "Prelude," recorded in September 1972, reached #2 on the Billboard Pop chart and #1 on the Jazz chart, becoming not only CTI's best-seller as well as one of all-time best-selling Jazz albums (and, certainly, the best-selling fusion album ever!) Its opening track, "Also Sprach Zarathustra," a jazz-rock adaptation of Richard Strauss' symphonic poem popularized by Stanley Kubrick's "2001, A Space Odissey" movie, reached #2 in the Billboard pop singles chart (then called Billboard Top 100 Singles) and won a Grammy as "best pop instrumental performance."

[Several idiots call Deodato's single a disco-music hit and often refer to the use of synthesizers. Double mistake: there's no "disco" element anywhere on the album (disco music would born only in 1975) and Deodato doesn't plays any synths, only acoustic piano & Fender Rhodes electric piano throughout "Prelude."]

The entire album is brilliant, including another stunning jazzy adaptation of a classical piece, Debussy's "Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Faun" featuring solos by trumpeter Marvin Stamm and flute virtuosi Hubert Laws), a latin-jazz-rock arrangement of "Baubles, Bangles And Beads" (actually derived from a classical work by Alexander Borodin), and three Deodato originals: the haunting ballad "Spirit Of Summer" aka "Dia de Verão" (Jay Berliner shines on a Spanish-tinged solo on acoustic guitar), a lovely latin-bossa dedicated to Carly Simon and Carole King titled "Carly & Carole" (without the orchestra, played only by Deodato, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Ray Barretto and Hubert Laws), and "September 13," co-written by Billy Cobham during a studio rehearsal. John Tropea's solo work on electric guitar is beyond words on "Zarathustra," "Baubles, Bangles And Beads" and "September 13." I've written liner notes to so many reissues of "Prelude" that it is difficult to say new things about it.

"Deodato 2" (recorded in April 1973 featuring Tropea, Stanley Clarke, Rick Marotta, John Giulino, Billy Cobham and Rubens Bassini) is no less impressive, and in some ways even more adventurous, opening with an astonishing version of The Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin." Then comes Maurice Ravel's "Pavane For A Dead Princess" played comme il faut, followed by two epic Deodato's themes: "Skyscrapers" and "Super Strut," both featuring Tropea's superb solos. The album closes with a sumptuous adaptation of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue." Oh, and Deodato adds Arp and Moog synths on two tracks -- "Nights In White Satin" and "Skyscrapers" -- besides the piano and the Rhodes.

Below please find the original covers of the Quad releases of "Prelude" and "Deodato 2" as well as a Billboard interview from July 1973 with CTI's vice president at that time, the often invisible John Rosica.

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