Saturday, 8 December 2012

Sunshine Music

Julie Andrews knows a few things about music and she says, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”  True.  It’s a very good place to start. 

So, A is for Ayers.  Not William Ayers – although I’m sure he’s down with soul brother music.  I’m talking about Roy Ayers.

He’s musical royalty.  Having received his first set of vibraphone mallets from Lionel Hampton at age five, he honed his talent to become leader of Ubiquity and one of the most respected and prolific soul jazz composers of the 1970s.  His collaborations with Fela Kuti should, in and of themselves, earn your instant and eternal respect.

When I survey my record collection, there are Ayers albums and singles filed in just about every category – jazz, soul, bossa nova, soundtracks, disco, boogie, afro-beat, and even that most nebulous of stacks: “oldschool.”  If I’m ever at loss for a record to buy, there is always another exceptional Ayers album that I don’t own. 

Even though he hasn’t produce a great album in about twenty years, the influence of his prime years is still alive and well.  The rediscovery of some lost sessions prompted BBE/Rapster Records in 2004 to release, to great critical acclaim, a collection of unheard tracks from 1976-1981.

And his samples are foundational to true school hip hop and deep house.

“In the Limelight” – Virgo Vibes, Atlantic, 1967

Discogs: Virgo Vibes

Wave – Stoned Soul Picnic, Atlantic, 1968

“Coffy is the Color” – Coffy Soundtrack, Polydor, 1973

Discogs: Coffy

“Mystic Voyage” – Mystic Voyage, Polydor, 1975

Discogs: Mystic Voyage

I've often wondered if this composition is a nod to Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage

“Everybody Loves the Sunshine” – Everybody Loves the Sunshine, Polydor, 1976

“Daylight” – Come Into Knowledge – Produced and Arranged by Roy Ayers, Blue Thumb Records, 1977

“Running Away (Long Version)” – 12” Disco Single, Polydor, 1977

Discogs: Running Away

This is the first Roy Ayers record I bought.  I copped a promo 12" at a record show at the Rivoli.

“Africa: Centre of the World” – Music of Many Colours – Phonodisk, 1980

“Chicago” – Lots of Love – Uno Melodic, 1983

The entire album was released again as Drive on Ichiban Records in 1988

Discogs: Lots of Love and Drive

“Hot” – You Might Be Surprised, Columbia, 1985

“I Am Your Mind Part II (Pépé Bradock Mix)" – Virgin Ubiquity Remixed EP 3, BBE/Rapster Records, 2006.

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