Wewantsounds continues its collaboration with Bob Shad's grandchildren, Mia and Judd Apatow, to present a 2LP selection of 13 turntable-friendly Mainstream Records tracks recorded between 1970 and 1973 and showcasing the label's superb blend of Funk, Soul and Jazz. All tracks remastered from the original tapes, most of them released for the first time since their original release with a few highly sought-after ones. Liner notes by UK journalist Paul Bowler.
The Mainstream sound is unmistakable: earthy, rich and funky, it's the signature sound of producer Bob Shad. After working with such geniuses as Charlie Parker, The Platters, Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin over three decades, Shad decided to go back to producing Great Black Music in the early 70s though his label Mainstream Records and started releasing a formidable series of jazz albums known as the 300 series. Released between 1971 and 1974, these albums are the main source of this set.
Coincidentally, it opens with one of the two tracks on the tracklist not produced by Shad himself. Saundra Phillips' "Miss Fatback" is nonetheless fascinating as it's one of cult disco producer Greg Carmichael's earliest productions from 1975 (before he went on to produce Inner Life, Bumblebee Unlimited, Universal Robot Band with fellow producer Patrick Adams). The other track not issued by the Shad sound factory is Almeta Lattimore's 7" single "These Memories," a truly great soulful track from 1975 and now a sought-after classic on the international Soul scene.
Shad's forte was Jazz, and the sessions usually used the best musicians you could think of, including Bernard Purdie, Billy Hart, Stanley Clarke, Dom Um Romao, Joe Sample, Freddie Robinson, Gordon Edwards, Larry Willis, Wilbur Bascomb to name just a few. Filled with gorgeous Fender Rhodes chords and heavy basslines, they define the unmistakable Mainstream sound which had one foot in the great jazz and bop tradition and the other in the sonic jazz explorations of the early 70s.
Oscillating between jazzed-up covers of soul hits like Jay Berliner’s "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" or Afrique’s "Kissing My Love" and more introspective originals such as Hal Galper's "This Moment" or Dave Hubbard's "T.B.'s Delight", They all have this perfect balance between groove and depth. One perfect example is Pete Yellin's "Bird and The Ouija Board," a superb 12 min opus starting off with a deep abstract improvisation before switching to an up-tempo funk beat fueled by drummer Billy Hart and bass player Stanley Clarke.
Shad had a long-standing association with such jazz Divas and this side is represented here by Maxine Weldon's beautifully breezy version of David Gates' standard "Make It With You" and by Sarah Vaughan's superb "Just a Little Lovin'" which perfectly closes the tracklist with a jazzy note as a tribute to the producer's multi-faceted talents.
This selection serves as a timely reminder that Jazz history was written by unsung heroes such as Bob Shad, who gave a voice to talented artists and allowed them the liberty to express themselves freely without the constraint imposed by bigger labels. "This Is Mainstream!"
A1 Saundra Phillips Miss Fatback
A2 Afrique Kissing My Love
A3 Hal Galper This Moment
B1 December's Children Livin' (Way Too Fast)
B2 Blue Mitchell Blue's Blues
B3 Maxine Weldon Make It With You
B4 Reggie Moore Mother McCree
C1 Jay Berliner Papa Was A Rolling Stone
C2 Dave Hubbard T.B.'s Delight
C3 Almeta Latimore These Memories
C4 Buddy Terry Lean On Him (Lean On Me)
D1 Peter Yellin Bird And The Oiuja Board
D2 Sarah Vaughan Just A Little Lovin'