Idris Muhammad

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Featuring the arrangements and keyboards of Bob James, the saxophone punch of Grover Washington, Jr., guitarist Joe Beck, trumpeter Randy Brecker, percussionist Ralph MacDonald, and the knife-edge slick production of Creed Taylor, this 1974 issue is a burning piece of deep, jazzy soul and grooved-out bliss. The funk flies fast and heavy, particularly on the title track (Jimi Hendrix's tune), with soaring solos by Grover and James, who fall down in the groove to Muhammad's powerful pace, setting from the heart of the pocket. Beck's own solo is special in that he moves against the tempo just a bit, but that only increases the listener's dependence on the groove of Muhammad. Clocking in at only 34 minutes it's a perfect slice of the raw-onion emotion Muhammad was pulling down at the time. While there isn't a weak track in the four, it's Washington's Loran's Dancethat takes the cake, even over Hendrix. While the former is dark and heavy, and the immediately preceding tracks by James and Beck, respectively, are light, fancy, free nods to Creed Taylor's hoping for a jazz radio single, it's Loran's Dance that showcases not only Washington as an aspiring writer in his own right (this is only a year before Feels So Goodand Mr. Magic appeared), but also as a talented interpreter of the edges where jazz and soul come together. James' arrangements are tight, and everybody gets to solo with a little more freedom and grace. Muhammad keeps the pocket wide and Brecker and Washington dance all around in it as James plays the accents furtively. This is some easy-moving, yet musically complex jazz. There is great power in these four tracks to make you move or reflect or just tap your foot while nodding "yeah" at your speakers imperceptibly.