16 November 2008

Alphonso Johnson - Moonshadows


Philadelphia born Alphonso Johnson begun his career in the early Seventies as an upcoming electric bass player on the jazz scene. His first recordings were with artists working under Gamble and Huff, before moving to LA to work with the Woody Herman Orchestra. In 1974 he replaced founding member Miroslav Vitous in the group Weather Report and later went on to work with the likes of George Duke, Billy Cobham, Santana and even Phil Collins. Moonshadows was his debut solo album from 1976, released on Epic and featuring some great jazz funk fusion. Players on board included Patrice Rushen, Flora Purim, Airto Moriera, Lee Ritenour and Bennie Maupin among others. Alphonso's work on the bass is excellent throughout the album: sometimes funky, sometimes driving, other times more experimental. I also really like the drumming on this album, and as with all my favourite jazz albums - it features some good use of synthesizers.

The opener Stump is a nice mid-tempo funk workout with some sampladelic drumbreaks and a great false ending. Involuntary Bliss, with vocals from Flora Purim, starts out smooth and dreamy before the groove gets more urgent and noodle heavy in the mid section. Third track Cosmoba Place has a rockier vibe to it with heavy drums, some B-3 organ and a strong lead guitar. There are some mad bass effects to mess with your head too. Side 1 closes with the short and dreamy interlude Pandora's Box. Up From The Cellar starts side 2 off in fine funky style. Probably my favourite track from the LP featuring nice tight guitar licks, smooth keys and lush vocal sections. Amarteifio is a cool, mellow vocal number with some lovely chords and harmonies. On The Case rolls along nicely with its mix of rock/jazz psychedelia, again with a strong lead guitar from Lee Ritenour. The album ends with the euphoric Unto Thine Self Be True - great hooks, great synths, beautiful music. What more can I say?

2 comments:

matt said...

Excellent selections as always. Thanks for sharing.

acidbearboy said...

Cool, thanks for the comment. Always nice to read them.