Saturday, 19 September 2009

Blue Mitchell - Many Shades of Blue


Many Shades of Blue


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Mainstreram MRL 402

Harmony of the Underworld

I'm the biggest sucker for Blue Mitchell's 70s Mainstream sides. They were a major component of my initiation into the realm of jazzfunk and the first three are etched in my mind forever so, thanks the psychological process of imprinting, his sides are among the sine qua non of the milieu for me. I finally picked up a near mint vinyl copy of this one a few weeks ago and now need only Vital Blue to complete my Mitchell Red Lion series. This funky muther has already appeared at My Favourite Sound and Audio Design Studio in the past (check the shad shack for links) but during the Month(ish) of Mainstream we're stackin' 'em high and sellin' 'em cheap and this one's just another on the pile.

As usual, Blue has a stellar line up behind hime here since it seems Mitchell and Sarah Vaughan were the only artists on whom Shad actually spent proper money. The two are also tied as the most voluminously released artists on MRL (both providing 7 albums of new material for Shad in a few short years) so their stature, productivity and faithfulness were probably big factors in that equation. Not counting the split with Roy Haynes when Shad was in scavenger mode, this is the last LP Mitchell released on the label before it shuttered, after which he moved on to a series of labels.

Among these were RCA (Stratosonic Nuances, Funktion Junction) and ABC (African Violet, Summer Soft) where he would be slathered in strings and discofied to such a degree that on occasion he might as well have been just another one of the session musicians. Never again would he regain the raw funkiness and full-on souljazz feeling that typifies his Mainstream output. Mitchell would die before he had a chance to do so, passing away prior to the end of the decade at the relatively early age of 49.

Dusty Groove Review
Sweet electric 70s funk from Blue Mitchell -- blowing here in some of the hippest arrangements of his career! Blue's trumpet alone is always pretty darn great, but for this album he's working with arranger Dave Matthews -- who gives the tunes fierce groove that mixes vamping guitars with snapping drums -- sort of picking up the groove that Matthews forged with James Brown, but allowing for a lot freer jazz interplay!

The guitars are often recorded in a cool way that has them sounding a bit "watery" alongside the rhythms -- so much so, you'd swear they were keyboards at times -- and this approach sounds really great underneath Blue's tighter, harder, more punctuated solos over the top of the tracks. Additional support comes from horn players Joe Farrell and Seldon Powell -- and titles include "Funk Walk", "Blue Funk", "Funny Bone", "Golden Feathered Bird", "Harmony Of The Underworld", and "Hot Stuff".
Funky Walk

Blue Mitchell - Trumpet
Wilbur Bascomb, Jr. -
Electric Bass
Michael Moore - Electric Bass

Joe Beck - Acoustic & Electric Guitar
John Tropea -
Acoustic & Electric Guitar
Sam T. Brown - Acoustic Guitar
James Madison - Drums

James Bossy - Trumpet
Jon Faddis - Horn

Irwin "Marky" Markowitz - Horn

Joe Farrell - Flute, Tenor Sax
Seldon Powell - Tenor & Baritone Sax

Frank Vicari - Tenor Sax

1 Where It's At
2 Harmony of the Underworld
3 Funky Walk
4 Blue Funk
5 Golden Feathered Bird
6 Beans and Taters
7 Funny Bone
8 Hot Stuff

Soundological has a shady deal for you HERE or HERE.


Bill said...

I LOVE Blue Mitchell! THANK YOU!!

E-mile said...

yeah Cheeba, this IS a classic!
already know this one (ofcourse?!)
but -indeed- HEAVILY recommended!!!
peace, E-mile

Weekend Hippie said...

Many thanks!

Simon666 said...

Love this one :) thanks!

Moes Lake said...

One of Blues' favorite records, although I'm not so crazy with the electronic sound of the 70's. I don't know why or if that actually the case but in this one Blues seem to express his emotions most directly, his playing is very sentimental. I really like this record, and I highly recommend it as well.

cheeba said...

@Moes Lake, I had heard Mitchell refer to this as one of his faves before as well.

Personally I love the electric sound of the 70s but understand why some don't. So much of it was made to "dancetize" old songs or fit in with a fad. Often the emotional impact of the player and/or material was lost in the market-targeting and studio-centric process.

On the other hand, you have releases like this (and other Blue Mitchell Mainstream sides) where a master incorporates the electric aspects of then-current instrumentation and cultural landscape while losing none of the feeling.

I'm happy to hear you're enjoying this one and hope you can find others in the genre that touch you as well! There's a lot out there!

boogieman said...

I prefer when he plays hard bop but i still enjoy his electric/funky stuff.
Thanks for the share.

cheeba said...

You're welcome boogieman!

flageolette said...

Thanks Cheeba!


rm said...

Thank you very much!