Little Chain of Fusionist Recommendations

When I read that jazz-fusion drummer Alphonse Mouzon had passed, I was startled to realize I couldn’t call up all that much from my collection. First Weather Report, of course, and I always thought it was a path that should have been taken at least bit more. But Coryell’s Eleventh House had never done much for me and I was startled again to realize how infrequently Mouzon was mentioned in the jazz lit I could dig up — yet more evidence that ’70s fusion and (esp.) jazz-funk don’t get no respect.

The biggest startle of all, however, is that anyone who paid enough attention hailed the 1975 album Mind Transplant (Blue Note) … which (gulp) I had never heard. Even though it featured a guitarist I was stone crazy about at the time — Tommy Bolin.

I’ve corrected that lapse and now immediately and forever would recommend Mind Transplant as the starting point for Mouzon. The waves of energy and blends of jazz, funk, soul, and psyche-rock never let up, Here’s a no-frills AllMusic review. Interesting that all the tunes were composed by one Elvena Mouzon — the wife, I presume. Go getcher mind transplanted if you haven’t already.

Now we move into more confirmed-fan territory with Tommy Bolin. Snooping around about Mind Transplant, I discovered there was this 3-CD Ultimate Teaser reissue.  Now, I was engulfed by the original vinyl partly because of its sound, though the vocals, a little apologetically, were more muffled than necessary. Album (and Bolin) fell way off the screen after he smacked himself to death less than a year after it came out. So the first digital version I heard was very weird, to put it kindly, and went in the sell pile. Now this is one of those things like T. Rex — there’s so many versions and added-on reissues of this that it’s tempting to throw up your ears and tune out.

But don’t — this is the one for confirmed fans and I would eagerly put it on before the old LP. The sturdy-enough vocals are right where they need to be and the longer, looser-jam versions of tunes on the second and third discs are as kablooey-newy as you could dream for. Of course you can hear why the more condensed version were picked for the album, but if you enjoy hearing this man on amplified strings — get this bruiser box.

Which in the third and final link of this associative post, brings up a new release by a venerable guitar-fusion lion — Snake Pit by Harvey Mandel.

Which is also One of Those Records I’m Sorry I Didn’t Get Around To Writing About Last Year. It’s a summary of his many good moves, untouched by many years between releases. I’ve mentioned Mandel before.

Gotta add that around the time of the my Bolin fixations, another fantasy was “wouldn’t it have been exciting if Harvey Mandel became a member of the Stones instead of Ron Wood — after all, he was on Black and Blue as a tryout, too.” Yeah, I know, long-shot fantasy. But as La La Land argues, you gotta embrace even the long-shots.

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