Jazz Soul Seven: Impressions of Curtis Mayfield

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LABELS: Challenge Records
ALBUM TITLE: Jazz Soul Seven: Impressions of Curtis Mayfield
WORKS: Impressions of Curtis Mayfield
PERFORMER: Phil Upchurch (guitar), Terri Lyne Carrington, ‘Master’ Henry Gibson (drums), Russ Ferrante (piano), Wallace Roney (trumpet), Ernie Watts (sax), etc


This 2001 project, which pays tribute to soul legend Curtis Mayfield, scores well on the authenticity stakes. It features Mayfield’s former drummer, Henry Gibson, and was put together by former collaborator Phil Upchurch, an artist who straddled both ‘jazz’ and ‘soul’ (for example on his own hit ‘You can’t sit down’). He is joined by the equally ubiquitous saxist Ernie Watts, while the jazz credentials are shored up firmly by bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

The band takes classics such as ‘Superfly’, keeping its tight percussive groove but loosening it up on top, allowing the soloists flexibility. And the dreamy soul of Mayfield’s early band The Impressions gets exquisitely transformed on ‘People get ready’, thanks to Ferrante’s bluesy piano and Roney’s trumpet mute. The sax may veer a bit on the smooth side but there’s easily enough jazz here to soothe the soul.


Neil McKim