Saturday, February 6, 2016

Music Reviews: Earth, Wind and Fire, Moving in Stereo

I was not the most intense Earth, Wind and Fire fan out there. In general, I preferred their earlier jazzier raw work to the pop-funk they later did. As you probably heard, Maurice White, the group leader, founder, and guiding producer and songwriter behind the band just passed away after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. Although he had not toured with the band in quite some time because of health concerns the band would not have existed without him. White combined jazz musicianship (at one time he was the drummer for jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis) with a showman's style to produce music that was quite different from near contemporaries like James Brown or Parliament-Funkadelic. It might not be common knowledge but Maurice White did a lot of session work for Chess Records, better known as a blues label and home of legends like Muddy Waters, Etta James and Howling Wolf. By the early sixties Chess was expanding its footprint from just hardcore Chicago blues to include updated blues rock, jazz, funk and soul. White was involved in a lot of that. White, along with some other jazz musicians, was one of the first people to deliberately reintroduce some African sounds into African-American pop music. This was of course best symbolized by White's use of the mbira or kalimba, a thumb piano, which is found in different forms and with different names throughout the continent. Anyway here are four EWF songs, most of which everyone knows. These songs make me very happy whenever I hear them no matter what sort of mood I might have been in previously.

It is really a blast to have SIRIUS XM in my vehicle. I get to hear all sorts of oldies. I remember this music from Fast Times At Ridgemont High. It is playing when Judge Reinhold's character is watching Phoebe Cates' character leave the swimming pool. It's funny how music gets associated with certain images. I think I will be ordering a collection of The Cars' greatest hits. Good stuff if you are from a certain time and place I think.

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