Jazz Soul Seven – Impressions of Curtis Mayfield

To say that Curtis Mayfield was one of the most prolific songwriters of American popular music would not be an overstatement. From his work with the impressions to his career as a solo artist, Mayfield is distinguished as one whose lyrics not only spoke to the African-American struggle for equality in society but also the realities of life as humans.

Produced by Brian Brinkerhoff, the Jazz Soul Seven release Impressions of Curtis Mayfield (BFM Jazz, 2012). The ensemble is comprised of seven jazz all-stars, musicians who have worked in a variety of settings, including a few who have been session players as well as bandleaders. They are Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Russell Ferrante, piano; Master Henry Gibson, percussion; Bob Hurst, bass; Wallace Roney, trumpet; Phil Upchurch, guitar; and Ernie Watts, saxophone.

“Freddie’s Dead,” a dark anthem about a young man lost to the world because of drug addiction, kicks things off. Watts covers the lead, originally sung by Mayfield. The sax throws in some scat-like phrasing at the end of the second pass. He plays freely during the middle. In the background, Carrington, Gibson and Upchurch make things interesting.

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