Jeremy Steig: Waves
From Wayfaring Stranger (Blue Note, 1970)
Freddy Robinson: River’s Invitation
From Off the Cuff (Enterprise, 1973)
*The Boogaloo Podcast Pt. 3 is forthcoming, most likely by the end of the week
Three things (at least) these two songs have in common:
1) Water themes.
2) Sampled by Hieroglyphics’ members (Del and Casual respectively).
3) (most importantly) Basslines that rawk.
The first two are coincidental, the third purposeful. A good bassline is the best of both worlds – melody + rhythm, a hook that hits you deep in the gut, pulling on you to move with its groove. These two are among my favorites (though by no means, the only ones I’ll be highlighting in the future).
As a general rule, I don’t find the flute to be a particularly funky instrument (and yes, I know about Harold Alexander. And Bjorn Lindh) but occassionally, you find a few tracks that will make you change your mind. “Waves,” fits the bill – it’s not one of the Blue Note soul jazz canon that typically gets comped but the bassline, the drums, Steig’s darting flute (pause) all combine to make for a enjoyably slick slice of flute funkiness.
That said, it seems a bit like piffle compared to the monster roll of blues guitarist Freddy Robinson and his “River’s Invitation.” That opening bassline has such an incredibly wide sound, threatning to swallow all in its path. Robinson’s pluckings and earthy vocals complete the package. (By the way, Monk Higgins, one of the most underrated soul jazz producers out there, is behind this Robinson album. Be assured, the Monk with the funk deserves his own series of posts and that’s something I’ll be putting together).