Ramsey LEWIS – Love Notes 1977

Ramsey LEWIS – Love Notes 1977
PC 34696

Jazz

Next to Don’t It Feel Good this has to be Ramsey Lewis’s funkiest albums of the 70’s. It’s the same group that he maintained during his mid to late 70’s years on Columbia. Wheras that album had featured Earth Wind & Fire as predominant guests in the same way as ‘Sun Goddess’ this album is based around Stevie Wonder. He contributed two terrific songs. One was the terrific opener “Spring High”,a song which captures the very best of his ‘Songs in the Key of Life Era’ and the most ear catching featuring is the bouncing sound they get on the electric piano-probably some type of pitch modulation. The title track finds Stevie streching out a lot more on this as he and Ramsey trade of hands on Arp and electric piano.It’s more of a slower burning build but puts the styles of both musicians strongly to the test and wins every time. Much of the remainder of the music here was written by multi instrumentalist Derf Reklaw Raheem who provides much of the rhythm section and collective vocals on some heavily funky songs such as “Shining” and “Stash Dash”. The best part of this album is that it presents it’s funk as music of variety,just the way it should be. “Love Theme From A Star Is Born” should’ve been very schlocky but what this rhythm section did to it,even if he’d passed by this time so reflected the influence of Charles Stepney that it actually transcended the compositions intention. “Chile Today,Hot Tamale” brings in the percussion section real heavy for Ramsey’s interpretation of the afro latin groove in funk. “The Messenger” is such a deep song that is heavily represents this album on the compilation album Electric Collection-the volume,the tempo and the harmonic ideas just build from this soft mysterious flavor into this fevered frenzy by songs end. Sadly having been long forgotton this should be held in extremely high esteem in Ramsey’s catalog.I’ve been listening to this album for years on vinyl and having heard all the sonic qualities of the grooves,melodies and musicianship of this album digitallly enhanced rather than changed for loudness purposes it’s even more of a treasure.
By Andres S. Grindle.
**
A great little album of mid 70s funk from Ramsey Lewis – very much in the mode of his Earth, Wind, & Fire related work – no surprise, since the album’s dedicated to Charles Stepney, whose influence was such a key part of the sound of the group, and of some of Ramsey’s other Kalimba-produced albums from a few years before! Ramsey plays Fender Rhodes, mini moog, and Arp – and he gets help on keyboards from Stevie Wonder and Derf Reklaw, who also plays saxes and percussion on the set. Features versions of Wonder’s “Love Notes” and “Spring High”, plus Reklaw’s “Chili Today Hot Tamale”, “Shining”, and “Stash Dash”.
From Dusty Groove.
**
Love Notes is another fine moment from Ramsey Lewis’ funkier period. On here he has moved slightly away from the straighter funk sound he used on Don’t It Feel Good, and gone for that real authentic jazz-funk sound that was evolving around this time. The opener “Spring High” is a total monster of a tune and not just the high-point of this album, but possibly the real-high point in the whole jazz-funk genre. Apart from the last two tracks “The Messenger” and “Stash Dash” which are either irritating electro funk or just downright bad, all the rest of the tracks are great groovers. From the beautiful and mellow “Love Theme From A Star Is Born (Evergreen)” that has the most brilliantly subtle rhythm guitar going through it, to the up-tempo latin influenced “Chili Today, Hot Tamale” which is a guaranteed invigorator of a tune, everything apart from the final two tracks make for a funky jazz classic.
**
Ramsey Lewis- Keyboards
Jimmy Bryant- Keyboards, Vocals, Clavinet
Rahmlee Michael Davis- Horn
Terry Fryer- Synthesizer, Keyboards
Byron Gregory- Guitar
Derf Reklaw Raheem- Percussion, Vocals
Stevie Wonder- Synthesizer, Keyboards
Dert Recklaw Raheem- Flute, Bongos, Conga, Piano (Electric), Sax (Alto), Timbales, Vocals
Michael Davis- Trumpet, Vocals
Ron Harris- Bass
Keith Howard- Drums
**
Arranged By – Byron Gregory (tracks: A1, B2 to B4) ,
Derf Reklaw Raheem* (tracks: A1, B2 to B4) ,
Keith Howard (2) (tracks: A1, B2 to B4) ,
Ramsey Lewis (tracks: A1, B2 to B4) ,
Ron Harris (2) (tracks: A1, B2 to B4)
**
A1. Spring High  4:16
A2. Love Theme From “A Star Is Born” (Evergreen)  4:28
A3. Shining  4:37
B1. Love Notes  6:17
B2. Chili Today, Hot Tamale  5:10
B3. The Messenger  5:15
B4. Stash Dash  4:51
**


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