Every once in a while you get a feeling while digging, a feeling that a record, just by the look of it, is gonna be some heat. I’m talking forget about the portable for the moment. By just looking at a few tunes and glancing briefly at the players, you know this thing has more than just a little potential. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got all crazy about a record, only to get the thing home and realize it’s a turd you can play on a record player or make a bowl out of. This cut from Richard Evan’s “Dealing with Hard Times”, on Atlantic, entitled “Patutu” is no such turd. Let’s go back to the no listen, all look instinct about this record. Images of Evans in an overcoat, carrying his bass, reading a newspaper he just pulled from a trash can on a park bench are featured on front and back. Maybe it’s some down and out blues guy I think. Ok, check the track list: covers of Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and Marvin Gaye. Looking even better, so I just pull the trigger. If Baby Huey and Curtis Mayfield had hard times in this crazy town, then Evans was dealing with them the best way he could, making soulful jazz, his own damn way.
By 1972 this Chicago veteran musician had already made his name as a bassist, conductor and arranger for the likes of Sun Ra, Maynard Fergueson, Dinah Washington, Woody Herman, Ramsey Lewis, Brother Jack McDuffand the Soulful Strings among many other notables. Check back to an original Funky 16 Corners #13 blog entry, and you’ll find a nice little write up on his career pre 1972 by the Funk Soul Brother himself. He details Evans history on the Cadet record label, and also his dealings with a few talented sisters I dig, Dorothy Ashby and Marlena Shaw.
“Patutu”, inspired by his daughter, jumps right in as the opening cut on his first solo album, with percussion blazing. Wasting no time laying down fat bass lines, we are then treated to some jazzy trumpet and a string section. Violins and violas, a string section you say? That doesn’t sound right. Au contraire mon freire . It might sound a bit odd for 1972, but remember, this cat was down with the Soulful Strings, so there is no need to ring alarm. A very Grant Green-esque sounding guitar is featured throughout the cut. Keep that muted trumpet jumping in and out and it’s hard to believe the acid jazz guys of the early 90’s weren’t ripping off the Evans sound. This nearly five minute track keeps a tight groove throughout and like Q-Tip would say, “It’s like butter.” A definite head nodder, you’re getting some serious Chicago Soul Jazz in “Patutu”. The rest of the Lp is quite strong throughout, but for me this is the keeper. If Evans was dealing with some hard times, his daughter showed him there was light at the end of the tunnel, a brief getaway illustrated on this upbeat track. Keep Diggin!