Now that I’m back, rested, and ready to go, I thought I’d pull out the newest addition to the FMF stable. It’s a record that I wasn’t really looking for, but decided to pick up because I knew the tune, and I am definitely a fan of the record label, despite the naysayers who claim it’s a “tepid terd”. In fact, I like everything about this label. From the musicians to the cover art, there is a love affair with these records that is still strong. I’ve been reading The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, and my respect for Creed Taylor has doubled. The guy is amazing, and I will definitely not stop buying CTI records. This record hasn’t shown up at any of my local spots, and well, I had to jump on it. A lot of other CTI records do, and I’ve gotten some great ones throughout my digging career. From George Benson to Hubert Laws, when I see the shiny gate fold cover I can’t resist. Let’s get into Joe Farrell and “Canned Funk” on one of my favorite record labels, Creed Taylor’s CTI, from 1975.
Joe Farrell picked up the clarinet at the age of eleven. He went on to graduate from the University of Illinois, eventually uprooting himself and moving (like many Jazz musicians) to New York City. While in the Big Apple, he linked up with Maynard Fergusen and Slide Hampton. A very accomplished saxophone player and flutist, Farrell has played with a who’s who of Jazz musicians, including Jack DeJohnette,Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill, Herbie Hancock, Jaki Byard, Stanley Clarke, Elvin Jones and as a stand out musician with Chick Corea’s “Return to Forever”. He definitely had a good run during the 70’s with his CTI releases, riding on the coat tails of his success with Fergueson. A nasty drug habit would catch up with him during his final years in Los Angeles, where he worked with a lot of different people, including the Mingus Dynasty and Louis Hayes. He died in 1986.
If the Pete Turner photograph on the cover wasn’t enough, (I mean who ever gets an eyeball in their can of peaches?) the record was produced by Taylor and engineered by the genius known as Rudy Van Gelder in his Englewood Cliffs Studio in December of 1974. The song’s line up was as follows: Joe Farrell (tenor sax); Joe Beck (guitar); Herb Bushler (bass); Jim Madison (drums); and Ray Mantilla (congas and percussion). There’s some heavy Funk/ Jazz/ Fusion going on, and it’s obvious why Farrell’s saxophone sound was sought after during the 70’s. In this period, you had all these heavy Jazz players laying down Funk tracks (or their interpretation of), and apparently playing the role while they recorded. They would don the Funk outfits of the time, and get to work in the studio. The Funk would get into them people, and I can just see heavyweights like Milt Jackson wearing a Walt “Clyde” Frazier hat (complete with feather!) as he funked up the vibes. This is by far the longest side I’ve put on FMF (clocking in at over 7 minutes), but IMHO, it’s a really unique song. If you can’t get a hold of this nugget on vinyl, CTI released a compilation called “The Birth of the Groove”, which we here at FMF highly recommend. I am partial to CTI releases, and this tune is definitely a keeper. I’ll be back on Friday with another side to keep your head nodding. Keep Diggin’!