Hank Crawford – Wildflower

Download or Listen to Hank Crawford – Wildflower from the Kudu Lp

Well I’m back in the saddle again. I trust everyone’s holiday weekend (here in the States) was a good one. I got some relaxing in for sure, and even a small amount of record digging. Today i wanted to get a bit on the mellow tip. I have been feeling more Jazz than anything as of late, so I figured, why not some Soul Jazz? Here’s a fave of mine, Hank Crawford and “Wildflower” from 1973 on Kudu Records.

Hank Crawford was born Bennie Ross Crawford in 1934 in Memphis, Tennessee. He had early Blues influences while playing the piano, but would switch to the alto saxophone when his father brought him one home from his stint in the Army. Influenced early by players like Earl Bostic and Louis Jordan, Crawford had some great musicians as his peers growing up. He would go to school with players like Booker Little and George Coleman. After graduation he’d aplay alongside future stars such as Ike Turner, BB King, and Bobby Bland. Crawford went to Tennessee State University, where he played alto and baritone saxophone, as well as studied music theory and composition. He was a member of the Tennessee State Jazz Collegians and even had a rock and roll band called Little Hanks and the Rhythm Kings (did Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm borrow or was it vice versa?). Crawfood hooked up with Ray Charles in the late 50’s and stayed with him until 1963 (where he was eventually the band’s musical director). He went solo in 1963, but by that time had been recording for Atlantic for quite some time while with Charles. He did so until 1970, when he would hook up with Creed Taylor and Kudu Records. This is of course my favorite period of Crawford. This groovy, fusion type of funky jazz had the sound and a lot of the players to keep the groove moving. He stayed until 82 then moved to Milestone, where he hooked up with greats like Melvin Sparks and Jimmy McGriff to continue to put out quality music. He passed away earlier this year.

I picked this Lp up sealed but with some water damage on the cheap. I love Kudu, and I try to get whatever I can on the label. The vinyl was mint, so I said wtf. I dig Hank Crawford, so to me, because it was him, and the great line up he had, it couldn’t be passed up. With Crawford on alto sax, Richard Tee on Piano/ Organ, Idris Muhammad on Drums, Bob Cranshaw on Bass, and Percussion by Ralph MacDonald (among others), plus arrangements by Bob James, this is a no brainer. Starting out slowly, and building up to a nice pace, Crawford wails some smoothness, while Muhammad keeps it moving on the drums. What I like most though, is the work of Richard Tee. His piano sound to me is what stands out the most. If you’re looking for hard hitting Jazz Funk here folks, I’m sad to say this isn’t the track. However, it’s a great example of some of Crawford’s Soul Jazz, and when paired up with Creed Taylor and Bob James, shows his progression from straight ahead Jazz in the Atlantic years, to experimental Soul Jazz in this period. Crawford would continue to work as a sideman, arranger, composer, and bandleader for the rest of his life. This song was sampled by Kanye and Tupac among others. Like I said, it’s not his best work, but I dig the vibe. I hope you will too. Keep Diggin’!

Don’t forget this!

2 responses to “Hank Crawford – Wildflower

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