40 Years a Soul Boy, Funkateer and Jazz Buff


It all started back in 1980 with Earth Wind and Fire's classic 'I Am' album, a double LP set of accessible jazz fusion called 'Bitter Suite' and 'Slipstream The Best Of British Jazz Funk', a compilation representing the emerging Brit Funk movement pioneered by the likes of Hi-Tension, Light Of The World and Level 42. It was the compilations which sowed the seed while Earth Wind and Fire remain my favourite band to this day.


'Slipstream The Best Of British Jazz Funk' - 1981, Beggars Banquet Records

First let's look at how that 'Bitter Suite' compilation on CBS shaped my development as an avid consumer. When I first heard 'Just Around The Corner' by Herbie Hancock it blew my mind! A driving and funky bass line with Herbie's keyboards and synths delivering melodies and textures which to me were new and exciting. Then there was MFSB's 'Mysteries Of The World' with it's instantly recognisable bass signature as well as the title track from George Duke's 'A Brazilian Love Affair' album which would become just about my favourite album amongst the 4,500 I've collected to date.

Then there was 'The Best Of British Jazz Funk'. Short lived it was, however the Brit Funk movement was the UK's answer to the classic sounds delivered by US acts during the 70's. The album was made up of cuts from the likes of Incognito, Light Of The World, UK Players, Central Line and Freeez all of whom derived inspiration from the classic edgy and accessible fusion of Eddie Henderson and Alphonse Mouzon; the driving funk of Parliament/Funkadelic, Slave and The Ohio Players; the soulful grooves emerging from Philadelephia International and Hi Records; the Stax and Motown Sounds which had filled the 60's and spilled over into the 70's. Even the disco era, despite its oft berated and somewhat unfair reputation, gave us classic sounds which became an inspiration for a range of records which often came out of London and which spread across the UK. I had established a basis on which I could explore. A music in which I could engage and, over subsequent years, discover that it knows no boundaries.

The formative years helped me find a musical direction and were the foundation for me to immerse myself in a musical world which never stops delivering joy and surprise. The sounds which emanated from my hifi during the early years are still sounds which find their way onto a turntable or into a CD drive now, however these days they've been supplemented to a kaleidoscopic degree, absorbing Mainstream and Classic Jazz, Bebop and Hard Bop, Big Band and Vocal Jazz, Free Jazz, Jazz Funk and Acid Jazz. There's Classic Soul, Modern Soul, Funk, Northern Soul and R&B. There's Blues and there's World Music, Trip-Hop and Downtempo. There's music which has emerged out of Cuba, Brazil and Africa. There's music without frontiers from Asia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. 40 years has allowed me to go on a long journey of exploration which continues to know no bounds and is constantly delivering new musical surprises.

For a flavour of what the journey has unearthed you can find 150 of the best loved albums in my collection elsewhere on this site and in no particular order. To ensure that the selection is as wide ranging as possible I've limited it to one album per artist only. So go ahead. Check out the 'The 150' page and take a listen if you're able!

I Once Wrote An Article For Blues & Soul Magazine!


Yes, indeed I did...and here it is! Simply entitled 'My Ideas Of Soul' it offered my 1980's viewpoint on what soul music was all about.

Actually I think I must have missed my vocation as around the same time I wrote a review of a Courrtney Pine gig at the Chichester Festival Theatre. I submitted it to the Chichester Observer in case they wanted to use it. They did... in place of the freeleancer's submission!


The Brilliance Of EW&F


Driving home from work today listening to Jazz FM and on came 'Runnin' by Earth, Wind and Fire. Hearing it reminded me that there are some people who, in a degree of ignorance, view this brilliantly creative outfit as a faceless and formulaic disco group!! 

If you're not familiar with their supreme body of work then check out tracks like the aforementioned 'Runnin' plus 'Brazilian Rhyme' from the 'All 'n' All' album. Try also 'Spasmodic Movements' from 'Open Our Eyes' and the exceptional Afro flavoured 'Biyo' from the 'Spirit' album.  Jazz solos and rhythmic explorations abound!


Earth, Wind & Fire - 'Brazilian Rhyme' and 'Runnin' (CBS Records)

George Benson - 'Walking To New Orleans' on yellow vinyl (courtesy of my good friend Marcus Dent). The disk is presented on Marcus's magnificent Rega RP8 turntable