“Listen – California Soul MP3″
We started out the week with a mix, celebrated the weekly tipping point with some tasty funk, and wind things up tonight with something sublime.
I’ve been a fan of Brazilian music most of my adult life, starting off with the popular bossa nova stuff that was released (with substantial success) in the US – starting with jazzbo/bossa collabs like Getz/Gilberto and moving on to Astrud Gilberto the Walter Wanderley Trio, and Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.
Later on I found my way to (and fell in love with) Tropicalia via a Caetano Veloso best of CD, picking up just about everything I could find by Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Tom Ze as well as the mighty Edu Lobo, whose ‘Sergio Mendes Presents’ LP has become a favorite of mine.
I should add that although I have been an enthusiastic consumer of these sounds, I am hardly an expert, and I am aware that true Brazil nuts (heh, heh..Brazil nuts…) would see my level of involvement as a mere scratch of the surface.
One of the groups that I discovered over the years was Tamba 4.
That I (or anyone else outside of Brazil) know who they were has everything to do with their two late-60’s LPs being issued by CTI.
Both ‘Samba Blim’ and ‘We and the Sea’ are outstanding example of the kind of musical fusions that were created when native Brazilian sounds began to meld with jazz, pop and rock in the 60’s.
Formed in the early 60’s as the Tamba Trio (led by pianist Luiz Eca), the group was both successful and influential on the Brazilian scene (they even had the earlier hit version of Jorge Ben’s ‘Mas Que Nada’ in 1963, later recorded by both Sergio Mendes and Hugh Masekela).
In 1968, Eca reformed the band as Tamba 4 and recorded the two albums mentioned above for CTI.
Some years ago, after having purchased the CD reissues of the CTI albums, I was out digging somewhere when I turned up today’s selection, ‘California Soul’.
Written by Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the tune became a soul standard of sorts, with versions by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, the 5th Dimension (a recording that I remember from my childhood), Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Gerald Wilson, and that crate diggers favorite, the break-heavy take by Marlena Shaw on Cadet*.
Tamba 4 recorded the tune in 1969 for a third CTI album that was never released, though there were apparently two promo 45s, of which this is one.
They take things at a brisk clip, layering electric piano and flute with a flashy horn section, and the arrangement – by Johnny Pate– is great. It would be great if CTI would release the rest of the session at some point.
Either way, it’s a groovy, swinging take on a fantastic song.
Have a most excellent weekend.
*Used by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist in the Brainfreeze mix.