Saturday, October 3, 2015

RIP Wilton Felder

RIP to Wilton Felder (Sept 27), who was a great saxophonist and a monster bass player.  How monstrous?

(and that’s Paul Humphrey on drums)

To name a few more: Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On (Paul Humphrey again!) and I Want You, Joni Mitchell (Court and Spark, Hissing of Summer Lawns), John Cale (Paris 1919), 70’s soft-rock staples like “Piano Man” and “Summer Breeze”, and a personal guilty pleasure fav of mine, Michael Franks’ The Art of Tea.  He’s on Grant Green’s wonderful Live at the Lighthouse, another funky jazz record that’s near to my heart.

But his main gig was playing tenor sax with the (Jazz) Crusaders.  I’ve heard that Felder wouldn’t play sax with anyone else, saving himself solely for the group’s sound — and they definitely had a sound, soulful and funky, that never endeared them to the jazz cognoscenti despite recording a load of successful albums.  I guess you'd call them underrated these days, but I’ve never heard a bad record of theirs (although, to be honest, I’m not crossing the 1974 line).  Scratch is a stone classic with at least one tune that may be of interest to JGBheads circa 1979-1980.  I contend that the Crusaders’ sound (and instrumentation) was a key influence on Kahn and Saunders as they created Reconstruction.  Phil Lesh was about as far from Wilton Felder as bass players got, but I'd bet you anything he was one of Kahn's favorites.

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