Me and my buddy Tsugu danced up the front at Roy Ayers for a few hours last week, and during the encores backing singer John Pressley came down into the audience swapping these CDs for $20. It's recorded earlier this year at Arturo's Jazz Club in Detroit, seemingly unreleased, but I'll forgo the usual WAV files for a 320 rip so as not to destroy Mr Pressley's entrepreneurship ....
The CD's not as good as the show was, but there's some stuff to be found here. It seems that as the year's progressed, the role of saxophonist / keyboardist / singer Ray Gaskins (anyone got his albums?) has been increased. At the show we saw, he was comping on the rhodes with his right hand while soloing on soprano, alto and tenor sax with the left, and singing like an angel with a few lead spots. Here he's mainly just on sax, and the keyboards are more dominated by the not-as-interesting work by Mark Adams, who favours more 90s-style wavetable synth emulations.
Roy Ayers acts more as party MC and vocalist these days. After 36 years of "Sunshya-yine" he's understandably trying a few new tricks, some of which work better than others. He's playing rubber digital control pads with his mallets, which works ok for marimba sounds, but the sustain on the vibe samples is slightly dodgy.
Occasionally he dials up a synth sound and goes all Jan Hammer with the mallets, but the dynamics are a little flat. There's a 14 minute take of "Night In Tunisia" that starts with a few minutes of Roy's syn-mallet work, but i've excerpted a little later instead :
The night I saw had spectacular work from bassist Donald Nicks and drummer Lee Pearson, with extended solos in Night In Tunisia. There's a lot of visual humour from all the band in the live show that gets a little lost here, such as the entire band towelling Nicks down after his solo.
Anyway, Ayers' sheer enjoyment of playing live and entertaining is infectious for both the band and the audience, and I recommend you catch them live when you can.
ALSO ON THIS BLOG
"Coffy" (1973) - wav / mp3
ROY AYERS BLOG DISCOGRAPHY
at Blaxploitation Jive.