Thanks to reader Benjamin in Germany, he got in touch to point out that that two of Idris Muhammad’s CDs are now available by European re-issue label, Music On CD.
KUDU albums have not faired as well as the CTI albums when it comes to re-mastering and re-releases. While the most popular have found their way to market, not all have. While remastered for Japan, House of the Rising Sun, which has never been released on CD in the USA as far as I am aware. I suspect that is because European listeners, like the Japanese, are generally less critical of the genre of R&B/jazz/funk represented by KUDU, and less inclined to shoehorn it into a more restrictive jazz definition.
I don’t have either Music on CD release, so can’t comment on their quality, but both were remastered by a team known for producing crisp, clean, true-to-the-original work.
House of the Rising Sun
The album originally released in January 1976, as KUDU 27, was recorded and produced while Dave Matthews was driving the CTI music train. The musicians are not the standard, CTI ensemble recording stars, it still has a stellar line-up which includes Dave Sanborn – Alto Sax, Ronnie Cuber on Barritone Sax, Wilbur Bascomb on Bass, Joe Beck and Eric Gale on guitar, Don Grolnick and (Sir) Roland Hanna on keyboards, Tom Harrell on trumpet. Also of note, Patti Austin is on vocals, and importantly Fred Wesley on trombone. Of course, Muhammad on drums brings his unique rhythms.
The addition of Wesley, an old friend from Matthews days with James Brown, brings an added funk to the usual slick uptempo string CTI jazz. This is especially on Sudan, which is my favorite track from the album. At some 11-minutes, the track also gives space for other solos in the group.
The Music On CD re-issue includes the same two bonus tracks that A&R man and sometime CTI employee Didier Deutsch did for the European 2003 Epic re-issue. The bonus tracks are Pipe Stem and I Know You Don’t Want Me No More. Both are worthy of inclusion, Pipe Stem, is perhaps the better, with what is a really very good guitar from, I assume, Eric Gale.
Sadly, Music on CD have totally blown the description of the album on their website. I’ve written to point this out.
Power Of Soul
Probably better known among the jazz buyers, arranged by Bob James, Power of Soul is a more traditional septet style. Idris drums and his rhythm certainly shine through better on the tracks here, which include the somewhat legendry Grover Washington Jr. track, Loran’s Dance.
Recorded in March 1974, and released mid-1974 as KUDU 17, the musicians are Idris Muhammad on drums, Ralph McDonald – percussion, Gary King – Bass, Joe Beck – Guitar, Randy Brecker – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, and Grover Washington Jr. – Soprano, Tenor Sax. The album is arranged and conducted, with Bob James on piano.
Unlike House of the Rising Sun, Power of Soul has seen a USA release on CD as part of the 2002/3 re-master, re-issue series. As of the time of writing, it can be bought from amazon.com in the USA, new, for the staggeringly low price of $3.79 with free Prime delivery.
This album is perhaps one of the finest examples of mid-1970’s jazz, especially produced by Creed Taylor and CTI. The Saddest Thing see’s Randy Brecker in fine voice, and leaves me wondering what Creed could have done with one of the longest standing CTI sidemen, as a leader, and with or without brother Michael Brecker.
None of the CD re-issues include additional, bonus or remix tracks, which in this case I think is a good thing. This album stands the test of time, it sounds as fresh and relevant today as it was in 1974, and could have been released last year.
One day I plan to come back and look at Idris Muhammad in more detail. For now, if you don’t have the CD’s, get them. If you don’t want the physical media, both albums, as well as Muhammad’s 1977 cult disco classic, Turn This Mutha Out are available on streaming platforms.