Independent Belgian label Sdban made something of a reputation with their wonderful exploration of Belgian jazz earlier on in the year with, ‘Let’s get swinging: modern jazz in Belgium 1950-1980’, and this new anthology retains the extremely high standard with de-luxe packaging in mini gatefold sleeve and a plethora of information about individual tracks and musicians. It also features full colour original covers which help bring the music to life.
The tone this time is on music from the funkier side of the tracks from the 1970s and that means trawling through library music albums, 45s and the like to unearth some supremely rare grooves. Compiled by Stefan Vandenberghe, this is definitely music you are unlikely to have heard previously, but it has a strong funk and jazz flavour.
Guitarist Grant Green and his late period recordings on Blue Note were probably an inspiration for the guitar riff grooves of, ‘Barabajazagal’, from the obscure artiste known as Flying Guitar, beating Prince to the title of alternative sounding professional nom de plume by a couple of decades. Psychedelic accompaniment make this an interesting piece. More serious jazz credentials emerge on a pianist and arranger, Francis Coppieters, who recorded primarily library music, but was both a creative and gifted musician and joining him on vibes is none other than Fats Sadi whose name is all over that previous jazz compilation. Here they perform on what has been adopted as the title track of the compilation as a whole, and this is very much in keeping with the jazzier content of the previous anthology.
A piece that hip-hop samplers might want to check out is, ‘Travelling on rhythms’, with a sound is that of a jazzy big band meets Les McCann over a percussive rhythm and going under the unlikely sounding name of Bud Hunga and his Diplomatic Music. Modal bass line and drum patterns are a feature of Indo-Jazz fusion Belgian style by a group called Kandahar and the track, ‘The fancy yodel’, with guitar and brass leading the way. In a more contemporary jazz-funk idiom, SSO (The Soul Sensation Orchestra) produce something that takes on board the street of ‘Shaft’, the lush strings of Barry White and some trumpet soloing straight out of the Freddie Hubbard school. One of the most melodic of the funk-tinged tunes is actually in a more laid back vein and deploys a lovely flute on a groove that seems to last forever in, ‘Scratch my back (Pt. 1 and 2)’ by the Soul Scratchers and this opens up the first CD. Incredibly, this was the band’s only ever 45 and as such is extremely rare to find.
The emphasis throughout is on creating funky rhythms, inspired largely by what was happening over the pond in the United States and, ‘Tiger walk’, by the Peter Lain Orchestra borrows heavily from the melody of Herbie Hancock’s, ‘Watermelon man’, but then gives the music a distinctive film soundtrack flavour with an assortment of sound effects cropping up in the background. As the music progresses through the second CD, the odd name of wider note emerges such as fusion guitarist Philip Catherine who is much respected on the French jazz scene and here offers up, ‘Give it up or turn it alone’, which is an unusual 45 release taken from a 1972 album on Warner, ‘Stream’, and significantly featured on electric piano is none other than Marc Moulin, a key musician who sparked a wider interest in Belgian music from the 1970s.
This is an extremely well presented and worthwhile investigation of music you are likely never to have come across unless you are a specialist in obscure Belgian music from the era. For that reason alone, the music is worthy of your attention.
[There are also a series of five 7″ singles available]