Post-2000 vintage black music compilations have tended to be based around classic soul, funk and jazz anthems, collectable 1970s and 80s disco and boogie 12”s and newer discoveries from Africa, South America and other less understood musical scenes, with obscure jazz findings now less of a focus. But compilation albums can help almost create classics, such as what Stuart Baker did with Soul Jazz’s London Jazz Classics series, alongside other compilers from Luv N’ Haight in San Francisco and Germany’s Mojo Club, and it’s here that Kev Beadle returns to the third instalment of his popular Private Collection series, a gathering of 14 fairly rare jazz recordings which touch on Brazilian jazz, modal, fusion and spiritual jazz aesthetics.
The LP is a very mixed bag, for example, bassist John Lee, drummer Gerry Brown and alto sax legend Gary Bartz join Dutch flutist Chris Hinze for an impressive funky fusion foray on ‘Infinite Jones’ from 1974 (but recorded in ’73), a track taken from Hinze’s own private press label, Keytone. War’s ‘The World Is A Ghetto’ receives a makeover via jazz vocalist Lee Willhite for this self released and only solo album ‘First Venture’ from 1982, although it sounds much older and even includes UK Vibe favourite Harold Mabern on piano. Louis Hayes and his 1979 version of ‘Little Sunflower’, the Freddie Hubbard standard, has been a personal favourite for a while and features Leon Thomas performing more straighter vocal duties with only some very brief yodeling from Leon but some interesting jazz whistling thrown in for this bossa influenced groover, which also includes Harold Mabern, Cecil McBee on bass and Frank Strozier on flute. Ronald Snijders and ‘Latinetta’ from 1981 continue the flute centric theme of this collection from the Dutch composer, producer and flutist. Again, this sounds much older in origin than its early 1980s date suggests with its strong Brazilian jazz composition leanings and effective female vocal phrasing.
Another personal favourite, ‘Quiet Fire’ by Roy Haynes from 1977, mainly centres on a one-bar piano ostinato and could possibly be best described as a jazz dancer, with additional drum flourishes by Roy and solid bass underpinnings again by Cecil McBee. Another Brazilian influenced piece is John Thomas & Lifeforce and ‘Maryke’, from the Chicago guitarist with his German band including additional vocals by the underrated Monika Linges. Another great DJ tool too. And I always need another version of ‘Misturada’ with this being an excellent jolty Fender Rhodes based excursion of the Quarteto Novo (Airto’s early group) standard. But throughout this selection, everything presented here is of high quality, especially as it slightly steps away from the previous two volumes which both included a few more obvious inclusions.
And finally, before keyboardist Webster Lewis was signed to a major label with Epic and released a string of relatively successful albums in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, he recorded a now very obscure live album in Norway in 1971, ‘Live At Club 7’ which included the original version of ‘Do You Believe’. The version provided here would have come from the other performance of this two-night run and was later issued in 2007 on ‘The Club 7 Live Tapes’, which has now also become collectable. This heavy-duty soul/jazz number, with its pounding Hammond rhythm, dual sax workouts and baritone vocal from the criminally unknown Judd Watkins is one of the highlights from an already impressive selection. But on a sad note, ‘Live At Club 7’ was originally repressed in 1996 on Counterpoint Records, the UK-based label that also issued the influential Disco Juice and Jazz Bizniz compilation series and was at one time a home to Fertile Ground. This pressing was what exposed this early Webster Lewis album to the music world as well as the Marc Moulin and Placebo albums via Counterpoint reissues, which was run by record dealer Jake Behnan who sadly passed away in September 2017.
Mr. Beadle (who also compiled EMI’s Capitol Rare series) has delivered a very strong collection and this is definitely the best so far in the series, and although the cultural impact of these kind of compilations will probably never return, Private Collection Vol. 3 continues the concept of placing hand picked, obscure but fantastic pieces of music on one album that might otherwise have been forgotten.