Thursday, December 15, 2011


Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Red, Black and Green
The words versatile and multi-talented seem to damn vibraphonist/bandleader Roy Ayers with faint praise, but summing up a musician of this quality without going over the moon is a tough task. Known to the hip-hop generation as Icon Man of acid jazz, Roy Ayers roots extend deep into bop. He started playing with West Coast jazz ensembles back in the early Sixties when he was 22 or so, working with the likes of Chico Hamilton, Gerald Wilson and Hampton Hawes, among others.
In 1966, he hooked up with jazz flutist Herbie Mann, and performed and recorded him for four years, most notably on Mann's Concerto Grosso In D Blues and Memphis Underground albums. By 1970, he was ready to move on, which he did with Mann's blessing and assistance. He formed the Roy Ayers Ubiquity, with an ever-changing cast that included saxman Sonny Fortune (who appears on this disc) and percussionists Billy Cobham and Alphonse Mouzon (who don't).
Red Black & Green came along in 1973, at about midpoint in Ayers' Polydor career. He manages to straddle the line between jazz and soul quite comfortably, but that was an era (think Grover Washington Jr. and George Benson's CTI-era recordings) when the borders were fluid. The disc went Top 5 on the Billboard jazz chart, though it contains versions of such soul classics as Papa Was A Rolling Stone and Ain't No Sunshine.


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