There was a little exchange of comments on Bowie 70s albums recently, so I thought I put up this one which has not been rereleased since it first appeared on the Horo label in 1978. That year was quite a productive one for Lester. "The 5th Power" came out on Black Saint with the same line-up and a duet with Phillip Wilson also came out on the Improvising Artists label. I haven't checked the general availability of these two, but I do have them both on vintage vinyl. I've also come across a live set at Willisau, again with the same line-up which I'll put up here a little later on, once I got a chance to listen and upload.
Lester Bowie - trumpet
Arthur Blythe - alto sax
Amina Myers - piano, organ, vocal
Malachi Favors - bass
Phillip Wilson - drums
1. Amina (Bowie, Blythe, Myers, Favors, Wilson)
2. Captain Courageous (Lester Bowie)
3. Tricky Slicky (Bowie, Blythe, Myers, Favors, Wilson)
4. Chili MacDonald (Bowie, Blythe, Myers, Favors, Wilson)
5. For Fela (Lester Bowie)
Recorded in Rome on April 16, 1978 at Mama Dog Studio and produced by Aldo Sinesio
"Amina" is a slow, mournful, gospel-tinged piece strongly featuring Myers (as could be expected). Slow, grand and beautiful. "Captain Courageous" is a Bowie exercise in strangled trumpet(er) as we have come to know (and love) over the years. "Tricky Slicky" is a fairly straight and light-mooded jazz piece. "Chili MacDonald", again a collective piece, has a strong flavour of the Caribbean and of gospel (which is also very apparent on the Willisau set, mentioned above). Last, but not least, and my favourite on this record, "For Fela", dedicated to legendary Nigerian saxophonist, big band leader and rebel against government and international capital (dig out "ITT"), digs into deep funk with one of those organ-bass riffs that never quit. In line with African records at the time, this brew cooks for about twenty minutes. All in all, this record shows up the rootedness of Bowie in the great African-American music tradition which winds back to Africa ultimately, hence the title.
Thanks to "horse" in the very fine lossless jazz group on Usenet for posting this one. I do have my own copy, but finding a lossless digital copy saves up a lot of time and work. And a splendid copy it is. There was a technical fault with the first track, which meant it had to be digitally rerecorded, but I don't think it'll be noticeable on this upload.
BONUS. As mentioned above, this line-up made an appearance at the Willisau jazz festival in 1978. There was a little discussion on Dime about the exact date of this appearance and the consensus seems to be September 1 1978. The piece is entitled "God has smiled on me" - at the outset a gospel song with vocals by Amina Myers, but the song is all but a point of departure for extended improvisation clocking in at over 40 minutes in all. Links in comments. Thanks to "blackforest" for upping this one.
Michel Portal and more Aki Takase up next ...