Crate Digger: The Afro Blues Quintet Plus One
The Afro Blues Quintet Plus One – Liberation/Walk on By (Mira) 1966 is available on Spotify, Tidal.
Is it Mod Jazz? Is it not Mod Jazz? Is it Jazz? Funk Jazz? No-Jazz? All Jazz? Soul-Jazz?
Forget about the label because this one is 100% a banger and all other discussion stops there.
Now not everyone likes a flute on a record but as I’ve already said in a previous discourse on this blog (see James Rivers – Bird Brain for explanation) I’m a stone-cold sucker for the wee silver beastie. And this is flute at its best.
The production is not sparkling. It sounds like a session recorded live on just a couple of microphones, no overdubs save for potentially some handclaps but all the energy of that room is there in the music. It’s hot and cool and cold and red and blue all at once. The yeah’s and whoops in the background bear testament to how GOOD it is. The flute riffing with the vibes and the bass and drums just groovin’. You must be completely dead inside to not feel it.
Now it sure is a mover, people dance to it every time I play it but weirdly it also sounds like a tv theme in some way. Like the coolest, funniest sitcom, with a group of characters you want to be friends with, to be part of their lives, in short nothing like The Big Bang Theory.
Now Discogs says The Afro Blues Quintet Plus One was an ‘American R&B-flavoured soul-jazz group founded in 1963 by leader and vibes player Joe DeAguero. The lineup was Joe DeAguero on vibes; Jack Fulks on alto sax & flute; William Henderson on piano; Michael Davis on timbales & traps; Norman Johnson on bass; and Moises Obligacion on congas.’
They were pretty much all jazz worthies, veterans of bands such as Chico Hamilton and Terry Gibbs, but you could see this branch of the jazz tree being looked down upon by purists for its ‘commercial’ or ‘pop’ nature. But sat here in 2022, 1966 and the arguments people would have had about labels back then (some people are still arguing today!) seem irrelevant. The passing of those 56 years enables us to be less tribal about tracks like this and the flip which is a pretty banging version of the Bacharach and David classic ‘Walk On By’, (incidentally I am in the minority that prefers the Dionne Warwick version to the Aretha Franklin version, but you can make your own mind up)
So my suggestion for the week is, when Sunday morning rolls around, make yourself a coffee, sit in the chair by a sunny window, put ‘Liberation’ on the Record Player and lose yourself in a daydream about that time you were the star of the funniest sitcom of the 1960s. I will see you there.
The Afro Blues Quintet Plus One
Band photo via Discogs // Vinyl photo via 45cat
Joe De Aguero
Liberation, Written – By Jack Fulks
Walk On By, Written – By B. Bachrach
“Crate Digger Confidential…A Lifelong obsession with plastic discs laid bare. Don’t expect just reviews of records, it’s much more important to me than that.“