Blues and the Soulful Truth

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The late Leon Thomas was a vocalist who has proven to be influential among jazz and blues saxophonists, guitarists, and pianists, who've admitted their debt to his innovation. However, though there are many vocalists who have benefited from his style as well, he is seldom acknowledged for his highly original -- and idiosyncratic -- contribution to them. One can only speculate as to why, though Thomas' full-throated style which employed everything from yodels to Joe Turner-ish growls and shouts may have been too wide for anyone to grasp in its entirety without overtly sounding as if they were aping him. Blues and the Soulful Truth is among the artist's most enduring ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The late Leon Thomas was a vocalist who has proven to be influential among jazz and blues saxophonists, guitarists, and pianists, who've admitted their debt to his innovation. However, though there are many vocalists who have benefited from his style as well, he is seldom acknowledged for his highly original -- and idiosyncratic -- contribution to them. One can only speculate as to why, though Thomas' full-throated style which employed everything from yodels to Joe Turner-ish growls and shouts may have been too wide for anyone to grasp in its entirety without overtly sounding as if they were aping him. Blues and the Soulful Truth is among the artist's most enduring performances, either as a leader or sideman. There is his trademark, otherworldly modal improvisation on Gabor Szabo's exotica classic "Gypsy Queen," the deep, greasy gutbucket, funky blues of "Let's Go Down to Lucy" and "L-O-V-E," and the traditional tune "C.C. Rider" -- though Thomas' arrangement is anything but -- among a lengthy, eight-song set. Perhaps the most revealing examples of his singularity is his ability to interpret a song like John Lee Hooker's "Boom, Boom" as funky, jazzed-out, angular R&B -- enabled mightily by the saxophone stylings of Pee Wee Ellis and the criminally under-appreciated pianism of Neal Creque and the wild violin of John Blair -- after coming out of a pop-oriented soul tune such as "Love Each Other," written with a groove prevalent among commercial jazz and R&B recordings of the time, both sounding sincere, authentic, and completely full of the singer's presence. Indeed, on the aforementioned "Gypsy Queen" or his own "Shape Your Mind to Die," Thomas inhabits his material fully, as if nobody ever had ever sung or heard these songs and would ever sing them again. Also, the production innovation and percussive touches many of these tunes have yet to be repeated Pharoah Sanders, Thomas' previous employer who introduced the singer to the world, adopted some of the artist's percussive techniques permanently, like the firecrackers raining against Airto Moreira's drums and Larry Coryell's ethereal guitar riffs, or the use of a "prepared" vibraphone and coat hangers in "China Doll," as they slip against the singer's wail and moan, and the elegant stick and brushwork of Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. In sum, Blues and the Soulful Truth Which does echo Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth in vision as well as title, is a tour through the depth and dimension of Thomas' mind-blowing abilities as a singer in a wide range of African American musical traditions, proving at the time, and now again, that he was far more than a free jazz singer. Indeed, the artist not only was a stylist of originality, but a composer, arranger, ethnomusicologist, and a singer of startling beauty and power -- no matter the song. This album is a singular achievement, even among the fine recordings in Thomas' own catalogue, and should be considered first by those curious enough to look into his work -- you won't be disappointed no matter what you find, but this one will take you places you never anticipated going.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/15/2008
  • Label: Flying Dutchman
  • UPC: 093652323412
  • Catalog Number: 10155

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Let's Go Down to Lucy (4:27)
  2. 2 L-O-V-E (2:54)
  3. 3 Gypsy Queen (10:19)
  4. 4 Love Each Other (3:16)
  5. 5 Shape Your Mind to Die (5:22)
  6. 6 Boom-Boom-Boom (4:52)
  7. 7 China Doll (5:07)
  8. 8 C.C. Rider (6:23)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Leon Thomas Primary Artist, Percussion, Vocals, Bottle, Noise
Larry Coryell Electric Guitar
Cecil Payne Baritone Saxophone
Pee Wee Ellis Organ, Piano, Conductor, Marimbas, Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Noise
John Blair Violin
Airto Moreira Drums
Tasha Thomas Vocals
Stanley Clarke Bass
Neal Creque Organ, Piano, Electric Piano
Cornell Dupree Electric Guitar
John Eckert Trombone
Gordon Edwards Electric Bass, Bass Guitar
Baba Feme Percussion, Conga
Gene Golden Conga
Dick Griffin Trumpet
Lani Groves Vocals
Carl Hall Vocals
Hilda Harris Vocals
Jesse Kilpatrick Drums
Tony May Noise
Don Pate Bass, Electric Bass
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie Drums
Albertine Robinson Bass, Vocals
Lillian Seyfert Noise
Technical Credits
Leon Thomas Arranger
Pee Wee Ellis Arranger, Contributor
John Blair Contributor
Jesse Kilpatrick Composer
Bob Thiele Producer
Daniel Baumgarten Reissue Producer, Reissue Preparation
Alex Dutilh Text
Jean-Pierre Chalbos Reissue Remastering
Michel Baulot Design Adaptation
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