Norman Connors: Love From The Sun
Connor’s put together an all-star group with Herbie Hancock and Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano and Fender Rhodes, Dr. Eddie Henderson on trumpet/flugelhorn, Carlos Garnett on tenor/soprano saxes, Gary Bartz on alto/soprano saxes, Buster Williams on bass, drummer/vocalist Bill Summers and Kenneth Nash on percussion, and effective, crucial cameos by master flautist Hubert Laws. On the song, “Love From the Sun’”, Connors added Nathan Rubin on violin and Terry Adams on cello.
The ‘best of the best’ begins with the exotic theme of Hancock’s “Revelation”, doubled wordlessly and beautifully by Ms. Bridgewater over Williams bouncing ostinato bass pattern with flights of fancy from Hubert Laws on flute, and superb, luminous solos from Henderson’s exotic trumpet, Garnett on soprano, and Hancock on Fender Rhodes.
Garnett’s “Carlos II” is another great composition with remarkable solos. Connors’ own “Drums Around The Worlds’” is influenced by African and latin rhythms with emotional vocals from Summers and a drum-only section that builds in intensity. One of the high points of the album is Dee Dee Bridgewater’s awesome, glorious vocalizing on Richard Clay’s lovely “Love From The Sun”, in one of the greatest performances in her career, arranged by Gumbs. Elmer Gibson’s “Kumakucha” (The Sun Has Risen) is a blazing display of uptempo musicianship by Connor’s driving drums, the propulsive congas of Summers and Nash, and exciting solos from Bartz, Henderson on trumpet, and Hancock’s furious piano solo. The set ends with a marvelous “Holy Waters” composed and arranged by Garnett in a scorching performance by Bridgewater on vocals, Garnett unleashing one of the greatest solos in his storied career, followed by Gumbs’ astute solo.
My Highest Recommendation. By John Braswell
REVIEWS: Audiophile Audition by Robbie Gearson – June 2018
“Pure Pleasure Records has done its customary superb job of analog re-mastering. The stereo separation is flawless. The drums, percussion and double bass anchor the bottom of the mix. There is agile tonal emphasis on the Fender Rhodes with echo and reverberation. The soprano is captured with sharpness and clarity without shrillness. A high-gloss gatefold is nothing short of luxurious. Love From The Sun should appeal to a diverse group of jazz enthusiasts”
All About Jazz by Chris May – June 18
A collector’s item for decades, Love From The Sun is now back amongst us on this vinyl-only edition from British audiophile label Pure Pleasure.
Connors’s Love From The Sun band was made up, in any case, of musicians with credentials as impeccable as his own. They approached fusion with experimentalist attitudes, consciously seeking to push the boundaries of jazz, while also seeking to expand its audience (in itself no sin, but not without dangers, as the future would demonstrate). Henderson had been a founder member of Hancock’s pre-Headhunters band, Mwandishi, and, under his own name, would shortly record two outstanding fusion albums for Blue Note, Sunburst (1975) and Heritage (1976), both produced by Skip Drinkwater, the producer of Love From The Sun.
Bill Summers was a founder member of Headhunters. Alongside their ongoing work with Miles Davis, Gary Bartz and Carlos Garnett had recorded the early spiritual-jazz masterpiece Alkebu-Lan: Land Of The Blacks (Strata-East, 1972) as members of James Mtume‘s Umoja Ensemble. Bridgewater was a member of the band which would record Billy Parker’s politically engaged Freedom Of Speech (Strata-East, 1975), previously reviewed here.
These musicians all shine brightly on Love From The Sun. Highlights include Bridgewater’s gorgeous vocals on the title track, Hancock’s ferocious solo and the turbocharged drums and percussion which are features of “Kumakucha,” and Bridgewater’s vocals and Garnett’s solo, both on-fire performances, on “Holy Waters.” And there is plenty more to get your ears round on these and the other three tracks. CM
Side A : 1. Revelation 2. Carlos II 3. Drums Around The World
Side B: 1. Love From The Sun 2. Kumakucha (The Sun Has Risen) 3. Holy Waters
Personnel: Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocals / Herbie Hancock, Fender Rhodes electric piano, piano / Norman Connors, drums / Buster Williams, bass / Eddie Henderson, trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn / Carlos Garnett, tenor & soprano saxophone / Bill Summers, percussion, vocal on “Drums Around….” / Gary Bartz, alto & soprano saxophones / Onaje Allan Gumbs, Fender Rhodes electric piano on “Love From…” & piano on “Holy Wat..”/ Kenneth Nash, percussion, conga, dumbeg & sakara drums / Hubert Laws, flute/ Nathan Rubin, violin / Terry Adams, cello
Produced by Skip Drinkwater
Recording engineer: Ken Hopkins
Recorded October 1973 at Wally Heider’s Studio A, San Francisco.