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Hank Crawford: Wildflower

Album Reviews:

Mojo (Publisher) (6/02, p.125) - "...A groovy album purveying muscular 2-chord, hard-bop-to-light-fusion improvisations over frantic boogaloo beats..."

Album Notes

Personnel: Hank Crawford (alto saxophone); Marvin Stamm (trumpet); Jimmy Buffington, Brooks Tillotson (French horn); Wayne Andre, Paul Faulise (trombone); Tony Studd (bass trombone); Richard Tee (piano, organ); Joe Beck (guitar); Bob Cranshaw (bass); Idris Muhammad (drums); Rubens Bassini, George Devens, Dave Friedman, Arthur Jenkins, Phil Kraus, Ralph MacDonald (percussion); Bill Eaton, Hilda Harris, Randy Peyton, Maeretha Stewart (background vocals).

Producer: Creed Taylor.

Reissue producer: Didier C. Deutsch.

Includes liner notes by Didier C. Deutsch.

All tracks have been digitally remastered.

Hank Crawford's '60s sides for Atlantic rightfully established him among the preeminent soul-jazz saxophonists. For pure phrasing and feel, Crawford was in a class by himself. When Creed Taylor kicked off CTI in 1970, he brought Crawford on board immediately. This date from 1973 -- one of eight cut between 1971 and 1978 -- is Crawford's strongest for the label and one of the better records of his career, though jazz purists would never agree. Produced and arranged by Bob James with a smoking cast that includes Joe Beck, Idris Muhammad, Richard Tee, and Bob Cranshaw, as well as a brass section of crack New York studio cats, Wildflower is the album Crawford had been trying to make since 1971. Recorded in two days, the band provides a slick, right, colorful platform for Crawford's melodic improvisation that is rooted in the art of the phrase. One long note held on "Mr. Blues" or a series of carefully articulated verbal feelings, such as on "Corazon," may not step out of the groove, but make it both a deeper blue and as wide as the human heart's complexity. On the title cut, with a vocal chorus in the background, Crawford turns a pop melody into a torrent of raw emotionalism and savvy groove-conscious glory. James' charts are big but never obtrusive; they point in one direction only, to bring that huge soul sound out of Crawford's alto -- check out the way the melody line breaks down into the solo in Stevie Wonder's "You've Got It Bad Girl," or the backbeat arpeggio exercises in "Good Morning Heartache." This record is so hot the only soul-jazz it can be compared to in both its contemporary form and funky feel are Grover Washington's Feels So Good and Mister Magic issues. In other words, Crawford's Wildflower is indispensable as a shining example of '70s groove jazz at its best. ~ Thom Jurek


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