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Hank Crawford - Wildflower (1973/2016) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz

Artist: Hank Crawford
Title: Wildflower
Genre: Jazz, Jazz Funk, Soul Jazz, Crossover Jazz, Saxophone Jazz
Label: © Kudu/CTI Records, a division of Creed Taylor, Inc. | King Record Co., Ltd.
Release Date: 1973/2016
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Source: e-Onkyo
Duration: 00:31:30
Recorded: June 28 & 29, 1973 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

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. --AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
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Hank Crawford - I Hear A Symphony (1975/2013) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz

Artist: Hank Crawford
Title: I Hear A Symphony
Genre: Jazz, Soul Jazz, Jazz Funk, Crossover Jazz
Label: © Kudu/CTI Records, a division of Creed Taylor, Inc. | King Record Co., Ltd.
Release Date: 1975/2013
Quality: DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz
Source: e-Onkyo
Duration: 00:33:32
Recorded: June/July 1975 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Hank Crawford's June 1975 date was an attempt to swing for the same fences that cats like Grover Washington had sailed over the year before with "Mister Magic" and had crossed again a month before with "Feels So Good." Creed Taylor and his Kudu label scored big with Washington in what was the real precursor to smooth jazz. Crawford's "I Hear a Symphony" listed among its cast of players Richard Tee, Don Grolnick, Steve Khan, Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd, vocalists Patti Austin and Frank Floyd, and guitarist Eric Gale, among others. Crawford ever the Memphis groover, brought his own set of soul vibes to the date and fused them willingly with Taylor's penchant for the chart-emergent disco of the day. With arrangements by David Matthews, this set is a cooker. Certainly the production is a bit dated, but the funky-butt moves in Crawford's soulful playing and the tough riffing of Gale more than transcend it. With a selection of cuts that include an Austin-fronted realization of the Motown classic title track by Holland and Dozier, to a pair of solid jazz funk tunes by Matthews in "Madison (Spirit the Power)" and "Hang on the Ceiling," to the shimmering cool shimmying version of the "The Stripper," this is a good vibe set. But it is on Crawford's "Sugar Free" where things really heat up. Crawford's take on funk was different than his producer's. This is greasy four to the floor strutting and flexing. This track could have been in any blaxploitation flick and could have pumped up any discotheque sound system. The horn charts are big and tight, and Crawford and Gale trading eights send it over. This is blowing. The sexier ballad and mid-tempo tracks all seem to have come more from the Crawford book, too, such as Jerry Ragovoy's "I'll Move You No Mountain," and Bobby Eli's "Love Won't Let Me Wait." There's plenty of meat in their silvery grooves. The set closes with a tight instrumental read of the Minnie Riperton/Leon Ware classic "Baby, This Love I Have." It's in the pocket, evolves at an unhurried pace, and croons through the tune with a chunky backbeat and popping bassline. Crawford's solo literally sings here. In all, a different, way commercial, but very satisfying session that should have done better and would have if Washington's "Feels So Good" hadn't been burning up the charts. --AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
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