Friday, July 21, 2006


Paid another visit to Avalon this week (see earlier post) for another spot of fishing on what turned out to be the hottest July day here in the UK “since records began”. As far as actually catching fish is concerned hot weather and fishing don’t really go together. When you see the fish up near the surface cruising around you know the bites are going to be few and far between and so it proved. The fish were cruising with the top down from 8am! So here’s some cruising music for all those fish, and for you.

The two tracks today come from Neil Larsen’s album “High Gear”. Released in 1979 when jazz-funk was my cup of tea. “Rio Este” is the real cruiser – feel that sun beating down and the wind in your face. And I can’t make reference to this album without also offering up “Demonette” – a great track, it starts slow and moody but don’t be mistaken, it kicks in, and there’s Joe Farrell sax to look forward to near the end of the track too.

Keyboard player Neil Larsen would be pigeon-holed as a jazz rock fusionist I guess. His first recording project appears to have been with guitarist Buzz Feiten, a now much sought after album by a band called Full Moon , this also being the album title and released in 1972. He was for a time a member of The Soul Survivors, the blue eyed New Jersey group that had started in the 60s and then reformed(?) in 1974 and released an album on Gamble & Huff’s TSOP label. Then in 1978-79 he released two albums in his own name (but still with Buzz Feiten in the list of musicians): “Jungle Fever” which included a jazz-funk favourite “Sudden Samba” followed in 1979 by “High Gear”. In 1980 an album appeared as the Larsen-Feiten Band, and then in 1982 another album was released as “Full Moon”. Two further albums were released in his name in the late 80s. Tracing his recording history proved somewhat confusing but I think I’ve got the timeline right. Recorded output in his name, or with him as a leading band member, would appear to represent only half his story though as he is clearly a well respected musician having made numerous appearances in the studio and on stage with the likes of George Benson, David Sanborn, Randy Crawford, and Al Jarreau - with whom he was musical director and keyboard player for a time. My trawl for information also indicates that he may have played on Steely Dan’s “Only A Fool Would Say That” from their first album “Can’t Buy A Thrill” (which just happens to be on my desert island discs list).

It looks like only some of Neil’s material is currently available, and that only as Japanese import CDs.

Neil Larsen – Rio Este 1979
Neil Larsen – Demonette 1979

No comments: