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Charles Earland - Intensity (1972)

Charles Earland - Intensity (1972)

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Album Info


Charles Earland
Released 1972 on Prestige
OJC Release 1999 (OJCCD-1021-2)

Happy 'Cause I'm Goin' Home
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Cause I Love Her

Charles Earland: organ
Lee Morgan, Virgil Jones, Victor Paz, Jon Faddis: trumpet, flugelhorn
Dick Griffin, Clifford Adams: tenor trombone
Jack Jeffers: bass trombone
Billy Harper: tenor sax
William Thorpe: baritone sax
Hubert Laws: flute, piccolo
John Fourie, Greg Miller, Maynard Parker: guitar
Billy Cobham: drums
Sonny Morgan: congas

Recorded February 17, 1972 at Englewood Cliffs, NJ, by Rudy Van Gelder

This is sort of a lazy post - I haven't posted in a while, and I'm not going to say much about this record because I agree pretty much entirely with Doug Payne's take on it. I'll just mention that I kind of like the "needless fuzz guitar", and that the Goffin/King Shirelle's hit "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" gets a righteous soul-jazz treatment. Also I'd like to give some applause to Billy Harper on sax, whose own Black Saint albums are essential listening.

Published: August 1, 1999

For 1972's Intensity, Charles Earland's fifth of ten Prestige discs, the Mighty Burner seemed to be aiming toward something a little different than his usual collection of soulful tenor-organ jams. The presence of two songs from the rock group Chicago and a small trumpet-dominated horn section indicate that jazz-rock was the goal. The result, the LP's four original tracks plus two tracks from the same date originally released as part of Charles III, is one of his very best.

Unfortunately, though, Intensity has the notorious reputation as the last recording trumpeter Lee Morgan participated in (done two days before his girlfriend shot him to death). But Morgan is perhaps the least notable aspect of what makes the record work well. His playing here - and elsewhere at the time - sounds rather indifferent, sometimes sloppy and far less stellar than the glowing commentary he offered up on a string of excellent Blue Note records throughout the 1960s (evident on his own lackluster "Speedball," also included here).

What does stand out is Earland's strong performances, especially on two lesser known Chicago tunes ("Happy Cause I Love You" and a "Lowdown" that is not Boz Scaggs's more famous hit, as the disc's liners imply). Both are punctuated for effect with a needless fuzz guitar. But it doesn't detract from the attractive energy the Earland-Laws-Morgan triumvirate achieves.

Earland also contributes two of his own above average originals: the wonderfully melodic medium tempo swinger, "Cause I Love Her," and the cooking "Morgan" (named after the fact of death, but neither a Morgan feature nor specifically dedicated to him).

One notices, too, the interesting sound spectrum engineer Rudy Van Gelder achieves here. The occasional trumpet punctuation (arranged by Earland and the underrated trumpeter Virgil Jones) shimmers, even though its glory-hallelujah harshness seems a bit overheated. But the combo tracks are superbly captured. Compare the sound here to any one of Laws's Van Gelder engineered CTI dates. Then listen to any one of Morgan's Van Gelder engineered Blue Note dates. The difference is remarkable. Unfortunately, though, Billy Cobham's exceptionally vibrant drumming sounds as muffled and in-the-next-room as too many Van Gelder sessions did during that time.

The Prestige records Earland made between 1969 and 1974 remain his finest work. Intensity certainly ranks among the best, capturing a fine player at the very top of his game and easily recommended to those who seek meaningful organ jazz and of equal appeal to fans of the ever-diverse Hubert Laws.

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The album code is : ODI2168154

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