Dance of Magic [Cobblestone/Buddah, 1972]
Dark of Light [Cobblestone/Buddah, 1973]
Love From The Sun [Buddah, 1973]
Slewfoot [Buddah, 1974]
Norman Connors had recorded and performed with Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra, Carlos Garnett, Jackie McLean, and several others when he released his first solo LP Dance of Magic on Cobblestone in '72. The same year, he also released Dark of Light, also on Cobblestone. Both of these excellent albums were re-released in '95 on one CD by Sequel Records. On both LP's, Connors used sidemen like Herbie Hancock, Carlos Garnett, Gary Bartz, Art Webb, Cecil McBee, Stanley Clarke, Buster Williams, Billy Hart, and the great Eddie Henderson, among others. Soundwise, these albums sounds like the spirituality and mysticism of Pharoah Sanders impulse!-albums mixed with the funky electronics and often Latin-like rhythms of Carlos Garnett's Muse-LP's. In '73, Connors made an album called Love From The Sun which is still on par with his first two Buddah releases. As usual, Mr. Connnors has rounded up some very impressive personnel: Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, Eddie Henderson, Gary Bartz, Buster Williams, Carlos Garnett, and DeeDee Bridewater, among others, and collected some really great cuts, for example the version of Hancock's "Revelation" a tune the almost beats the Eddie Henderson version released on his Realization lp. In '74, he released Slewfoot on Buddha, perhaps slightly more *commercial*, but nevertheless featuring great cuts like Carlos Garnett's classic jazz dance track "Mother of the Future", a version of Coltrane's "Welcome", and Eddie Henderson's "Dreams". Sidemen: Henderson, Garnett, Bartz, Hubert Laws, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ron Carter, Dom Um Romao, and others. As far as I know, Slewfoot hasn't been reissued on CD, but it shouldn't be too hard to find in used vinyl stores. It's well worth a few dollars. And that is IMO perhaps Norman Connors most interesting period. He did an album in '75, that could be OK (I got a so-so track from that LP on a comp), and a half-decent version of Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" in '77, but that's about it. After '75, he hasn't been too convincing but I definitely recommend anything recorded in the early 70s. [DN]
Mother Of The Future featuring Jean Carn on vocals from the album Slewfoot. Cosmic dancefloor jazz & arguably his pivotal moment!
[JC - Here & Now Recordings]
Dance of Magic - the track Blue, by S.Clarke is pure excellence. Hancock's keyboard simmers and grows to a full boil, with some nice flute by Webb. Love from The Sun is topped off with the sweetness of Dee Dee Bridgewater. Nice! These OG pressings are more of my prized LPs. The first 2 are available on cd & Slewfoot.
Dance Of Magic: - the title track, which takes up all of side one, is an incredible accelerator of a tune. This tune is like a totally magical pagan festival, full of euphoria, percussion, chanting, and just the most exhilarating music you could ask for, all packed into 21 minutes. Imagine a spiritual dance/festival, but condensed and pumped the hell full of steroids and energy, it's so intense it should come with a warning. Side two is no less invigorating, but slightly more westernised than the title track. There's a kind of spy film feel to the first two tracks, but with all the best elements of spacey, free, psychedelic and afrocentric all lumped into the equation. This album could almost be accused of being a little over the top, but thankfully it stays just on the right side of the 'too much' boundary.
Norman Connors, considering he was such a young guy at the time, has managed to pull together some of the best of the '70s jazz world, for example, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, Stanley Clarke, Gary Bartz, Art Webb, Carlos Garnett, etc. I suppose if you chuck that lot into a studio you're bound to get something incredible come out of it.
This album literally shakes you by the scruff of the neck for 40 minutes, and then just tosses you aside when it's done. There are not many albums out there that are as much of an exhilarating ride as this one.
Jazz Funk Orchestral sounds that were way ahead of their time. Beautiful lyrical vibrations that come from the heart. Deeply felt