Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Norman Connors - 'Dance of Magic'

Before Norman Connors was producing soulful classics like "You Are My Starship", "Betcha By Golly Wow", and "Once I've Been There", he was playing drums on a number of notable spiritual jazz releases including his first three albums Dance of Magic, Dark of Light, and Love From The Sun. On this past week's radio show I featured the track "Morning Change" from Dance of Magic. This 1972 album, which was Connor's debut as a leader, is my favorite of the drummer's three spiritual releases. The record features a total of four tracks that also include the twenty-one-plus minute title track opener "Dance of Magic", as well as b-side cuts "Blue" and a 2 1/2 minute percussion jam appropriately titled "Give The Drummer Some". Outside of the album's final percussive-heavy track, the record has a consistent sound that nicely blends together an overall spiritual feel with a number of funky and spacey grooves throughout. The record features a "Dream Team-like" lineup that includes a number of seventies-era jazz music heavy weights including Gary Bartz & Carlos Garnett (saxophone), Stanley Clarke & Cecil McBee (bass), Herbie Hancock (Fender Rhodes), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Airto Moreira (percussion), Billy Hart (percussion), and many others. Even in a setting much different than his later seventies releases, Dance of Magic is an early showcasing of Connor's true musical gift, which is assembling the right cast of musicians and musical ingredients in order to produce a good record. He might be praised more for this invaluable quality mostly on his later soul productions, however with just one listen to a record like Dance of Magic, you might agree that it's where this unique skill might have flourished the most. Definitely a true gem!

Norman Connors - Morning Change

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