Phil Upchurch, Tennyson Stephens – Upchurch-Tennyson (1975/2013)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 33:44 minutes | 1,33 GB
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 33:44 minutes | 664 MB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: e-Onkyo | Front Cover
Genre: Jazz | © CTI Records
1975 was a hell of a year for Creed Taylor’s Kudu Records. Not only was the mighty, mighty Feels So Good album by Grover Washington, Jr. released, but so was saxophonist Hank Crawford’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing. It was one of two recordings issued by Crawford for the label in that calendar year. But perhaps the most deeply satisfying and out of character album from that year was the absolute soul-jazz masterpiece Upchurch/Tennyson by Chicago guitar god Phil Upchurch and pianist/vocalist Tennyson Stephens. Where else can you find tracks by Bob James, Charles Stepney, Stevie Wonder, Ralph MacDonald, and Franz Schubert on the same album played by a cast of musicians that includes Steve Gadd, David Sanborn, Hubert Laws, James, Upchruch, Stephens, and a slew of others. While the album kicks off soulfully with MacDonald’s mellow groover “You Got Style,” with Stephens hitting all the low notes correctly and with smooth verve throughout, the next tune is the one that set the mark for acts like Enigma, Delerium, Adiemus, and others: James’ setting of Schubert’s “Ave Maria” to a slow funky backbeat with a chorus of female voices all colored by guitar and Fender Rhodes. The read of Wonder’s “Tell Me Something Good” is stunning in a different way than Chaka Khan’s, with Upchurch bending the hell out of his single-string notes, and James’ “South Side Morning” is one of the most beautifully composed – as well as executed – tunes he’s ever conceived. Throughout is the warmth and tenderness of Stephens’ singing and his lilting pianism, and Upchurch’s always in the pocket, without any flashy guitar playing, making this a late-night and early-morning album to live by. This is one of those soul-jazz records that is heavier on soul and is all the better for it.
01 – You Got Style
02 – Ave Maria
03 – In Common
04 – Tell Me Something Good
05 – Don’t I Know You?
06 – South Side Morning
07 – Evil
08 – Black Gold
09 – I Wanted It Too
Produced by Creed Taylor. Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder. Arranged & Conducted by Bob James.
Recorded in September 1974 and January-March 1975 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Phil Upchurch – guitar, bass
Tennyson Stephens – piano, vocals
David Sanborn – alto saxophone
Hubert Laws – flute
Eric Gale – guitar, bass
Bob James – piano, synthesizer
Doug Bascomb – bass
Ralph MacDonald – congas, percussion
Andrew Smith – drums
Steve Gadd – drums
Frank Floyd, Janice Pendarvis, Lani Groves, Zachary Sanders – backing vocals