Various Artists

Fire into Music, Vol. 3

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The third CTI sampler stretches for almost the entire timespan of the label from 1969, when founder/producer Creed Taylor was starting to bust loose from A&M, until 1976, when the loss of George Benson to Warner Bros. accelerated CTI's decline. Among the best tracks are Airto's "Creek," irresistibly driven by the leader's percussion with excellent soprano work by Joe Farrell; Stanley Turrentine's delightful rendition of Lee Morgan's "Speedball" with the enlivening presence of Milt Jackson; and one of Deodato's best shots, "Super Strut." Some overlooked gems include Jackie and Roy's lovely "A Simple Song" from Leonard Bernstein's Mass and one of the earliest CTIs, Hubert Laws' creepy, enterprisingly dissonant "Crying Song." Benson checks in with his well-known take on "Take Five," but Freddie Hubbard's "Brigitte," which uses his own band rather than the CTI all-stars, is not a strong choice. We also hear one of the tracks from Esther Phillips' comeback album, From a Whisper to a Scream. Finally, Ron Carter's infectiously funky mid-1976 "Yellow and Green" indicates that CTI was still turning out potent music well after its acknowledged prime.

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