Hank Crawford

Help Me Make It Through the Night

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Help Me Make It Through the Night is one of those Hank Crawford albums: large band, many horns, funky chunky Hammond B-3, strings, and polyrhythms dropping all over the arrangements by Don Sebesky and company. This 1972 set by Crawford is an exemplary portrait of his movin' and groovin' style. With the help of Sebesky and Pee Wee Ellis, Crawford provides the deep groove side of his work without reservation. Jazz takes a back seat as the R&B pours forth all sweaty, greasy, and dripping with a raw, honeylike sweetness. With cats like Airto, Eric Gale, Cornell Dupree, Grover Washington, Jr., Pepper Adams, Snooky Young, and Richard Tee in the house, a masterful groove session was to be expected. Listeners get their money's worth after the opener, which is the title track. With the Junior Walker stinging alto countered by the Hammond, the mess is loose and the vibe is pure downtown. Other cuts such as "Imagine," "Go Away Little Girl," "Brian's Song" -- perfect string arrangement by Sebesky -- and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" make this a date of some of the most stellar covers Crawford ever cut. There are no extra notes, but there are plenty of extra beats; the improvisation is red hot, but the strings and supporting rhythm section are out of this world. Help Me Make It Through the Night is indeed one of those Crawford records.

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