David "Fathead" Newman

Mr. Fathead

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At its best, soul-jazz has successfully blended the accessibility of R&B with the freedom and spontaneity of jazz. Many of David "Fathead" Newman's more commercial recordings of the 1960s and 1970s fit that description, like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, Jr., Stanley Turrentine, and David Sanborn, Newman showed a lot of R&B fans that improvisatory horn solos weren't something to be afraid of. Improvisation, however, isn't something that you will hear a lot of on 1976's disappointing Mr. Fathead, which was produced by Joel and Jonathan Dorn. For the most part, this erratic and unfocused LP isn't soul-jazz, most of the material is either disco-funk or lightweight instrumental pop. A few of the tunes are OK; "Groovin' to the Music" is a catchy disco-funk item along the lines of the Brass Construction and the Crown Heights Affair, and the gritty, infectious "Mashooganah" is somewhere between soul-jazz and fusion. But for the most part, Mr. Fathead wastes Newman's considerable talents. This record is strictly for completists.

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