Various Artists

Psychedelic Jazz and Soul from the Atlantic and Warner Vaults

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This is a cool little compilation of late-'60s and early-'70s spiritual soul and funky jazz. The "psychedelic" term in the title has more to do with the era than the music. It's true there are some spaced-out moments here, such as Sun Ra's "Spontaneous Simplicity" and Freddie Hubbard's notoriously freaky "Threnody for Sharon Tate," but let's face it, the former was psychedelic before the word was invented and the latter was attempting an indictment of the entire hippie generation. The majority of this material was rooted in early funk and fusion explorations of the Miles Davis era. There are some revelatory cuts here, such as the opener, Gary Burton's way-out groover "Vibrafinger," which is rockin', dirty, nasty, and greasy. The more front-porch-in-outer-space explorations of Yusef Lateef are more the norm here, as evidenced by his two cookers, "Back Home" and "Raymond Winchester." Hubbard is just as esoteric on "This Is Combat I Know," with its out poetry and meandering horn and piano lines. Rahsaan Roland Kirk digs deep into the groove on "Freaks for the Festival," and Charles Lloyd plays it sweet and soulful on "Sorcery." The slicker side of the equation is in the house, too, on Black Heat's finger-popping "Check It All Out" and Eddie Harris' blessed-out "Smoke Signals." And the most basic kind of progressive jazz on this set is by Charlie Mariano, with his excellent "Mirror." In all, this is often compelling, sometimes cheesy, always entertaining listening, and is a solid comp for what it tries to be -- a slice of the scene from an era.

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