Whether he was playing jazz or R&B, drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler spent much of his career in a sideman role. But the Los Angeles resident was in the driver's seat in 1979 and 1980, when he led an obscure, short-lived soul/funk outfit he called the Chocolate Jam Co. It's safe to say that the vast majority of R&B fans have never even heard of the combo, which was assembled by Chancler in 1979 and signed with Epic that year. The Chocolate Jam Co. (whose influences included Earth, Wind & Fire, Roy Ayers and Chancler employer George Duke) only recorded two albums: 1979's The Spread of the Future and 1980's Do I Make You Feel Better?, both of which were produced by Chancler and found him writing or co-writing all of the material. The LPs also gave Chancler an opportunity to do a lot of lead singing, which was unusual for him because he was a drummer first and foremost. Unfortunately, neither LP received much attention and both of them went out of print in the early '80s.
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