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Afrodesia is the lone album by the Afro-Soultet, which may or may not have been officially released by Banyon sometime between 1968 and 1971 (no one still breathing can remember the exact date). What we do know is that Johnny Kitchen (aka Jack Millman) licensed the record to Banyon's Betty Chiappetta (Vee-Jay Records), and the record received a test pressing. The Afro-Soultet originally hailed from Texas and recorded several albums under the name Afro-Blues Quintet +1, who had previously recorded three albums and seven 45s. After some personnel changes, the band relocated to L.A., where Millman caught them playing the Living Room. He became their manager and entered the band as its "Latin drummer" (Eddie Paris was their "jazz/rock" drummer). Other members included Joey Dubreau on vibes (the lone surviving founding member of their former incarnation), Frank Morris on guitar and harmonica, Dean Elliot on percussion, William Quinn on reeds and winds, and keyboardist Bill Collins. Millman produced Afrodesia, which was reissued by Ubiquity's Luv N'Haight imprint. The dozen tracks that make up this set are a truly wild, exotic, and delicious meld of Latin and soul-jazz, boogaloo, funky instrumental soul, Middle Eastern rhythms and modes, surf, rock, blues, and hard bop. Millman's editing of sounds, such as the amplified, distorted kalimba (decades before we heard Konono No. 1) add to the percussion orgy that is "Drumbouie"; he primitive equivalent of sampling. "Soul Rockin'" weaves together boogaloo, funky handclaps (à la "Fingertips, Part II"), and soul-jazz grooves with a nice tenor solo by Quinn. The title track opens the record with the sound of a thunderstorm, followed by a blues progression via Morris' electric guitar and harmonica vamps. The army of percussion -- congas and timbales playing triple time over two syncopated drum kits -- underscores a tight groove accented by flute and an electric organ. "Mozamba" layers a Wes Montgomery-esque guitar vamp over Nigerian and Afro-Cuban polyrhythms. Collins' piano solo is a driven chord sequence reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis from the same era, but rawer and tougher. "Slave Traders" is straight-ahead hard bop jam with a two-saxophone head, swinging congas, drum kit, and a fine piano break by Collins. "Aphro Bugaloo" follows it with a less Latin, more post-bop feel. Afrodesia is a true lost classic and belongs in any soul or Latin jazz collection, as well as in any serious groove digger's crate. [This title is available on LP as well, and comes with a digital download coupon.]

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