Reuben Wilson

Bad Stuff

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

This Unidisc label two-fer compiles both of Reuben Wilson's sessions for the Groove Merchant label. The first, 1972's The Sweet Life, follows a series of sugary soul-jazz dates for Blue Note. The title notwithstanding, the session is his darkest and hardest-edged to date, complete with a physicality missing from previous efforts. Credit tenor saxophonist Ramon Morris, trumpeter Bill Hardman, guitarist Lloyd Davis, bassist Mickey Bass, and drummer Thomas Derrick, whose skin-tight grooves sand away the polished contours of Wilson's organ solos to reveal their diamond-sharp corners. The material, while predictable (i.e., standbys like "Inner City Blues" and "Never Can Say Goodbye"), is nevertheless well suited to the set's righteous funk sound. The 1974 follow-up, The Cisco Kid, pairs Wilson with a murderer's-row support unit including guitarist Melvin Sparks, trombonist Garnett Brown, bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Mickey Roker, and percussionist Ray Armando. Given the talent involved, it's regrettable that the album adheres to such a pedestrian formula, reimagining the same pop and soul covers as virtually every other jazz-funk session issued at the time. Besides the title cut, a reworking of War's Latin soul monster, the material includes readings of "Superfly," "The Look of Love," and "We've Only Just Begun" -- the energy and intensity nevertheless ratchet up several notches for the Wilson originals "Snaps" and "Groove Grease," elevating the entire endeavor in the process.

blue highlight denotes track pick