Fats Theus

Black Out

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Although its headliner remains little-known, saxophonist Fats Theus' Black Out boasts a most impressive pedigree -- one of the first releases on producer Creed Taylor's fledgling CTI imprint, its supporting cast includes soul-jazz demigods Grant Green on guitar, Chuck Rainey on bass, and Idris Muhammad on drums. The level of musicianship across the record's six tracks is absurdly high -- if anything, Theus is the weak link in the chain, with bop-oriented solos that occasionally lean toward woodenness in comparison with the sublime funkiness of his collaborators. Taylor's production is nevertheless inventive -- the opening cut "Bed of Nails" even features a musical saw -- and unlike some of his other CTI efforts, Black Out avoids smooth jazz trappings in favor of raw, down-and-dirty grooves.

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