Coke Escovedo

Coke

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The late percussionist Thomas "Coke" Escovedo came from a very musical family -- he was the brother of Pete Escovedo and the uncle of Sheila Escovedo, who started going by Sheila E. after joining forces with Prince in the 1980s. Although not as well known as those relatives, Coke Escovedo had an impressive track record that included working with Santana and founding the band Azteca. In the '70s, Escovedo recorded three little known solo albums for Mercury, the first of which was 1975's Coke. The music is soul/funk with occasional jazz and Latin overtones -- not as ambitious as Santana or Azteca, but generally rewarding nonetheless. Escovedo wasn't a lead singer, which means that on Coke, Linda and Calvin Tillery provide the lead vocals. Linda has her share of inspired moments, and she really lets loose on the funky "Easy Come, Easy Go" as well as Smokey Robinson's "Love Letters," and a stunning remake of Santana's "No One to Depend On" (which Escovedo co-wrote). Calvin's contributions aren't as memorable as Linda's. His performance on Leon Ware's "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" is pleasant, although it falls short of the excellence of the Average White Band's better known version. But more often than not, Coke is excellent, and it's also the most essential of Escovedo's three solo albums.

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