Harvey Mason, Sr.

Earth Mover

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In the 1970s, Harvey Mason was one of those busy L.A.-based sessions players who had one foot in jazz and the other in R&B. The drummer backed his share of soul heavyweights (including Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and the Brothers Johnson), but he never lost his jazz chops. Recorded in 1976, Earthmover is among the mostly instrumental albums that Mason provided during his stay at Arista. This self-produced LP, which finds him trying to balance commercial and creative considerations, is a mixed bag. Some of the material is strong, especially the cerebral fusion item "No Lands Man" (which boasts Jan Hammer on keyboards) and the funky "Bertha Baptist." And the contemplative "First Summer" is an enjoyable track that reminds the listener of the underrated Hawaiian funk/fusion outfit Seawind, which isn't surprising because it was co-written and arranged by Seawind's Bob Wilson. Meanwhile, some of the more commercial jazz-funk and pop-jazz tracks are less impressive and tend to sound overproduced. But while Earthmover is uneven, it has more ups than downs. Overall, this isn't a bad record, although Mason is capable of being more consistent.

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