Paulinho Da Costa

Happy People

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Whomever the real Paulinho DaCosta is, there isn't any doubt that he was heavily plugged into the American R&B hitmaking mode when this, one of his few albums as a leader, was made. With a whole warehouse full of his L.A. studio colleagues on hand (Larry Carlton, Greg Phillinganes, Nathan Watts, et al.), Da Costa leads an extremely slick, flashy, energy-driven R&B session that could have been mistaken for an Earth, Wind and Fire album. Amidst the formulaic horn charts, period rhythm guitars, and commercial sound-alike soul lead vocalists, though, you can hear Da Costa give these tracks extra zip by weaving in some extremely funky congas, rattling a few exotic percussion instruments, and blowing his whistles. The best, most original-sounding track, oddly enough, is a tune with the Freudian-slip title "Put Your Mind on Vacation." The surprise is that this came out on Norman Granz's supposedly conservative Pablo label, but hey, Pablo had to pay its own way now and then in 1979, too -- and in any case, this was conservative music in its own way, for it followed established trends.

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