Hiram Bullock

Late Night Talk

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Hiram Bullock claimed that he had never done a "jazz" album before this -- which is a debatable proposition depending upon how limiting your definition of jazz is. What counts is that he has come up with a beautiful album, drenched in soul-jazz yet touching upon popular music genres as well. Bullock didn't have to change much, utilizing his subdued and rock-tinged guitar styles at will, occasionally bursting out in full rock regalia and making tasty use of electronic additives. Bullock has also written some fairly interesting songs -- music and lyrics -- singing them in a somewhat lusterless voice. There is a nice, literal, mellow cover of Stevie Wonder's "Creepin'," which is finally emerging as one of Stevie's most striking masterpieces of the '70s, as well as a jaunty cover of Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar." His somewhat depoliticized take on David Crosby's "Long Time Gone" is quite moving, with its reharmonized vamp and atmospheric organ washes. Two-thirds of the rhythm section comes from the heart of '60s soul-jazz, Dr. Lonnie Smith on Hammond B-3 organ and Idris Muhammad on drums, and Joe Locke contributes a good deal of the jazz flavor on vibes (Ed Howard is on bass). Though made for the Japanese market, this Venus album can be found in good import bins in large U.S. cities.

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