Charles Earland

Leaving This Planet

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A definite departure from the type of earthy, groove-oriented soul-jazz he usually embraced, Leaving This Planet is perhaps Charles Earland's most ambitious -- and surprising -- album. Responding to the fusion revolution, Earland plays keyboards and various synthesizers in addition to his usual Hammond B-3 organ, and thrives in a very electric setting. The album isn't fusion in the same sense as Miles Davis, Larry Coryell or Weather Report -- rather, he incorporates funk and rock elements in a manner not unlike the early-'70s experiments of tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. And in fact, those greats (as well as trumpeter Eddie Henderson) are among the superb soloists featured. Whether the Philadelphian is embracing Hub's "Red Clay," Henderson's "No Me Esqueca," or fine compositions of his own (which range from the congenial, pleasant "Brown Eyes" to the abstract "Warp Factor 8"), he leaves no doubt just how much he's enjoying this surprising change of pace.

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