Hubert Eaves III

Esoteric Funk

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Keyboard whiz Hubert Eaves was well known among his musical peers in the 1970s as a major sideman. His unique bank of sounds, his rhythmic left hand, and his willingness to experiment with all pop music forms made him a choice in studios with everyone from Gary Bartz to Phyllis Hyman. Few, however, were aware of this killer little slab of laidback yet totally evolved funk that he cut for the Inner City label in 1976 with members of Miles Davis' band -- Reggie Lucas and Mtume -- and other luminaries such as René McLean and Malachi Thompson. Eaves plays it all here, from ARPs to Moogs to the Rhodes to the Steinway. Over six self-composed and arranged tracks, Eaves creates a dreamscape of funky soul that had plenty of space and texture in its center while keeping a unique, airy groove over and under everything. The simmering "Call to Awareness" features a running bassline that flows instead of pops, the riff-laden "Slow Down" is a series of slow-tempo crescendos strung together in an ever-increasing dynamic platform that eventually bubbles over into a blissed-out chant. The album ends with a sweet, Roberta Flack-style vocal from Cheryl Alexander on "Under Standing" that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the set, but that's ok. The rest is rather stunning in its commitment to quality, understatement, and summery grooves.

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