Roy Ayers

My Vibes: The Best of the Uno Melodic Years

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Formed in 1980 by Roy Ayers as a vehicle for acts including Sylvia Striplin and the Eighties Ladies, the Uno Melodic label also issued the vibist's underrated 1983 date Lots of Love. My Vibes: The Best of the Uno Melodic Years reissues that LP along with eight unreleased cuts Ayers recorded in 1999, filling in some vital gaps in the acid-jazz icon's legacy. Released between major-label tenures with Polydor and Columbia, Lots of Love capitalizes on Ayers' independence by further investigating the Afro-beat rhythms and textures he first explored in his collaboration with Fela Kuti while simultaneously moving into post-disco dance music. While some of its production flourishes seem brittle and dated, this is nevertheless the most engaging and energizing material Ayers created during the early '80s -- from the darkly sinister groove of "Chicago" to the Kuti-inspired epic "Black Family," to the warm, shimmering title cut, Lots of Love recalls the diversity and invention of his classic Ubiquity dates, complete with nuanced performances that reiterate Ayers' absolute mastery of the vibes. The 1999 material similarly draws on contemporary R&B sounds, embracing slick arrangements and electronic percussion -- it's bottom-rung Ayers at best, but not entirely without merit.

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