When Daft Punk went to make Random Access Memories, the seeking of Nathan East was one of the smartest moves they made. East provided basslines on nine of the album's songs, including "Get Lucky," a number two Hot 100 hit. The album won the Grammy for Album of the Year and shined a little mainstream light on him as well as several other unsung session musicians who have been active for decades with little recognition. There's a nod here to the French duo on the smooth disco-funk tune "Daft Funk," but otherwise, East's first solo album plays it straight to those who have avidly followed the musician's career, from his earliest session work in the late '70s through his albums with modern jazz group Fourplay. East calls upon a large cast of fellow session veterans, as well as several stars who have benefited from his recorded and live work. Unsurprisingly, this is a loose, superbly played set with the feel of a celebration. It kicks into full gear with a rollicking instrumental version of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke," on which East's bass serves as lead. Later on, Stevie himself provides a lead -- on harmonica -- throughout a relaxed version of his "Overjoyed." Van Morrison's "Moondance," featuring Michael McDonald, begins subtly but quickly switches into a romp that involves saxophonist Tom Scott and trumpeter Chuck Findley; McDonald is so energized at one point that his wailing sounds more like that of Arthur Brown than that of Morrison. Cleverly, that song is trailed by a Sara Bareilles-fronted "I Can Let Go Now," a song written by McDonald that originally appeared on his own solo debut. Eric Clapton, who has utilized East on the road and in hits such as "Tears in Heaven" and "Change the World," helps revisit Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" with subtle electric lines, while East doubles -- rather impressively! -- on lead vocal. A lot of other notable musicians are involved here, including Bob James and Chuck Loeb (two of East's Fourplay partners), Ray Parker, Jr., Vinnie Colauita, David Paich, Paulinho Da Costa, and drummer Ricky Lawson, who plays on most of the cuts and passed away in December 2013.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Noah East