Ronnie Foster

On the Avenue

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Though not as relentlessly funky as his classic Blue Note debut Two Headed Freap, On the Avenue remains the most accomplished record of Ronnie Foster's career, proving commercial aspirations and accoutrements can indeed co-exist alongside traditional jazz sensibilities. Produced by George Benson and featuring the great Phil Upchurch on guitar and Marvin Chapell on drums, On the Avenue favors more mellow, nuanced grooves over the blistering funk of previous Foster outings. The velvety opener "Serenade to a Rock" and the title cut both draw heavily on Stevie Wonder's classic mid-'70s recordings, with a lithe cover of the Innervisions track "Golden Lady" further underlining the influence. Foster also expands his palette to include Afro-Cuban sounds ("Big Farm Boy Goes to a Latin City") and even assumes vocal duties for the first time on LP with "To See a Smile." Best of all is his rendition of Freddie Hubbard's "First Light"; arguably Foster's purest and most potent performance to date.

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