Ben & the Platano Group

Paris Soul

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This reissue of a classic underground Paris Latin jazz/funk album is welcome to the hundreds who have sought it out at unbelievably high prices on the collector's market. Recorded in 1970 and issued by Barclay in 1971, Paris Soul is an album that wears the test of time well. The steaming orchestral arrangements by Evaristo Nata's steaming orchestral arrangements blends some Afro-Cuban flavors (such as the Santana tribute "Salute to Santa," on which they bite a chunk from "Oye Como Va" and bend it into a near salsa jam), some Brazilian samba, Memphis soul, and post-bop jazz soloing to achieve a smoky, sexy, funky groove. There are 120 tunes here, and all of them are deep, fat, and greasy with groove. The band members, apart from their arranger, are anonymous, but it hardly matters; this isn't the kind of record you're going to put on to analyze what's happening musically. While it's complex and beautiful, you'll be throwing this on either at home or the party in order to move on the dance floor. Whether it's easy, shuffling, like "Black Waders," with its entwining organ and horn lines that sound like they could have come from some underground club version of the Alfie soundtrack, or the Brazilian-tinged "Culzean," with its flowering guitars and reeds turning through one another in a simple airy melody embossed by some serious polyrhythms, the result is the same: this is one of the finest recordings of pure groove music made on either side of the Atlantic during the early '70s. Try to picture the group War with Buddy Richs big band and you'll get the idea.

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