Johnny Lytle

People & Love

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The early-70s was an interesting time for jazz. With record sales waning, many of the music's top stars began incorporating a more marketable sound. Certainly, rock had made its way into the jazz idiom by this time, as had R&B, and any number of international influences, so one never really knew what to expect from even the genre's most predictable names. This wasn't necessarily the case with vibist Johnny Lytle. Everybody knew he was a soul man from the word "go," and People & Love finds him diving ever deeper into the soul-jazz groove. The results are successful, to say the least. The term 'soul-jazz' commonly invokes visions of dripping Hammonds and syrupy guitars, but by 1972 things had changed a bit. The kind of soul-jazz represented here is a hazy, swirling, and ultimately much deeper vibe than that heard on, say, the classic Blue Note and Prestige sessions usually associated with this tag. One might compare it with Big John Patton's more psychedelic dates, like Accent on the Blues, for example, or Bobby Hutcherson's Patterns session, had it employed more funk rhythms. Among the album's five tracks, especially rewarding are "Libra" -- during which Lytle plays a muted two/four lick over the rest of the band in a manner befitting a comparison to dub reggae delay effects -- and the seriously dope funk of "Tawhid." The album's third track, "Family," was sampled by Organized Konfusion in 1997, and one gets the impression that just about every one of these cuts would make a fine hip hop sample in some way, shape, or form. That said, any self-respecting soul-jazz or jazz-funk fan would likely pick this title up based on the fantastic back cover alone. Fortunately, unlike so many other promising jackets, the tunes found inside are just as strong. Recommended for fans of downtempo jazz-funk.

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