Eddie Russ

Take a Look at Yourself/See the Light

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This Soul Brother two-fer assembles Eddie Russ' cult classic fusion efforts for the Monument label. Recorded at Detroit's United Sound Studios -- the petri dish where George Clinton concocted his most mind-boggling Funkadelic outings -- See the Light operates on a cosmic wavelength all its own, embracing otherworldly synthesizers, squelching basslines, and orchestral electronics to create a shimmering jazz-funk-disco hybrid that eludes simple genre definition. Supported by Motor City stalwarts including trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and saxophonist Larry Nozero, Russ channels the keyboard wizardry of Herbie Hancock and Lonnie Liston Smith, but for all its astral aspirations, the music is surprisingly street-smart as well. The title cut is an epic rendition of the Earth, Wind & Fire song, and "Zauis" courts the dancefloor via Latin-inspired rhythms and breathtaking solos that build to an orgasmic climax. Take a Look at Yourself pushes Russ even closer to slick, satin-lined disco -- the grooves are more earthbound, but its bold, rich arrangements nevertheless pulsate with energy and imagination. Russ still favors the kind of epic-scale structures of jazz, but the radiant, multi-layered synthesizers and dancefloor rhythms clearly evoke contemporary soul, topped off by Jackie Holiday's soaring vocals on "Don't Ask My Neighbors" and "I Heard That." A solid listen, if not particularly challenging.

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