Drummer, producer, songwriter, and performer Norman Connors scored a slew of hits on the R&B charts and was almost omnipresent on worldwide disco and dance club floors from the middle of the 1970s into the early â€˜80s. He also founded a couple of recording and performing groups, including Aquarian Dream. Connors hit chart gold first in 1975 with the track â€œValentine Love,â€ a duet between Jean Carn and Michael Henderson from his fifth album. His previous four LPs marked a dizzying but inevitable journey from his seemingly trademark brand of spiritual soul jazz and early fusion to the dancefloor.
While all four are monsters, itâ€™s his first two records that are regarded by many jazz and funk fans as stone classics. Dance of Magic and Dark of Light were both issued in 1973 on Buddahâ€™s Cobblestone imprint and did respectably well, but came to bear legendary status as the years passed due to their remarkable weave of improvisation, funk, soul, and electric jazz. Connors' stellar cast of players included Airto, Stanley Clarke, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gary Bartz, Carlos Garnett, Eddie Henderson, Billy Hart, and Cecil McBee. These are wildly sophisticated and ambitious recordings, yet they are surprisingly accessible. They were resurrected on wax as replica reissues at the beginning of the present decade and can be obtained quite inexpensively. On CD, however, itâ€™s a very different story. In 1995, both albums appeared in remastered form on a single disc as part of a reissue campaign from Sequel (you can check the original AMG review here). They were also briefly available around the same time from P-Vine in Japan. The CD has been out of print since 1996 and fetches outrageous prices at auction. If ever there were a case for a CD package, itâ€™s this one.
Here are samples from both albums contained in the Sequel package.
Dance of Magic
Give the Drummer Some
Dark of Light