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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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RICHARD TEE

Strokin' + Natural Ingredients

Robinsongs CDMRED 592

 

 

Strokin’

1. First Love

2. Every Day

3. Strokin’

4. I Wanted It Too

5. Virginia Sunday

6. Jesus Children of America

7. Take The “A “ Train

 

Richard Tee - Keyboards, vocals

Eric Gale – Guitar

Steve Gadd – Drums

Chuck Rainey - Bass

Ralph MacDonald – Percussion

Hugh McCracken – Harmonica

Michael Brecker – Tenor sax

Tom Scott – Lyricon, tenor sax

Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Jon Faddis, Seldon Powell, Barry Rogers – Horns

David Nadien (concertmaster), Jonathan Abramowitz, Al Brown, Max Cahn, Selwalt Clarke, Harry Cykman, Paul Gershman, Jesse Levy,

Guy Lumia, Kermit Moore, Max Polikoff, Stan Pollock, Gudun Schaumann, Richard Sortomme - Strings

Bill Eaton, Frank Floyd, Ken Williams, Zachary Sanders – Background vocals

 

Natural Ingredients

1. What A Woman Really Means

2. Now

3. The Nuts Off Of The Screw

4. Tell It Like It Is

5. Us

6. Back Door Man

7. Spinning Song

 

Richard Tee - Keyboards, vocals

Eric Gale – Guitar, bass

Matthew Bragg - Bass

Steve Gadd – Drums

Hugh McCracken – Harmonica

Ralph MacDonald – Percussion

Tom Scott – Sax

Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Barry Rogers, Seldon Powell - Horns

Lani Groves , Ullanda McCullough, Valerie Simpson – Background vocals

David Nadien (concertmaster), Jonathan Abramowitz, Al Brown. Sewalt Clarke, Harry Cykman, Barry Finclair, Richard Locker, Charles McCracken, Kermit Moore, Jan Mullen, John Pintavalle, Joseph Rubuhka, Herbert Sorkin – Strings.

 

The recording industry would hardly be able to survive without that body of mainly anonymous players known as session musicians. They are the professionals who can turn their hands to anything and often provide much of the music that we hear on record.

Richard Tee is such a session musician, although he has also recorded albums under his own name and in his group called Stuff. Yet he also appeared on recordings by such artists as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Houston Person and George Benson. This left-handed pianist was able to play almost anything, although his special talent was to introduce a touch of gospel into his improvisations.

This welcome CD contains Richard’s first two solo albums: Strokin’ from 1979 and Natural Ingredients from 1980. The overall style is jazz-funk, which is given extra character by contributions from such experienced players as Eric Gale, Steve Gadd and the Brecker Brothers. Moody tracks like Every Day echo Richard Tee’s apprenticeship at Motown Studios, while the title-track has the gospel flavour of Richard’s piano.

But I mainly cherish this album for its unusual version of Take the “A” Train, which opens with a rhapsodic piano introduction that gives no hint of what is to come. Suddenly the rhythm bursts into a forceful gospel beat whose effect is heightened by the frequent breaks. Duke Ellington’s signature tune has never sounded like this before – and it is a stroke of genius.

Natural Ingredients sadly fails to contain any such transcendent moments but largely maintains the funky style of the preceding album. The music is fine for shaking your booty around or just savouring the skill of the musicians but it isn’t really much better than many such funk albums, although Tee’s keyboard solos are impressive. But the CD is worth buying for Take The “A” Train alone.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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