Leon Thomas – The Creator 1969-1973: The Best of the Flying Dutchman Masters (2013)

Leon Thomas - The Creator 1969-1973: The Best of the Flying Dutchman Masters (2013)
Artist: Leon Thomas
Album: The Creator 1969-1973: The Best of the Flying Dutchman Masters
Label: Ace/BGP
Year Of Release: 2013
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

01. Shape Your Mind to Die (5:21)
02. Just in Time to See the Sun (2:58)
03. It’s My Life I’m Fighting For (10:10)
04. The Creator Has a Master Plan (4:26)
05. Let the Rain Fall on Me (5:27)
06. China Doll (5:06)
07. Bags’ Groove (3:19)
08. One (3:09)
09. Come Along (3:03)
10. Let’s Go Down to Lucy’s (4:25)
11. Welcome to New York (4:10)
12. Love Each Other (3:14)
13. Balance of Life (Peace of Mind) (6:56)
14. Um Um Um (5:23)
15. Umbo Weti (9:23)


Leon Thomas was equally at home singing R&B, hard bop, swing, blues, avant jazz, and soul. He worked with everyone from Art Blakey and Count Basie to Roland Kirk, Pharoah Sanders, and Santana. Though he recorded and performed infrequently after the 1970s, his emotive phrasing, disciplined yodeling, and brave improvising influenced numerous vocalists who came later. Dean Rudland and Beat Goes Public Records have assembled 15 cuts from the records Thomas cut for Bob Thiele’s first label after he left Impulse! They are not sequenced chronologically, but aesthetically. While “The Creator Has a Master Plan” is the best-known title here, Thomas’ readings of “straight” jazz material such as Milt Jackson’s “Bags’ Groove,” from 1971’s Leon Thomas Album, or “Welcome to New York,” from his appearance on Johnny Hodges’ Three Shades of Blue (with Oliver Nelson) in 1970, also rate highly. “China Doll” melds spiritual jazz, blues, soul, and street swagger. “Shape Your Mind to Die” is an otherworldly modal vocal performance; it also features the most snaky, outside soprano playing of Pee Wee Ellis’ career. It, along with the soaring “Come Along” (featuring Neal Creque and Billy Cobham), the funky “Let’s Go Down to Lucy’s,” and “Love Each Other” are all included here from 1972’s stellar Blues and the Soulful Truth. Thomas’ reading of Santana’s “Just in Time to See the Sun” is another standout as drummer Pretty Purdie, guitarist Joe Beck, and bassist Richard Davis lock in some deep funky grooves behind him. A previously unreleased version of “Um Um Um,” from the concert that gave us Leon Thomas in Berlin in 1971, is a rare treat before the sprawling improvisation in the Afro-Latin jazz closer “Umbo Weti” from the same gig carries it out. For anyone who hasn’t heard Thomas, doesn’t own his records, or does and merely wants a killer representative collection, The Creator is it.

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