Choma (Burn)

A 4 track jazz-funk album (36m 45s) — released May 24th 2024 on Wewantsounds

Growing up in San Diego, and settling in Los Angeles early on, Harold Land became a pioneer of the Hard Bop style by recording with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet in 1954. Through his involvement with the quintet, he became acquainted to Bob Shad who had produced the recordings on his EmArcy label. Becoming a prominent voice on the West Coast jazz scene at the end of the 50s, Land recorded many albums for Pacific Jazz as a leader and, in the late 60s, he started a fruitful collaboration with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson forming the Harold Land/Bobby Hutcherson Quintet in 1968. The quintet would last until the early 70s and record a handful of highly acclaimed albums for Blue Note, Cadet and Mainstream Records.

In the meantime, Shad, who had launched his Mainstream label in 1962 and recorded every style from easy listening to soundtrack to Psychedelic rock (discovering Janis Joplin in the process), decided to go back to his jazz roots in 1971. That year, he signed a new crop of jazz musicians together with some old friends like Land. His idea was to plug into the new, adventurous modal and jazz-funk scenes that was flourishing at the time following the developments initiated by John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Mainstream Records was primarily a New York label but Shad would occasionally travel to Los Angeles to record sessions there. One of these produced three albums with Land: two with the Land/Hutcherson Quintet, namely 'A New Shade of Blue' and 'Choma (Burn)' both released in 1971 - and 'Damisi' recorded with Oscar Brashear on Trumpet replacing Hutcherson, released the following year.

'Choma (Burn)', comprised of four tracks, has an interesting instrumentation and features two drummers - Ndugu and Woody 'Sonship' Theus - playing simultaneously alongside Reggie Johnson's chunky double bass and Bill Henderson and Harold Land Jr.'s piano and Fender Rhodes.

The album starts with the title track, an uptempo spiritual brew that opens with a rare, inspired flute solo by Land which gives way to Henderson's acoustic piano and then Hutcherson's marimba. The powerful 10-min piece, described in Leroy Robinson's original liner notes as "a percussive tour de force," is followed by the relaxed funky groove of "Our Home", a Henderson composition which highlights Land's superb Tenor Saxophone solo and Henderson's inspired Fender Rhodes playing.

Side 2 follows the same formula with two 10-min tracks. First we have "Black Caucus", a buoyant funky workout with every musician on fire seemingly matching the political overtone of the title, followed by "Up and Down", a more straight-ahead jazz number showcasing Land and Hutcherson's telepathic complicity and that finishes the album on a perfect note . A must have for all fans of the Harold Land-Bobby Hutcherson Quintet fans, "Choma (Burn)" catches the musicians at the height of their creative peak. They album, which has grown in stature over the decades, has become sought-after and Wewantsounds is now delighted to reissue it after more than fifty years after it was released.

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