(4 / 5)
Big Break Records presents the debut CD release of jazz-fusion funkateers Chameleon, re-mastered and re-packaged with the 12” disco versions of both ‘We’ll Be Dancin’’ and ‘Get Up.’, The package includes jaa new interview with Azar Lawrence.
Chameleon was the eponymously titled 1979 album released through Elektra Records jazz-fusion arm, after department head Don Mizell signed experienced multi-instrumentalist Azar Lawrence, in part due to his successful stint with Prestige Records in the mid-1970s.
After a career playing alongside the likes of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Ike & Tina Turner, War and many more, Lawrence was inspired by his friend Maurice White’s Earth, Wind & Fire project to put together a group that exemplified his chameleonic music sensibilities to the fullest.
Produced by saxophone specialist Lawrence and trombonist Fred Wesley (The J.B.’s/The Horny Horns) Chameleon saw song writing duties spread between the seasoned musicians involved.
Bassist Gerald Brown pens the irresistible jazz-funk bounce of single ‘Get Up,’ along with EW&F sax-man Andrew Woolfolk, as well as the equally funky ‘Wishing On A Dream.’ Keyboardist Michael Stanton provides the lyrically deeper songs ‘Unfair Affair’ and the stunning ‘Game Of Life,’ both sung by guitarist Earl Alexander, the latter becoming a cult classic for the band and eventually featuring on the Natural High series.
Lawrence co-writes the uplifting, cosmic disco of ‘We’ll Be Dancin’’ (co-mixed by W. Michael Lewis), ‘Come Into My Life’ and the impeccable ballad ‘I Feel You Here’ with trumpeter Delbert Taylor.
Credited to the whole group “Mysteryoso” is a platform for the whole group to express their musicality with Lawrence and Stanton taking on the expansive solos on this Herbie Hancock-esque instrumental. The album closes with the serene ‘For You,’ where Alexander’s lyric-less vocalese plays perfectly with Lawrence’s saxophone. Nine tracks from the original album and the two bonus cuts.
By Sally Fox
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’