(4 / 5)
Whenever I read the description “Supergroup” on a project, I expect an over-hyped and mediocre affair, usually with has-been once big-name musicians and artists, crammed together on one album to prop up a weak release.
Not this time. Jazz Funk has its superstars and when the likes of Stanley Clarke (Bass Guitar), Eric Gale (Lead Guitar), Lenny White (Drums), Tom Browne (Trumpet), John McLaughlin (Guitars), Stanley Turrentine (Saxophones), Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet) and George Benson (Guitar) plus many others pool their resources, you can expect a real wow moment. This two albums on one CD re-issue is cracking stuff.
The “Fuse One” album was released in 1980, and kicks off with the Ronnie Foster composition, “Grand Prix” where Stanley Clarke takes the lead, and creates a Jazz Funk classic. Other stand out tracks are John McLaughlin’s “To Whom It May Concern” and “Taxi Blues” composed by Stanley Clarke. Bass legend Clarke is responsible for one of the best gigs I have ever witnessed, in four decades of covering live concerts as a music snapper and journalist. Stanley Clarke and the late, great George Duke in the same band, opening for funk stars Cameo, at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in the early 1980s. What a great night.
The second album of the set, “Silk” was released one year later in 1981, and features ‘In Celebration Of The Human Spirit’ and ‘Silk’ which was the band’s only single. We also get the 7” version as a bonus track, along with the George Benson composed B-side ‘Ode To Kudu’, available for the first time on CD.
Both albums produced by Creed Taylor. The first album was arranged by Jeremy Wall of Spyro Gyra, the second by Leon “Ndugu” Chancler of Weather Report. Their third and final album ”Ice,” dropped in 1984, and was arranged by David Matthews.
The liner notes to their first album described the group thus: “Fuse One is conceived as a forum in which major contemporary musicians perform according to their own musical disciplines and without the constraints that accompany leader responsibilities. Each player brings in new compositions and ideas.”]
Membership was not concrete, but included Tony Williams, Joe Farrell, John McLaughlin, Stanley Turrentine, Wynton Marsalis, Larry Coryell, Lenny White, Paulinho Da Costa, Ronnie Foster, Stanley Clarke, George Benson, Todd Cochran, Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, Tom Browne, Dave Valentin, Jorge Dalto, and Eric Gale.
The original band (featuring Will Lee, Ronnie Foster, Jeremy Wall and Ndugu) did a sold-out tour in Japan, where their debut album sold over 150,000 copies and yielded the hit “Double Steal.” The second incarnation which recorded “Silk “, featured George Benson, Eric Gale, Stanley Turrentine, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Browne, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Sammy Figueroa, Dave Valentin. The last Fuse One project, “Ice”, included John Tropea, Larry Coryell, Steve Gadd, Dave Matthews, George Young, Ronnie Cuber, Cliff Carter, Will Lee and others.
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’