Quincy Jones had jazz fans wondering when he released his killer Gula Matari album in 1970. That set, with gorgeous reading of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with a lead vocal by none other than Valerie Simpson, pointed quite solidly into the direction Jones was traveling: unabashedly toward pop, but with his own trademark taste, and sophistication at the forefront of his journey. Its follow-up, Smackwater Jack, marked Jones, along with Phil Ramone and Ray Brown in the producer's chair, and knocked purist jazz fans on their heads with its killer meld of pop tunes, television and film themes, pop vocals, and big-band charts.
Quincy Jones followed up Smackwater Jack and his supervision of Donny Hathaway's Come Back Charleston Blue soundtrack with this, a mixed bag that saw him inching a little closer toward the R&B-dominated approach that reached full stride on the following Body Heat and peaked commercially with The Dude. That said, the album's most notorious cut is The Streetbeater, better known as the Sanford & Son theme, a novelty for most but also one of the greasiest, grimiest instrumental fusions of jazz and funk ever laid down, while its second most noteworthy component is a drastic recasting of Summer in the City, as heard in the Pharcyde's Passin' Me By, where the frantic, bug-eyed energy of the Lovin' Spoonful original is turned into a magnetically lazy drift driven by Eddie Louis' organ, Dave Grusin's electric piano, and Valerie Simpson's voice. (Simpson gives the song a Summertime-like treatment.)
This recording, made in 1991, dates from what was perhaps the heyday of the English Chamber Orchestra (although the group's vigorous activities remain undiminished). The ECO, with origins as a conductorless Baroque orchestra, functioned smoothly as an ensemble, with a restrained sound and a high level of mutual sensitivity among the players. In these late Haydn symphonies, that translated into readings that were exceptionally effective in bringing out the humorous details and asides, the extensions of phrases so that they end with a wink or a joke, that are the essence of late Haydn. The orchestra is probably about the size of the one Haydn had at his disposal in London.
Laserlight's 2001 release With the Yardbirds & Jimmy Page, is another reissue that pairs early live Yardbirds recordings with the 1965 jam session credited to the Immediate All Stars (featuring Clapton, Jimmy Page, Bill Wyman, Ian Stuart, and Mick Jagger).