Released as a double LP on Chisa/Blue Thumb in 1972, Hugh Masekela's Home Is Where the Music Is marked an accessible but sharp detour from his more pop-oriented jazz records of the '60s. Masekela was chasing a different groove altogether. He was looking to create a very different kind of fusion, one that involved the rhythms and melodies of his native South Africa, and included the more spiritual, soul-driven explorations occurring in American music at the time on labels like Strata East, Tribe, and Black Jazz as well as those laid down by Gato Barbieri on Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman imprint. The South African and American quintet he assembled for the date is smoking. It includes the mighty saxophonist Dudu Pakwana and drummer Makaya Ntshoko, both South African exiles; they were paired with American pianist Larry Willis and bassist Eddie Gomez, creating a wonderfully balanced, groove-oriented ensemble.
Bobby Womack's move to the Columbia imprint heralded a shift from the earthy deep soul sensibility of his previous records to a slicker, more sophisticated approach in step with the changing sound of contemporary R&B. Somewhat surprisingly, the transition not only proves seamless, but in fact Home Is Where the Heart Is looms as Womack's most compelling LP in some time. Though recorded in both Muscle Shoals and Los Angeles, it's to the album's credit that its disparate parts fit together like a well-oiled machine. Womack's wonderfully gruff vocals adapt well to the warmth and elegance of songs like "How Long," "Something for My Head," and "One More Chance on Love," and he performs with a passion and focus absent from his final United Artists efforts.