My last post was kind of a downer, with me ranting and whatnot. My vibe was off. I was feeling some kind of way about what I know I don’t have control over, and was just wasting my energy. People are people and they all have their moods, a wise griot by the name of Lou Rawls once said. Getting mad at them won’t change that fact.
So I decided to quickly snap out of that ugly funky vibe, and into a smooth sweet thumping funk provided by The Vibraphonist Extraordinaire, Master Soul Brother #1, Roy Ayers! If you don’t know, ask!!
Sweet soothing music, a balm for healing my soul… musical ointment to apply liberally to the spot that ails me. A spicy blend to get my blood circulating properly! A juicy neckbone to suck the marrow of life out of, with a side of fluffy home made biscuits to sop the flavor of love up with!
I know that was corny, but entiway, that’s how I’m feelin and Roy fits the bill perfectly!
Y’all with a little age on you: you remember how you felt so real whenever you heard Roy Ayers and his out of this world music come on, don’t you? You ought to! This brother was way out in left field somewhere, up in the stratosphere somewhere, looking down on the rest of us with his third eye, and dropping love bombs down on us, just so he could joyfully watch us scrambling to collect as many sweet fragments as possible! And that we certainly did!
Wasn’t he something else? He could NOT sing, and he knew it! And it was utterly irrelevant and we knew it! But when he pulled together his band and when he got on his vibes, it was all over for real.
Now I was just a little late to the Roy Ayers Ubiquity. My mom was a Memphis soul sister as I have stated before, so she didn’t have Roy in her collection. (But she did have Parliament. go figure). So I had to wait until my 20s to really get to Roy. But I sure fell in love when I did. Who could resist Everybody Loves the Sunshine, with that wailing woman–Just bees and things and flowers! Feel what i feel when i feel what i feel when im feelin…just precious!
I came to Roys earlier songs even later, like his soundtrack for the movie Coffy starring Pam Grier. (Of course I heard it when I went to see Coffy, but I was just 11 or 12) Coffy is the color was the song; and then his other hit, We live in Brooklyn Baby. But the funk in both is unmistakable. Roy effortlessly captured the sound and feel of the era in which he was playing, but somehow when you listen to Coffy or Brooklyn today, neither song sounds dated, even though they both had those 70s style stuff going on. I can’t listen to Willie Hutch’s soundtrack for The Mack because he sounds sad and old today; on the other hand, Roy Ayers sound fantastic!
Later on in the 1990s, brother Roy was still working it out, and I later found his album, Nasté while searching at my favorite used record spot, Amoeba Records. I had never even heard of it, and thought I’d give it a try because it was Roy! I then found out that this album was certainly The Truth we were sleeping on! That song Naste had the most REE-DIC-YOU-LOUS bassline ever! Nasty doesn’t even begin to describe it! Unfortunately, I could not find the original online. I could only find this live version of Roy singing Naste in concert, and that bassline doesn’t come across at all. But Roy annihilates those vibes though! He’s got to be 60 years old in this clip!
And now Roy Ayers is truly in ubiquity mode because so many youngsters are digging his flow and his vibes! I think its a blessing–an acknowledgement of sorts when the young hip hop heads (not the hip pop, but the true ones) give honor by sampling the music of the greats. It’s true that they chop it up and deconstruct it, but I suppose that is how things ought to be. They have to learn the flow of the original and what the artist was trying to convey in order to sample it in a good way.
Not everybody gets to be in this Negro League of sampled maestros–there’s Roger, George Clinton, Isaac Hayes and others. Only the best of the best are members, and Roy is right at the top!
Entiway, enough of my talking, just listen to some good music.
- Awesome Album Covers: Roy Ayers’ “Stoned Soul Picnic” (wcbsfm.radio.com)
- Questlove Pays Tribute to Roy Ayers in New Documentary (theboombox.com)