GED Soul Revue: Idris Muhammad Vol. 1

One of our first podcasts honing in on a particular session musician, this one features an array of recordings from one of the greats of the backbeat, Mr. Idris Muhammad. Nick DeVan, a funky drummer in his own right, and myself put this one together with the intent of showing you different examples of the beat he cultivated so well for so many. We like to educate by picking some lesser known deep cuts from the artist’s catalog while striving to use vinyl as much as possible although I have a good bit of this on CD so don’t judge.

We kept this one shorter on tracks but this mix is really gonna make you groove hard with some instrumental delights. It will also test your skills and patience toward what some might consider elevator music at times. Soul-Jazz incorporates all manner of soloists, synthesizers, straight-ahead jazz goodness, and the tightest of rhythm sections. Some of these drumbeats are extremely unique compared with his contemporaries. Here is the Setlist with Album info:

Download Idris Muhammad Podcast here

  1. Idris Muhammad- “Hard to Face the Music” (House of the Rising Sun 1976)
  2. Eric Gale- “White Moth” (Forecast 1973)
  3. Lou Donelson- “The Kid” (Mr. Shing-A-Ling 1967)
  4. Charles Kynard- “Zebra Walk” (Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui 1971)
  5. Bob James- “Nautilus” (One 1974)
  6. Grover Washington- “Mercy Mercy Me” (Inner City Blues 1972)
  7. Idris Muhammad- “Wander” (Black Rhythm Revolution 1970)
  8. Hank Crawford- “Sho is Funky” (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing 1974)

Leo Morris AKA Idris Muhammad is the drummer that brought the New Orleans beat to New York City and helped cement the sound of soul-jazz in the mid to late 1960s as the drummer on all the classic Lou Donelson albums of the time. If you have ever heard the classic Fats Domino recording “Blueberry Hill” from the 1950s, then you’ve heard 15 year old Leo Morris on his earliest session. He created a foundation of swinging soul with his busy yet understated snare drum work and helped catapult Mr. Donelson toward huge successes with the albums “Alligator Boogaloo” and “Mr. Shing-A-Ling.” Study his beat closely on the track “The Kid” and you will hear that fluid New Orleans syncopation behind some super hype solos and a foundation enhanced by Dr. Lonnie Smith on Organ.

He was a part of some superb sessions at Verve Records and CTI, Creed Taylor’s imprint label that led the way for jazz musicians in the 1970s. His own album, 1974’s “Power of  Soul” was one of the label’s biggest hits and gave him a tremendous amount of commercial success during a time of transition for jazz, funk and soul. Many of his records and sessions from this time feature the superb arrangements and keyboard playing of Bob James. Listen closely to the tracks “White Moth,” “Nautilus,” “Mercy Mercy Me,” and “Sho is Funky.” All of these have the James stamp on them and could be on the same album or at least on the same funky compilation dedicated to his work.

Charles Kynard is one of the lesser known greats of the Hammond organ and also a part of the Lou Donelson extended family of young musicians who continued the sound they all created together. The track “Zebra Walk” along with Idris’ track “Wander” show the same style of soul-jazz that so enveloped the late sixties. While the opening track, “Hard to Face the Music” showcases the disco funk of the mid to late seventies and was arranged by the great James Brown arranger David Matthews (don’t get him confused with our modern hit maker of the same name). This features an always on-point solo from JB’s trombonist Fred Wesley.

A short but sweet, tight set of tunes that is sure to keep that head bumpin’ and those feet tappin.’ If you like what we are putting out, please feel free to comment and always stay tuned for more from the GED Soul Revue.

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