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Bobbi Humphrey: Blue Breakbeats: Bobbi Humphrey

The early days of soul-fusion produced some gems, and some duds as well. Bobbi Humphrey’s Blue Breakbeats (Blue Note CDP7243-4-94706-2, 37:18) is an example of that genre’s tendency to slip into vamp-happy productions that smoothed out the funky edges of a lot of the stuff that went before. Languid,male chorus-spiced productions like “Harlem River Drive” and “San Francisco Nights”, do little more than conjure a mood, though others like “Blacks and Blues” and the Latin-tinged “Please Set Me at Ease” conjure a little more fire.But while the disc’s analog flavored grooves-culled from Humphrey releases between 1972 and 75-make for good samples, they fall a bit flat when stretched out to full length. For more consistent groove pleasure, turn to the partner disc:Lou Donaldson’s Blue Breakbeats (CDP 7243-4-94709-2-7, 44:54) another “funkiest of” collection. And since it’s a Donaldson compilation disc, the supporting cast is pretty star-studded: Blue Mitchell, Grant Green, Charles Earland, Idris Muhammad, Lonnie Smith, Big John Patton, and others. The material should be familiar to aficionados of this genre-the famous “Pot Belly” is highlighted by a tasty Ted Dunbar guitar solo, while Green and Patton take bows on “Caracas”. And then there are the straight blues burners featuring Earland, Sparks and Co., like “Turtle Walk”.

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