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Paul Jackson: Black Octopus

Veteran bassist Paul Jackson trips back to the 1970s with this funky, groovy and bottom-heavy reissue. Jackson, a founding member of Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, recorded the album live at Tokyo’s Toshiba EMI Studios in 1978 during a concert tour in Japan; the album was available only in limited release and is now on CD for the first time. The album is truly a product of its time, with the spoken-word poetry of “Many Directions” and its all-star jam work leading to “Eight Ways of Love,” with its sassy, female backing vocals and groovy disco percussion. Jackson shows off his bluesy vocals here, as he does on the rest of the CD.

The first five songs on the album, which also includes “Funk Times Three,” “Burning in the Heart (of Your Love)” and “Tiptoe through the Ghetto,” have a stellar cast: Hancock on piano, synthesizer and clarinet; Ray Obiedo on guitar; Bennie Maupin on bass clarinet and tenor sax; Webster Lewis on Hammond B-3 and synths; and Alphonse Mouzon on drums. “Funk Times Three” has Jackson’s steady bass work holding together as the music gets increasingly funkier, faster and nastier. “Burning” is a slice of pure, smoky soul wrapped in a ballad. And “Tiptoe” fuses jazz and funk as Jackson furiously and quickly thumbs his bass strings. The last four songs are added as a bonus, having never been released. Although recorded at the same time, they feature different musicians.

Originally Published