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Inner Crisis

Larry Willis

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Album Review

Inner Crisis by Larry Willis is one of the very finest examples of electric jazz-funk from the mid-'70s. With sidemen who included guitarist Roland Prince, drummer Al Foster, tenor saxophonist Harold Vick, and trombonist Dave Bargeron, as well as bassists Eddie Gomez (acoustic) and Roderick Gaskin (electric), Willis assembled a session that was long on composition and tight on the big groove. Willis' long front lines accentuated deep soul and blues' cadences that were hallmarks of music that walked the line between tough lean groove and the pulsating rhythm of disco without losing its jazz roots to sterile fusion tropes, thanks in large part to his willingness as a pianist to play as part of an ensemble rather than as a soloist. Tracks such as "153rd Street Theme," with its loping saxophone lines juxtaposed against deep groove basslines, offer a deeper perspective on the funk; the shimmering modal intensity of the title cut nods to the expansiveness of Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way,"and the blissed-out soul of "Journey's End," accentuates the wide-open engagement with lyricism that was frequently left out of the electric jazz equation during the period. Along with the other tracks here, they offer a moving, wonderfully conceived and articulated aspect of the music that has been sadly overlooked by all but the most devoted fans of the genre.

Biography

Born: 20 December 1940 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Once identified with on-the-edge free music, keyboardist Larry Willis had a profitable flirtation with fusion in the '70s, then moved to hard bop in the '80s and '90s. Willis' playing has been frenetic, ambitious, and interesting, but during his jazz-rock and fusion days it was funky but greatly restrained and simplistic. A devotee of Herbie Hancock, Willis has found a good balance, with expertly constructed modal solos and also lyrical, relaxed statements. Willis graduated from the Manhattan School...
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Inner Crisis, Larry Willis
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