Black Velvet (Out of Print,Digital Only)
O'Donel Levy, Chester Thompson, Alarza Collins, William Thorpe & Arthur
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As its title portends, Black Velvet boasts a smooth, rich texture absent from O'Donel Levy's subsequent Groove Merchant sessions — its mellow, stoned-soul sensibilities nevertheless complement the guitarist perfectly, affording him the space to weave a series of righteously beautiful solos. Like so many Groove Merchant efforts, the album relies far too much on the pop charts for material — pap like "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "I'll Be There," and "Theme from Love Story" turns up like bad pennies — but the arrangements are lovely, spotlighting contributions from organist Charles Covington, reedist Fats Theus, and trumpeter Billy Skinner. Levy also proves himself a composer of some distinction, contributing a pair of charming originals, "Granny" and "Nature's Child."
Smooth Jazz station listeners will love it
Granny and Nature's Child are fascinating, and really show the talent of musicians that already had tons of talent in these earlier days. The covers show the musicianship as well, though I agree with the official review that the original pieces have the most to offer.
...what else with Chester Thompson on drums! This new "old head" can really swing on guitar!
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