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Mastermind

Mastermind

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Album Review

When R&B went high-tech in the '80s, genuine bands became harder and harder to find. There were still plenty of groups in the '80s and '90s, although honest-to-God bands that had nine or ten members and boasted full horn sections became the exception instead of the rule. When Cameo and the Ohio Players downsized in the '80s, you knew that large funk bands were becoming an endangered species. But back in 1977, when Mastermind's first and only album came out on Prelude, R&B was still full of large, horn-driven bands. Listening to this enjoyable, if uneven, LP, you won't be blown away by the singing — Mastermind didn't have a great lead vocalist like Earth, Wind & Fire's Philip Bailey, L.T.D.'s Jeffrey Osborne, or the Commodores' Lionel Richie to win you over. What you will appreciate is the overall sound of the band and the horn-driven, jazz-influenced, very danceable funk grooves — cuts like "Mother Nature," "I Am Music," and "Hustle Bus Stop" could easily appeal to fans of Brass Construction, Mass Production, the Crown Heights Affair, or BT Express. Several jazz musicians are employed as guests, including saxman David Sanborn, trumpeter Jon Faddis, and guitarist Steve Khan. But none of them do a great deal of improvising — they're only on board to support Mastermind, whose LP wasn't a big seller and has long been out of print but is worth acquiring if, by some chance, you come across a copy somewhere.

Biography

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '70s

Comparable to Brass Construction and Mass Production but not nearly as well known, Mastermind was an obscure ten-piece funk-soul band that recorded in New York in the late '70s. Unlike the Ohio Players, Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, the Commodores and other big funk-soul bands of the '70s, Mastermind didn't have a really identifiable lead vocalist. Several of its members could contribute vocals if called upon to do so, but everyone in the band was a musician first and foremost with the...
Full Bio
Mastermind, Mastermind
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