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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke



RCA Jazz 090266387526

Collective Personnel :
Leon Thomas - vocal, maracas
Neal Creque - piano, electric piano
Jimmy Owens - trumpet, flugelhorn
Pee Wee Ellis - saxes
Joe Farrell - saxophone,flute
Joe Beck, Lloyd Davis - guitar
Richard Davis - electric bass
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - drums
Herbie Lovelle - drums
Sonny Morgan, Richard "Pablo" Landrum,

Overdubbed Strings:
Leo Khan, Gene Orloff, Joe Malignaggi, Raoul Poliakin, Emmanuel Green, David Nadien - violin; Richard Dickler, Carl Fleisig - viola; Anthony Sophos, Alan Shulman - cello.

Recorded September, 1973 at Allegro Sound, The Record Plant, New York City.

1. Sweet Little Angel
2.Just In Time To See The Sun
3. It's My Life I'm Fighting For
4. Never Let Me Go
5. I Wanna Be Where You Are
6. Got To Be There
7. Balance of Life
8. You Are The Sunshine of My Life
9. What Are We Gonna Do?

Previously unissued alternate takes:
10. Sweet Little Angel
11. Just in Time to See the Sun
12. It's My Life I'm Fighting For
13. I Wanna Be Where You Are
14. You Are the Sunshine of My Life

This is the third disc in the spate of recent re-releases from the recorded works of Leon Thomas . In many ways this offering is the most conventional of the series so far. It contains far more of what might be referred to as standard repertoire and, because of this is probably more approachable initially than the other two CDs. I would imagine that this tactic was originally employed by the record company to appeal to a wider audience. One word of warning - the new liner notes are correct in the French version , but the English text pertains to "Reflections Of A Golden Dream " by Lonnie Liston Smith !
Thomas is in fine voice throughout this album and there are a few tracks that would possibly have been immediate enough to have been issued at the time as singles."Sweet Little Angel" is by B.B. King and Thomas delivers it in a truly declamatory "Blues " style. This selection has some interesting overdubbed strings as do many of the numbers here . It is interesting that on this track the strings are actually featured on one chorus over the original guitar solo in a passage of very idiomatic writing.
The soloists on all of the pieces are first-rate . Of particular note is the soprano playing of Pee Wee Ellis ( "Just In Time To See The Sun" ) and the flute of the now almost forgotten Joe Farrell ( " It's My Life I'm Fighting For "). However the most appealing selection is the beautiful rendition of Joe Scott's "Never Let Me Go". This is a ballad performance worthy of Billy Eckstine or Brook Benton and includes an absolutely magical tenor break from Pee Wee Ellis in the manner of Stanley Turrentine or Gene Ammons - close to the melody and with voluptuous tone.
I greatly enjoyed this disc - the material is excellent, from Stevie Wonder's " Isn't She Lovely " to unfamiliar power-ballads such as " Got To Be There" and original tunes, "It's My Life" and "What Are We Gonna Do". This disc is highly recommended.

Dick Stafford

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