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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Apple Juice

BGO Records BGOCD 1217



1. Apple Juice
2. Gonna Do It Right
3. We Belong Together
4. So White And So Funky
5. Gettin' Up
6. In My Dreams
7. Instant Relief

Tom Scott – Saxes, Lyricon

Eric Gale – Electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Hugh McCracken – Electric guitar

Richard Tee – Keyboards

Marcus Miller – Fender bass

Ralph MacDonald – Percussion

Steve Gadd – Drums

Dr John – Vocals (track 4)

Recorded over three days at New York’s Bottom Line club in January 1981, this album shows what can be achieved in the much-maligned jazz fusion genre. The playing time is less than 44 minutes but the quality of the music makes it a good buy. Saxist Tom Scott is listed as the main performer but he is actually surpassed by the classic rhythm section of Tee, Miller, Gadd and MacDonald, abetted by Eric Gale. They place the album’s emphasis firmly on the beat, which is here (probably rightly) considered the “soul” of jazz. Richard Tee and Steve Gadd in particular ensure that the beat is firm and thrusting. Tee plays the piano and all kinds of electronic keyboards, where his gospel roots are conspicuous, while Steve Gadd’s drumming is the tightest style one could imagine.

This is not to diminish the contribution of Tom Scott, who had a hand in writing all seven tunes and plays the saxes powerfully. His sound is often reminiscent of Dave Sanborn, although Scott is more austere. Yet We Belong Together proves that he can be a rapturous soloist. The tunes are not particularly memorable but the band delivers them with gusto.

The opening title-track certainly raises expectations, as the audience bubbles with excitement and the band launches into an indubitable rhythm behind Scott’s alto. Dr John supplies a guest vocal on So White And So Funky, with the crowd joining in enthusiastically on “So funky”. The song contains some witty lines, like “My daddy wasn’t any help/All we listened to was Lawrence Welk”. Tom Scott’s solo is very Sanbornesque.

The rhythm section comes into its own in the last three tracks. Getting’ Up includes a stunning solo by Richard Tee, while the ballad In My Dreams features a tasteful acoustic guitar solo by Eric Gale. Instant Relief is a funky piece which contains impressive solos by Marcus Miller, Ralph MacDonald and Steve Gadd.

Of course, jazz fusion may be anathema to you, but I would still urge you to get this album and listen to it with an open mind. You never know…

Tony Augarde

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