It was in 1921, that the Leedy Manufacturing Company first began marketing the vibraphone in America. Since then, the distinctive sound of the vibraphone has featured on albums by Gary Burton, Milt Jackson, Roy Ayres, Bobby Hutcherson, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader. They’re among just a few of the most high profile “vibes” players. There were many more musicians vibes players, including Ted Coleman. 

His career began in Pittsburgh, where he played piano in local clubs. This was Ted Coleman’s introduction to life as a working musician, and was akin to a musical apprenticeship. Ironically, the piano wasn’t Ted Coleman’s first instrument. He was a talented multi—instrumental, whose musical weapon of choice was the vibes. It was the instrument that Ted Coleman would layer make his name playing.

Although Ted Coleman could play piano, synths, steel drums and the marimba, his first musical love was the vibes. Having started off playing piano, Ted switched to vibes. Soon, Ted Coleman became a popular attraction in Pittsburgh and later, New Jersey’s thriving and vibrant music scene. That’s no surprise.

Growing up, Ted Coleman was influenced by Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson. Then when Ted’s father introduced him to the music Cal Tjader, he was hooked on the languid Latin sound of the vibes. Soon, Ted was determined to follow in Cal Tjader’s footsteps. 

As Ted Coleman’s career began to take shape, he was influenced by both Roy Ayers and Johnny Lytle. Their music was funkier and had a much more contemporary sound. This would go on to influence Ted Coleman’s career.

By 1979, Ted Coleman living in New Jersey, and had founded his own band, the Ted Coleman Band. They had already established a reputation locally, and were regarded as one of the rising stars of what was a thriving and eclectic local music scene. The next step for the Ted Coleman Band was to record their debut album, Taking Care Of Business, which was recently rereleased on vinyl by BBE. It was recorded back in 1979.

For Taking Care Of Business, Ted Coleman had written seven songs. They would be recorded at G.T. Recording Studio, Long Branch, New Jersey during 1979.

At the G.T. Recording Studio, the Ted Coleman Band began setting up. Its lineup featured drummers Al Woods Jr. and David Nuding, bassist Tim Tindall and rhythm guitarist Ethan Rips. They were joined by lead guitarist George Naha, Albert “Ali” Reyes on bongos and conga player David Stone. Ted Coleman had arranged the seven songs and was going to produce Taking Care Of Business. He also added vocals and played vibes, piano, synths and was responsible for the strings. Tom Elliott was one of two house engineers, ensured the session ran smoothly. Then when Taking Care Of Business was recorded, it was mixed by Ted Coleman. Now the Ted Coleman Band were ready to released their debut album Taking Care Of Business.

With Taking Care Of Business recorded, the next step for the Ted Coleman Band was getting the album released. This was where the New Jersey based JSR label came in. They were a relatively new company, and one that specialised in releasing albums by what they called “working bands.” JSR’s approach was quite simple: they didn’t offer advances neither did they cover recording nor production costs. The Ted Coleman Band weren’t even signed to JSR. What JSR would do, was press copies of Taking Care Of Business, and the Ted Coleman Band could sell them at concerts or via retail outlets. That was the theory.

In 1980, the Ted Coleman Band’s debut album Taking Care Of Business was released via JSR, sporting a cover designed by Ted. He had been involved in every aspect of the release. Doubtless Ted was involved in selling copies of the album, as he had been hands on throughout the project.

Alas, like many private pressings, Taking Care Of Business wasn’t a huge seller. Instead, it found an audience in the New Jersey area, especially among those who saw the Ted Coleman Band live. However, the Ted Coleman Band weren’t going to get rich out of Taking Care Of Business.

That proved to be case. It wasn’t until much later, that the Ted Coleman Band’s debut album began to find an audience. Some lucky record buyers stumbled across copies, and took a chance on Taking Care Of Business. Gradually, word began to spread about Taking Care Of Business. Soon, though, demand began to outstrip supply. That’s often the case with private pressings that belatedly find an audience. Nowadays, an original copy Taking Care Of Business will cost £533 or $649. Fortunately, BBE have recently released Taking Care Of Business.

Opening Taking Care Of Business is Can You Feel It? It bursts joyously into life. The rhythm section, complete with an uber funky bass, is joined by keyboards, Latin percussion and sweeping strings. They accompany Ted’s tender, heartfelt and soulful. When his vocal drops out, a jazzy guitar solo proves the perfect replacement. It’s then replaced by Ted’s vibes solo as the strings dance and the percussion and rhythm section power the arrangement along. The rest of the band enjoy their moment in the sun, and prove to be a talented and versatile band. They accompany Ted when vocal returns, and later, enjoy another  opportunity to showcase their skills as almost seamlessly, they combines funk, jazz, Latin and soul to create a joyous slice of feel good music.

Drums pound while a guitar chimes and is joined by bubbling, funky bass on Due Consideration. They’re soon joined by Ted’s vibes and a soon, his vocal. He delivers lyrics that are full of social comment. When the vocal drops out, a jazz guitar and then Ted’s vibes take centre-stage. Ted unleashes a virtuoso performance on the vibes, as the rhythm section take the track in the direction of the dance-floor. That’s where this irresistible hook-laden track belongs. 

Straight away, it’s obvious something special is unfolding on If We Took the Time. The rhythm section and guitar provide a funky backdrop, while strings sweep and combine with the vibes. They accompany Ted, as he delivers another heartfelt and soulful vocal. It drops out at 1.09 and the Band get the opportunity to shine. This includes Ted who step forward at 1.32 and delivers another flawless solo. He gives way to a jazzy guitar solo, which steals the show. Soon, it’s replaced by a rocky and effects laden guitar solo. Ted it seems was comfortable playing with some truly talented musicians, and had no qualms about allowing them to take centre-stage. When Ted’s vocal returns, it’s still tender, heartfelt and ruminative, as he delivers lyrics that are still relevant today. Similarly, there’s a timeless quality to this beautiful, laid back fusion of soul, funk and jazz.

Due Consideration Interlude finds the Ted Coleman lock into a funky groove on this instrumental. The rhythm section anchor the arrangement, as strings sweep. Percussion is added to the bouncy, funky arrangement, before Ted, wielding his trusty mallet delivers another solo on this dance-floor friendly jam.

Sweet Bird sees a drop in tempo as the arrangement flows elegiacally along. The rhythm anchor the arrangement, strings sweep above the arrangement, while percussion and keyboards play. Then Ted steps forward and delivers another vibes solo. It’s then replaced by a searing guitar solo that uses as its reference point Seals and Croft’s Summer Breeze. From there, the arrangement meanders melodically along, and as the Ted Coleman Band showcase their considerable skills.

Just vibes play before lush strings join the rhythm section and keyboards on What a Lovely Way. They provide the backdrop for Ted’s dreamy, lovestruck vocal. When it drops out, the vibes are to the fore as the arrangement ebbs and flows. Still, the rhythm section provide a slightly funky sound, as lush strings sweep. Then when the vibes drop out, it’s replaced by a languid, laid-back jazz guitar solo. It’s the best on Taking  Care Of Business, and together with the strings, they provide a beautiful, summery sounding backdrop for Ted Coleman’s paean.

Samba De closes Taking Care Of Business the Ted Coleman Band’s debut album. Vibes join with the urgent Latin percussion, before a jazz guitar and strings sweep in. They take the track in the direction of the dance-floor. That’s despite another jazz guitar solo, as the rhythm section, bongos and congas power the arrangement along. Then at 2.25 Ted steps up and plays his vibes with speed and accuracy. He plays with the same urgency as the percussion and rhythm section. When the vibes drop out, the rest of the band get one last opportunity to shine. A piano takes over, then gives way to the guitar, percussion and drums. Even the strings enjoy a moment in the sun, before Ted takes charge and ensures that Taking Care Of Business ends on a high, with this genre-melting instrumental. The Ted Coleman Band it seems, have kept the best until last.

Thirty-six years have passed since the Ted Coleman Band released their debut album Taking Care Of Business in 1980. It’s stood the test of time, and belatedly, found the audience it deserves. There was only one problem, original copies of Taking Care Of Business were prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, BBE have recently reissued Taking Care Of Business on vinyl, and the Ted Coleman Band’s debut album can now be heard by a wider audience.

They will discover an album that’s a glorious fusion of funk, jazz, Latin and soul. There’s even the occasional rocky guitar lick thrown in for good measure on Taking Care Of Business. Mostly, though, the music on Taking Care Of Business is funky, jazz-tinged and soulful. It’s also dance-floor friendly. This is in part to the irresistible Latin rhythms and funky rhythm section. They’re part of the multitalented Ted Coleman Band.

Looking back, it seems that unlike many bandleaders, Ted Coleman wasn’t afraid to surround himself with talented musicians. He gave them a platform to showcase their considerable skills. This they were allowed to do throughout Taking Care Of Business, but especially during the solos. Ted Coleman wasn’t afraid to allow his band to take centre-stage. When this opportunity arose, they grasped it with both hands, and sometimes, came close to upstaging Ted. Especially, lead guitarist George Naha, whose jazzy solos ran Ted close on several occasions. However, Taking Care Of Business wasn’t just the work of one or two men.

While Ted Coleman wrote, arranged, produced and mixed Taking Care Of Business, each and every member of the Ted Coleman Band play their part an important part in the album’s sound and belated success. Thirty-six years after the The Ted Coleman Band released Taking Care Of Business, this timeless, hidden gem is belatedly finding the audience it deserves. It’s a case of better late than never.

Just like so many private presses, Taking Care Of Business never found the audience it deserved. JSR which in 1980, was a relatively new company, neither had the resources nor marketing expertise to promote the album. Neither did the Ted Coleman Band. Fortunately, things have changed, and now record buyers worldwide are able to discover the delights of BBE’s reissue of Ted Coleman Band’s debut album Taking Care Of Business.




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