COLIN CURTIS PRESENTS JAZZ DANCE FUSION.

Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion.

Label: Z Records.

During the late-seventies and early eighties, one of most popular DJs on the UK jazz-dance scene was Colin Curtis, who was born Colin Dimond, in Madeley, Staffordshire 1952. That was where the his lifelong love of music began when he started to listen to offshore pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline. Not long after that a friend of Colin Curtis’ sister showed him her collection of Tamla Motown singles, and this was the state of a lifelong love of black American music.

Soon, Colin Curtis was collecting record soul and R&B, and in the late-sixties, started attending Northern Soul all-nighters at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, and later, at the Golden Torch in Tunstall, Staffordshire. However, Colin Curtis wasn’t content just to dance at the all-nighters, what he really wanted to do was DJ.

He got his opportunity in the late-sixties, while still a teenager, and before long was part of the DJ line-up at the Golden Torch all-nighters. However, it was in 1973 that Colin Curtis got his big break, when he began a weekly residency at the soul nights at the Highland Rooms at the Blackpool Mecca. Soon, Colin Curtis was joined by fellow DJ and record collector Ian Levine, and this was the start of a five-year partnership which that lasted until 1978. However, during this period, there was a split in the Northern Soul scene.

Up until then, the Northern Soul scene was primarily a revivalist scene, with the majority of DJs looking for obscure soul singles from the sixties and seventies. This was too restrictive for Colin Curtis and Ian Levine whose music tastes were much more eclectic. The pair who pioneered mixing in the UK, began adding disco, funk and jazz to their sets which was a controversial move. So much so, that the Northern Soul scene was split in two and the modern soul movement emerged out of the Highland Rooms.

The demise of the Colin Curtis and Ian Levine DJ-ing partnership took place in September 1978, after five years at the Highland Rooms. However, Colin Curtis left to take up a residency at Rafters nightclub in Manchester, which  marked a turning point in his DJ-ing career.

Although Colin Curtis still played  soul and disco in his sets, they started to move towards  jazz funk and fusion. This was the sound that Colin Curtis played at all-nighters up and down the country, including venues like the Blackpool Mecca and Manchester Ritz. These nights were hugely popular, with Colin Curtis regularly playing in front of crowds that ranged from 1,500 right up to 3,000. Colin Curtis’ new sound was proving as popular as the Northern Soul nights he had played at a decade earlier.

Buoyed by the success of his new sound, Colin Curtis started playing at venues around the UK, and by the early eighties, was even playing in mainland Europe. By then, Colin Curtis was regarded as a pioneer of the UK jazz-dance scene which would explode over the next few years. However, if it wasn’t for DJs like Colin Curtis, the UK jazz-dance scene may not have been the success it was. 

Now over thirty years later, and Colin Curtis is still passionate about the music he played on the UK jazz-dance scene. So much so, that he has just released a new two CD set Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion which was released by Z Records and documents the glory days of the UK jazz-dance scene.

On Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion the twenty tracks on the two CDs he eschews the predictable and familiar, and instead digs deep into his collection for deep cuts, rarities and hidden gems. However, there’s still plenty of floor filling favourites, Latin jazz and top quality workouts that will test the stamina of even the fittest dancers. As a result, it’s not going to be easy to choose the highlights of a compilation of the quality of Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion.

Disc One.

Michele Hendricks’ cover of What’s Going On which was the title-track to Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic album opens Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion. It’s a track from Michele Hendricks sophomore album Keepin’ Me Satisfied which was produced by David Leonhardt of The 77s and released on Muse Records in 1988. This beautiful, jazz-tinged cover of What’s Going On sets the bar high for the rest of compilation.

Harold’s House Of Jazz is a track from Richie Cole’s 1979 album Keeper Of The Flame, which was also released on Muse Records. It’s an explosive and swinging example of post bop where Eddie Jefferson adds an urgent scat that most dancers will struggle to keep up with.

In 1972, Emanuel K Rahim and The Kahliqs released the album Total Submission on the Cobblestone label. One of the highlights was Spirit Of Truth where modal jazz and Latin jazz combine to create a truly irresistible dancefloor filler. Eight years later, and Total Submission was reissued by Muse Record which is how many on the jazz-dance scene first heard Spirit Of Truth.

Although Dave Pike is best known for his 1966 album Jazz For The Jet Set, that was only a small part of a long and successful career. The vibes and marimba player released around seventeen albums, including Let The Minstrels Play On in 1980. It was recorded on March the ’22nd’ and ’23rd’ 1978 at Sage and Sound Studio, in Hollywood. One of the album’s highlights was Spirit’s Samba where Carol Eschete, who adds a tender scatted vocal and Dave Pike adds a spellbinding solo before guitarist Ron Eschete plays his part in this irresistible fusion of Latin jazz and jazz funk.

When guitarist and vocalist Walt Barr released his sophomore album East Winds on Music Records in 1979, it featured Zamba. It epitomises everything that was good about fusion, and even incorporates a hint of Latin music during four magical minutes.

In 1980, Eric Kloss released Celebration on Muse Records, which featured The Samba Express. It’s a high-octane track where Latin jazz and fusion are combined seamlessly by Eric Kloss and his tight, talented band

Closing disc one of Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion is Charlie Earland’s Murilley, which is taken from his 1981 album Pleasant Afternoon which was released on Muse Records. It was the first album Hammond organ player had released since switching from Charles to Charlie Earland. By then, he was one of the greatest Hammond organ player of his generation. Proof of this is Murilley where elements of soul jazz and jazz funk are combined by Charlie Earland on this swinging track that was a favourite of dancers at Dingwalls in the late-eighties.

Disc Two.

Richie Cole’s New York Afternoon opens disc two of Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion. It’s a track from Richie Cole’s 1977 album New York Afternoon (Alto Madness) which was released on Muse Records. New York Afternoon was one of the album’s highlights, and finds Richie Cole unleashing one of his finest performances, as he plays speed and fluidity on this soul jazz deep cut.

In 1974, Dom Um Romao released his eponymous album on Muse Records, which was his third solo album. His career began a decade earlier, but still Dom Um Romao was still struggling to make a break thought. That was ironic as he was a talented  drummer and percussionist. He and his band showcase their considerable skills on Ponteio, which is a rare Latin jazz track that  os one of the highlights of Dom Um Romao.

Jazz saxophonist David Schnitter was thirty-four when he released his third album Thundering on Muse Records in 1979. It failed commercially which was a disappointment for someone who had once been a member of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. However, one of the hidden gems on Thundering was Flying Colors which features blistering solo from David Schnitter who plays with power, fluidity and speed which many dancers would struggle to keep up with as when Colin Curtis played it at venues across the UK. 

When the Dave Matthews’ Big Band released Night Flight on Muse Records in 1977, it marked the debut of this innovative band. They were one of the few big bands were incorporating jazz funk into their music. This was a radical departure and one that would upset purists. One of Night Flight’s finest moments was Vera Cruz where the big band sound was combined with jazz funk and even a hint of fusion. It was a heady brew and one which reinvented the big band sound. Sadly, Night Flight despite its quality failed to attract an audience and slipped under the radar. 

Eric Kloss makes a return on disc two with Morning Song which is a track from his 1978 album Now, was released on Muse Records. From the get-go, Eric Kloss’ saxophone is playing a starring role on another high-octane track. He plays with speed, accuracy and fluidity, especially during a spellbinding solo were dancers would surely be forced to just retire defeated and revel in what was one of Eric Kloss’ finest moments on Now.

American saxophonist and flautist Harold Ousley was forty-eight when he released his fourth album The People’s Groove on Muse Records in 1978. One of the highlights of the album was the genre-melting El Exi-Hente where Harold Ousley and his band combine elements of Latin jazz, soul jazz and even fusion to create a dancefloor filler.

Bill Hardman who made his name as a jazz musical playing  trumpet and flugelhorn closes Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion with Samba Do Brilho. It’s a track from Bill Hardman’s 1978 album Home which was released on Muse Records. On Samba Do Brilho Bill Hardman’s trumpet plays a leading role Samba Do Brilho on what’s another irresistible track that closes the compilation on a high.

For veterans of the UK jazz dance scene Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion is the perfect opportunity to relive the nights spent dancing to jazz funk, fusion and Latin jazz. The twenty tracks on Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion which is a two CD set, which has just been released by Z Records were part of this hugely popular scene, which was very different to what had gone before, including Northern Soul, disco and boogie. 

Never before had DJs played sets that featured jazz funk, Latin jazz and fusion. This many onlookers thought was unheard of, but the roots of the UK jazz dance scene could be traced to the Highland Rooms in Blackpool, when Colin Curtis and Ian Levine started playing funk and disco in their Northern Soul sets. Over the next few years, Colin Curtis’ sets evolved and eventually, he was a pioneer of the UK jazz dance scene.

While other followed in his footsteps, Colin Curtis will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of the UK jazz dance scene who played eclectic sets where anything was possible. Soon, Colin Curtis’ sets featured jazz funk, fusion and Latin jazz, where he eschewed the predictable and familiar, for deep cuts, hidden gems and rarities. That is the case on Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion which is full of floor filling favourites, including swinging jazz funk, fiery fusion and irresistible Latin jazz that are a remainder of the glory days of the UK jazz dance scene .

Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion.

 

1 Comment

  1. There’s some great stuff here! Wow!

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