Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A Soul Jazz Moment!
Luther Randolph & Johnny Stiles - Cross Roads (Pt. 1)
I don't feature soul jazz on this blog often, although I enjoy it, so I decided to take a little break to do a post about "Cross Roads" by Luther Randolph and Johnny Stiles. Randolph and Stiles made up two-thirds of the "Harthon trio" (Weldon McDougal III was the third), whose productions on Barbara Mason, Herb Ward and others have made them an integral part in the history of Philly soul. The trio was featured in the fourth issue of There's That Beat!" last year, and although I would like to invite you to go to the website and order that issue to read their fascinating story, I've learned that it is sold out. Fortunately, over at the Hitsville Soul Club site there's a great page featuring the Club's 2007 All-Nighter, which includes a Q&A session with the three men, who were honored guests at the event. Make sure to check it out.
Randolph and Stiles started working together before the "Harthon trio" took shape, and the two-parter "Cross Roads" garnered local release (the label name escapes me, and I don't have my copy of There's That Beat! handy; I think, however, it was a joint venture between the two men) before it was picked up by the then-dominant Philly concern Cameo-Parkway for release as a Cameo single. The tune is a bluesy, swinging affair in a classic soul-jazz trio setting (organ, guitar and drums), and Randolph's organ work is fantastic, especially as he builds up intensity as the record goes along.