Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Is (Motown Soul Jazz) Blues Day!

Dave Hamilton - Late Freight

Today's selection is one of this blog's rare forays into soul jazz, and it fits nicely in the "Tuesday Is Blues Day" theme as well. I featured multi-instrumentalist/producer/record label owner Dave Hamilton in a week's worth of posts some time ago. Today I turn to his early work with Motown. Hamilton played guitar and vibes on quite a few early recordings for Berry Gordy before he stepped out on his own to run labels and provide occasional session work elsewhere. While with Motown, however, Hamilton was one of a handful of musicians who recorded for the short-lived Workshop Jazz label. Berry Gordy had set up the label to give his musicians, many of whom were serious jazz cats (in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Joe Hunter strongly emphasized that the Funk Brothers were playing jazz in clubs when they weren't down in the "Snake Pit"), incentive to work with him - sort of a "play some R&B for me, and I'll let you do what you really like" thing. Within a very short time, however, Gordy was able to shutter the label, so among the early Motown material the Workshop Jazz stuff is pretty rare. Interestingly enough, when the Four Tops first signed to Motown, they recorded a set for Workshop Jazz, which went unreleased until Hip-O Select put it out on CD a year or two ago!

"Late Freight" was part of Hamilton's Blue Vibrations LP, and the tune also garnered single release. After the band sets the "train" theme in the tune's aggressive intro, the groove settles into a blues shuffle and Hamilton, on vibes, does his thing.

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