Alphonso Johnson: Flight to Hampstead Heath


Flight to Hampstead Heath


Alphonso Johnson (electric bass)


Yesterday's Dreams (SMM 518 995 2)

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Alphonso Johnson (electric bass),

Patrice Rushen (keyboards), Ian Underwood (synthesizers), Ray Gomez (guitar), Lee Ritenour (acoustic 12-string guitar), Chester Thompson (drums), Sheila Escovedo, Ruth Underwood (percussion)


Composed by Alphonso Johnson


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, 1976


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Alphonso Johnson, best known at the time as Weather Report's bassist, takes a breather on "Flight to Hampstead Heath." The piece is one of the more satisfying on this album. It is an exploration. Slow meandering arpeggios begin the song. Soon the band is in a Frank Zappa jazz-rock groove. This was probably due in no small measure to the fact that synthesizer player Ian Underwood and percussionist Ruth Underwood, both ex-members of Zappa's bands, were along for the ride. The tune has a strong melody and is full of the fun-filled syncopation that the Underwoods brought to Zappa's music. Percussionist Sheila Escovedo was just a few short years away from becoming the famous Sheila E. Guitarist Lee Ritenour was only a few years away from becoming a Smooth Jazz player. (Cough. Cough. I must have a hairball.) But on this tune they help Johnson, who plays great bass, lay down an impressive fusion number.

Reviewer's Warning: Neither "Flight to Hampstead Heath" nor its companion "Balls to the Wall" is representative of this album. I hate the rest of the music. Johnson was attempting the crossover move. I hate the crossover gambit. If that stuff doesn't bother you, then by all means, don't listen to me. But you have been warned.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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