Narada Michael Walden: White Night


White Night



Garden of Love Light (Wounded Bird WOU 8199)

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Narada Michael Walden (drums),

David Sancious (keyboards, electric sitar), Ray Gomez (guitar), Will Lee (bass), Perfection Light Symphony conducted by Michael Gibbs


Composed by Narada Michael Walden & Ray Gomez


Recorded: New York, 1977


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

I was a jazz disc jockey in 1977 when I first laid eyes on the cover of Garden of Love Light. I couldn't wait to give it a spin. After all, Narada Michael Walden was one of the finest drummers the fusion movement had produced. And even beyond that, he had been writing killer jazz-rock compositions for Mahavishnu and Jeff Beck. But by album's end, I was very disappointed. Walden was in a transition with his music. There were three cuts on the album that were superlative fusion numbers. But the remainder was an R&B pop fest full of syrupy vocals. Walden's new direction would eventually make him one of the industry's most successful pop music producers, in charge of some of the biggest hits that Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey ever put out. He won Grammys and awards for his movie soundtracks as well. More power to him. Despite my own selfish grieving over the great loss to jazz-rock his absence meant, I am happy for his success. No artist is put on this earth to do what I want him to.

The album's first cut, "White Night," is a full-fledged jazz-rock symphonic blast. It would seem to foreshadow a fusion fan's wet dream. Guitarist Ray Gomez, who co-wrote the piece, enters over an orchestral bed of harmonious strings. He sounds like Jeff Beck on the main slow theme. Once he solos, however, he shows some more electric bite. Walden's heavy backbeat supports the structure of the tune. Kick-ass mode has been achieved. As the song winds down, the Perfection Light Symphony plays heavenly call and response with Gomez. It is quite entertaining. "White Night" ends with a dramatic send-up that has you waiting with much anticipation for the next cut, only to be disappointed after it arrives.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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