Billy Cobham-George Duke Band: Almustafa the Beloved
Almustafa the Beloved
Billy Cobham-George Duke Band
Live On Tour In Europe (Wounded Bird WOU 8194)
Composed by Alphonso Johnson.
Recorded: live in Europe, Summer 1976
Rating: 89/100 (learn more)
In other jazz-rock reviews, I have suggested that it is rare for a vocal performance to succeed in the realm of the fusion milieu. It did and does happen, but such occurrences are difficult to find. I am still not quite sure the vocals work on "Almustafa the Beloved." But I give this tune a mulligan by placing it in my own personal Guilty Pleasures collection. I can't help it. I get caught up in the groove.
The piece opens with the narrator's resonant voice informing us of the legend of Almustafa the Beloved. A pleasant fusion musical background is presented as the vocalists then groove on several purposeful and soulful riffs. A hint of funk enters after the vocals before the band plays the number to its pleasing end. No big solos – just a story told.
Now a word of caution from your friendly reviewer: That "hint of funk" I alluded to would soon fester and infect much that Billy Cobham and George Duke would play for several years hence. With each succeeding album it became more integral to their music. At some point it went over the demarcation line for me. There was still some good music presented by these jazz warriors. But it became harder to find. Don't get me wrong. Good funk is good funk. But I never felt that the style of funk of these two fusion heroes quite met that criteria.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky