Feeling Good - Funk, Soul & Deep Jazz Gems - The Supreme Sound of Producer Bob Shad
WEWANTSOUNDS is back with FEELING GOOD, a compilation of rare Spiritual Jazz and Funk grooves culled from legendary Producer BOB SHAD’s Mainstream Records. Made in partnership with Mia and Judd Apatow, Shad’s grandchildren, the set features insightful sleevenotes by JUDD APATOW himself and was supervised by Matt Robin, avid collector of the label who had previously overseen the Jazzactuel BYG boxset with Thurston Moore. Many know Alice Clark’s cult classic “Never Did I Stop Loving You” produced by Bob Shad in 1972, but this is the tip of the iceberg. Many treasures are uncovered here for the first time on compilation, all remastered from the original master tapes.
In 1993, A Tribe Called Quest recorded their landmark album Midnight Marauders, using a sample of Freddie Hubbard’s 1970 jazz classic Red Clay, for their song “Sucka Nigga”. Interestingly, they didn’t go for Hubbard’s original but instead used an obscure version by guitarist Jack Wilkins from a 1973 album on a small independent jazz label, Mainstream Records. Fast forward twenty years to 2013. Chance The Rapper samples the exact same Mainstream recording for the track “NaNa”, from his cult mixtape Acid Rap. A coincidence? Possibly, but the Jack Wilkins track has that perfect mid-tempo groove, spare arrangements and slick guitar lick that makes a prime candidate for sampling. A unique balance originally masterminded by one man: BOB SHAD, owner of Mainstream Records and the most legendary music producer you’ve probably never heard of.
A passionate music man well ahead of his time, Shad started in the 40s producing such jazz and blues giants as Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Sarah Vaughan before setting himself up in the late 50s as an independent producer and label owner, releasing jazz, blues, Doo Wop and Rock ‘n’ Roll records. In 1958, he recorded a Doo Wop group from Long Island called The Jades. Their guitarist? A 14-year-old kid called Lou Reed. Eight years later, Shad, having just launched a new jazz and rock imprint, Mainstream records, signed an unknown psychedelic band from San Francisco called Big Brother & the Holding Company. Their singer? A raunchy 23 year old girl named Janis Joplin. And that’s just a few of the producer’s achievements.
Around 1971, Bob Shad decided to go back to his first love, jazz, and launched the Mainstream Red Lion (MRL) Series. He recorded many old friends including Sarah Vaughan, Shelly Manne, Art Farmer and even cut an instrumental album himself under the name Bobby Shad & The Bad Men. More importantly, Shad brought into the studio a new breed of jazz musicians, playing the cool blend of Spiritual Jazz, Soul and Funk that was getting hip following A Love Supreme and Bitches Brew. Alongside labels like Flying Dutchman and Strata-East, Shad would capture that unique vibe and would go on to produce close to a hundred albums in just a few years spending a lot of time in the studio supervising the sessions himself with the artists and arrangers. Drenched in modal Fender Rhodes keys, spiritual sax and flute solos, deep percussions and funky beats, these albums have slowly been rediscovered by a new generation of DJs, hip hop producers and vinyl junkies all around the world.
This handpicked selection will give you a little taster for the diversity of Bob Shad’s master sound, from Afrique’s cult classic “House of the Rising Funk” and its funky wah wah frenzy to Hadley Caliman’s deep jazz Flute ode; From one of Clark Terry’s famous Mumbles (Shad produced the original with Oscar Peterson after all) to Jack Wilkins’ “Red Clay” mentioned previously. A Soul Music lover excelling in divas, he also produced newcomers Ellerine Harding, Maxine Weldon and of course the mighty Alice Clark, whose album on Mainstream exchanges hands for around 500$ these days.
To close the compilation in style, Carmen McRae, one of Shad’s long time collaborators, gives a soulful, conga-led version of the classic Feelin’ Good, contemporary of Nina Simone's famous version which, by the way, was arranged by Hal Mooney, Bob Shad’s arranger-in-chief at EmArcy in the 50s. A superb minimalist version by Ms. McRae showcasing the unique sound of Bob Shad, a passionate, spirited and fiercely independent record producer who lived for the music.