Monday, February 25, 2008

One Degree Away From M.J.

First off, thanks to all of you came by the first run of "The Rio Deal" at Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg last weekend. I had a really great time and it sure seemed like I wasn't the only one who felt that way. The next one is at the end of March, so I'll be sure to send around a reminder closer to that date.

Before I dissapear to the west coast for a long weekend, I have some updates to bring you based on some recent musical events I attended in Brooklyn. These are a bit belated, but better late than never, right?

As my friend Josh so astutely pointed out, I am now one degree removed from M.J.! At an event put on by my good friends over at Wax Poetics on February 13th over at The Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO, Brooklyn I was lucky enough to meet and briefly talk to Larry & Fonce Mizell, the Mizell Brothers. If you don't know who the hell I'm talking about, its because these gentlemen have never had a hit under their own names, just under the likes of: The Jackson 5, Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, A Taste of Honey, L.T.D., Mary Wells, The Rance Allen Group, Roger Glenn, Gary Bartz, and The Blackbyrds.

Aside from the Jackson 5 and A Taste of Honey, who had a hit with the Mizell Bros.-produced "Boogie Oogie Oogie," these brothers haven't seen much action on the pop charts, but boy have they made an impact on the R&B charts. The brothers (later to include brother Rod) were instrumental in revitalizing the careers of veteran jazz cats like Byrd and Smith and new comers like Humphrey and in the process they breathed life into the funkier side of jazz music during the 1970s. Their albums with Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey and Johnny "Hammond" Smith are classics of the Jazz-Funk idiom and influenced dozens of musicians in both the jazz and R&B worlds. The more familiar I become with their discography the more I notice their trademark sounds in other bands/musicians' work. Their songs are sophisticated, intricate, beautiful, funky as a mosquito's tweeter and timeless. It's no wonder their work has been respectfully plundered by DJs and producers for the past three decades.

The brothers were honored at a recent event hosted by Fader Magazine and Giant-Step records where a veritable who's who of the DJ world came to pay tribute, including the gents over at Stone's Throw Records (left to right: J-Rocc - Madlib - Fonce Mizell - Larry Mizell - Karriem Riggins - Rod Mizell - Peanut Butter Wolf).

What we have here is a very special item that has recently been reissued by Wax Poetics' new record division as their second release. It's an extremely rare single by The Moments featuring Larry, Fonce and their good friend and partner Freddie Perren, who was a member of the Jackson 5 production team, The Corporation, along with Fonce. It's still not clear to me if this group is the same Moments that recorded albums for Stang and other labels a few years later. Regardless, this song is an energetic piece of classic Northern Soul and evidently the original 45 is so rare its recently sold for four figures. Either Fonce or Larry claims to have a box of these originals misplaced somewhere in his house. That box could easily be a college education. Imagine that.

The Moments - Baby I Want You (snippet)
Because this is but a single and I'm friends with the people putting this out, I'm just gonna give you a snippet of the song . . . just enough to know that you want to go and buy the vinyl here. It appears that the digital or CD version is not yet available, but I'm sure it will be sooner or later.

In the process of finding pictures of Larry and Fonce I came across these OTHER famous Mizell Brothers.

1 comment:

mojoknights said...

hey buddy, i am really feelin the rio deal. wish i couldve been there. in case my finances ever allow it, i will try to make my next rtrip to the big apple coincide with one of your rio deal parties. can you please add me to your mailing list if you have one, so i can be updated. my adress is
hope all is well.