Saturday, November 1, 2008

marlena shaw

one of my favorite soul vocalists from the 60's and 70's is marlena shaw.

the break from her 45 version of 'california soul' was used on dj shadow & cut chemist's brainfreeze mix & the records she released under chess subsidiary cadet are familiar to diggers due in no small part to the eclectic orchestral work of richard evans, who produced and arranged shaw's two albums released by that label, 'out of different bags' and 1969's 'the spice of life.' evans went on to work for ramsey lewis, kenney burrell, the soulful strings, sun ra and others, and he played wicked bass on many an album released during that era.

shaw began her career singing in bars with small jazz groups and was signed to cadet records in 1966. that very next year her verison of cannonball adderly and joe zawinul's 'mercy mercy mercy' would become a hit. after her two album stint with cadet she toured for a little while with the count basie orchestra before becoming the first female vocalist signed to the blue note label.

her first album with them, 'from the depths of my soul' is as smooth and funky as can be. i was lucky enough to find it at a sacramento flea market in good condition minus the cover damage. personel inclues ron carter and wilbur bascomb on the bass, charles collins, grady tate, and herbie lovelle on the drums, carl lynch, cornell dupree, gene bertoncini, hugh mccracken on guitars, and derek smith on the keyboards.

shaw has been able to blur the lines between jazz and soul in such a way as so give her a definite presence. one of her most sampled songs is 'woman of the ghetto,' which was the 7" single to 'the spice of life' album: