Thursday Jazz: Deodato
Words By Zach Zeidner
As it has been well established, the seventies was a great decade for the Jazz fusion movement. As Jazz-funk/rock fusion began to sweep the realm of popular Jazz, many other musicians not formerly associated with the Jazz scene began to experiment with the new styles presented to them. The loose feeling of the music with the tightly intricate musicianship that allowed for a perpetual drive of improvisation, allowed for many musicians that were not considered Jazz musicians to become interested in what was happening in the music. Many producers in the popular music scene began experimenting with this new wave of musical development. One of these producers was a Brazilian record producer and arranger named Eumir Deodato de Almenia, or Deodato for short. Deodato can be considered in the realm of cross-over jazz, he has roots in the jazz scene but his eclectic influences and projects have put him in a gray area of Jazz/pop.
Deodato’s 1975 album, First Cuckoo is an intensely pop-fusion driven album that incorporates everything you could possibly desire from some nasty funk fusion originals, to a funky Ellington cover, to some beautiful fusion style ballads and a even a killer Zeppelin cover. The album consists of different groups Deodato put together to specifically alter the sound to what he desired. The album includes Hugh McCracken and John Tropea on guitar, Nick Remo and Steve Gadds on drums, Will Lee on bass, Lou Marini on sax, as well as many others that interchange depending on the tune. The album opens with a devastating funk tune properly entitled “Funk Yourself”. This tune could be considered the textbook example of the perfect funk fusion composition. The tune has the right amount of groove, leveled with the perfect amount of funk, and driven with intense technical improvisation that will undoubtedly leave you bewildered.
They continue with a funkafied version of Zeppelin’s Black Dog that demonstrates well the beauty behind that arrangement, as well as exemplifies how eclectically simple it is to improvise around the chord changes and melody of the song and yet allow a consistent rock drive. The dynamics of the group demonstrates the incredible musical vision of Deodato and exemplifies the producer’s role in music. Demonstrating the successful ability to lead a group as well as put together projects is an artistic ability that Deodato holds well. Enjoy this album, it is something different that I am sure you will continue to play over and over.
Deodato's "First Cuckoo" on Amazon.com