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Godfather of Soul Does Jazz


Tomorrow, July 20, Verve Records will issue for the first time on CD James Brown's 35-year-old jazz album, "Soul on Top." Recorded in 1969 with the Louie Bellson Orchestra and originally released on King Records, the 12-tune collection features Oliver Nelson's arrangements and Brown's bandmate Maceo Parker Jr.'s tenor sax. Led by longtime Duke Ellington Orchestra drummer Bellson, the support group includes such noteworthies as bassist Ray Brown and alto saxophonist Ernie Watts. In the LP's original liner notes, penned by jazz scribe Leonard Feather, Brown commented, "At heart I've always been a jazz man. When I was just a kid in Macon, Ga., during amateur shows, I went up onstage with some of those name bands that passed through town. I've never forgotten the impression those big-band sounds made on me." Brown's performance on the album includes vocal improvisations teeming with his trademark squeals, "uh-huhs" and "good Gods." Among the tracks are such low-lights romantic standards as "That's My Desire" and "It's Magic." Brown puts a jazz spin on Hank Williams' "Your Cheating Heart" and stretches out on two of his big hits, "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," given the big-band jazz treatment by Nelson. The CD also contains a previously unissued version of Brown's 1968 hit, "There Was a Time," co-written by Brown and Bud Hobgood. (Web ref: Reuters/Billboard)

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