This 1975 Kudu album by Joe Beck was never reissued on CD in the United States but available only as a Japanese import on the King label. Beck is a masterpiece of mid-'70s funky jazz and fusion. Beck retired in 1971 to be a dairy farmer. He returned to make this album his opus. Featuring David Sanborn, Don Grolnick, Will Lee, and Chris Parker, all of the album's six tracks were recorded in two days. Overdubs were done in another day and the minimal strings added by Don Sebesky were added on a third day. "Star Fire" opens the set and features the interplay of Beck's riffing and lead fills with Sanborn's timely, rhythmic legato phrasing, and the communication level is high and the groove level even higher. On "Texas Ann," another Beck original, Sanborn hits the blues stride from the jump, but Beck comes in adding the funk underneath Grolnick's keyboard while never losing his Albert Collins' feel. On "Red Eye," Beck's two- and three-chord funk vamps inform the verse while Sebesky's unobtrusive strings provide a gorgeous backdrop for Sanborn, who stays in the mellow pocket until the refrains, when he cuts loose in his best Maceo Parker. The deep funk of Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin's "Café Black Rose" showcases the band's commitment to groove jazz with a razor's edge.
Originally released 1969 on Verve this is a truly lost jewel, released for the first time on CD. Joe Beck, one of the most famous jazz guitar players, recorded this album with fellow Donald McDonald on drums and among guest musicians is Danny Whitten, guitar player of Crazy Horse before they worked together with Neil Young. On this album Beck, influenced by Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, created a song-oriented psychedelic rock style with slightly jazz influences showing his remarkable guitar skills, including some fine Wah-Wah treatments. Really great stuff. CD comes with informative booklet.
At 45, Joe Beck bragged that The Journey contained "the best playing I've ever recorded." One tends to greet such lofty statements with a healthy amount of skepticism, but in this case, the artist had something to back it up. Even if The Journey isn't necessarily the best album Beck has ever recorded as a leader, it's certainly among his best. The guitarist's playing is confident and inspired throughout the post-bop/fusion album, and he definitely goes that extra mile on well-known standards like Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation" and Benny Golson's "Killer Joe" as well as such Beck originals as the emotional "Quidado," the haunting "I Don't Know," and the intriguing title track.