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Saturday, November 24, 2007

ROBERTA FLACK - Compared To What (1969)

This is the first song off of Roberta Flack's first album. She had the talent, but hadn't broken through to the big-time yet. One of her few funky tunes, it has some sweet stand-up bass from legend Ron Carter and strong protest lyrics against the Vietnam War. Carter would be recording for Miles Davis' album "Bitches Brew" shortly after.

This one was written by a certain Gene McDaniels (a.k.a. Eugene McDaniels), a singer-songwriter for Atlantic records, and a groovy solo artist in his own right. This song also has a connection with soul-jazz keyboardist Les McCann. McCann saw Roberta Flack perform at a benefit concert (back when she was a schoolteacher), and was so impressed he had her guest on his album "Les Is More" in 1967 as one of her earliest recorded appearances. An early studio version of "Compared To What" was on this album (although she does not sing on the song).
McCann then arranged for her to audition for Atlantic records, where she got a contract, and quickly recorded this first album. The day after it was released, McCann played this song at the Montreux Jazz Festival with sax player Eddie Harris (released as "Swiss Movement" in 1969). It was so well-received that it became a signature song for him and a strong protest song of the war and civil-rights movement. Perhaps I will post his version later!

Many thanks to Pingus Miloren for the hook-up to this album.
Song: "Compared To What"
From the LP "FIRST TAKE" (Atlantic) Jun. 20, 1969

Roberta Flack : vocals, piano
Ray Lucas : drums
Ron Carter : bass
John Pizzarelli : guitar
Frank Wess : tenor sax
Seldon Powell : baritone sax
Bennie Powell : trombone
Joe Newman & Jimmy Nottingham : trumpets
Joel Dorn : producer

Get it here : Roberta Flack - Compared To What

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