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  Charles Earland

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Click below for a Charles Earland sample:

Let the Music Play


One of the most forward-thinking jazz musicians to touch an keyboard, Charles Earland ranks somewhere between Herbie Hancock and Lonnie Liston Smith in terms of successfully integrating mainstream influences into his work. Originally a horn player, Earland learned the organ during breaks between gigs and soon made it his featured instrument. 

He signed to Prestige and became a sensation with Black Talk, one of the most popular soul-jazz albums of all time from a sales standpoint.  His final sessions on the label featured Grover Washington Jr., which helped launch his career.  

As the organ sound became outdated by newer, more expensive keyboards, Earland took up a variety of synthesizers to cook up the spacy, jazzy sounds that the audience demanded.  The transition started on Leaving This Planet and continued through recordings for Muse, Columbia and Mercury.  His Mercury recordings especially marked him as a musician capable of adapting to any surrounding, even doing the disco thing on "Let the Music Play."

The death of his wife put him in seclusion for a number of years, but by 1990 he was once again performing, this time with traditional organ combos.  His comeback was halted when he died in 1999.

Charles Earland's Deepest Grooves

Black Talk (Prestige, 1970)
The legendary debut with the mammoth version of "More Today Than Yesterday."  Backing by Idris Muhammad, Melvin Sparks and Houston Person, so you know it's going to be funky.

Intensity (Prestige, 1972)
Charts Earland's continued masterful ability to make credible jazz versions of pop songs ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow"). Also notable for representing Lee Morgan's final recording session.  Listen to him and Earland come off on Chicago's "Happy Cause I'm Going Home," a funky jazz classic.    

Leaving This Planet (Prestige, 1974)
Double LP finds Earland stretching his range into electronics and more fusion-oriented work.

Revelation (Mercury, 1977)
The first of the Mercury jazz-funk discs is something of a cult item thanks to the title cut and "Betty Boop."  "From My Heart to Yours" was his highest charting single at #76.

Perceptions (Mercury, 1978)
Earland's robust jazz keyboard stylings meets Randy Muller's commercial disco funk.  It could have been a diaster, but instead turns into a classic combination, led by the underground groover "Let the Music Play."

Anthology (Soul Brother, 2000)
Long-awaited compilation covering Earland's entire career.  Split into two sections: "funky organ grooves" and "jazz funk and beyond."   The terms should be self-descriptive.  With the Mercury albums being out of print, this is about the only way to capture his best fusion recordings.

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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