Ah, Phil Upchurch. I bopped the night away at a concert--- a George Benson concert, it was. Benson was hot then, just about to jump into the big-time but at that time putting huge chunks of money into the coffers of CTI Records. He was touring to support one of his CTI LPs and had a killer band behind him which included Upchurch and the night was filled with funk, jazz and rhythm & blues. If I remember correctly, the band played sans Benson for a set and a good job they did, but it seemed everyone else was awaiting Benson. The real concert, for them, began when Benson took the stage. In the meantime, I was forced into a listener's hell of sorts, the majority of the crowd more interested in sharing the week's happenings at the office than listening to music. I had to concentrate to hear the sounds being pushed out of the small amps on stage and the whole time kept thinking, who the hell ARE these guys? They played everything from smooth jazz to straight R&B to some of the funkiest songs I'd ever heard played live. Even the sound of clinking glasses and egotistical shouting could not dampen my enthusiasm. It was a hell of a concert, broken into pieces by the not-long-enough guitar solos of which I found out later was played by Upchurch. I knew Upchurch and had sold his albums, but I had never heard him--- not like that. I heard him that night.
That is what Letizia and crew conjure in my mind. Instrumental expertise blended with a number of genres soaked in jazz. Smooth at times, upbeat at others, but never loud and overwhelming. When I close my eyes during some tracks, I am once again in the theaters and auditoriums in which this style of music flourished. And I love it. If you didn't live those days, you might not understand, but I think you might. Here's a taste.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.
(Frank Gutch Jr. writes and has written for numerous magazines and websites, presently including this blog, his own website and the prestigious Don't Believe A Word I Say site put together by musician and music pundit Bob Segarini, out of Toronto. He specializes in the Indies, having fought hand-to-hand combat with major record labels for decades (talk about zombies). He believes music should be the core of the music business, though business it mostly be, and denies the accepted reality in the stead of the artistic one. Seldom does he receive pay for articles and/or reviews and believes that there is no place for negatives in a world in which one cannot keep up with the positives. He is, in a sense, a lost soul in a sea of music, drowning, but drowning gratefully.)