Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1097

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Dexter Wansel : The Jazz Cafe London 6/02/2020

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Jazz funk and philly soul legend Dexter Wansel was in town and this one was not to be missed.His UK shows are much anticipated and few and far between 2011 being the last one. Just in case you've crawled out of a cave or come out from under a stone,here's a wee appraisal of the man's musical legacy.

Dexter Wansel's credentials are quite staggering.A Grammy-winning R&B/jazz fusion arranger, musician, composer, conductor, synthesist and A&R director, synonymous with the 'Philly Sound' prevalent in the 70's.His production work is mightily impressive too : Four Lou Rawls albums, three Pattie La belle ones,two of the Jacksons plus individual releases from Phylis Hyman,Teddy Pendergrass and Grover Washington.And who can forget his work with Evelyn 'Champagne' King
MFSB, Jean Carne,The O'Jays,The Jones Girls and The Trammps yes folks he's actual on 'Disco Inferno'!

He was also the A&R Director for Philadelphia International Records where he oversaw many album releases by the labels artists under the direction of Gamble and Huff.

Tonight however, saw Dexter take the stage with US singers and a british back up band led by the indefatigable bassist and MD Ernie McKone.Both his good self and drummer Crispin Taylor sparkled throughout.The tempos were bang on and they sat beautifully behind the beat in true american style allowing the master to convey his synth wizzardry. "The Sweetest Pain" and "Life On Mars" were particular higlights as was "Nights Over Egypt" especially when Ernie thumped that iconic bass line out of the park.He also honoured bassist Jeremy Williams when The McFadden & Whitehead "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" ironically a put down on Gamble and Huff who had stifled their career! The only thing stifling tonight was the body heat!

Wansel delivered big time it's no wonder his music has been sampled many times especially in the world of hip-hop. His 1975 'Theme From The Planets' (which he played tonight) drum beat intro, is hailed as being one of the first cornerstone beats ever used in hip-hop. Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, J Cole, Eric B and Rakim, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Kim, Ice-T and Ice Cube have all sampled him too.Tonight we got to sample him live and he didn't disappoint.This is one night as old jazz funk head 'I'll Never Forget".....

Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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