Label: Speakers Corner / CTI Records 6006
Afro-Classic is an album by flautist Hubert Laws released on the CTI label featuring performances of popular and classical music by Laws recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in 1970
In the Seventies, fusion was a popular pigeonhole for music somewhere between jazz and pop. At the same time it was also an often used, belittling term employed by critics and representatives of ‘pure’ jazz, who never wanted to listen to it, let alone include any of the numerous LPs in their collection.
Forty years later, the dust has settled. Flautist Hubert Laws’ recordings not only for the Atlantic but also the CTI labels are treasured – especially the present LP, which was produced by the ‘Master of Sound’ Creed Taylor. Now these crossover numbers from the worlds of classic, jazz, pop, and easy listening are available once more. Discover, for example, Al Kooper’s composition “Fire And Rain” (more familiar are the versions from Blood, Sweat & Tears and James Taylor), the famous theme music from the film “Love Story,” and three classical compositions by J. S. Bach and Mozart. All have been given a facelift and with such super sidemen ranging from Ron Carter to Bob James and a superb Freddie Waits on the drums, they are a real treat.
“Afro-Classic is a classic for the manner in which Laws, with brilliant assistance from arranger Don Sebesky, melded the jazz and classical worlds — not to mention pop — into a seamless whole…it was Afro-Classic that established a new role for the flute in contemporary jazz.”
-Thom Jurek, allmusic.com
The AllMusic review by Thom Jurek awarded the album 5 stars stating “Afro-Classic is a classic for the manner in which Laws, with brilliant assistance from arranger Don Sebesky, melded the jazz and classical worlds — not to mention pop — into a seamless whole,” aptly describing “[t]he liberties taken with the Passacaglia” as “revolutionary” rendering the “stunning” number “no longer simply a classical tune” but one which “begins to swing with Latin, blues, and jazz undertones. When Laws finally takes his solo, the tune simply grooves its way through to the end — with subtle sound effects that Brian Eno would be envious of because he hadn’t thought of them yet.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings – 3 stars