Highgate Continental: In Northbridge logo

Modern Sound Quintet - Otinku

Modern Sound Quintet - Otinku

Cree Records

A timely re-issue of an incredibly hard-to-find 1971 jazz album originally recorded and released in Finland.
Truly a fascinating fusion of modern jazz with elements of Caribbean music, African roots and pan.

Perhaps the first time that steelpan is featured on an album as a jazz instrument in Europe, ‘Otinku’ is an important, groundbreaking jazz album that offers a mix of Caribbean and African roots with jazz and pan. The Modern Sound Quintet’s leader Rudy ‘Two Left’ Smith grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad in the Caribbean and has had an illustrious career as a pannist - having traveled with one of the first steelbands to perform all over Europe which then morphs into a jazz ensemble. He has continued to be a leading jazz pannist performing all over the world and recorded extensively.
The Modern Sound Quintet recorded ‘Otinku’ for EMI Finland. The album mixed originals and covers of both long time jazz standards and recent jazz hits. The title track offers the strongest African element Kofi Ayivor chanting and Rudy Smith trying to give the pans a balafon quality to its sound in that piece. They choose two jazz standards to work through. Bye Bye Blackbird is a song from 1926 sung by crooners like Gene Austin. Didn’t take off as a jazz standard until it was recorded in 1956 by Miles Davis. The other song from the 1920s, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise written for an operetta at the time had been picked up by jazz artists from Artie Shaw to Miles Davis, Milt Jackson to John Coltrane and many others.

The following three numbers were very popular at the time. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy had been written by keyboardist Joe Zawinal while a member of Cannonball Adderley’s group in 1966 and was title track off their album that went to be a top ten hit. Bag’s Groove was composed by vibes player Milt Jackson and first recorded by his quartet but then made famous when recorded by Miles Davis in a group with Jackson. Herbie Mann’s Memphis Underground was the title track to an album that mixed soul and r&b featuring Roy Ayers on vibes and went on to be a huge crossover hit. With a driving bass and both congas and trap drums pace Modern Sounds version is at a faster pace than Mann’s original. Smith added originals in various styles. The longest jam on the album was Flamenco Groove, based on his fascination with the flamenco music Rudy Smith heard while based in Spain and wanted to experiment with improvising on its sound. 

Format: 180 gram, 12-inch Vinyl LP housed in a gatefold sleeve.
Label: Cree Records
Catalog: CLP 1229
Released: June 2018
Genre: Afro-cuban Jazz