Cleveland Eaton's Half and Half is a mutant, bass-heavy monster that absolutely slays. Incredible jazz-funk - super funky throughout, with lots of layers, jazz breaks for days, dripping with style and gritty class. Cleveland Eaton was a revered bassist who played an active role in the backing of Count Basie, the Donald Byrd Quintet, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Terry Callier, and Minnie Riperton, amongst many, many others. Half and Half was the first album released under his own name, initially released as a private-press record on his - awkwardly named - Cle An Thair Records. It was then picked up by Gamble & Huff for Gamble Records. Varied, string-adorned and with stupid funky grooves, it's just exceptionally good.
Whilst Half and Half is treasured for its famously brilliant interpretations of gold funk-soul standards, Eaton proves an imaginative composer in his own right. Indeed, the album opens with the strikingly original, earthy, laconic jazz-guitar-funk fusion of "Keep It Funky." Up next is a properly moving cover of Aretha Franklin's eternal "Day Dreaming." The flute and guitar combo truly achieve celestial greatness here. "Here Comes Funky Lou" rides a bassline - a driving soul-jazz groove allows the track to go off in all sorts of directions. Serene guitar soul of the breezy variety one moment gives way to crazy, hectic, violin-driven wig-outs the next, courtesy of Ed Green who played with Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane. "Betcha by Golly Wow," which uses a bed of acidy synths and harmonica, is melancholic, wistful, and beautiful. "People Make the World Go Round" is dripping in wonderful horns and ace percussive breaks. Opening Side B, War's gigantic "Slipping into Darkness" is tightly tailored to Eaton's funky flute fusion arrangement, whilst the insistent "Missing You" is a swaggering, horn-heavy version of Luther Ingram's track from the Dilla/Ghostface-linked LP I've Been Here All the Time. The creeping, screeching, guitar-drenched original "John's Groove" features more fantastic horn lines and neck-snapping percussion, whilst "The Love Gangster," written by Bill Wyman and Stephen Stills for Stills' seminal Manassas LP, contains a heavy break with slick drums high in the mix and fuzzy guitars. The album closes with two more Eaton originals. Written with Johnny Guitar Watson, "Lie" is one hell of a funky string-and-guitar-driven gem, and the wild, celebratory "Ah Movin' On" cleverly quotes "Wade in the Water," folding it into his new free-jazz composition. Mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis. Cut by Pete Norman at Final Tweak.
Like the winged, part-man/part-bull creature that adorns its bizarre cover, Cleveland Eaton's Half and Half is a mutant, a jazz-funk monster that lays to waste everything in its path. Despite the structural complexity of its fusion-inspired arrangements, the record remains rooted in the driving soul-jazz grooves of Eaton's past collaborations with Ramsey Lewis, resulting in celebratory music that appeals equally to the mind and the body....Out of print by the early 20th century, Half and Half demands a reissue worthy of its excellence.
- First Time on Vinyl Since 1973
- Mastered for Vinyl by Simon Francis
- Cut by Pete Norman at Final Tweak
|Morris Jennings||drums, percussion|
|Clevelan Eaton||electric bass, acoustic bass|
|Odell Brown||electric piano, electric harpsichord|
|Larry Blasingaine, Victor Comer||guitar|
|Artee Duke Payne, Jr.||tenor saxophone, flute|
|Ed Green||violin, viola|
- Keep It Funky
- Day Dreaming
- Here Comes Funky Lou
- Betcha by Golly Wow
- People Make the World Go Round
- Slipping into Darkness
- Missing You
- John's Groove
- The Love Gangster
- Ah Movin' On