When looking back on Daddy Bug & Friends by Roy Ayers, it is truly an interesting album for many reasons. When most people think of 70’s Roy Ayers, they think of “Ubiquity”, or “Fusion”, or “Funk” or even “Disco”, but in Daddy Bug & Friends, Roy Ayers went back to his straight ahead Jazz roots, and he brought an all-star cast with him. Herbie Hancock blesses the piano throughout the album, as well as features from Ron Carter, Buster WIlliams, Joe Henderson, Bruno Carr, and many more, not to mention the album was produced by Herbie Mann (See full album credits here). Although Ayers demonstrates a straight ahead Jazz sound, it still has touches of fusion within each song. For example, In the Limelight has the feel of a Brazilian bassa nova, while I Love You, Michelle, Virgo Vibes and Slow Motion has subtle riffs that resemble a traditional blues sound, while Native Dancer takes you back to that formal jazz sound we all know and love, with the walking bass and signature ride cymbal.
Another ironic aspect of the album that makes it stand out is the soft, calming cover art selected for the album. Most of Roy Ayers’ album covers were graced with a picture of himself, but this album cover was much different with the subtle colors and fonts selected. If you were looking through a crate of records during this time period, the passiveness of this record may be one that you pass by.
Although it is difficult to know the reception of this album during the time of it’s release, one could imagine that the Jazz purists of the 50s and 60s felt that this album was for them. Amidst the free jazz movement, this album was a throwback sound, but still contained a smidge of electric guitar, which still gave it a small relation to the newer sound of jazz at that time.
Daddy Bug & Friends, the “unconventional” conventional, 1976 Roy Ayers
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