If you had all of the Roy Ayers Ubiquity albums in front of you, laid out on a table, the one that would stand out to fans and visual artists might be this particular album Change Up the Groove. Roy Ayers didn’t really have too many phychedelic record covers, but this one is by far the most. Most of his Ubiquity covers had a picture of him on it, but this one was different. This album also may not stand out with casual Roy Ayers fans, because there are no mega hits like Everybody Loves the Sunshine on it, and most of these songs Roy does not perform in his stage show. In fact, half of the songs are covers, and are unoriginal compositions. Despite these differences, this could perhaps be one of the greatest Roy Ayers albums ever recorded.
The first most notable cover is Roy Ayers’ rendition of the great Stevie Wonder‘s composition Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing, which has an real nice funk groove throughout the piece that I’m sure would make Stevie proud.
The next cover is a personal favorite of mine, which was originally recorded by Ms. Roberta Flack. Popularized in the Hip Hop community by A Tribe Called Quest on their song Keep it Rollin’, Roy Ayers’ rendition of Feel Like Makin’ Love is Roy at his best. He transforms the original by adding his soul funk to the track, ultimately creating a vibe that only he can. Noting the song in a Tribe Called Quest reference, the song was a perfect smoothed out groove in the Midnight Mauraders album, as they simply looped the first two bars of the Roy Ayers song, and went loose on the lyrics. Also worth noting is that Keep it Rollin’ was the only song on Midnight Mauraders with a featured verse (Large Professor). Here are the three tracks that were just referenced.
The third cover to mention is the Mash Theme Song (Suicide is Painless) which can be read about on one of our previous posts.
Another song worth noting is Sensitize, which in my opinion, features one of the most grooviest, smoothest, vibed-out, mystical, (insert your own adjective here), beat breaks that music has ever seen or heard. As the song has its droned bass intro, it all of a sudden falls off a proverbial cliff and begins to float, as the vocals send you to another level. This song also features falsetto vocals Wayne Garfield
These songs are only a portion of what this album has to offer. From start to finish, this album is one of Roy’s best, as it has the driving funk beat in The Boogie Back and on Fikisha and on the title track Change Up the Groove Roy Ayers is in a groove as his funky vibraphone and the additional solo’s make this the true definition of Jazz Fusion.
Here is the Change Up the Groove album in it’s entirety, as you hear the great Roy Ayers in rare form.
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Artwork By – Harriet Millman, Backing Vocals – James “BJ” Boston, Monica Burruss, Roy Ayers, Terry Burrell, Wayne Garfield, Bass – Wilbur Bascomb, Congas, Percussion – Chano O’Ferral, Drums – Bernard “Pretty” Purdy, Wilby Fletcher, Guitar [Rhythm] – Gil Silva, Jerry Friedman, Guitar [Solo] – Calvin Brown, Photography – Greg Vaughn, Yvonne D. Lawton
Piano, Clavinet, Electric Piano – Harry Whitaker, Leon Pendarvis, Saxophone [Soprano] – George Braith
Synthesizer, Arranged By – Pat Rebillot, Vibraphone, Vocals, Arranged By, Conductor – Roy Ayers