Roy Ayers at his prime, Roy Ayers at his best, Roy Ayers in rare form. Too many times are those expressions used on this site, so we’ll just say, This is Roy Ayers.
This marvelous performance from the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival, which was both the earlier years of the great career of Roy Ayers, as well as the jazz festival itself. This is a great performance, and most notable for the overall sound of Roy Ayers because it displays a wide range of Jazz sub genres. 1972 predates Roy’s experimentation into disco and heavy funk, so this is Roy Ayers playing straight ahead jazz, abstract jazz in Silent Way as well as soulful, funky jazz, with the proper combination of fused sounds. He even pays respect to the classics, as he does a remake of the timeless Burt Bacharach tune Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head. There is also hints of bossa nova when listening to He Gives Us All His Love. This performance was a quartet, marked by Clint Houston on bass, David Lee on drums, longtime playing mate and recently deceased Harry Whitaker on electric piano, and Roy Ayers rounding it out.
We can only wonder what the reception of this particular performance was by jazz critics at the time. Purists seeing a young Roy Ayers may have thought of certain songs as being strides away from traditional jazz, for example the driving beat of Move to Groove was a far cry from the straight ahead Blue Note jazz heard in the 50’s and 60’s. This was also the pre-height of the electric piano in jazz, so that may reinforce the unconventionalism of this particular performance. Regardless of the jazz purists point of view, we can listen to this live recording and see the mastery from all participants, and we can see and hear how much of a trendsetter Mr. Ayers really is.