Gary Bartz – 1977 – Music is My Sanctuary
A fantastic bit of jazz funk fusion – and one of the landmark 70s albums produced by Mizell Brothers! This is Gary Bartz’s second (and most amazing) collaboration with Larry Mizell – a studio genius who could focus on the best talent of a jazz artist, then expand it using additional keyboards, percussion, and often a sweet bank of chorus vocals to give the tracks an extra soulful sound! By the time of this album, Larry had already worked to great fame with Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey, and Johnny Hammond – and the record has him turning his talents towards Gary Bartz to unlock a whole hidden side of soulful expression that would never be matched again! The title cut – “Music Is My Sanctuary” – is a jazz fusion classic in anyone’s book, and it features characteristic Mizell keyboards alongside Gary’s soulful sax, augmented by a deep vocal chorus that’s simply fantastic.
A1 Music Is My Sanctuary 6:22
A2 Carnaval de l’esprit 5:55
A3 Love Ballad 4:11
B1 Swing Thing 6:42
B2 Ooo Baby Baby 6:51
B3 Macaroni 5:53
Surrounding himself with a world-class ensemble of disco-jazz-fusion musicians and armed with the Mizell brothers at the production console (who were near the peak of their careers around this time), Gary Bartz took the route of Donald Byrd and brought new elements of funk, soul, and a foreshadowing of the soon-to-be-commercial disco craze all into a 40-minute workout on Music Is My Sanctuary. While purists shook their heads in disapproval and disdain at Bartz’s new direction (one emulated by several jazz pioneers at the time), those who could take off their traditional jazz mufflers would find Bartz and the Mizells making some highly infectious, soulful music. Further accentuated by the addition of Syreeta Wright on vocals, the Mizells took Bartz into nearly uncharted territories for jazz musicians. The results of this experimentation more than paid off, with the dividends being Bartz’s most polished, focused releases (AMG).
A lost funky classic. The Mizell brothers produced this gem. If you like the sounds of mid 70’s Donald Byrd or Bobby Humphrey, you’ll like this. Not as R&B influenced as the aforementioned artists but definitely in a soulful groove. Bartz really branched out on this one!
Although best known as a straight ahead jazzer Gary Bartz went through his 1970’s jazz funk/african american music phase and this is a pretty good example of that typically 70’s low down dirty funk with some thoughtful and well intentioned vocals from Bartz himself. The soloing as you would expect from a man of this talent is superb. Just one fault really – would like to see him stretch and deliver some of those scorching solos that we know he is capable of.
Great stuff from an underrated master.