Joe Thomas ‎– 1971 ‎– Is The Ebony Godfather

Joe Thomas - Ebony Godfather front

The greatest album ever recorded by Joe Thomas – and a hip batch of funky flute tracks that ranks with the best work of Jeremy Steig or SOUL!

Joe’s blowing here with arrangements by Chico O’Farrill – strangely off-beat backings that add in more than a touch of Latin to the funk, making for a strong little groove on the best cuts. There’s a couple of short funky 45 cuts on here, like “Chitlins & Chuchyfritos” and “Ebony Godfather“, but the real winner is a long version of Gary Byrd’s “Every Brother Ain’t a Brother“, which features Joe soloing next to some great funky keyboards!

Tracks
A1 Talk To Me 3:10
A2 Chitlins And Cuchifritos 2:50
A3 Ebony Godfather 4:12
A4 Fancy Fanny 3:22
A5 Be Anything Be Mine 3:14
B1 Every Brother Ain’t A Brother 6:00
B2 Sundown Express 3:05
B3 Love 3:18

joe thomas Ebony Godfather back

Review by RDTEN1

Given he’s best known as a jazz flautist, I didn’t have very high expectations for this 1972 Joe Thomas’ album.  Only having heard a little bit of Thomas work before, I guess I was expecting to hear something along the lines of one of those lame Herbie Mann albums – you know the ones where Man tried to make himself hip and happening covering whatever genre happened to be popular at that particular moment.  In fact, I only picked the LP up at a yard sale due to the hysterical title.  C’mon, tell me “Joe Thomas Is the Ebony Godfather” doesn’t make you want to smile.  Produced by Chico O’Farriill, I’ll be honest and admit that Thomas’ musical niche simply wasn’t something that rang a chord with me.  Featuring eight instrumentals, including a couple of Tomas originals, the collection certainly had its moments particularly when Thomas took a stab at hardcore funk (‘Chitlins And Cuchifritos‘ and ‘Brother Ain’t A Brother”).  Thomas was certainly a talented player, but flute funk just wasn’t something that captured my attention for long periods of time.

Opening up with a bluesy, big-band arrangement, ‘Talk To Me‘ had a strong enough melody with plenty of Thomas flute, but quickly bogged down in a MOR feel. Technically I guess you couldn’t call ‘Chitlins And Cuchifritos‘ an instrumental since there were some anonymous backing singers who chanted the title over and over.  On the other hand, even if you decided to label it an instrumental, it was one of the standout performances with a truly funky edge that managed to survive Thomas’ extended flute explosions.  Joe Thomas label 1

Showcasing the album’s prettiest melody, ‘Ebony Godfather‘ was one of those song’s that probably could have been a hit if it had been redone as a conventional soul tune.  Here, Thomas extended flute segments effectively sucked out most of the song’s energy.Sporting a light Latin feel, ‘Fancy Fanny‘ was actually a fun, breezy number for people who don’t like the flute.  One of the album’s better numbers and a good place to see Thomas showcasing his technical skills – wow, hyper-speed flute !.  Who would have thought.

Another pretty, if slightly MOR-ish ballad, ‘Be Anything Be Mine‘ actually could have been mistaken for one of those tunes Burt Bacharach and Hal David effortlessly churned out for movie soundtracks.  Nice background music and that’s about the extent of this one.  The sax solo on this one actually outshines Thomas’ performance. The album’s other standout performance was a slow grooving cover of Gary Byrd’s ‘Every Brother Ain’t A Brother‘.  The punchy horn arrangement on this one was almost enough of a reason to buy the album.

Sundown Express‘ found Thomas shifting his attention to sprightly cocktail jazz. ‘Love‘ was another track that had commercial potential; particularly had it been redone as a more conventional soul song.  Listening to the backing singers spelling out the title is always fun. 

As mentioned above, the album spun off a single in the form of:

– 1972”s ‘Chitlins And Cuchifritos‘ b/w ‘Talk To Me‘ (Today catalog number T 1507 A/B)

Joe Thomas’ debut is practically the definition of early 70s jazz flute. The album rarely goes above and beyond genre norms, but what the heck… he’s the Ebony Godfather after all!

Buy the Album

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20 Comments
  • Kani8
    Posted at 10:25h, 04 May 2017 Reply

    Whoo-hoo, great one!!! Thanks!!!

  • Ronnie Mason
    Posted at 10:29h, 04 May 2017 Reply

    Well i have to agree that a strong reason to buy the album is the slow grooving cover of Gary Byrd’s ‘Every Brother Ain’t A Brother‘.
    Simply amazing.

  • Adam Wells
    Posted at 23:28h, 04 May 2017 Reply

    A shame that never got the exposure he deserved.

  • Neil
    Posted at 10:55h, 05 May 2017 Reply

    Respect to this blog and the Ebony Godfather.

  • Desperado
    Posted at 11:00h, 05 May 2017 Reply

    Niceeeeee. Chitlins And Cuchifritos is superb too.

  • Leo
    Posted at 19:13h, 05 May 2017 Reply

    hello. just stumbled over your blog by incident and found this record. thanks for sharing it and for the work you invest in keep the music alive. best regards, Leo.

  • Sarah Anderson
    Posted at 11:34h, 06 May 2017 Reply

    The best music has already been made. Music will never be as good again.
    Thank you for spreading the love of the real music.

  • AirRay
    Posted at 11:36h, 06 May 2017 Reply

    Very well said.

  • Americo76
    Posted at 18:57h, 06 May 2017 Reply

    Absolutely love it!
    Can’t get enough.

  • Diana
    Posted at 22:18h, 07 May 2017 Reply

    When I hear music like this I fade out instantly into my own little world. It’s an intoxicating, seductive, beauty that renders me helpless to it. I must have lived in the 70s to feel this way. 

  • Gerald Cooper
    Posted at 23:17h, 07 May 2017 Reply

    God damn that’s some good music.

  • Clarence
    Posted at 11:38h, 08 May 2017 Reply

    thanks nice find always looking out for what i have missed great album just checking amazon for cd.

  • Justin
    Posted at 12:09h, 08 May 2017 Reply

    Great work digging this up.

  • AJazzPlayer
    Posted at 12:59h, 08 May 2017 Reply

    I really wanna thank you for this joint right here. Another gem ive dreamed about hearing. true thanks.

  • Valerio
    Posted at 23:49h, 08 May 2017 Reply

    Old school is the only school that never gets old.

  • Good Feeling
    Posted at 08:54h, 09 May 2017 Reply

    Fine stuff. thanks for sharing.

  • Jawn
    Posted at 21:06h, 10 May 2017 Reply

    Holy fuck, just found a hidden gem.

  • KingEric
    Posted at 22:59h, 14 May 2017 Reply

    Almost forgot it, just a timeless beauty!

  • T-Maistro
    Posted at 09:17h, 21 May 2017 Reply

    Merci Beaucoup

  • MudFlapp
    Posted at 22:58h, 25 May 2017 Reply

    DOPE! The track Fancy Fancy is one of the funkiest flutes you will ever hear!

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