Mastermind – 1977 – Mastermind
This is another fine contribution by Mr. Moo.
A classic bit of uptempo funk for the dancefloor and one of the tightest records from the time on Prelude! The group have a sound that’s partly in the Earth Wind & Fire ensemble mode and partly in the early disco style of other east coast groups augmented by just the right touch of strings to give them a nice full sound. The instrumentation’s all pretty nice, with lots of strong sax solos and other nice breakaway bits and titles include “I Am Music”, “Hustle Bus Stop”, “Mother Nature”, and “Runnin’ Away from Love”.
This is a @256 vinyl rip of the original Prelude Records including covers.
A1. I Am Music (3:53)
A2. Hustle Bus Stop (4:41)
A3. Free And Wild (5:24)
A4. Disco Party In The Street (4:12)
B1. Mother Nature (5:24)
B2. Runnin’ Away (4:09)
B3. Mastermind (6:04)
Produced by Danny Weiss
Executive Producer: Coolidge Abel-Bey
Mastermind are: Anselm Scrubb (trumpet, vocals), Mario Ford (baritone, tenor sax), Guy Fuertes (tenor sax, flute), Juan Clouden (percussion), Wendell Derrick (vocals, percussion), Lenny White (alto sax, flute), Joe Frye (guitar, vocals), Geoffrey Williams (keyboards, vocals), Brian Wilson (drums, vocals), Carl Bain (bass, vocals)
When R&B went high-tech in the ’80s, genuine bands became harder and harder to find. There were still plenty of groups in the ’80s and ’90s, although honest-to-God bands that had nine or ten members and boasted full horn sections became the exception instead of the rule. When Cameo and the Ohio Players downsized in the ’80s, you knew that large funk bands were becoming an endangered species.
But back in 1977, when Mastermind’s first and only album came out on Prelude, R&B was still full of large, horn-driven bands. Listening to this enjoyable, if uneven, LP, you won’t be blown away by the singing — Mastermind didn’t have a great lead vocalist like Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, L.T.D.’s Jeffrey Osborne, or the Commodores‘ Lionel Richie to win you over.
What you will appreciate is the overall sound of the band and the horn-driven, jazz-influenced, very danceable funk grooves — cuts like “Mother Nature“, “I Am Music” and “Hustle Bus Stop” could easily appeal to fans of Brass Construction, Mass Production, the Crown Heights Affair, or BT Express. Several jazz musicians are employed as guests, including saxman David Sanborn, trumpeter Jon Faddis, and guitarist Steve Khan. But none of them do a great deal of improvising — they’re only on board to support Mastermind, whose LP wasn’t a big seller and has long been out of print but is worth acquiring if, by some chance, you come across a copy somewhere. (Alex Henderson, All Music Guide)