Harvey Mason - Funk in a Mason Jar (Reissue)

Harvey Mason
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The name Harvey Mason means different things to different music fans. Some listeners associate the drummer with the group Fourplay due to Mason’s two-decade stint with the group. Others might yell out the name Headhunters or “Chameleon” in honor of the 1970s era jazz-fusion band he played with and the classic tune he co-composed with Herbie Hancock. Somebody else might say “Breezin’” because Mason played on that great George Benson album or “Westchester Lady” because he played on that record with Bob James. You get the idea. Mason’s gifts on percussion instruments made and continue to make him an in demand musician. 

The name Harvey Mason means different things to different music fans. Some listeners associate the drummer with the group Fourplay due to Mason’s two-decade stint with the group. Others might yell out the name Headhunters or “Chameleon” in honor of the 1970s era jazz-fusion band he played with and the classic tune he co-composed with Herbie Hancock. Somebody else might say “Breezin’” because Mason played on that great George Benson album or “Westchester Lady” because he played on that record with Bob James. You get the idea. Mason’s gifts on percussion instruments made and continue to make him an in demand musician. 

Still, “front man” might not be the term that comes to mind for Harvey Mason, but in the mid-1970s Mason led a band that released a series of jazz fusion albums now being reissued by SoulMusic.com records. Records such as Funk in a Mason Jar will provide fans of jazz/funk fusion with a welcome look back. The record also provides a way to chart the musical path that Mason forged over the last three and a half decades.

Funk in a Mason Jar is a mix of 1970s soul, stratospheric funk and instrumental jazz. In that way, Funk in a Mason Jar shares qualities with albums of that era released by The Blackbyrds, George Duke and Benson. The CD opens with an up-tempo track “Pack Up Your Bags,” which features lead and backing vocals that will remind many of the tunes released by The Spinners during the same time period. Instrumental tracks such as a jazz cover of “What’s Going On” combine the creativity and improvisation of jazz with R&B’s emphasis on smooth melodies. The instrumental tracks hint at the direction that Mason would follow throughout his career on tracks like the aforementioned “Westchester Lady,” as well as his work with Fourplay.

Funk in a Mason Jar can serve both as retrospective and a welcome return to an underappreciated musical genre. The record is also glimpse into the future as listeners with foresight get a chance to hear Mason craft his recognizable musical identity. Perhaps that curiosity will lead fans to explore the other records that are a part of this very worthwhile reissue.

Notable Tracks: Freedom Either Way, Till You Take My Love, Set It Free, Phantazia

Vocals: 3.0
Lyrics: 3.0
Instrumentation: 3.5
Production: 3.5
SoulTracks call: Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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