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Friday, March 18, 2022

Sky King - Secret Sauce (1975 us, extraordinary fusion jazz rock, 2020 korean remaster)

Sky King formed in Ann Arbor Michigan in about 1974 and their first and only album in 1975. Their nucleus ((Chris Brubeck, David Mason, Peter Ruth) had all played together in “New Heavenly Blue" who had released two albums, "Educated Homegrown” (1970) and “New Heavenly Blue” (1972).

Chris Brubeck: A multi-instrumentalist (fretless electric bass, bass trombone, piano), vocalist, composer and orchestrator, and the son of jazz legend Dave Brubeck, born March 19, 1952 in Los Angeles, California. His resume includes stints in The Brubeck LaVerne Trio, New Heavenly Blue, Sky King, The Brubeck Brothers Quartet, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, The New Brubeck Quartet, Triple Play, and Two Generations Of Brubeck

David Mason: an American guitarist, violinist, vocalist from NYC (not to be confused with English guitarist Dave Mason) who had worked with Dave Brubeck in the early 1970s as well as being a member in “New Heavenly Blue”. Rick Jacobi: guitar. Ostensibly a commercial artist he only seems to have played in this band. Chris Coan: vocals. Coan seems to have come from theatre with no musical band experience prior to this.

Richie Morales: a jazz drummer who had played with Dave Brubeck (in Two Generations of Brubeck) and many others.  Peter "Madcat" Ruth: is an American harmonica player, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, born in Chicago 1949. He played with Dave Brubeck, was in New Heavenly Blue, and done a lot of session work with people like Bootsy Collins, Ken Nordine, and Blackfoot.

For this debut album they added the full horn section from Oakland, California’s R&B-based soul, jazz and funk band “Tower of Power” (Stephen MacKenzie Kupka: saxophonist and composer, Emilio Castillo: saxophonist, Lenny Pickett : alto and tenor saxophonist), Greg Adams: Trumpet, Flugelhorn) as well as Jerry Bergonzi: Jazz saxophonist, who had played with Dave Brubeck in Two Generations of Brubeck

Perry Robinson: a free jazz and klezmer clarinettist who was in many jazz groups including the Galaxie Dream Band in the 70s,and Two Generations of Brubeck with Chris Brubeck and Peter Ruth. He has done much session work as well as solo. Lee Pastora: a conga player who has done much session work with jazz acts (especially Don Ellis) and rock bands.

Joshie Armstead: backing vocalist. In the early 1960's she was a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue as one of the original Ikettes. From 1964 -1967 she was part of a songwriting team with Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, co-writing songs such as 'Let's Go Get Stoned' and 'I Don't Need No Doctor' by Ray Charles)

Maretha Stewart: backing vocalist. She is a singer and voice actress, known for The Wiz , Schoolhouse Rock! and The Muppets. She has done much session work and is perhaps best known for her improvised backing vocals on the track "If Dogs Run Free" from Bob Dylan’s “New Morning”.

Cissy Houston:  backing vocalist. The legendary Cissy (mother of Whitney and sometimes Elvis backup singer), vocalist in The Drinkard Singers and the Sweet Inspirations as well as a lot of solo pop and gospel.

The music is really jazz rock though incorporating folk, blues, jazz, country, funk and experimental asides.

The album was produced by Martyn Ford and an uncredited Steve Cropper (tracks: 1-4, 6, 8). Guitarist rick Jacobi says, “By the way, most of the album was actually recorded and produced by Steve Cropper at his studio in Memphis. He recorded us for free on spec (including paying for us to stay at a motel for two weeks), and eventually sold the material to Columbia. We finished the recording in NY at Columbia's "A" studio; Martyn Ford was assigned to produce us, and we more or less steamrollered right over him as much as possible. Cropper really deserves most of the credit, but as I recall, he and Columbia were kind of "on the outs" at the time. Cropper was a super-nice guy, and a real pleasure to work and hang out with”. 

1. Secret Sauce (Chris Brubeck, Chris Coan, David R. Mason, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, Richie Morales, Rick Jacobi) - 2:54
2. People,People,People (Chris Brubeck, David R. Mason) - 4:41
3. Looking Forward (Chris Brown) - 2:43
4. Makes Me Feel So Good (Chris Brubeck) - 4:05
5. Don't Be Afraid(Of What You Don't Understand) (Chris Brubeck, David R. Mason, Richie Morales, Rick Jacobi) - 5:31
6. Hot Mustard (Chris Brubeck, David R. Mason, Rick Jacobi) - 3:37
7. Still In Love (Chris Brubeck) - 4:21
8. Why Don't You Take Us (Chris Brubeck) - 3:56
9. Pedro (Chris Brubeck, David R. Mason, Richie Morales, Rick Jacobi) - 2:57
10.Special Place (Chris Brubeck, David R. Mason, Rick Jacobi) - 4:32

The Sky King
*Chris Brubeck - Bass, Trombone, Piano, Vocals  
*David Ross Mason - Guitar, Bass, Vocals 
*Rick (R.J.) Jacobi - Guitar, Bass, Vocals 
*Richie Morales - Drums, Percussion, Vocals 
*Chris Coan - Lead Vocals 
*Peter (Madcat) Ruth - Harp, Jews Harp, Vocals 
*Lee Pastora - Congas, Bongos 
*Jerry Bergozi - Saxes 
*Perry Robinson - Clarinet 
*Lenny Pickett - Sax, Flute 
*Emillo Castillo - Sax 
*Stephen Kupka - Sax 
*Joshie Armstead, Maretha Stewart, Cissy Houston - Vocals

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