By A Complete Introduction To Sugar Hill Records is released on July 26th.By Matt Phillips - JAZZfm

When late, great bass hero Jaco Pastorius was often asked about his philosophy of music, he had a stock response – ‘Women and rhythm section first!’ In the world of black music, whether jazz, funk, R’n’B or soul, the hookup between the drummer and bass player has always been pivotal. As the cliché goes, a band is only as good as its ‘engine room’. In jazz, you can’t do much better than Tony Williams with Ron Carter or Philly Joe Jones with Paul Chambers. In funk, you can’t go wrong with Benny Benjamin with James Jamerson or Clyde Stubblefield with Bootsy. In fusion, you know it’s going to work with Steve Gadd and Eddie Gomez or Steve Jordan and Anthony Jackson. But interestingly, possibly the most heralded rhythm section in recent black music hasn’t come out of jazz, funk or soul music (though these undoubtedly went into the mix), but rather hip-hop. And now their work on the esteemed Sugar Hill record label is being celebrated on a four-CD box set released by Universal Music on July 26th.

Drummer Keith Leblanc hooked up with bassist Doug Wimbish and guitarist Skip McDonald when they were summoned to work on the label set up by industry veterans Sylvia and Mickey Robinson to showcase the new hip-hop artists emerging from the Bronx and Brooklyn in the mid-70s. Just prior to that, Keith had briefly worked with Doug and Skip in the funk band Wood, Brass and Steel but when The Sugar Hill Gang’s controversial ‘Rapper’s Delight’ became a monster hit in ’79, the Robinsons were on the lookout for a house band to lay down the foundations for the follow-up. It seems the call was inevitable, although, according to Keith, speaking crisply and candidly down the line from Connecticut, ‘Sylvia was looking for Skip and Doug but they initially said no because they’d had a bad experience with her before. But I was new to the band and when I heard the words “recording studio” and “money”, I bugged them until they said yes! And the day we all went up there, we started recording. I didn’t want to know about the business, I just wanted to record.’

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Posted in News | Posted on 2010-08-05 15:55:12 by klb | Permalink