Last week’s Glastonbury line-up may have been one of the festivals best, at least for fans of our music: Lionel Richie performed to an incredible number of people, George Clinton’s P-Funk outfit teamed up with The Family Stone to provide a better alternative to Kayne, Mavis Staples brought the gospel-soul, and even Burt Bacharach provided a hint of soul and jazz on the Pyramid Stage. Yet there was one other soul legend that performed at Glastonbury last week, although his set seems to have gone unnoticed except by those who were there – and was from none other than Californian Roy Ayers.
Here at TFSR HQ is likely you’ll hear Roy Ayers being played a lot, the man is a true musical hero, a pioneer in jazz, soul and funk and remains one of the most sampled artists of his generation. Today at the age of 74 Ayers remains spritely, touring with a tight four-piece band across the world, with many dates here in the UK and we’re excited to be seeing him next week at Newcastle’s brilliant Hoochie Coochie. In fact, we’re more than a bit excited. So, we’ve put together some Roy Ayers tunes that if you were lucky enough to get a ticket (it is completely sold out, but check their Facebook page for any people offloading spares) you’ll probably hear.
Love Will Bring Us Back Together Again – Fever, 1979
A firm favourite amongst his fans, this track rides a similar groove to that of ‘Running Away’, with added use of synths. The bass, the percussion and the guitar licks all combine to create a gem of a jazz-funk track.
Running Away – Lifetime, 1977
This is one brilliant piece of jazz-funk, arguably the greatest piece of jazz-funk created. It’s a personal favourite of ours here at TFSR, one that we became hooked on after hearing in a mix of the late DJ Froggy. With it’s catchy ‘dooby-doo’ lyric, thumbing bass, and delightful percussion the song remains a classic. There is a three-minute single mix that gets the most play, but if you’re like us and you want the song to go on an on it’s worth seeking out the 12” mix, below.
Poo Poo La La – In The Dark, 1984.
This song hasn’t aged as well as some of his other classics, but this remains a firm favourite among his UK fans, at least. It features Mr Ayers opening the songs with a combination of tasty vibes, and a slightly-odd monologue about his love-life suffering from his touring schedule. For Roy, ‘a man can only take so much’. Still, it’s a pretty funky song even with the eighties synths and drum-machines and the risqué lyric.
Hot – You Might Be Surprised, 1985
Similar to ‘Poo Poo La La’, minus the risqué lyric, this track sees Roy Ayers and collaborator James Mtume ride the wave of new eighties technology and sound, taking inspiration from the emerging genre of hip-hop as well. ‘Hot’ is actually pretty good, a nice piece of eighties groove with yet another tasty vibe solo from the master. It’s worth checking out just to hear that.
Everybody Loves The Sunshine – Everybody Loves The Sunshine, 1976
Wherever Roy Ayers goes, he always brings the sunshine with him. Or at least that’s the rumour. Furthermore, it seems everybody knows this song. Well, nearly everyone at least. This is clearly his most famous song, and remains as well-played today as it was when it was released. Another perfect summer song from the vibe-master, it’s routinely a staple of radio stations throughout the world this time of the year. It’s stripped back production, combined with excellent vocals make it a real soul-jazz beauty.
Searching – Vibrations, 1976
This one has a similar groove in a way to the classic ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’: tight horns, tight drums, and an irresistible lyric. ‘Searching’ is another great Roy Ayers composition perfect for this time of the year, and with an epic saxophone solo towards the end of the song and with Mr Ayers on vibes, it’s pure heaven.
Roy Ayers plays a sold-out show at the Hoochie Coochie, Friday 17th July 2015. He regularly tours the UK, check below for additional UK tour dates via Ents24.