Malone Barnes And Spontaneous Simplicity Freedom Serenade

Luv N’ Haight have reissued strange stuff like this for well over a decade-and-a-half, often blithely flying in the face of popular trends or demand from collectors. Malone Barnes and Spontaneous Simplicity are buttery soft soul with cosmic sparkles and a dash of Afro-Chicagoan influence. If you like fellow mid-Atlantic Afro-soulsters Oneness Of Juju, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here; it’s polished funk with great instrumental prowess, both were students of trumpeter Donald Byrd and co-founder Allan Barnes was a member of the Blackbyrds at the time. Chattering, precise guitars anchor post-bop soloing and ARP keyboards throughout. The mellow Leroy Hutson-style vocals are weirdly self-referential and autobiographical, as if this album was group therapy. Apparently, they’ve got their thing together and are moving straight to the top, then to the stars. However, this record is a little self-conscious and bland in its perfect performances and multi-tracked technique. Also, considering how hard Parliament were hitting in 1976 with their space concept, their cosmic slant seems a little perfunctory. Nevertheless, the suite-like sequence of the tracks moves along nicely and it’s a tight 30 minutes of jazz funk with a nod to true explorers like Sun Ra (in the name of the band) and Paul Robeson (in the name of the album). Ignore the opening break of "Road Man” at your peril, however. (Luv N' Haight)