For the follow-up to Moment of Forever, his first set of new original songs in years, Kris Kristofferson decided to record a set of stripped-down new versions of his classic songs. This project, released on Atlantic Records and entitled The Austin Sessions, was a star-studded affair, featuring harmony vocals from Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Matraca Berg, Vince Gill, Marc Cohn, Alison Krauss, Catie Curtis, and Mark Knopfler.
Another strong album from a top funky drummer Billy Cobham. While elements of funk were always a part of his band's sound, it was now the primary focus. "Panhandler" stands out as the session's most memorable composition, while Milcho Leviev contributes nicely on "Moody Modes." Cobham fans will want to seek this out for the extended drum solo "A Funky Kind of Thing," which stands as one of the most original drum solos he ever recorded. Of particular interest here is the presence of John Scofield, who had replaced John Abercrombie.
Stoned Soul Picnic dates from the earlier part of Roy Ayers' career as a leader, before he delved heavily into R&B and funk fusions and instead concentrated more on soul-jazz grooves. Ayers leads a septet including such big names as pianist Herbie Hancock, altoist Gary Bartz, bassist Ron Carter, and flutist Hubert Laws. The Laura Nyro-penned title track foreshadows Ayers' later forays beyond the boundaries of pure jazz, and the group keeps the groove percolating nicely throughout, making Stoned Soul Picnic one of Ayers' better jazz-oriented outings.
So many of the jazz great are now gone, a fact that no one would dispute but that really hits home after listening to a masterpiece such as this reissue of Charles Mingus' Mingus Moves. Not only have we lost the impetuous bassist and composer, but also drummer Dannie Richmond, tenor titan George Adams and the extraordinary pianist Don Pullen. The latter three men, in particular, were taken way before their times and one longs for the incendiary magic that the Pullen-Adams group (the seeds of which are planted here) conjured for a brief spell in the '80s.