David Axelrod: Heavy Axe

Axelrod's 1974 jazz-fusion album included covers of Stevie Wonder and Carly Simon and brief solos from George Duke and George Bohanon


This 1974 jazz-rock album employed a big jazz band, full string section, ARP and Moog synthesizers, congas and background singers. Conductor and arranger Axelrod put it all together and the original LP was produced by Cannonball Adderley.

Cannonball takes a short alto solo on the opening track, Get Up Off Your Knees. The next two tracks are pop songs of the time, Cast Your Fate To the Wind and You’re So Vain. The former has a flute solo by William Green and a rock beat. George Duke provides the electric piano solo. The latter has a vocal by Stephanie Spruill. This is basically a pop track, the only jazz being a short guitar riff.

My Family is an Axelrod composition with a good trombone solo from George Bohanon and a short tenor-saxophone spot from guest Gene Ammons. It’s a choppy, bitty tenor solo and so short that if you blink as he starts to play you’ll miss it.

In fact, short, jagged jazz solos crop up all over this release but it is mainly a highly commercialised jazz-rocker designed originally to compete with a landslide of rock records that were flooding the market. Axelrod’s arrangements are typical of their time frame.

The LP, a reissue from Craft Recordings, has received the full, 180-gram Kevin Gray analogue remastering treatment and is presented in a facsimile of the album first released in 1974.

Get Up Off Your Knees; Cast Your Fate To The Wind; You’re So Vain; My Family; Mucho Chupar; Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing; It Ain’t For You; Everything Counts (34.53)
Twenty-three-piece jazz & string orchestra including George Duke (p, elp, syn); Cannonball Adderley (as); Gene Ammons (ts); four vocalists. USA, 1974.
Jazz Dispensary / Craft / Fantasy CR00521