Back in 2011, the Cultures of Soul record label reissued the seldom seen rare groove ‘Brighter Days’ recorded by Stanton Davis’ Ghetto/Mysticism band. A cult favourite among vinyl collectors around the world, the original press on the privately owned Outrageous Records imprint was released back in 1977 and now fetches big money when it occasionally changes hands, its mystique only intensifying when Madlib professed that it was one of his favourite jazz albums (he also famously sampled it in Madlib Medicine Show #7) .
Sought for both its scarcity and the grooves embedded in the wax are just so damn funky, the album is one of only two records cut by Davis as a leader (the other being ‘Manhattan Melody’, Enja, 1988), the New Orleans trumpeter spending much of the 1970’s as a sideman for many of George Russell’s bands. ‘Brighter Days’ was in fact his debut and with tracks such as ‘Space-A-Nova’, ‘High Jazz’ and the excellent title track, this is certainly no one track album. It’s a killer example of a man and his band at the top of their game, combining as it does elements of spiritual jazz, African rhythms, psychedelic soul and hard-hitting funk into one scintillating long player.
After gaining the rights to the LP from Mr. Davis and following the subsequent success of the reissue, Cultures of Soul label boss and DJ Deano Sounds sought to prep a second release that included the extended versions of some of the original songs as well as unreleased tracks and instrumentals taken from the same Ghetto Mysticism reel to reel tapes. This week that very album hits stores and gives us a further glimpse into the immense musicianship of Davis and this particular group of musicians. Now not just confined to the original edits, the source material really stretches out and bubbles with intensity, while new tracks like the previously unheard ‘Odwalla’ (a blissed out, otherworldly jam) and ‘Isis Voyage’ (from which the new LP takes its name) are equally essential and to round off the package, renowned record collector and expert on all things disco Al Kent from Million Dollar Disco is brought in to emphasis the spaced-out melodies of both ‘Things Cannot Stop Forever’ and ‘High Jazz’, in turn exerting all his usual magic to tweak both for a modern dancefloor setting.
We recently caught up with Deano and asked him a few questions about his ongoing project to bring Stanton Davis’ music to a wider audience. Here’s what he had to say:
Q. When did you first uncover the original pressing of the ‘Brighter Days’ LP and what made you decide to reissue it for today’s market?
I found a copy of it at record fair in Montreal. I’d been looking for it for a few years and just got lucky. I felt at the time which I still feel today that the tracks on it are so unique, timeless, and funky that it should get the proper exposure it deserves, as it is a significant piece of work as an album and it never received much attention in America.
Q. Was it easy to find Stanton Davis to get his blessing initially and was he surprised when you first made contact?
It was relatively easy to track down Mr. Davis but it did take a little convincing to prove to him that my label was worthy of putting out one of his most prized pieces of work.
Q.The new LP ‘Isis Voyage’ builds upon the success of the first and reintroduces different versions of a number of tracks, including a few remixes. Was it an easy decision to compile a second LP?
It was easy because there was so much material there that was significantly different than the material on the original ‘Brighter Days’ album. People don’t realize how much of the tracks on the original album were edited down to fit a more accessible format. Not to mention the fact that there are also two totally unreleased compositions on ‘Isis Voyage’.
Q. Al Kent put together two great disco mixes of some of the original album tracks. Do you think the LP lends itself well to more disco remixes being produced, and have you got plans to get more commissioned at some point?
It does because there are multi-tracks for most of the material making it easier for remixers to work with these tracks. I’d love to do an album of remixes and I’ve got a few legends in mind to do the remixes but we’ll have to see how well this sells first!
Q. Is Mr. Davis still actively making music? Do you think there’s a chance he might get back in the studio again?
I’m sure he is always composing but at the moment he is more busy performing and teaching.
Q. What’s up next on the Cultures of Soul agenda? Have you got anything else coming up release wise that we should be looking out for?
We’ve got a smorgasbord of different releases coming out this year! A compilation called ‘Bombay Disco – Disco Hits from Hindi Films from 1979 to 1985’, a 45 box set selected by myself and DJ Andy Smith, a couple of Trinidad Disco 12″s, and a compilation of Caribbean Disco music. It’s going to be a busy year!
You can buy Stanton Davis and The Ghetto Mysticism Band’s ‘Isis Voyage’ now on both LP and CD direct from the Cultures of Soul website, or via your usual local vinyl stockists including Juno, Phonica and Sounds of the Universe.