Hey, everybody. Wishing you all well throughout this tumultuos winter of blizzards, floods, tsunamis, wars and earthquakes etc, etc, etc. Me and the Wild Kingdom boyz whipped up some special spicy potions of some "VooDoo Boogaloo" to help us all get past these crazy troubled times for a bit & hava little fun. I hope you all enjoy 'em. Check 'em out and stay warm & dry! Happy Valentine's to all you lovers out there!
-Best, The Lev Doctor
Go to www.Levtron.com for RLWK Cd store, Mp3 download links, bios, photos, mailing list, Lev-potions & more info etc. today!
Ron Levy’s Wild Kingdom – Voodoo Boogaloo
Ron Levy’s Wild Kingdom is an irrepressible group mixing jazz, blues, funk, Latin and soul music in a heady brew that really grooves. Multi-instrumentalist Levy, whose resume includes stints with Albert and BB King, Charles Brown, Roomful of Blues, Ronnie Earl, Charles Earland, The Wild Magnolias and Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, brings all his experience to the fore on Voodoo Boogaloo, playing Hammond B-3 organ, piano, vibes, basses, and a variety of electronic keyboards, in addition to composing and arranging all the music on the date. Joined by Wild Kingdom long-time regulars Melvin Sparks, the father of acid jazz, and jam band master saxist Karl Denson, Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom lets loose with some of the most soulful music on the planet today.
The opening Organ Colossus is a funky jungle strutting feature for Levy’s B-3, clavinet and electric bass and “Sax” Gordon’s tenor with the Wild Kingdom percussion section of Adrome “Acidman” MacHine’s drums, Yahuba Garcia’s congas, and Russ Lawton’s bells all cooking up a storm. The music is reminiscent of the classic R & B of Booker T and the MG’s, the sixties soul of Stevie Wonder, the electrifying black rock of Sly and the Family Stone and the AfroPop of Manu Dibango all at the same time.
Voodoo Boogaloo showcases Levy’s vibes on a Latin line in the Cal Tjader tradition that’s jazzed up with a swinging Milestones-inspired bridge. Garcia’s timbales and congas and Lawton’s percussion spice up the mix with some salsa Picante, while Karl Denson soars on flute over Gordon’s beefy baritone sax. Melvin Sparks lets fly with a classic guitar solo, quoting Moanin’, Tequila, and Softly As A Morning Sunrise, backed by Levy’s relentlessly grooving B-3.
Drum and bass open up the soulful ballad Love Retoined with Jeff Lockhart’s guitar sharing the spotlight with Levy’s organ and electric piano. Shades of Isaac Hayes, meets Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes.
Better Save Yo’seff is jazzy New Orleans styled rhythm and blues with “Sax” Gordon blowing shotgun tenor over “Acidman” MacHine’s funky beat, bolstered by Lawton’s tambourine. Levy settles into a comfortable Big Easy groove and stays right there, allowing Lockhart to get down with some great guitar gumbo.
Levy’s Spy On The Fly is his take off on sixties’ Quincy Jones cop show soundtracks, complete with sirens, string synthesizers and smokin’ Sax. The leader’s busy hands stay full on this one, soloing on vibes and B-3 while wielding his full arsenal of keyboards in the background.
Garcia’s congas and Lawton’s tambourine set up Levy’s organ and MacHine’s traps for another Nawlins outing on the bluesy Spank! Denson and Gordon, on tenor and baritone, are one fierce horn section, riffing away the day, before Denson steps out front for a vicious solo. Levy mixes things up on organ, clavinet and the Korg MS-20 for a rockin’ good time.
Wes Side West is a pretty jazz line executed with finesse by Denson on flute with Levy on bass and keys and Lawton’s insistent tambourine pushing the percussion section. Sparks shows his stuff with a gutsy solo before Denson takes it to another level with an extended flute flight. Levy gets into the act with some jazzy organ licks before letting Sparks fade it out.
The date ends with Memphis Mem’ries. Levy puts his electric and acoustic pianos up front on this one with Denson backing him on alto and tenor in the sax section. Special guest Jerry Portnoy, veteran of the Muddy Waters Blues Band and sideman with guitar giant Eric Clapton blows some mean blues harmonica, at times sounding like a lazy Tennessee freight train, before Denson steps out front with some fat tenor. Levy winds the proceedings down with some mellow vibes and keyboards.
Voodoo Boogaloo is truly an exemplary excursion into Ron Levy’s Wild Kingdom. It’s a place where people can party on the timeless sounds of funky jazz and soulful blues as they groove into tomorrow.
"Some very hip funk here! Levy's best since Zim Zam Zoom"
- Bob Porter, WBGO-FM, DJ, writer
Chris M. Slawecki, Senior music editor
- Ken Raisanen, WOAS-FM
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