I first heard today’s 12 O’Clock Track four or five years ago at the Hideout, when bassist Joshua Abrams was spinning records between sets during one of the club’s old weekly jazz nights. It riveted me immediately thanks to the funky, propulsive drumming of James Black, one of many great timekeepers from New Orleans, and within a few bars I was totally sold. I learned that the song, “I’ve Got What You Need,” appeared on Psychedelphia (Funky Delicacies), a compilation of tracks by singer Mary Jane Hooper, and I quickly tracked it down—but I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn’t listen to the album again till this past weekend.
The track, produced by Eddie Bo and probably released in 1967 on the Power-Pac label owned by Crescent City entrepreneur Al Scramuzza, still knocks me out—it seems unbound by time, even 50 years later. Constructed from Black’s massive beat, blood-raw guitar stabs, and a lean and snaking bass line, it feels like something New York avant-funksters ESG might’ve cooked up in the early 80s. Hooper, who quit the music business soon after waxing the sides collected on Psychedelphia, shimmies and slides across the groove with preternatural ease. Following a mind-melting break, a horn section drops in a simple ascending lick for two bars, then disappears as suddenly as it surfaced. As we brace for a new year—one that’s filled many of us, myself included, with anxiety and uncertainty—this jam gives us all something good to hold on to. Music won’t save our asses by itself, but it can sure help them move.
Jack DeJohnette with Ravi Coltrane & Matthew Garrison, In Movement (ECM)
Aisha Orazbayeva & Mark Knoop, Bryn Harrison: Receiving the Approaching Memory (Another Timbre)
Scott Walker, The Childhood of a Leader (4AD)
Masqualero, Masqualero (Odin)
Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense, Moving Still (Pi)