There is definitely a uniqueness when it comes to the sound of the Mizell Brothers, who were the arranging duo behind such jazz fusion greats such as Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey, and many more. It is a melodic sound, rich with 70’s flavor, blaxploitation essence with a groove that has yet to be recreated. It has been borrowed by the likes of Erykah Badu and many other contemporary soul artists, but it is a hard aura to duplicate. Bobbi Humphrey’s third album entitled Fancy Dancer is the quintessential Mizell sound, straying far from traditional jazz without completely leaving it alone. It more resembles the in-the-pocket funk you would hear from James Brown but the serenity of Bobbi’s flute doesn’t let it get too funky. She smoothes it out, as her flute accompanies an array of instrumentation that would never be attempted in todays recording sessions. But as this album reflects the funk of the 70’s, it also has its much softer grooves, displaying the range of emotions that is Fancy Dancer. Ms. Humphrey has had a full career continuing to tour, and she has left indelible marks on jazz fusion. From being one of the first women on the Blue Note label, to playing on Stevie Wonder‘s Songs in the Key of Life, she should be recognized as royalty in not only jazz, but as a precursor to many of the trendy sounds you hear in todays music. Today we are recognizing her 1975 contribution, as she shows us why she is legendary.
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