Larry Willis is an American jazz musician who was born in New York back in 1942. His first foray into the musical world actually saw him perform an opera by Aaron Copeland under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. However, Willis decided to concentrate on jazz, due to the fact that very few African-Americans ever gained many opportunities in the world of opera.
By 1970 Willis was to record his debut album entitled “A New Kind Of Soul”, fusing jazz, bebop & soul. This week’s selection comes from that very same album and as I’m sure you might have guessed by the title, is a cover of Otis Redding’s classic. This take on it is an instrumental mod jazz arrangement, kind of similar in style I guess to Ramsey Lewis. Certainly one for the dance floor!
As well as releasing his own material as a solo artist, Willis also found fame as a member of the 70s soul/rock outfit “Blood, Sweat & Tears” with whom he played keyboards for seven years. That wasn’t all though – he also played piano alongside the legend that was Nat Adderley and can still be found performing to this day. In fact one of the reasons for this selection (apart from the fact it’s a quality track) is that I recently became aware that I dj’d at a venue last year that Larry played in – the rather cool Berlin Jazz Cafe in Madrid.