Curtis Mayfield Live at Montreux 1987

Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD EE 39041-9

Curtis Mayfield, vocals and guitar; Benny Scott, bass; Lee Goodness, drums; Frank Amato, keyboards; Henry Gibson, percussion

Curtis Mayfield was an innovator of soul and funk music and undoubtedly deserves credit as a forefather of hip-hop. As a songwriter, he created social commentary set to music which is powerfully displayed on this DVD.

After an introduction by Claude Nobs, the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, the band performs a Latin-tinged instrumental entitled "Ice 9" featuring "Master" Henry Gibson on congas and percussion with the camera capturing his emotional expressions. Mayfield then joins the band on the tune "Back To The World." The material covered on this DVD draws heavily on hit recordings by Mayfield including "Pusher Man," "Freddie's Dead," and a tune from his days with the Impressions, "Gypsy Woman." "We've Only Just Begun" is a cover version of the Carpenters tune. A highlight of the performance is "Move On Up" which features Mayfield's impressive falsetto vocals along with a rousing percussion demonstration by Gibson on congas and bongo drums.

Mayfield ends with the tune "When Seasons Change" where he lays down the guitar and says he is going to give out some food for thought and that he does on this inspiring and poignant rendering.

This DVD is well videographed and focuses entirely on the musicians. Mayfield's soft tenor vocals are seductive and his falsetto voicing adds to the urban tension present in his compositions. The Latin percussion sounds laid down by Gibson are absolutely brilliant. This is a snapshot of a legend still in his prime which was cut short in 1990 when he was severely injured in a tragic accident on stage.

The DVD performances total ten tunes plus two encore tunes and runs about sixty minutes. It is a fascinating glimpse into the music of the era and will delight fans of the soul genre.

by Dorothy L. Hill