By Clair Le Nobel (Host of Super Crucial Style Friday 4:30-6:00PM)
It took me a while to get into Ronnie Foster, but after a few sessions of The Two-Headed Freap, I’d say he’s one of the grooviest electric jazz organists out there. Released under the Blue Note record label in 1972 as Ronnie Foster’s debut album, The Two-Headed Freap is a warm blend of jazz, funk, and soul. Personally, I find it goes well with a good coffee.
My name is Claire, and I do a radio show at CFUV called Super Crucial Style, where I explore the relationship between hip-hop and jazz, soul, and funk. I’m interested in re-contextualization of music to create new results, and I find that this gives me a greater appreciation and understanding of different genres of music. About two years ago, I started listening to more jazz, and I started noticing that some of the new music I was hearing sounded familiar because I had heard it mixed into various hip-hop songs.
In a way, I had been listening to Ronnie Foster before I actually knew about him. A Tribe Called Quest samples his song, “Mystic Brew”, in their song “Electric Relaxation”, which is on the album Midnight Marauders. When I was in elementary school, my brother gave me his old MP3 player, which had a random selection of A Tribe Called Quest songs, including “Electric Relaxation” and “Lyrics To Go”.
I didn’t realize that Tribe had used a sample until I noticed that Madlib had also sampled “Mystic Brew” in his song, “Mystic Bounce”, off of his Shades of Blue album released on Blue Note. When I realized that these two songs shared the same bass line, I knew there had to be an interesting source song, and so I did a little bit of research on the web. I came across “Mystic Brew”, and because I liked the song so much, I decided I would listen to the rest of The Two-Headed Freap. Hearing Ronnie Foster’s original song has given me a greater appreciation for both Madlib and Tribe’s mixing styles.
In my opinion, the best three songs on The Two-Headed Freap are “Drowning In The Sea Of Love”, “Mystic Brew”, and the last song on the album, “Kentucky Fried Chicken”. The songs have repetitive parts that are pretty easy to follow, but Ronnie also subverts our expectations with his rowdy organ solos. It is true that there is little improvisation on this album in comparison to a lot of jazz from this period, but I don’t think that takes away from my listening experience because Ronnie’s dynamic organ playing gives it a live feel. Something about the energetic rhythms of The Two-Headed Freap give it a vibrant and cinematic feel, and collectively, the songs on the album seem to create a soundtrack for any good time.