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Fever (1975)

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Ronnie Laws

When Ronnie Laws first started recording as a leader in 1975, one of the saxman's strongest allies wasWayne Henderson. That trombonist and founding member of the Crusaders (originally the Jazz Crusaders) was an expert when it came to combining the accessibility of soul and funk with the freedom of jazz, and his guidance proved to be a definite asset when he produced early Laws albums like Pressure Sensitive (1975) and Fever (1976). The popular Grover Washington, Jr. was a strong influence on Laws, whose appreciation of Mr. Magic asserts itself on everything from the funky "Let's Keep It Together" and the gritty "Captain Midnite" to Bobby Lyle's alluring "Night Breeze." This isn't to say that Laws was aWashington clone, or that he unaware of other soul-jazz saxmen like Eddie Harris and David "Fathead" NewmanLaws, in fact, was quite recognizable himself on both tenor and soprano. One tune that definitely isn't in the soul-jazz vein is "From Ronnie with Love," an angular, cerebral post-bop offering that isn't unlike something Jackie McLean would do. Because Laws has recorded so many throwaways, one has to approach his catalog with caution; but rest assured that Fever puts his talent to work instead of wasting it.