October 30, 2004

Pre-election soul/funk wishful thinking

"Anticipation" (Wilson Turbinton)
from Anticipation, Willie Tee, United Artists, 1976

I used to play this tune around election time on my radio show in Memphis. So, I thought I'd blog it prior to the November 2 showdown. From the bi-centennial year of 1976, "Anticipation" has a great feel, a memorable bass line, and a message that still makes sense, however more impossible it may be to achieve today than in 1976 (or any time in human history, I guess). The artist, Willie Tee (Wilson Turbinton), singer, songwriter, keyboardist, first made a name for himself in the mid-1960's with the Atlantic release of "Teasin' You", a song written by Earl King and produced by Wardell Quezergue. A few years prior to that, he had started recording with Harold Battiste at AFO Records in New Orleans. After a few more singles on Atlantic, he got into some production work (Margie Joseph) in the late 1960's, was signed to Capitol for a couple (?) of singles and a jazz album, then around 1970 started a funk outfit called the Gaturs. The band didn't get too far, but put out a number of memorable sides that have since had the CD comp treatment and are sought after by collectors. Following that, Tee got involved in an innovative musical collaboration with the Wild Magnolias, a Mardi Gras Indian group, that resulted in at least one single and two albums in the early to mid-1970's. These albums, too, have been re-released on CD, after being prized collectors' items for years. most of the Gaturs, as well as other of New Orleans' funky greats, played on these releases.

So, that brings us to the album, Anticipation. The basic backing tracks were done by the Gaturs, with Tee's brother, Earl Turbinton, a well-respected jazzman, on soprano sax, and some outside, A-list session players such as Victor Feldman, Chuck Findley, Lee Ritenour, and David T. Walker added to the mix. This isn't a desert island record of mine, being more pop/soul than funk; but it's a really good one that did not deserve its almost instant obscurity. Actually, the song, "Anticipation" is a kind of suite with a companion piece, "Liberty Bell". They are the standouts of the record, for which Willie Tee should still be proud.

Since then, he hasn't released much; but I do recommend the jazz CD, Brothers For Life on Rounder, by his brother, Earl, and featuring Tee as a player and composer. Now, anticipate no more....


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