February 16, 2005

Lost and Found

L - R: Gary Brown, Eugene Sinegal, Cyril Neville, Sam Henry, Richard Amos (?), Joe Gunn

"Slow Motion"
Sam & The Soul Machine, from Po'k Bones & Rice, Funky Delicacies, 2002

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Laying down a greasy groove that might be mistaken for the Meters with a sax player, Sam & The Soul Machine take a fine funky turn on “Slow Motion”. The mistake would be understandable, as I am pretty sure Zig Modeliste is playing drums on this track, which is from an unreleased instrumental funk album the group recorded in New Orleans in 1969. The Soul Machine’s regular drummer had been drafted, so leader Sam Henry recruited Modeliste for some of the sessions, during the same period when Zig and the Meters were recording their early sides for Allen Toussaint.

Henry, a well-respected keyboardist, started the Soul Machine around 1968. Getting a steady gig at the Desert Sands club, they quickly became a popular draw. When the band went into the studio to record “Slow Motion” and 11 other tracks, the players were Sam Henry (B-3), Richard Amos (bass), Eugene Sinegal (guitar), Gary Brown (sax), and either Joe Gunn or Zig Modeliste (drums). Henry kept the Soul Machine going in various forms, including several years in Nashville, until the later 1970’s. And, at various times, both Aaron Neville and Cyril Neville sang with the group live.

The history of New Orleans funk could have been different, if that album had been released and well-distributed; but, unfortunately, according to the CD notes, the original master tape was seized by the IRS when they shut down Cosimo Matassa’s recording studio for tax violations shortly after the sessions. While Sam Henry had a safety copy in his possession, a label deal was never sealed; and the album gathered dust until Aaron Fuchs and the reissue crew at Tuff City/Funky Delicacies unearthed it and put it on the CD Po’k Bones & Rice, which contains six other rare Soul Machine recordings (but none with the Nevilles).

While the Meters were beginning their domination of the New Orleans funk landscape at the start of the 1970’s, other performers such as the Gaturs, Eddie Bo, and Sam & The Soul Machine, to name a few , were doing their own thing live and in the studio, but getting much less attention. Fortunately, Funky Delicacies has been re-releasing some of those grooves, allowing us to get a feel for what these other funkateers were up to.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwight here.. Wow Dan! That was a great find. I know all these guys and didn't even know about this record! Yes, Sam was generally known around town in the 70s as a monster keyboard player. Sam could flat out play! He could play anything, jazz, classical and of course funk! He always looked very serious, but you could tell he enjoyed playing. and he made it look effortless! When he wasn't leading his own band, he played with everyone else. I had the pleasure of playing with Sam in one of Deacon John's bands. That particular incarnation featured Cyril Neville as well as Sam Henry ( I don't know how I got lucky enough to play in that lineup! ). one of Deacon John's lineups even featured Art Neville on organ! yeah, in the late 60s to early 70s all the New Orleans bands kinda had that same groove.and also throughout much of the 70s many of the various bands lineups interchanged. I remember Art and Cyril playing with different bands. (Cyril played drums in some of these bands). You probably already know who's on the cover, but I can ID from left to right: Gary brown, Eugene Synegal, Cyril Neville, Sam Henry, Don't know the bass man, and Joe Gunn. I've played on records with all except Gunn and the bass player.I would like to get a copy of that whole alblum. where did u find it. is it on CD?

6:55 PM, February 17, 2005  
Blogger DJ Diddy Wah said...

OMG what an incredible track, any chance of some more?

10:30 PM, February 17, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yo, Dwight! I'm moving your comments up top and will put a caption on that CD cover photo. Thanks!

And Adam. Yes, there will be more from the Soul Machine later. But, man, the CD is worth owning.

10:54 PM, February 17, 2005  

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