Chuck Burgi - drums; Brian Godula - bass; Mingo Lewis - percussion, vocals; Kinkaid Miller - keyboards; Pat Thrall - guitar
The discography of Mingo Lewis reads like a virtual who's who of the jazz/rock-fusion scene. A world-class percussionist, Lewis was recruited by Santana in the early 1970s and went on to perform and record with Chick Corea's groundbreaking Return to Forever, Al Di Meola and many others. Lewis has enjoyed an extremely distinguished career as a critical percussive element in some of the most memorable music within the above mentioned genre, but has never been recognized for being a bandleader himself. This makes this remarkable Record Plant recording all the more interesting, as what we have here is Mingo Lewis fronting his own band, during the era he was establishing himself in so many other projects as a sideman.
Lewis assembled an incredible band for this recording and the music they create will be an astounding find for fans of Lewis as well as anyone who appreciates the 1970s fusion scene that he was so deeply immersed in. Guitarist Pat Thrall will be a familiar name to some, but for those unfamiliar with his vast session work, think in terms of the technical proficiency of Al Di Meola, the dexterity of Alan Holdworth, but with a more aggressive hard rock attack. Toss into the mix the jazzy keyboards of Kincaid Miller and the powerful rhythm section of Brian Godula, who has played with Todd Rundgren and Chuck Burgi and provided the drums for Di Meola and Brand X, among others, and you have one of the most impressive lineups imaginable.
This is powerful fusion music in every sense of the word, combining elements of Latin music, jazz and hard rock into a bubbling mix that is both technically astounding and emotionally engaging. This is aggressive and vital music, full of texture and subtlety. Unlike much of the post-Bitches Brew jazz-rock of the 1970s, which often seemed to value technical proficiency at the expense of emotive creativity, Lewis and company achieve a near perfect balance. The technical abilities of the individual musicians are unquestionably impressive, but it's the cohesiveness of the entire unit and the intense interplay between the musicians that makes this music stand out.
Although Lewis is the bandleader here, he is but one of the five elements that makes this music so engaging. Fans of any one of the band members will find this recording to be one of the most creative projects any of these musicians has participated in. Although they went on to work together in various combinations, often supporting other artists, one can only wonder what impact they might have had had they remained working together beyond this brief moment in time. Thankfully, the Record Plant has preserved this rare combination of musicians for all to enjoy.