UNITY, Vibrations In Time: In 1972 Byron Morris, Gerald Wise, and Vincent McEwan formed Unity as an environment in which they could freely explore their musical interest.
The band quickly expanded to include bass, drums, piano, sax, trumpet, and the vocals of Jay Clayton.
Throughout the decade, Unity performed live and released two phenomenal records, BLOW THRU YOUR MIND and VIBRATIONS, THEMES & SERENADES.
The music is of it's time (funky, rebellious, wildly exploratory, communal), but avoids slipping into fusion.
Now the best of both records is available in CD form.
These sessions have a deliciously warm feel, both sonically and vibe-wise.
Once you've heard them, you'll wish you could find more of Unity. Morris, Wise, McEwan, Clayton, Mike Kull, Frank Clayton, Abdush Shahid. This 1994 compilation CD release features the seminal Unity Band. The music covers the original Unity group recordings:"BLOW THRU YOUR MIND"(1974) and "VIBRATIONS, THEMES SERENADES"(1979).
Cathy Austin/Jazz Director/KZSU-FM: "The Music presented here is much like the musical organization in which it is a part--Unity. It's strong and positive music. Pick up your feet, get off your butt and groove, open your mind, lay back a while and let The Music transcend your mind."
Cadence magazine:"The music is Jubilant!"
JazzTimes magazine: "The music is rich, expressive, and beautiful."
The Paris Jazz magazine: "The music of Unity has fantastic originality!"
Coda magazine: "This compilation disk of two earlier Unity LPs is well worth hearing, and having in your collection."
The Swing Journal magazine of Japan: "Unity, achieves an independence and perfection in its sound."
"Unity was formed with similar values, aims and objectives to many other spiritually conscious groups at the time, as the name suggests. Uniquely, it managed to match the musical and spiritual searching of John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders and Ornette Coleman alongside an equally experimental New York art-music dimension that was brought into the group by vocalist Jay Clayton, who had performed with, amongst many others, Steve Reich. With bassist Milton Suggs having played in Sun Ra's Arkestra, and Byron Morris having studied with Ornette Coleman and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, it is possible to see the musical path that makes up "Kitty Bey", twelve minutes of musical intensity, which sounds like nothing else ever recorded." Japan, Celeste Music 2004.
Well the term "Soul Jazz" doesn't have to mean it's based around funky themes. The music of Virginia native Byron Morris is something that encapsulates both funky, soul and more importantly spiritual themes . Morris is expressive and entertaining and his group Unity while symbolizing the energy and feelings of the USA during the 1970s & early 1980s.
Unity's first album "Blow Thru Your Mind" (EPI Records) was the result of a year long set of performances that helped evolve the bands communal style. The first track, "Kitty Bey" with a forceful and driving rhythm from Morris, Kull and McEwan and some great vocal improvisation by Clayton. Jay Clayton vocals are prominent throughout the proceedings and her poetic vocal delivers gives the session a lovely spiritual vibe. All the music/songs from this album is contained on Vibrations in Times, plus several songs from Unity's second album: "Vibrations, Themes & Serenades".
A centerpiece here is "Reunion" which see Morris and Suggs deliver some awesome solo work as well their own interplay. This is good piece of modality that anyone a fan of contemporary, free, or spiritual jazz would enjoy immensely. "Transcendental Lullaby" is a ballad that wonderfully and surprisingly ends the session with some delicate playing by Kull and beautifully evocative vocals from Clayton. A touching end to a journey that blow your mind.
Jazz Wrap - A Jazz Music Blog
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