Classics: Alphonse Mouzon – By All Means (Excaliber)
A songwriter, an arranger, a producer, also able to sing and play keyboard and synths, Alphonse Mouzon‘s legacy embraces the Jazz-fusion scene and way beyond. As a frontman as a sideman, havin’ played with artists such as Donald Byrd, Bobby Humphrey, McCoy Tyner and Weather Report to name but a few.
Like many of his pairs, the second half saw him exploring groovier territories such as Funk or Disco…
We catch him there on the final cut of the 1981 released album of the likes. The atmospheric ‘By All Means’ seeing him surrounded by an impressive array of luminaries. From Herbie Hancock to Freddie Hubbard, Lee Ritenour and Paul Jackson. Not to mention Jerry Hey, Larry Williams and Larry Tim.
Can’t simply get enough of this…
Born in Charleston, SC, of African, Blackfoot and French descent, Alphonse Mouzon got into drumming at an early age. He received his first musical training at Bonds-Wilson High School. Then he moved to New York City upon graduation. He studied drama and music at the City College of New York. He however got his first job as a laboratory technician, after studying at medical school.
At the age of 21, he toured with Roy Ayers and eventually contributed to the recording of his Polydor debut-album, ‘Ubiquity’. He then worked on the Broadway show ‘Promises, Promises’. He then would tour with various luminaries. From Gil Evans to George Benson and Donald Byrd. Not to mention Chubby Checker, McCoy Tyner and Weather Report with whom he spent a year as a member.
Mouzon first signed as a solo artist with Blue Note back in 1972, coming up with a unique style of playing and writing. The late 70’s/early 80’s seeing him, like many of his pairs, exploring Disco and Funk territories.
He eventually formed Mouzon’s Electric Band along with Bob Malach, Rex Robinson and Robert Etoll. Together, they released ‘Baby Come Back’ on Vanguard back in 1979. An album which features the ultra sought after ‘Everybody Get Down’ on a typical pumpin’ Disco vein. He also joined Christine Wiltshire, Connie Harvey, Holly Oas and Janet Wright as a member of Poussez! on the same label. They would drop two albums – ‘Poussez!’ and ‘Leave That Boy Alone’ – in 1979 and 1980.
The early 80’s are most likely to be remembered as his peak time. From his seminal ‘By All Means’ opus to its follow-up, ‘Morning Sun’. Two albums that saw him collaborating with the creme de la creme in the genre. From Herbie Hancock to Freddie Hubbard. But also the Brecker Brothers, Lee Ritenour and Hubert Laws to name but a few. Two albums which spanned respectively ‘By All Means’ and ‘I’m Glad That You’re Here’. The latter somehow reminding of Cerrone vocally speaking.
He eventually followed on that vibe with ‘I Don’t Want To Lose This Feeling’ and ‘Our Love Is Hot’. Two 12″ which appeared respectively on Highrise Entertainment Co. and Private I Records in 1982 and 1984.
Mouzon has recorded a total of 26 albums, from 1973 to. As a sideman, he has worked with countless artists. From Stevie Wonder to Miles Davis, Roberta Flack and Norman Connors among many others.
He sadly got diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, last September. He started a GoFundMe campaign to help with the cost of treatments and medications, which we forwarded on these shores.
On Christmas morning Alphonse Mouzon began to display trouble breathing. EMT staff arrived on scene and tried to revive him. After several attempts he was declared deceased, with the cause being cardiac arrest.
He died on Dec. 26, aged 68 in Northridge, CA.