First Listen! Roy Ayers – Sugar (The Reflex Revision) (BBE)
To be honest “sugar” isn’t the first name that would come to my mind when thinkin’ of Roy Ayers‘ music…
I still have in mind the words of Barry White years ago. He told me he didn’t have problems seeing people remixing music (including his) as long as they would do it cleverly. Meaning with a proper architecture… Something Roy Ayers also said to me a few years later, although talkin’ about samples.
Responsible for this brilliant revision the classic ‘Sugar’, he brings it to the next level, although respecting its original feel. The proper of a… Revision, and therefore a brilliant one that gives Soul/Jazz, Jazz/Funk a definitive third millenium flava…
Besides if ever askin’ me how I like my coffee to be served, I’ll go for 2 brown sugar with a cloud of milk. How about you?
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– Roy Ayers belongs to the category of those who’ve constantly redefined themselves. A reality which has most definitely contributed to the timelessness of his music. This makin’ of it the most sampled by the Rappers.
A native of Los Angeles, CA, Roy grew up in a musical environment. With his dad playin’ trombone and his mom playing piano. This in addition to the area where he lived – South Central – which happened to be the epicenter of the Southern California Black music scene.
He discovered his love for the vibes while attending a Lionel Hampton concert by the age of 5. Receiving his first pair of vibraphone mallets from Hampton himself.
He first studied piano during his high school years though. Having mastered both piano and vibes, he started playing professionally, Jamming with luminaries such as Wayne Henderson and Chico Hamilton among others. Not to mention Herbie Mann with whom he began recording. This bringin’ him to sign his first record deal as a solo artist on Atlantic Records. Then deliver his debut-album – ‘Virgo Vibes’ – back in 1967. Then givin’ birth to Ubiquity. A name he went for because “ubiquity” means a state of being everywhere at the same time. And, in the meantime, a band that saw him sharing the duties with Alphonse Mouzon, Edwin Birdsong and Bernard Purdie among others.
As a matter of fact, Ayers made himself a name as a pioneer of the then emerging Jazz/Funk. This while crafting an impressive series of killer jams where the infectiousness prevails. Beginning with the mythic ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ from his 1976 album of the likes. But also ‘Hey Uh-What You Say Come On’ which Defected Records CEO Simon Dunmore eventually sampled 24 years later. This on his remix of Monie Love‘s ‘Down To Earth’. Meanwhile blending it with Lonnie Liston-Smith & The Cosmic Echoes‘ ‘Expansions’.
1978 not only brought ‘Get On Up, Get On Down’ which Joey Negro reworked some 25 years later. But also ‘Running Away’, one of Roy‘s biggest classics. Meanwhile ‘Don’t Stop The Feeling’ (his only top 10 single on the Billboard’s Hot Disco/Dance chart) and ‘Love Will Bring Us Back Together’ saw the light the year after.
Makin’ a move to Columbia in 1984, he delivered ‘In The Dark’ featuring its slammin’ title track. Not to mention the cheeky ‘Poo Poo La La’ which he co-produced with Stanley Clarke. Meanwhile showcasing his ability to rap and come up with suggestive lyrics. The early 90’s seeing him dropping music on his own Uno Melodic label and live albums on Ronnie Scott’s. Then the end of the decade, collaborating with Louie Vega and Kenny Dope. Either on their Nuyorican Soul guise with a remake of ‘Sweet Tears’ which he did back in 1978 as a part of his ‘Let’s Do It’ album. Or as MAW while revisiting his 1982 released ‘Our Time Is Coming’ from his ‘Feeling Good’ album.
Soon after, unreleased music of his from back in the day would see the light on UK label BBE Music. This after Peter Adarkwah came to visit him in NYC. Thus giving birth to ‘Virgin Ubiquity (Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981)’ in 2004. Then a volume II of the likes the year after. And, by that, the opportunity to fully enjoy the timelessness of cuts such as ‘Baby Doll’, ‘Sugar’, ‘I’m Your Mind’ or Liquid Love’ among others.
A master on his own discipline, Ayers has shared the duties / bill with countless other artists. Beginning with the memorable ‘Music Of Many Colours’ along with Afrobeat mogul Fela Kuti back in 1980. A contribution speakin’ of which he never got his money for at the end. Two years later, one could hear him jammin’ along with Rick James on the firing ‘Dance Wit’ Me’. Then back in 1987 with Whitney Houston on ‘Love Will Save The Day’.
We then stumbled upon the rare and underrated ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ along with Rob Alexander in 1994. Meanwhile the end of the decade and the beginning of the third millennium would see him along with House producers. From Scott Grooves and Ferry Ultra. To Kerri Chandler and Dennis Ferrer aka UFP, if not Bah Samba. And I’m not even talkin’ about Hip-Hoppers and / or R&B artists whom he played with. From Coolio to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and The Roots to name a few. This in addition to British Acid Jazz combo Down To The Bone on the memorable ‘Electric Vibes’ as remixed by DJ Spinna back in 2005.
– Nicolas Laugier, aka The Reflex, takes his cue from the first wave of Disco remixers. For this to happen, he only uses the original sounds from the master tapes (or stems) to breathe new life into Soul, Pop and Disco classics.
Imaginative arrangements, boxfresh sonics and intricate editing make ‘The Reflex Revisions’ rocket fuel for every DJ set.
Very few editors out there put as much time and detail into their work as The Reflex and the results speak for themselves. Heavily championed by BBC6 Music’s Craig Charles, ‘The Reflex Revisions’ have amassed over 50 weeks of radio play in just two years on this number one rated show. They have also found their way onto the playlists of tastemakers like Rob Da Bank. But also Gilles Peterson who, last year, sent the Michael Jackson ‘Rock With You’ Revision spinning around the globe.
It’s not all about the past though for The Reflex. Nicolas has also been applying his stems-only formula to contemporary tracks, showing off the strength of his ‘less is more’ approach on production to a wider audience.
Having clearly established himself as one of the best in the remix field, with two official compilations of revisions in the works and gigs lined up all over the planet, now is the time to sit up and take notice of this French DJ / producer doing it his way.
“There are edits, many of them. Then there are ‘The Reflex Revisions’…” In other words, “the next level”, as he states. And we’re lucky to have a revision of Roy Ayers‘ ‘Sugar’…
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