One of the driving factors behind this ‘70s band was largely due to the respective musicians distinct styles. It’s akin to the old adage in the sport of boxing, where styles make fights. Captured live in 1976 at the infamous Montreux Jazz Festival, Stuff was an ensemble formed by extremely busy session musicians. Teeming with an upbeat vibe, the artists coalesced for a groove-heavy brew that was rooted in blues-funk-gospel-jazz and soul. And for you drummers out there, Steve Gadd’s solo on the aptly titled "The Gadd Solo" is worth the price of admission, although the fun factor doesn’t end there.
Sparked by a buoyant group-centric mode of operations, pianist/organist Richard Tee generated the underlying gospel-jazz and R&B flavored underpinnings for the band’s in-the-pocket gait. Here, guitarists Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree trade animated phrasings via passionate, soul-drenched lines. While bassist Gordon Edwards and Gadd lay down the foundation with hearty doses of spunk and verve. Otherwise, the film crew maintains a sense of motion with rear, zoom and front-center shots while often focusing on the soloists.
The band spins a personalized motif on Earth, Wind & Fire’s soul-pop classic "That’s The Way Of The World," and morphs Joe Cocker’s hit "You Are So Beautiful," into a sublime, yet edgy ballad as Dupree re-phrases the primary melody with stinging extended notes. Then legendary vocalist Odetta joins the band on "Oh Happy Day." Overall, this disc serves as a blast from the past for me (I’m showing my age here). The music is timeless, where few ensembles of this era injected such exclusivity into the musical roads frequently traversed.