Written By: Sam Marshall
FLASHBACK: Forgotten jazz staple makes sweet lounge music.
Originality: (4 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5 / 5) Lyrics: (5 / 5) Production: (5 / 5) Average: (4.8 / 5)
In 1974, the jazz musician Andy Bey released his third album, Experience and Judgment. The album does not have much kudos surrounding it, but should be a staple for the easy-listening jazz lover. Bey’s album is a lush, deep 41 minutes of chilled jazz.
Experience and Judgment is in a lot of ways an average album, and when you look at it in the context of the time it was released, it was really up against some heavy-hitting albums and artists. Music was taking a turn away from the softer rock in the 60s towards a harder, more progressive sound in the early to mid seventies, and this was really where the mainstream taste was. Queen, Genesis, Supertramp were big names. The success of Motown in the 60s was beginning to drop off slightly by the mid 70s and 1974 was too early for disco to really take hold, so Andy Bey’s smooth jazzy style was somewhat lost amongst the huge large-scale works of the year.
This is not to say, however, that the album lacks substance. Experience and Judgment opens with a slow, funky beat and semi-political message in “Celestial Blues.” You get a real Edwin Starr feeling, and the deep bassy vocals of Bey really shine through the whole album. In “The Power of My Mind” really shows off his velvety deep voice, and really puts him on the map as a great vocalist of the era. (It is worth noting that Andy Bey is still making music today, and won best vocal album in 2014)
When you listen to Experience and Judgment you can hear a lot of influences in what came afterwards. The powerful, soulful voice continues through this decade and the disco era, with Bey, Barry White, the Four Tops, all using the distinctive vocal/jazzy accompaniment combination. Bey sets himself apart from others at the time, with his universalistic message and depth of lyric, rather than the straight romanticism of other “crooners” from the time.
Bey’s album is absolutely worth a visit for anyone with an interest in jazz and blues, and who likes a good male vocal. The album flows beautifully through the twelve tracks, and the smoothness should make it an absolute jazz lounge classic, up there with Herbie Hancock and Sade.