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Soul Express CD Review

Jon Lucien: Rashida CD
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RCA (1973) reissue by Big Break Records (UK, 2011)

1) Kuenda 2) Would You Believe In Me 3) Lady Love 4) Luella 5) Shana 6) Satan 7) Rashida 8) War Song 9) Esperanza 10) Love Everlasting 11) Zenzile

Bonus track:
12) Lady Love (Single Version)

"Rashida" has previously been released by RCA on CD in Japan back in 1997 but Big Break Records have done the decent thing and given this ESSENTIAL set a brand new life with their beautifully remastered effort and thrown in the bonus of the single version of "Lady Love". Jon Lucien was one of the most brilliant, genuine talents that I have personally known and his sad departure back in August 2007 left me feeling VERY sad, lost and feeling that the world was a somewhat colder place to be. You see, Jon Lucien was a part of the beautiful nature that surrounded him and was attuned to the natural world that he was literally an exquisite force of nature himself.

The warm, tropical feeling on this set is symbiotic with his home of Tortola on the British Virgin Islands and Dave Grusin's lush arrangements add extra magic... the crashing waves, the children laughing and brass and sensual, almost sexual rhythms infused with magical melodies are second to none... and so we have a jazz-fusion album from 1973 that sounds as fresh today in 2011 as it did back then. Are any of today's music makers taking notice of this?! The album is simply delightful from track one through to the final track, and although some may find the style a little folky or 'world', - I don't - even the more conservative will lap up a song such as the ever-popular "Would You Believe In Me" which still fills dancefloors today. When I saw Jon perform at the Jazz Café back in 1996, the crowd went crazy when he belted this out. It was a moment of sheer perfection.

"Lady Love" is as classy as anything Jon has ever laid down and fans of Terry Callier will dig what has been laid down here. Grusin's orchestration is simply lush and enveloping. "Rashida" boasts a similar theme and rates as one of my all-time favourite songs, not only of Jon Lucien, but off all-time. The mournful, reflective and insightful song of a spurned love is truly heart-wrenching... "So many roses have died since you have been gone"... as an outsider viewing this torment Lucien beautifully and profoundly attributes the noble flower here. We fail to smell the rose in our daily lives and bemoan when we cannot, and as a symbol of love Lucien is able to raise this song to a higher vibration and mark himself as a Master musician, writer and observer of not only nature, but human frailty. And so it goes.

An essential CD reissue from Big Break records and I hope we see much more of this kind of release.
-Barry Towler

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