Sass / High Jazz Records – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Hot on the heels of the brilliant Harold Sutton & The Crusaders reissue, Switzerland’s High Jazz Records now turn their lazer-eared attention to mid `70s San Francisco, and the fantastic rock-inflected jazz-funk throwdowns of Sass.

Never before released, after being shelved at the time of recording, Sass offers up fifteen streetsmart slices of boogified goodness on the vinyl edition. Frozen in time, and slicked in soul, lead vocalist, Fred Ross, and guitarist and vocalist, Andy Ernst, head up a super-tight unit –  as on the jumping Life In General, which matches wicky-wack guitar chops to Ross’s raucous vocals, and comes out sounding like the JBs getting busy with Grand Funk Railroad.

Miss Lazy eases back some, the intro washes dropping into a quiet storm jam – a late night blues and lovelorn proclamations given the full-on harmonic treatment: sweet and deadly. The guitars get growly on I’m In Love, the rockier elements of the crew given a tasty outing: the ‘love’ of the title stretched out and riffed on by the band: this is love given a bagful of psychedelics and let loose on the town. Heavy on the overdriven solos: Santana-esque in the sweetly-held notes and vibe.

Sass High Jazz Records

Contrafuntal Punk blasts off with a bad-ass break, that is no doubt being chopped to bits already by producer types: it certainly should be – kicks like a mule! Written by pianist, Charles Haber, it’s a full-on jazz-rock rumble: the drums of Lemuel Barrow holding down the fleet-fingered runs. Dancefloors scorched. Mission accomplished.

Sass High Jazz Records

Happy & Love is another deep dive: Ross’s yearning vocal running down those old changes – ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – he sings and the band are right there, backing him up with soul to spare.

It’s another certifiable winner then, from the streets of San Francisco via the High Jazz crew. An archival triumph: the sound of young musicians feeling their way through sound, lost to the world for half a lifetime until now: we all believe in miracles, right?

Sass High Jazz Records

Sass is out now, on High Jazz Records.

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