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15 Sep 2016

The L.A. Carnival "Would Like to Pose a Question" 1970 US Funky jazz soul

The L.A. Carnival  "Would Like to Pose a Question" 1970  US Funk soul 
Sweet jazzy funk – from the cornbelt of Omaha! The LA Carnival are one of those rarer-than-rare funk groups who not only never got their due back in the day – but also recorded a heck of a lot of great material that never even got issued! They have a totally great sound that bubbles in jazzy licks on trumpet, sax, and organ – next to tighter, funkier vamping on the rhythms – all of which makes for a killer approach to the groove that’s surprisingly fresh, given the passage of three decades since the group’s heyday. And leave it to the folks at Stones Throw – who know how to dig beyond the crates, into the earth, and come up with a lost slice of funk history that has made the world a much better musical place. They’ve lovingly remastered these great recordings from the early 70s, and have packaged the whole thing with a well-done set of notes that really goes into detail about this unique group, their amazing sound, and their obscure Nebraska origins! An instant funk essential – and one you’ll be thanking yourself for buying for years to come. Titles include “Black Man’s March”, “Ron’s Tune”, “The Klan”, “Color”, “Flyin”, “We Need Peace & Love”, and “Blind Man”.. 

- Does there exist a substratum of the musical elite more hermetic than hip-hop’s own brand of nomad, the cratedigger? Equal parts obsessive, archivist, collector and artist, the cratedigger’s life-consuming quest for the perfect breakbeat(s) magically transforms one’s local Yellow Pages into a record collector’s Holy Grail; while an individual’s basement can be a vinyl-addict’s utopia where time-forgotten funk manna patiently awaits discovery. The collectors are notoriously obsessive, eternally flipping through abandoned boxes to locate (and mine the fuck out of) that one brilliant twelve-second clip. And then there are folks like those mad Los Angelino B-boys behind Stones Throw Records– namely Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib, and Egon– for whom sampling isn’t enough: these guys actually go to the trouble of remastering and releasing these out-of-print obscurities on compact disc in what could only be described as a deranged act of beat-crazed taboo.Stones Throw has been opening hip-hop listeners’ blunt-addled minds for some time now; stretching the conceptions of “digging” culture seems only a natural progression for the marquee label. Any single track off of 2001’s archivist funk odyssey, The Funky 16 Corners, could be considered a proverbial wet-dream for DJs far and wide. And last year’s reissue of Stark Reality’s Now, through its solid selection of proto-funk grooves, not only exposed the blueprint for Madlib’s trademark love affair with the vibes, but also saved plenty of sample-hungry tastemakers from shelling out hundreds on eBay for the über-rare vinyl original. 
The strongest of these inspired reissues yet, however, is the unabashedly multi-racial, Omaha-bred mutt-funk troupe The L.A. Carnival’s early 70s release, Pose a Question. That the band’s frontman, drummer and chief songwriter Lester Abrams is not a legendary icon of American funk is probably due somewhat to locale: raised in the racially segregated Omaha of the 60s with roots in both Native and Black American cultures, Abrams’ music is imbued with a distinctly American conflation of funk, jazz and soul that drops overtly political overtones atop feverish, percussion-heavy grooves. Abrams’ incendiary drum lines steal the show on almost every number; cymbals swing effortlessly as barrages of snare hits frenetically pop like ricocheting pinballs. 
What comes to identify Pose a Question, though, is Abrams’ method of channeling his multi-ethnic American heritage through the genre-defying exuberance of his tunes. By having such movement within each number and throughout the sequence of the entire record (“Blind Man” is straight Motown Soul, while “Ron’s Tune” is a bossa-funk chill-out), The L.A. Carnival flaunt their diversity; the ultimate act of aesthetic revolt in the face of a black-and-white America clinging to its ideological labels and racial stereotypes. On the album’s opener, “Flyin’”, Ron Cooley’s wiry guitar licks melt over a steady laconic funk bop, while Rick Chudacoff’s electric bass notes pounce on the off beats before the chorus breaks in with the calming soul twinkle of a Rhodes piano motif. While on the album’s showstopper, “7 Step to Nowhere”, rolling percussion and jerky guitar chords hold the awkward 7/4 time signature together, only for the inherent calm of a lone jazz sax solo to cool-out the bridge section. 
While the arrangements on Pose a Question should undoubtedly break smiles across DJs’ faces and get funk fanatics’ heads’ nodding, the lyrical content of most of these numbers sounds irrepressibly derivative of 60s idealism. In an age where even irony is coming under the gun, it’s hard to take a song titled “We Need Peace and Love” seriously– particularly when those are the number’s only lyrics. Furthermore, the album’s title track, with lyrics about the black “brotha man,” and laughably simplistic questions like, “Can we all live together one by one,” seem rather banal when heard in today’s context. Of course, you can’t fault a record for sounding like a product of its time (even if you can champion one that was ahead of it), and The L.A. Carnival’s sweet-as-can-be, three-part vocal harmonies (courtesy of Leslie Smith, Arno Lucas and Abrams) generally help the revolution go down easy for even the most jaded listener.. 

This release, an official reissue of the superbly rare 1970 7-inch released by the dynamite Omaha, NE funk ensemble, consists of two gems. “Color” is three part vocal funk of the highest, most intense order. “Blind Man,” band-leader Lester Abrams penned ode to lost love, stands as one of the great moments in Black psychedelic rock - and was compiled on collector Dante Carfagna’s awesome “Chains And Black Exhaust” mix. 

This is a joint Stones Throw/Now-Again release. LA Carnival’s previously unreleased & unheard album LA Carnival Would Like to Pose a Question was later released by Now-Again…. 

Lester Abrams - drums, vocals, organ, acoustic piano, percussion 
Arno Lucas - vocals, percussion 
Leslie Smith - vocals 
Rick Chudacoff - electric bass, backup vocals 
Ron Cooley - electric and acoustic guitar 
Geno DeVaughn - trumpet 
Percy Marion - tenor saxophone, flute 
Michael Patterson - alto saxophone 

02.We Need Peace and Love 
03.(We’d Like To) Pose a Question 
04.Seven Steps to Nowhere 
05.Blind Man 
06.Can You Hum a Tune 
08.The Klan 
09.Black Man’s March 
10.Ron’s Tune Alternate Take 


12.Ron’s Tune 
13.Bad Luck 
14.Blues For L.A. 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..