What do the deep soul vibrations of James Brown, the fantastic Brazilian Bosa Nova of Sergio Mendes (Mas Que Nada), the delicious sound of Dave Brubeck and a series of smoking, 60’s inspired instrumentals have in common? A part from at some point being a part of John Peel’s extensive record collection this is a tricky link to establish, that is until you listen to Glaswegian Ray Harris and his band of worldly minstrels The Fusion Experience whose brilliantly buoyant experimental blend of Latin, acid Jazz, funk and soul allows it all to fall into place.
Saying that, it is with great pleasure to have the track Scaramunga, taken from the eponymous album Ray Harris and The Fusion Experience, feature as Far Out’s tune of the day.
From the off Harris sets the tone of this fast tempo, high energy, Latino tinted creation with a primal howl and, intent not privy to the rest of the band, ensuing bouts of conga smashes entwined with heavy bass riffs and the finger incinerating keyboard playing style of Harris himself gets the train rolling before a dose of sultry backing vocal leads us further into a rhythmically arousing and wickedly addictive four and a half minutes. Harris, a graduate of the National Jazz Institute, showcases his talents throughout by effortlessly flitting from piano sounds to organ wails and back again whilst managing to contribute with his own vocal.
Harris’ skills on the keys have been noted by many: winning the “Brewin Dolphin” newcomer award in 2008, and together with The Fusion Experience band has landed support slots for the late godfather of soul James Brown and played with Funk Legends The Average White Band, MTV award winners Jaga Jazzist, MOBO Award winner Denys Baptiste as well as sharing a stage with Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen).
Ray Harris and The Fusion Experience’s percussion drenched Scaramunga sounds, as I imagine, how Stax legends and Green Onions architects Booker T and the Mg’s would have had they spent any length of time in South America. Just that thought is enough to get excited about these guys.