Selected by Dan Grunebaum
Earth, Wind & Fire
Courtesy of Zak
Thirty years since their founding, and
following on the heels of visits by fellow funk icons James Brown and George Clinton,
seminal Seventies supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire return to Japan for their first visit
in four years. Fittingly, the tour will bring them to the glistening Tokyo International
Forum, an ideal venue for the group' polished sound.
Founded in 1969 by Memphis-born drummer/singer Maurice White, EW&F immediately stood
out from peers like James Brown or Sly and the Family Stone. "I wanted to do
something that hadn't been done before," White recalls on the band's official website
(www.earthwindandfire.com). "We were
coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness, and I
wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding
listeners spiritual content."
White has not participated in recent tours, and will not be present in Tokyo (he did make
the last tour in 1996), but other core members responsible for EW&F's sophisticated,
jazz-influenced funk and soaring vocals will be making the trip. Verdine White, bassist
and brother to Maurice, is on the bill as is four-octave singer Phillip Bailey,
drummer/vocalist Ralph Johnson and guitarist Sheldon Reynolds.
Meanwhile, EW&F is at work on a new album, produced in collaboration with Maurice
White and Jean Wyclef of the Grammy-winning hip hop trio The Fugees. The album, due out
next year, will be the group's 23rd.
Sony Music Legacy is also re-releasing four of EW&F's landmark albums: Gratitude,
That's The Way of The World, All 'n All and The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol.
1. The initial tracks have been digitally remastered, and supplemented with outtakes
and other material culled from the original recording sessions.
& Fire play Tokyo International Forum on September 9/26-27. See listings for details.