Music

Songs from the Vault: Unearthing McNealy and Battiste’s 1970s Jazz Masterpieces

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Songs from the Vault: released by Lo-Flo Records on April 26, 2024, showcases two exceptional jazz tracks, “Why Can’t I Have It Too” and “Movie Star.” These songs, written by Jane McNealy in the 1970s, feature the legendary jazz musician and producer Harold Battiste Jr. The EP highlights the enduring musical partnership between McNealy and Battiste, bringing to light hidden gems from McNealy’s early career.

“Why Can’t I Have It Too” begins with a melancholy piano melody played by McNealy, complemented by Battiste’s emotive saxophone. This song, co-written with Alice Kuhns for the musical *To Be Fred*, captures the personal and societal struggles of the era. The arrangement by Battiste enhances the song’s emotional depth, making it a poignant listening experience.

In contrast, “Movie Star” is a funk-infused track featuring McNealy on keyboards and Battiste’s signature saxophone. The song includes synthesized wind and electronic effects, with McNealy providing background vocals. The result is an epic and uplifting piece that stands out as a highlight from McNealy’s 1970s hits. Battiste considered “Movie Star” his favorite, calling it “the greatest of Jane McNealy’s hits from the 1970s.”

Harold Battiste Jr. was a prolific and influential figure in the music industry. Born in New Orleans in 1931, he achieved early success with Sam Cooke’s 1957 hit “You Send Me” and played a significant role in the career of Dr. John. He co-founded AFO Records, the first African-American musician-owned label in the South, and contributed to numerous iconic records, including works by Ike and Tina Turner, Tom Waits, and Sonny and Cher. As Sonny and Cher’s musical director, he arranged hits like “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Battiste’s legacy extends beyond performance and production; he was also a pioneering music director for American TV and a respected educator.

Jane McNealy’s collaboration with Harold Battiste Jr. in “Songs from the Vault: Reel #5” is a testament to their creative synergy and lasting impact on the music world. These two songs, though decades old, resonate with the timeless quality of their artistry. Listeners can experience these classic jazz pieces and their accompanying music videos on Lo-Flo Records’ YouTube channel, with the first video for “Why Can’t I Have It Too” releasing on May 3, 2024.

 

 

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