Label: Pure Pleasure
Capra Black remains one of the seminal recordings of jazz's black consciousness movement. A profoundly spiritual effort that channels both the intellectual complexity of the avant-garde as well as the emotional potency of gospel, its focus and assurance belie Billy Harper's inexperience as a leader. Backed by an all-star supporting unit including trombonist Julian Priester and drummer Billy Cobham, Harper's tenor summons the brute force and mystical resolve of John Coltrane but transcends its influences to communicate thoughts and feelings both idiosyncratic and universal. This is music of remarkable corporeal substance that somehow expresses the pure language of the soul.
"One of the most spiritual recordings put out by the Strata East label, and the record that put Billy Harper on the map! Harper leads a hip group here – one that features George Cables on piano, Reggie Workmanon bass, Jimmy Owens on trumpet, and Julian Preister on trombone – and they're joined by a quintet of voices that includes Eugene McDaniels, all singing behind the jazz players in an uplifting spiritual mode that cries out with the new soul jazz freedom of the 70s! Max Roach and Donald Byrd had begun experiments like this a decade before, but Harper's work here blows them all away – with a sense of righteousness and focus that's simply astounding, especially considering that the album was Billy's first as a leader! Harper's solos are worth the price of the record alone – searing with a raw, post-Coltrane energy as he darts in and out of the voices in the backings." Dustygroove