December 19, 2009
Led by MAURICE WHITE (born 1941), Earth, Wind & Fire were by far the most commercial cousins of the cosmic-jazz entity known as Sun Ra, lacking Funkadelic’s edge or Pharaoh Sanders’ experimentalism. Don’t be distracted by the band’s shiny spandex jazz-space-suits, though. White not only delivered what the public wanted (tight, light disco-funk grooves), he convinced the public to dig most pneumatically what it didn’t know it wanted: hugely sophisticated orchestrations, brilliantly inter-woven harmonic structures and, occasionally, bizarre but delightful forays into full-funk-falsetto. Providing the world with a delectable recipe of easily digestible yet infinitely complex rhythmic and melodic known-unknowns, White brought some of the finest jazz-chops to bear on the technical aspects of what Walter Benjamin prophetically saw as “undoubtedly the material essence of the cosmik-funkizeit-groovenkunst in 1978.”
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