Leroy Burgess (Salsoul Records | NYC) - Full Live Band
Motor City Drum Ensemble
Take a random pile of underground disco and boogie vinyls from the late-1970s to mid-1980s, and scan the credits. If you’re yet to find the name of Leroy Burgess by the time you reach your fiftieth album, consider yourself the victim of bad fortune. Or pure coincidence.
Over that period, Burgess’ fingerprints were on so many different productions that even his most meticulous and loyal fans have struggled to keep tabs on all his recording sessions. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, producer, arranger and composer, Burgess’ impact on the history of dance music, from the birth of house to the founding of boogie, is beyond measure.
His trio Black Ivory were originally helped to prominence by legendary producer Patrick Adams, who worked on their first release Don’t Turn Around, a Top 40 hit on the R’n’B singles chart in 1969. Leroy eventually left the group in 1977, since when he has been involved in a seemingly never-ending string of projects. In the 1980s, in addition to collaborating alongside an incalculable list of disco, funk and soul collectives (incuding Inner Life, Aleems, Dazzle and Universal Robot Band) and solo artists (such as Eddie Kendricks, Rick James and Fonda Rae), the master still found time to form two new groups of his own.
Firstly, there was Convention, whose first single Let’s Do It is nothing short of a timeless dancefloor classic. Over 36 years on from its original release in 1980, Leroy would be invited to the Grammy Awards by Louis Vega (Master at Work) thanks to the latter’s epic remix of the song, which features on his long player Starring XXVIII, nominated in the category of Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2017.
Shortly afterwards came LOGG. The new group announced its arrival in 1981 with an eponymous album, considered by many to be one of the best boogie/funk records ever made and a landmark release in the development of proto-house. Masterfully crafted by Leroy Burgess, LOGG is without a doubt one of the albums that has most influenced the house scene, from founding fathers such as Larry Levan – who remixed the track I Know You Will – to modern artists including Motor City Drum Ensemble who, in 2015, sent crowds at the Dekmantel Festival into raptures by playing Dancing into the Stars.
Indeed it was MCDE, curating the Nuits Sonores festival in 2016, who invited his idol to play a greatest hits show backed by a ten-piece live band. The resulting one-off spectacle caught the imagination of the international media, programmers and artists of the callibre of Boo Williams, Sadar Bahar, Lakuti and DJ Harvey, who all took their place in the crowd for an hour of breathtaking live music that has already gone down in legend.
And it was from that unique adventure that the first shoots of Leroy Burgess’ very first European tour started to grow. That’s right: Mr Burgess is now setting off on the road with a full backing band described by the man himself as among “the finest that I’ve ever had the honour of sharing a stage with, in 50 years performing”.
A rare encounter with one of the artists most secretly idolised by producers of Chicago house and soulful house, as well as disco diggers, the world over.
Any further questions? Just press play.