The Guerilla Band
Mainstream Records was founded by legendary jazz producer Bob Shad in 1964. Previous to that Shad worked with Savoy Records and launched Time Records in the mid 50s.
His new label was a bit different. It was pretty contemporary. He worked with many jazz musicians that were perhaps a bit past their peak but still had something to say. Kats like Shelly Manne, Roy Haynes, Harold Land, and even Sarah Vaughn cut albums for Mainstream. He also worked with a lot of journeyman jazz musicians that had signficant careers playing with some of the major names of the period. Shad basically gave these musicians an opportunity to express their own voice. Later on Mainstream crossed over into the rock field producing the first album from Big Brother & The Holding Company as well as The Amboy Dukes. Plenty of collectible psych albums were released on the imprint as well.
Shad’s grandson is movie producer/comedian Judd Apatow. Along with his sister he is curating and mining the Mainstream catalog.
At the moment our primary focus is on the period of the early 70s when Shad was encouraging his jazz artists to plug in. There were some simply incredible albums released on the label that are frequently overlooked in the used bins. Huge mistake. If you are a fan of soul jazz, spiritual jazz, electric jazz, or kosmigroov - there were some phenomenal choices courtesy of Mainstream Records.
We are offering a selection of CD reissues from Japan that we think deserve your attention. Here’s one:
Keyboardist Hal Galper is still going strong. In 1971 he cut the first of three albums for Mainstream. This is full on electric jazz with Galper manning the Fender Rhodes. The Brecker Bros are doing some wickedness and guitarist Bob Mann tosses off wah wah laced lines.
"While not one of the classics of the jazz fusion movement of the early '70s, The Guerilla Band does attempt to say something substantial and avoids the genre's commercial pitfalls
Leader Hal Galper, who went on to become an acoustic pianist of note, is heard here exclusively on electric piano. His highly electronically processed sound is unlike the playing of the Fender Rhodes' more representative players from this era, such as Joe Zawinul or George Duke.
Galper's band includes brothers Mike (saxophone) and Randy Brecker (trumpet), who at this time were gaining critical acclaim with their band Dreams. Dreams' guitarist Bob Mann is also on board. Session player and Cannonball Adderley alumnus Victor Gaskin is on electric bass. Steve Haas and Charles Alias team up for a double dose of drums.
Galper writes long, impressionistic lines that are played over busy, skittering, rhythms – imagine Miles Davis's In a Silent Way merged with a funky, Isley Brothers' track. This approach could work, but the drums generally create more clutter than groove, while Mann's scratchy playing often gets in the way of the music (it would have been interesting to hear this same band with a John Abercrombie or a John Scofield wailing over the top of these tracks).
Misgivings aside, this band produces a distinctive brand of jazz fusion that deserves a place in any thorough documentation of the genre's short-lived, peak creative years." - Allmusic