Forgotten Treasures

Stone Alliance “Stone Alliance” (1976)

Soul & Funk

I know for a fact that I passed up a worn version of this iconic newspaper-font album cover at Community Thrift in San Francisco years ago.

I had no real reason to trust these smiling, toasting, well moustached dudes. They didn’t look tough enough, ya know? The cover lays out in great detail who Gene Perla, Don Alias, and Steve Grossman were affiliated with. Giants in their own regard, but the metrics for quality as it pertains to smiling jazz dudes on album covers….not good. Yeah, I passed on it for about two bucks. Crate digging fail on my part? Indeed.

Stone Alliance, engineered by Jan Hammer, takes afro-cuban, jazz/funk and r&b compositions and provides a mid 1970’s jazz power trio rendering for them. It was originally released on P.M. Records in 1976 – just before some jazz fusion stuff started to hit an expiration date. Name checked by The Beastie Boys in Root Down and sampled by “golden era” hip-hop legends Showbiz and A.G. and Leaders of The New School, “Sweetie Pie” is that jazz/funk gem that stays respectable amongst beat heads and first time listeners.

“Creepin'”, a 1974 moody Stevie Wonder classic, is covered here with a sensibility that never veers into the cheap or unpleasant department. Grossman, who was Wayne Shorter’s replacement in Miles Davis jazz-fusion band, executes an informed reading of the song. Trust. It is real hard work to improve upon an original that included the T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer, Minnie Riperton singing background vocals and the harmonica work of Mr. Wonder. Stone Alliance cooks things down to it’s spiritual essence with the conversational dialogue between the congas and bass throughout.

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John-Paul Shiver

John-Paul Shiver

SF Music Journalist who writes for @pulplab @sfsonicmag , likes more songs about buildings and food. He's written for several Bay Area Music publications over the past 15 years.