PATRICE RUSHEN: ‘Shout It Out’ (Label: Soul Brother)

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Though it’s viewed by jazz-funk junkies as one of Patrice Rushen’s best ever albums – it was her third and final offering for the Prestige label before the LA-born singer/pianist jumped ship to Elektra – ‘Shout It Out’ has never been reissued on CD before. Thankfully, England’s Soul Brother label has rectified this oversight and now, Rushen’s 1977 jazz-funk masterpiece is available to buy again (having been remastered from the original master tapes, it sounds better than ever). The opening cut, ‘The Hump’ is a classic Rushen instrumental – with its addictive, funky groove, slick horn charts and a tasty Fender Rhodes piano solo from Rushen, it presages the smooth instrumental style she developed at Elektra from 1978 onwards. What’s also significant about ‘Shout It Out’ is that it was the first album that Patrice Rushen started singing on her records – the title track, for example, has a sung chorus (though no vocal verses) as does ‘Let There Be Funk’ but it’s the lovely, soulful, ‘Let Your Heart Be Free,’ where Rushen really gets to showcase her delicate pipes (the single version of the track is included as a bonus cut). By contrast, the propulsive ‘Roll With The Punches’ – which is driven by a frenetic slapped bass and pulsating clavinet – is a vigorous jazz-funk workout highlighting Rushen’s keyboard skills. Accompanying Rushen are such luminaries as drummer James Gadson, saxophonist Tom Scott, guitarist Al McKay, percussionist Bill Summers and backing vocalists, the Waters sisters. Back in 1977, 23-year-old Patrice Rushen brought a breath of fresh air to the fusion scene – after all, there weren’t many female musicians playing jazz and funk – and it was no surprise that a major label snapped her up. Although she made some strong albums for Elektra, gradually the jazz and funk elements got diluted in Rushen’s music as she favoured a more commercial approach. ‘Shout It Out’ isn’t totally devoid of commerciality – after all it’s the album that alerted Elektra to her talents – but largely it’s a hugely satisfying blend of jazz, soul and funk that has stood the test of time. Highly recommended.
(CW) 4/5