December 6, 2023
Dec 6, 2023
Son of famed r&b bandleader Johnny Otis, Shuggie Otis released Freedom Flight, his second solo album, before his 18th birthday. The highly-regarded album transcends genres, though it’s variously labeled as “psychedelic soul,” funk, blues and even jazz fusion.
The record encompasses all of those styles, with Otis – nominally a guitarist – playing bass, drums and keyboards as well. The album contains the original version of “Strawberry Letter #23,” later a Top 40 hit in 1977 for the Brothers Johnson.
Otis more or less disappeared from sight after the album’s release, resurfacing in 1974 for Inspiration Information (reissued decades later by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label). Other than occasional guest spots, he wouldn’t be heard again for nearly 40 years(!), when he released a live album, and then 2018’s Inter-Fusion, a studio LP.
Though he’s considered an erratic performer, Otis played a thrilling (and ecstatically-received) set at Asheville Orange Peel in 2013. As a musician, composer and arranger, Otis deserves to be discussed in the same context as Prince, Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone. Freedom Flight is the centerpiece of Shuggie Otis’ early ‘70s three-album run of influential and near-perfect releases.
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe.com in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill’s keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill’s work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues – more than 30 to date – and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, will be published in 2021 by HoZac Books.
Andre Cholmondeley is a musician, performance artist, and music touring industry professional. Based in Asheville NC, he is the founder of Project/Object, the longest running Zappa-alumni-based tribute band in the world. Andre has toured for a variety of legendary artists, including Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Derek Trucks, moe., Adrian Belew, and Ten Years After. He has explored a multi-disciplinary path, from counter coding to owning and managing a natural/organic foods store for over a decade, to booking, producing and presenting concerts around the world and right here in Asheville NC.
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