Drift Sunday Classic: Roy Ayers - Virgo Vibes

Drift Sunday Classic: Roy Ayers - Virgo Vibes

For this Sunday Classic, we’ve gone right back to the start of the storied career of American producer, composer and vibraphone deity, Roy Ayers.

Originally released on the Atlantic label in 1967, Virgo Vibes is the second studio set from Roy Ayers, and more than fifty years later, it remains a gripping album of measured space and graceful cool. Long before his production work took him positively stratospheric and somewhat omnipresent in the seventies as the feel-good leader of Roy Ayers Ubiquity, his super-cool Virgo Vibes album is a real gem.
Roy Ayers
Although Ayers is very much leading the show, the personnel across the album are important to note, with two separate lineups that mirror the diving intensity on the first side and the breezy sunshine of the flipside. Charles Tolliver plays trumpet throughout and, alongside Ayers vibes, gives the album a great back bone. Joe Henderson absolutely rips the tenor saxophonist to the front of the mix on the start of the album, with Harold Land taking the gears back down as the album cools out. The rhythm section of pianist Jack Wilson, bass player Buster Williams and drummer Donald Orlando "Duck" Bailey also add greatly to the more spacious and bopping end of the album as it gets progressively more cosmic. But focusing back on the blazing start of the album, an interesting note being that alongside Reggie Workman on bass (a regular player with both John Coltrane and Art Blakey) and drummer Edward "Bruno" Carr (a frequent collaborator of Ray Charles), the piano man on the first three tracks is "Ronnie Clark", which actually transpires was Herbie Hancock playing under a pseudonym. Why we don't know, but the playing is so choppy, filling otherwise blank space in the compositions amazingly.
Roy Ayers
Whenever Roy Ayers strikes the bars on the vibraphone he creates a mood. Sometimes it's like a space aged lazer, and sometimes it's like ice cubes gushing around a cocktail glass. Both are evocative and both are transportive and that’s what gives Virgo Vibes such dexterity.

A proper vibist, bringing stellar vibes. A really great album.

Drift Sunday Classic


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