Pianist and keyboardist Kenny Cox founded the Strata label in Detroit in 1969. He also had a recording studio and adjacent concert gallery. Strata released several albums until it folded in 1975. Two years after Kenny, Charles Tolliver and Stanley Cowell created Strata-East in New York, which lasted longer and which happens to be in demand again these days. But anyway, for some strange reason, “Clap Clap! The Joyful Noise”, recorded in 1975, never saw the light of day until DJ Amir licensed the rights to the label in 2012 and started digging deeper into the vaults.
Preceding the release of this 70s classic, DJ Amir released a remix of one of the tracks, “Lost My Love”, together with Berlin-based production duo Re.Decay. Staying true to the original with its light bossa groove, DJ Amir easily, effortlessly moves the song into the 21st century with some disco drums and hip keys. But the original already has it all. Kenny plays Fender Rhodes, Hohner D6 Clavinet, Mellotron, an an ARP Odyssey Synthesizer. A chord reminiscent of “Save Your Love For Me” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love” moves over this exotic piece. Kenny writes in the liner notes on the original album that “the music itself manifests through another inspiration: that, oddly enough, of a place, a culture, a people I’ve never seen: the Caribbean and Latin regions of the Americas…and those sounds are commonly permeated…with a vigor which declares: Life’s best moment is today, but make the most of it for tomorrow.”
The Latin influences abound from start to finish here. The title track is pure joy, with light and breezy vocals by Ursula Walker and great percussion work by Ronald Johnson and Nengue Hernandez. It’s not a far cry from the jazzified salsa of the opening track to “Samba De Romance”, which easily bridges the gap between jazz and the space-age sound of the late 60s with its somewhat quirky string arrangement and a pulsating Rhodes solo. “Island Song” delves deeper into salsa mode with great horn solos by Buzz Jones (soprano sax), and Charles Moore (flugelhorn) before more Rhodes set in.
The longest track, the rather introspective and meditative “Beyond The Dream”, starts off with Flora Purim-like vocals mixed with Pharoah sounding cosmic spirituals, before it explodes into something almost carnevalesque, equalling both Chick Corea circa Return To Forever, and Herbie Hancock/George Duke-influenced arrangements. The album is now out as a luxury double-LP set with the five tracks spread out over four sides. Not only for Rhodes fans!