Rare and unreleased late 70s and early 80s disco, soul and boogie recorded by a cult New England ensemble.
We’re well aware of soul’s transitional period of the mid to late 70s; we’ve studied the era during which funk ensembles transformed into disco bands or, worse yet, disbanded when disco DJs supplanted them in the nightclubs that paid for their daily bread. That said, we generally shy away from the soul music – now referred to as “boogie” but, in the past, referred to as “modern soul” – that became popular in the wake of this change. Unless, that is, the music is superb and makes us pause. That’s how we ended up with New World Generation.
Phil Morrison, bassist for avant-garde, Boston-based jazzers Stark Reality, sent us a copy of New World Generation’s solitary recorded document: a five song EP that the band, under Morrison’s guidance, privately released in 1982. We heard echoes of the Roy Ayers produced RAMP sessions and the precise yet sensual vibes of the foundation known as Earth, Wind and Fire. We were intrigued. So we put in a call to New World Generation’s bandleader, Lekan Parsons and found that he had recorded more music in the years leading up to the New World Generation EP. But he’d recorded with different ensembles. He promised to dig out his masters and send them to us for our consideration. It took years for him to collate the various components of the first phase of his recording career, which stretched from New York to Boston over the course of a decade. When he did send the music, we were thrilled. The songs he’d recorded with the Universal Rhythms and Orison ensembles were harbingers of the sophisticated soul he’d proffer with New World Generation. They were winsome, hopeful songs – and their existence offered us the chance to present an album.
This album’s title – also New World Generation – references the faith that carried Parsons through the difficult and demoralizing times accomplished musicians like he and his freinds experienced in a post-disco world, as big bands like his were left on the side of the trail to desiccate and die. The album you hold in your hands didn’t have to be: Presented now, for the first, time, as a 2LP and a double CD with bonus tracks, we’re thankful that Lekan held on, so that we can present his vision for a New World now.