Karma – 1976 – Celebration

19 Jul Karma – 1976 – Celebration

Karma sounding like a cross between Earth, Wind & Fire and the Crusaders and was an interesting but underexposed 1970s soul/funk band that sometimes detoured into jazz fusion and quiet storm. Karma, formed in Los Angeles in 1974, wasn’t a full-time project for its members, who included saxophonist Ernie Watts, trombonist George Bohanon, trumpeter Oscar Brashear, keyboardist Reggie Andrews, bassist Curtis Robertson, Jr., and drummer Joe Blocker.

Many of Karma’s members, who shared vocal duties, had been keeping busy on the L.A. studio scene and had solid credentials in both R&B and jazz. Karma recorded two albums for Horizon/A&M, 1976’s Celebration and 1977’s For Everybody, before calling it quits in 1977.

Tracks
A1 Funk de mambo 4:30
A2 So True (Life Should Be) 5:35
A3 Kwanzaa 5:40
A4 Well 5:12
B1 Karma 3:28
B2 Suite Syreet
           a)Piano Intro 0:55
b) The Beauty 3:05
c) The Creativity 2:35
d) A Leo 5:05
B3 Amani 9:27

By Alex Henderson

 Karma members were not only among the unsung heroes of 1970s soul and funk; they were also capable of playing solid jazz-fusion. With such talent on board as saxman Ernie Watts, trumpeter Oscar Brashear, and trombonist George Bohanon, the L.A.-based outfit should have hit it big with Celebration, their first of two albums. But the LP, which was recorded in 1974 and 1976, failed to take off commercially. That may stem from the fact that while Celebration is a fine album, it lacked the powerhouse single necessary for the band to grab the attention of soul radio.

Essentially, this is a collection of great album tracks, which range from the Earth, Wind & Fire inflected funk song “Karma” to the bluesy “Well” and the uplifting Brazilian jazz-pop number “Kwanzaa“. Karma’s members really put their jazz chops to work on the 20-minute “Suite Syreeta“, which gives the horn players plenty of room to stretch out. Regrettably, Celebration and its successor, For Everybody, have long been out of print, and it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be reissued on CD. So, if you come across either LP somewhere, grab it immediately.


Bonus

Karma – 1977 – For Everybody

With their second album, For Everybody, Karma added new member, vocalist Michael Greene, without altering their sound; the L.A. outfit still resembled a cross between Earth, Wind & Fire and the Crusaders. This time, however, Karma offered several gems that might have been hits if they had been released as singles and promoted aggressively.

Such gems include sweaty funk songs like “For Everybody (Feel the Whooga)“, “Now That’s Bionic” and “Spotty Funk“. However, this release also has its share of strong album tracks that didn’t have much black radio appeal, including the ethereal “All Love Needs” and the jazz-funk instrumental “Abundance“. This LP deserved to do well commercially, but unfortunately, it didn’t sell and was Karma’s final album.

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