Exit an extrovert! A little more quietly than I would of liked, Alphonse Mouzon drop-kicked the bucket the other day. Mouzon was one of the best & most quintessential of the 70’s “Power Drummers” who vied for the Fusion throne with peers Michael Nerada Walden, Billy Cobham & Tony Williams. He played with Fusion mega-group of sorts Eleventh House along with electric guitarist Larry Coryell, a patchy as fuck but occasionally excellent & exhilarating collective that seem to be both simultaneously prolific/obscure & respected/disdained (for me, the truth is that most they shit is whack, though some is superb & tremendous potential was present, most resoundingly from Mouzon & Coryell). Mouzon was a pioneering champion of the “Power” drummer (along with the aforementioned mandarins) – a muscular, stamina-heavy style of Fusion with a fixation on speed, technicality, flamboyance & endurance that would empirically pave the way & provide major foundation & influence for the more intense & challenging breeds of Metal that would succeed decades later. Mouzon, along with Cobham & Naralda were some of the earliest (if not the earliest) drummers to utilize double kick drums in the early 70’s, an approach that was completely novel during the era. The geezer also pulled licks with Weather Report (drums on their very first self-titled LP), Al Di Meola (Land of the Midnight Sun) Jacko Pastorius (Triologue with Albert Mangelsdorf) & flautist Jeremy Stieg (Temple of Birth). A lot of his work is atrocious, dribbling prate under some kind of commercial-hit goading Funk, Soul Disco trash with Mouzon also providing terrible vocals on especially excruciating occasions. The best of his solo work from my excavations would be the fairly well revered Mind Transplant LP that was issued by Blue Note & had cult guitarist Tommy Boland in-tow. Although the album also had its fair share of bilge, there was some real burners within & his drumming tore the roof off & established a new standard. Over-all, & much like his cohorts, his career was handled very poorly. This was one hulk of a drummer that could of churned-out slews of perspiration pouring power-plasms in the intense dynamic Fusion & Jazz vicinage. I guess “the business” & probably Mouzon’s urge to cash in on large commercial capers (or attempts at such) rendered his back-catalogue a small trove of exiguous excellence rather than the sprawling scintillation it so obviously should have been.
The guy was capable of absolute brilliance, but the recorded documentations of him really cutting loose are sadly rare events, which makes them/him even more precious. The great Tony Williams & phenomenal Nerada Michael Walden were also hideously derailed by the same commercial deflation. Billy Cobham, despite releasing heaps of junk & also dabbling considerably in the commercial sewer (sometimes to barely imaginable extremes, Power Play?) – is the only one of these four cats that really maintained the level, essence & copious out-put that has sustained pretty much to the present day. Whether or not Mouzon produced loads of great unreleased recordings that are stashed some place in thum’ thur’ Beverly Hills remains to be seen? I think probably the best album this guy produced was with a flautist called Jeremy Steig. They did a studio album called Temple of Birth sometime in the 70’s that has Mouzon walloping it most the time & slogging-out hard Funk & bolshie Fusion. It’s a great’ great record with Mouzon at his best. Lastly, this motherfucker has to get the top degree in ridiculous sartorial ostentation awards. On pretty much every album I have of the guy, he is dressed like an absolute mac, frequently with a gravity-botching cap half-hanging off his head, on some ol’ black Caesar projection.
A little dumpling mangling of some of his awesome moments, juiced n’ spruced by yers’ truly can me acquired here –