Lenny White is one of the pioneers of jazz-fusion. His music has taken a dimension of it’s own throughout the years, being heavily celebrated and sampled due to the genius of Lenny’s drumming, the soulful and groove-driven rhythms. It was on his second studio album Big City (1977), where his vision truly blossomed. The album was diverse in sound – from the frantic energy of the title track (which unites the Brian Auger Oblivion Express with the Tower of Power horn section), to the sweet Linda Tillery assisted ballad ‘Sweet Dreamer.’
And it was in that ballad that Madlib found an iconic sample. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s 2014 album Piñata include some of my favourite Madlib production ever. The sonic quality of that album is crisp and clear, the samples polished, soulful and funky. One of the main standouts from that album is the track ‘Robes’ which features Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt. Sampling Linda Tillery’s gorgeous voice on ‘Sweet Dreamer’ as well as the heavenly keys and Lenny’s subtle but essential drum patterns. I can’t help but sing ‘I only think of you on two occasions! that’s when I’m drunk and when I’m blazing up,’ when listening to the original, which is a testament to both Madlib’s and Freddie’s ability to dichotomize the smooth and soulful with the hard and agressive style. Madlib is able to keep the original sample fresh, while providing that perfect soundscape for Freddie, Domo and Earl to paint their own story.
Big City is a heavily underlooked record, which makes it difficult to find online with the exception of a few tracks. Luckily for us, ‘Sweet Dreamer’ can be listened to in relatively good quality on YouTube. The links to the original Lenny White classic and the sampled Madlib-produced classic can be found below for your appreciation.
Freddie Gibbs – ‘Robes’ featuring Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt, produced by Madlib:
Lenny White – ‘Sweet Dreamer’ with Linda Tillery on vocals, Herbie Hancock on grand piano, Ray Gomez on guitar, Paul Jackson on bass & Pat Gleeson on synthesizer.
You can also listen to some of the tracks from his Big City album released in 1977 on Nemperor Records. Otherwise, you can find details of the vinyl release over as discogs.com.