Mon. Sep. 20, 2021

The Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band – Starlette

Lost but not least! The Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band – Starlette (Capitol Records)

Transatlantic connections have become such a common thing nowadays with the help of Internet. But what about such an exercise at a time when such a tool didn’t (even) exist? Here we have quite a brilliant illustration as to how an organization made it possible. With thanks to executive producer Jacques Fred Petrus and studio guru Mauro Malavasi. Two guys whose reunion has given birth to acts such as Change, High Fashion or Zinc. Not to mention The Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band (aka The B.B. & Q. Band). Responsible for countless gems and in the meantime an instantly identifiable sound that would compete for supremacy along with the one of Chic at the time.

Their recipe? The recruiting of top class vocalists and musicians Stateside one one hand. And the final mixing/production work at Mauro Malavasi‘s studio in Bologna, Italy.

One of the definitive highlights from their 1981 eponymous album, I quite don’t understand why Capitol Records made a minimal service in regards to ‘Starlette’. Not even givin’ it a single release Stateside, as opposed to the boiling ‘On The Beat’. A cut whose rhythmic flow more or less reminds of George Duke‘s ‘Brazilian Love Affair’. Such a pity the label passed on it at the end whenever referring to its absolute brilliance, don’t you think?

A fact which Joey Negro has obviously noticed when recording his new version of ‘Must Be The Music’.

We definitely wish we would have more music in the caliber of that ‘Starlette’. Let us know about your feeling…

What’s the value of your vinyl record?

The end of the 70’s saw the establishment of a new team en route for worldwide recognition in the Disco/Funk circuit. On one hand, Jacques Fred Petrus, a French West Indies native who would act as an executive producer. And on the other, Mauro Malavasi, an Italian musician, songwriter, arranger and producer who crafted their sound in his Bologna-based studio.
They started their collaboration back in 1978. Delivering no less than two albums. Respectively for Macho and Peter Jacques Band. With both of them in a typical Italian Disco vein.

1980 marked a big change for them artistically speaking. This with the arrival of Change‘s ‘The Glow Of Love’ album. An album which saw them defining a new standard and, in the meantime, a signature sound in the Disco/Funk circuit. With thanks to cuts such as ‘A Lover’s Holiday’ or ‘Angel In My Pocket’ featuring Jocelyn Brown. It also brought Luther Vandross to the first league with gems such as its title track and ‘Searching’. But also The B.B.& Q. Band (‘On The Beat’, ‘All Night Long’, ‘Starlette’). Then High Fashion (‘Feelin’ Lucky Lately’) or Zinc (‘Street Level’, ‘Punkulation’) to a lesser extend. And, last but not least, Ritchie Family (‘I’ll Do My Best (For You Baby)’)

Change released 6 albums between 1980 and 1985 and an impressive series of classics in the meantime. From ‘The Glow Of Love’ and ‘Searching’. To ‘Hold Tight’, ‘Heaven Of My Life’ and ‘The Very Best In You’. Not to mention ‘Change Of Heart’ and ‘You Are My Melody’ with production work courtesy of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. And, last but not least, the Nick Martinelli produced ‘Mutual Attraction’ back in 1985.

The Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band, which we also remember as The B.B. & Q Band, made their debut back in 1981. Borrowing the same concept. In other words, with American singers and musicians most likely recording Stateside. Meanwhile, Mauro Malavasi would do the production work in his studio in Bologna.

The B.B. & Q. Band featured countless luminaries. From Luther Vandross who eventually delivered backing vocals on their first album to Fonzi Thornton. Not to mention Tawatha Agee and Curtis Hairston who joined the band in 1986.

They released 4 albums between 1981 and 1986 with Malavasi co-producing 3 of them. Meanwhile coming up with gems such as ‘On The Beat’, most likely their biggest classic. But also ‘Imagination’ and ‘All Night Long’. Not to mention ‘Starlette’, although to a lesser extend.
Their last opus – ‘Genie’ – seeing them working with producer Kae West. And, in the meantime, going for an electro synth driven sound somehow reminding of Jam & Lewis. This resulting in extra gems such as ‘Genie’ and ‘Dreamer’.

An accusation of tax evasion by the US Internal Revenue Service hit Petrus back in 1986. As a result, he put his activities on hold and fled to his native Guadeloupe. He got shot a few months after, in the late Spring of 1987, reportedly by a Swiss man whom he’d had a dispute with a few hours before at his owned club L’Elysée Matignon in Le Gosier…

As for Curtis Hairston, he sadly died from kidney failure on Jan. 18, 1996 at the age of 34.

Change eventually came to release an extra album – their seventh – back in 2010. But it was more of a collection that should have seen the light twenty years before.

2018 sees them back to the forefront along with Mauro Malavasi and Davide Romani, a new line-up of singers and musicians and a new album by the likes of ‘Love 4 Love’.

An effort comin’ up with all the ingredients that made Change sounding like no other back in the ealy 80’s. In other words, a stellar Disco/Funk approach. Itself enlightened by the presence of First League singers along with lush arrangements. This resulting in an impressive amount of goodies from ‘Hit Or Miss’ to ‘All My Life’. But also ‘Make Me Go Crazy’ in a vein somehow reminding of Bruno Mars‘ ’24K Magic’. These in addition to ‘Living In Your Love’, ‘How Will We’ and its title track with remixing work by the likes of Joey Negro. Not to mention a couple of remixes of classics such as ‘Searching’ and ‘Oh What A Feeling’ featuring respectively Luther Vandross and Deborah Cooper.

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