Classics: Montana Sextet – Heavy Vibes (Club Mix) (Philly Sound Works)
To us here on IDMW, Vincent Montana, Jr. is not only one of the best arrangers of all time. But also, and most definitely, one of our spiritual fathers along with Mel Cheren and Frankie Crocker. Therefore embodying the idea of the blend of origins, cultures and, by that ethnics.
The blend is pretty much what we get while givin’ a listen to ‘Heavy Vibes’. From its original idea, standing like an extrapolation to a part of MFSB‘s classic ‘Love Is The Message’. To its concept itself, fusing Jazz and Funk vibes. With Paul Simpson givin’ it a dubbed Disco twist on his rework.
Heavy vibes… That’s most likely what we have, but don’t get us wrong though. We’re speakin’ of intensity here!
A native of South Philaldelphia, PA, Vincent Montana, Jr. grew up in an Italo-American neighborhood. He first began playin’ drums as a child before venturing into other percussion instruments such as the marmimba and the glockenspiel. By the late 40’s, one would find him playing in clubs with Jazz luminaries such as Charlie Parker or Sarah Vaughan. Soon after, he went to perform in various hotels in Las Vegas, NV, accompanying artists such as Harry Belafonte and Louis Prima. Then he returned to Philadelphia by the late 50’s, eventually playin’ vibraphone on Frankie Avalon‘s 1959 smash hit ‘Venus’.
As a matter of fact, Vincent Montana, Jr.‘s contribution to the maturation of contemporary music has simply no equal. From setting up the legendary Sigma Sound Studio with Joseph Tarsia in Philadelphia, PA. Which is how he met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. To his position as a major actor in the establishment of the Philadelphia Sound. Meanwhile gathering people from all origins/ethnics. Be they Blacks, Jewishes, Italians or Rednecks. And by that, embodying beforehand what Indamixworldwide is about…
All in all, the list of artists he arranged music for stands as a who’s who of the groove. Jamming along with The Intruders for instance. But also The O’Jays, The Trammps, William DeVaughn and Lou Rawls. Not to mention The Stylistics and Teddy Pendergrass to name but a very few. This in addition to being one of the founding members of MFSB with whom he recorded an impressive series of classics. From ‘Love Is The Message’ to ‘TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)’ to name a few.
Although promised to reach the upper heights, his partnership with Gamble & Huff brutally came to and end in 1974. And this, after financial issues. Hopefully, the wait didn’t last before Joe Bataan gave him the opportunity to jump on the next wagon. This while introducing him to the Cayre brothers. Three guys who were the owners of a NYC distributor of Latin Music whom he helped setting up Salsoul Records.
By that time, several members of MFSB had left for the same reasons. From John Davis who soon after formed John Davis & The Monster Orchestra to others who joined Ritchie Family. Not to mention Ronnie Baker, Bobby Eli, Norman Harris and Early Young who regularly joined Montana for recording sessions.
Montana put together The Salsoul Orchestra and soon after delivered the first release – ‘Salsoul Hustle’ for the label. An instant success, it opened the path to a string of 6 albums. Including classics such as ‘Getaway’ and ‘Ooh I Love It (Love Break)’ to name a few. But also collaborations with Carol Williams and Loleatta Holloway. This resulting in extra gems such as ‘Love Is You’ and ‘Run Away’.
By 1978, Montana left Salsoul Records and joined Atlantic. There, he put together Goody Goody along with his daughter, Denise, on vocals. Releasing one album – ‘Goody Goody’ – which spanned memorable cuts such as ‘#1 Deejay’ and ‘It Looks Like Love’.
Another 4 years on and Montana launched his own Philly Sound Works label. And then again, he would add a couple of goodies to his impressive collection. Beginning with ‘Who Needs Enemies (With A Friend Like You)’ and the infectious ‘Heavy Vibes’.
Last but not least, one might also remember him for his collaboration with Louie Vega and Kenny Dope back in 1996. The latter resulting in the release of their Nuyorican Soul album concept. A package which saw them comin’ up with a cover version of ‘Run Away’ with La India on vocals. And also span extra classics such as ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’, ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’ and ‘Sweet Tears’ among others.
He sadly died at Cherry Hill, NJ, on Apr. 13, 2013, at the age of 85.