Hot Coffey in the D (Remastered) Dennis Coffey
- 2By The Time I Get to Phoenix07:09
- 3Casino Royale: The Look of Love11:45
- 4Maiden Voyage07:06
- 5The Big D04:13
- 6Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)07:04
- 7Wade in the Water07:52
Info for Hot Coffey in the D (Remastered)
Never-before issued recordings from legendary Motown guitarist, Dennis Coffey, captured live at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge in Detroit in 1968. One of the Funk Brothers, as featured in the Grammy award winning documentary “Standing in The Shadows of Motown”, Coffey has played with countless musicians from Quincy Jones to Barbra Streisand, and Michael Jackson to Stevie Wonder.
Hot Coffey in the D was produced by Mike Theodore and Coffey, the same team that produced the recently rediscovered folk singer Rodriguez’s debut album Cold Fact (1970) and the soundtrack to the Academy Award winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”. These recordings showcase Coffey in his prime, raw and unfiltered, with fellow Detroiters organist Lyman Woodard (former musical director for Martha and the Vandellas) and drummer Melvin Davis (Smokey Robinson, Wayne Kramer).
„Often as not, a musician's archive tapes end up being mere curios, interesting only to historians and die-hard fans. Thankfully, the aptly titled Hot Coffey in the D: Burnin' at Morey Baker's Showplace Lounge isn't one of these. Detroit guitarist and producer Dennis Coffey (one of Motown's famed Funk Brothers and a hitmaker in his own right), organ virtuoso bandleader Lyman Woodard, and drummer Melvin Davis, played weekly at the storied club on Detroit's West Side. They'd been together two years working constantly, and their woodshedding shows: This trio is as committed to discovery as they are to a discerning audience. The instrumental set (originally recorded by Mike Theodore and Bryan Dombrowski) captures Detroit's soul-jazz scene at a creative lift-off point. "Fuzz," one of two originals, highlights the band's effortless ability to create a unique language from soul-jazz, funk, and psychedelic rock. Coffey's distinct phrasing puts the blues in everything. Woodard's imaginative chord colors and whomping vamps are an excellent foil and Davis is the hub with skittering, driving breaks. The other, "The Big D," is saturated in Coffey's snaky wah-wah pedal leads amid choppy, swirling B-3 chords and Latin-tinged rimshots. The trio virtually reinvent pop and soul tunes from the era as platforms for extended -- and funk-drenched -- jazz improvisation, all with a distinct, historic, Detroit signature. Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is revisioned through the lens of soul as Coffey takes massive liberties with the melody, propelling it into a different harmonic space without completely abandoning it. The interplay between him and Woodard extends the rhythmic ledge through several startling changes. Their aggressive and imaginative solos never sacrifice groove; besides, it's ensured by Davis, who is always in the pocket. Bacharach and David's "The Look of Love" expands on the Sergio Mendes version. They alter its phrasing and rhythmic approach sharply, transforming it into a stratospheric jazz jam before bringing it back down to earth. The reading of "Casanova (Your Days Are Over)," by singer Ruby Andrews (Coffey played on the Top Ten single), is a riff and vamp orgy as guitarist and organist trade meaty, masterly solos throughout. They travel through funk, blues, jazz, and soul in alternate stages, with Davis adding tasty breaks, accents, rolls and fills. Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" is relatively straight, but here too, tempo alterations and harmonic subtleties manage to expand its structure and add something new. "Wade in the Water" is a Motor City-styled tribute to the hit Ramsey Lewis version, led by a swelling, gospelized organ. The tight snare breaks and biting funky blues guitar make it a fingerpopping closer chock-full of grease and grit. Given the age of its source tape, the sound on this nugget is remarkably good; each instrument is clear, and even with the tapes' deterioration, the club ambience is felt. The booklet contains copious liner notes, rare photos, and an interview with Coffey. This is a burner from start to finish, enjoyable for anyone with a pulse.“ (Thom Jurek, AMG)
Dennis Coffey, guitar
Wyman Woodward, Hammond B-3 organ
Melvin Davis, drums
is an American original. Only in America (and specifically, only in Detroit) could one man play guitar with a group of legends as diverse as Del Shannon, The Temptations, and George Clinton and Funkadelic. However, the list of iconic artists, producers and writers Dennis has worked with the world over only scratches the surface of what the man has done and the contributions he’s made to the canon of popular music.
Dennis Coffey first began to make his mark as a member of The Royaltones, a group which had hits in the late 50’s and early 60’s and who performed sessions with other artists, including Del Shannon. From there, Dennis moved on to a distinguished run as a session guitarist for various labels operating at the peak of Detroit’s influence as a hub of musical innovation and commercial success. He’s perhaps best known for his work as a member of the legendary Funk Brothers, backing a veritable trunk load of hits for Motown, specifically The Temptations’ classics “Cloud Nine,” “Ball Of Confusion,” and “Just My Imagination.” It is in those works that his introduction of the wah-wah guitar sound to Motown (and soul / R&B in general) first reared its head, and the resulting influence on all kinds of popular music continues to reverberate to this day. His work with The Temptations is just the tip of the iceberg, though… he’s on stuff like “War” by Edwin Starr… “Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne…on and on the list goes.
In the early 70’s, Dennis struck out on his own as an artist, film scorer and producer. He scored the cult classic film Black Belt Jones. He recorded “Scorpio” in 1971 as part of his second solo record and first for Sussex (“Evolution”). “Scorpio” was a million selling single and was a key foundational track in the history and development of hip-hop, totally apart from its status as a funk classic. Dennis has recorded several other solo records, and he has co-produced a million seller in Gallery’s Nice To Be With You as well as cult record Cold Fact by Rodriguez, a release that has gained increasing notoriety over the decades since it initially appeared, and which is now regarded as a rediscovered gem. He also continued session guitar work through the 1970’s, appearing on such disco classics as “Boogie Fever” by the Sylvers.
Dennis is also featured in the 2002 film Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, further cementing his legacy as a key contributor to the development of some of the most cherished and important popular music of the 20th Century.
So, yeah… the man’s important. This isn’t just a history lesson, though. Dennis has continued to write and perform music. He’s a lifer. Now, it’s time for a new chapter. An opportunity to both remind music fans of what he’s done and show them what’s to come.
Dennis is a cast member in the Sony film Searching for Sugarman. He is also co-producer and co-arranger along with Mike Theodore for some of the songs on the soundtrack. He also plays guitar and bass in some of those songs.