R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Doing His Thing

05 NOV 09 DAVID NATHAN

At just 27-years-old, Stax icon Isaac Hayes used a diverse spectrum of musical skills and influences to create the soundtrack to Shaft. With the release of the remastered Shaft Deluxe Edition, which features extra material and new liner notes, fans are reminded of just "who is the man who would risk his neck for his brother man" and the prodigious talent that made Hayes a musical pioneer.

By the time the movie Shaft was released in the summer of 1971, Hayes was already an established hit-maker thanks to his 1969 groundbreaking set Hot Buttered Soul. Still, Shaft proved to be as much a breakthrough for Hayes as it did for director Gordon Parks and actor Richard Roundtree. The film became a tent pole for the cinematic genre tagged "blaxploitation." Fast-moving, action-packed flicks with black heroes, the movies brought mostly black audiences to cinemas in droves. Hayes created the perfect soundtrack for Shaft -- a brilliant score that encompassed elements of jazz, funk, blues and soul.

The instrumental "Café Regio's" evoked jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, "A Friend's Place" echoed the work of composers Bacharach & David. But, it was the bluesy "Soulsville" and the 20 minute-long jam "Do Your Thing" that reflected Hayes' work as a key player in the world of black music. Of course, "Theme From Shaft" was the hit, the infectious title cut that earned Hayes the first Oscar ever given to an African-American in a non-acting category, a Golden Globe and two Grammy Awards.

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