Energy Control Center cover

Energy Control Center

Released

Texas isn’t considered a jazz hotbed for good reason, as Jim Crow ran multiple generations of talent well beyond its borders (Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman, John Carter, Horace Tapscott, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and more). So Houston’s Fourth Ward native and drummer Bubbha Thomas stands out, not just for his formidable chops but for his sheer determination in the face of outright racism and institutional indifference (if there’s a difference at the end of the day). Energy Control Center from 1972 finds Thomas and his group The Lightmen Plus One operating at a full boil. The expanded Now Again release features the band ranging confidently: big band horn charts, modal explorations, funk workouts, spiritual blowing, concise jukebox-worthy singles, with some weird electronics thrown in for good measure. It hints at what a fully functioning Houston (or Dallas or Ft. Worth or Austin or…) jazz scene might have sounded like were it able to incubate and operate at full bloom.

Andy Beta

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