“Rhythm of Life” by James Mason

James Mason was a member of Roy Ayers’ legendary jazz-funk band of the late 70s. His most prominent appearance as a guitarist was in 1977 on Ayers’ classic cut “Running Away”. In the same year Mason recorded his debut solo album “Rhythm of Life” for the New York independent label Chiaroscuro.

The multi-instrumentalist played all guitars and lots of vintage synths on the album, but also got support from musicians like Narada Michael Walden, Dwayne Perdue, Mustafa Khaliq Ahmed and Gene Torres as well as singer Clarice Taylor.

The result was a perfect blend of funky fusion and progressive R&B, spiritually uplifting and cool. Long forgotten, the album experienced a renaissance in acid jazz circles in the 90s: “Sweet Power Your Embrace”, “Funny Girl”, “Free” and “Slick City” became rare-groove standards.

The term “Rare Groove” fits “Rhythm of Life” perfectly, the number of original pressings is estimated to be under a thousand. Mason was rarely heard on record again after his debut.