An outstanding collection of music from the man Solomon Burke
described as the "Quincy Jones of St. Louis" has been remastered and re-released by the folks at Vintage Vinyl.
The album, St. Louis Breakdown: The Best of Oliver Sain, officially hit stores last Tuesday and features 21 tracks from the saxophone player, songwriter, band leader, producer and all-around St. Louis music legend.
Anyone with even a passing interest in the history St. Louis soul, blues, jazz and funk has probably stumbled across Sain
before. At the very least, it's hard to miss the similarity between his pose he strikes on the cover of this album and the Vintage Vinyl logo. (The man pictured on the latter is Roland Kirk, however.)
For three decades Sain was the musician in St. Louis, taking the throne from Ike Turner and employing a slew of local talent and traveling artists in his bands and as session players at his Archway recording studio. In the years leading up to his death in 2003, Sain was a fixture at downtown's BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.
This compilation spans his entire career, moving seamlessly between jazz, blues, and his later funk/disco infused work.
Almost all of the songs are instrumentals. In particular, numbers like "Booty Bumpin' (The Double Bump)" and "Bus Stop" showcase Sain's tremendous skills on the alto sax. He absolutely shreds the instrument at times, effortlessly shifting from lung-draining solos and complex jazz riffs.
Vintage Vinyl co-owners Tom 'Papa' Ray and Lew Prince are credited for "project conception and as executive producer," respectively.
Ray authored the record's biographical liner notes, and he writes of Sain's sax skills: "For those who witnessed his many shows, Sain was a singular and moving instrumentalist, an alto sax practitioner of that absolute first rank. Piercing projections makes his playing instantly recognizable; at his best, only Maceo Parker
could have stood on stage as an equal."
Hardcore jazz/blues collectors that have been able to find vinyl copies of Sain's out-of-print material won't find much they haven't heard (other than increased sound quality on the remasters and the cherry-picked highlights of his catalogue), but for casual listeners and St. Louis music buffs the compilation is an instant must-have.