Roy Ayers Ubiquity Handed New Vinyl ‘Lifeline’

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Lifeline, one of the best-loved entries in the distinguished catalogue of Roy Ayers with his group Ubiquity, will be reissued on vinyl by Polydor/UMe on 18 August. The release will mark the 40th anniversary of a landmark fusion of jazz, soul, funk and the disco sound of the day, notably in its signature hit ‘Running Away.’

Ayers is cited as a favourite influence by the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams, and among the endless samples of his and Ubiquity’s work, ‘Running Away’ was the focus of A Tribe Called Quest’s 1989 track ‘Description of a Fool.’ Now 76, he will be part of the Fela Kuti tribute at the UK’s WOMAD Festival on 30 July and has shows in London and Cambridge in August. His latest European tour also takes in France, Croatia, Norway and Finland, and he will perform at the Joy Of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg in September.

Lifeline ad

A Billboard ad for ‘Lifeline’ as a new release in 1977.

Born in Los Angeles, Ayers already had a wealth of experience to his name by the time his R&B chart career began with Ubiquity with 1976’s Mystic Voyage album. He played with the great jazz flautist Herbie Mann between 1966 and 1970, building his reputation as a master vibraphone player, keyboardist and singer. He became leader of his own band in 1971.

Roy Ayers George Benson

Ayers (left) jams with George Benson and Benson’s bassist Sammy Banks at a taping of NBC’s ‘Midnight Special,’ screened while ‘Lifeline’ was in the R&B top ten

The Lifeline album hit the Billboard R&B chart in June 1977, and was given new impetus when the pulsing, infectious ‘Running Away’ hit the soul singles countdown in September. Part of the all-powerful disco movement of the time, the single climbed to No. 19 and gained international attention, notably in the UK.

Ayers enlisted vocal support on Lifeline from the great jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and his labelmate Edwin Birdsong, who co-produced the album with Ayers and bassist William Allen. Other highlights included the gentle ‘This Side Of Sunshine,’ the horn-driven ‘Sanctified Feeling’ and the ballad ‘Gotta Find A Lover.’

Order the vinyl edition of Lifeline by Roy Ayers Ubiquity.

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