From “Freedom Serenade”.
About the album (source: YouTube -Ubiquitoons)
Singer and songwriter Johnny Malone met saxophonist and flautist Allan Barnes while they were students at Howard University in Washington DC in the 1960’s. In addition to being under the tutelage of Donald Byrd who was head of Jazz Studies, they were classmates with future stars like Donny Hathaway, Leroy Hutson, and Angela Winbush. Barnes was already a member of the hugely popular soul jazz pioneers The Blackbyrds. “We were at crest of the wave of early jazz fusion, plus the culture at Howard was a little outside of the box. We had great teachers, it was an ideal place to study and learn,” explains Barnes. When the two friends formed Malone Barnes and Spontaneous Simplicity (named after the tune by Sun-Ra, whose band Barnes regularly appeared with when in Washington, DC) the collaboration yielded Freedom Serenade, an album of super spacey and spiritual jazz funk. Released in limited quantity in 1976, on their Humpin’ International label, this rare and underground album bears the hallmarks of contemporaries like the Blackbyrds, the Mizell Brothers and DC neighbors Oneness of Ju-Ju. “Warp Ten” features a solo battle between Barnes and trumpeter Curtis Pope (of the Isley Bros and Wilson Pickett bands). Songs such as “Moonstruck” and “Journey to the Stars” are DJ-friendly futuristic funk tracks with a sci-fi flavored nod to peers Funkadelic and Parliament. Freedom Serenade was a tribute to Paul Robeson who died in January of the year the album was released. The multi-lingual American actor, athlete, bass-baritone concert singer, writer, civil rights activist, Spingarn Medal winner, and Stalin peace prize laureate was a huge influence on the duo. “My father raised me on Paul Robeson,” says Malone. “I was enamored, he was such a great individual being intellectual, athletic and an artist. I don’t have enough words to describe him, we all admired him,” he adds. The album features the nucleus of the Malone Barnes and Spontaneous Simplicity group and some well-known local guests. Johnny Malone was on lead vocal, piano, clavinet, and synthesizer, Allan Barnes on afro horns, clarinet and flutes, Tom Newman on guitar, John Bebbs on drums, Siggie Dillard on bass, Andre Richardson on congas, timbales, percussion and Delbert Taylor playing trumpet, vocals and piano. Guests included Brian Jackson, of Gil Scott Heron fame, and Curtis Pope, music director for Wilson Pickett, on trumpet amongst others.