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L.A. Express

The band L.A. Express was one of the original supergroups of the jazz-rock fusion era in the mid-70s. Under the initial leadership of saxophonist Tom Scott, the first versions of the ensemble produced two albums for Lou Adler's Ode label. That band initially featured Scott, the veteran jazz bassist Max Bennett, who switched to electric bass guitar, legendary Los Angeles studio drummer John Guerin, keyboardist Joe Sample, and electric guitarist Larry Carlton. They collectively produced the LP Tom Scott & the L.A. Express, featuring the crossover hit "Sneakin' In The Back," as well as an interpretation of a John Coltrane composition, and some of the first contemporary jazz music to feature Middle Eastern rhythms and melodies. The second recording, Tom Cat, had Scott, Bennett, Guerin, guitarist Robben Ford, and keyboardists Larry Ford and Larry Marsh. But by 1976, Scott was pursuing a solo career, and the band retained the name and carried on without him, releasing two more LP's -- L.A. Express and Shadow Play -- for the Caribou subsidiary of the Epic/Columbia family of labels. David Luell took over Scott's chair as lead saxophonist while Bennett and Guerin ostensibly co-led the group, retaining Ford, replaced by Peter Maunu, recruited keyboardist Victor Feldman, and for the Shadow Play album, vocalist Paulette McWilliams. During this time, members of the L.A. Express performed with Joni Mitchell on her albums The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Miles of Aisles, and Mitchell returned the favor on Tom Cat. In 1999 Tom Scott revived the L.A. Express with none of the original members. Assembling a hodgepodge group of West Coast players, the CD Smokin' Section was produced. Some of the better known bandmates included Alex Acuña, Harvey Mason, Ralph MacDonald, Vinnie Colaiuta, Lenny Castro, George Bohannon, Pete Christlieb, Robbie Nevil, Melvin "Wah Wah" Watson, Patty Smyth, Paul Jackson, Jr., Chuck Berghofer, Mitchell Foreman, Phil Perry, and Lynne Scott. The Tom Scott & the L.A. Express LP was reissued on CD in 1996, and the L.A. Express album by Wounded Bird records in 2008.
© Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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