Alphonse Mouzon: drums, vocals, keys
Tommy Bolin: guitar (solo 2, 3, 7, 8, 9)
Jay Graydon: guitar (solo 4)
Lee Ritenour: guitar (solo 4, 5, 6)
Jerry Peters: keyboards
Henry Davis: bass
Rocke Grace: keyboards (9)
Stanley Sheldon: bass (9)
1. Mind Transplant
2. Snow Bound
3. Carbon Dioxide
4. Ascorbic Acid
5. Happiness Is Loving You
6. Some of the Things People Do
7. Golden Rainbows
9. The Real Thing (bonus track on RPM CD release)
Alphonse Mouzon was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1948. He began playing drums as a child in a local society orchestra, and went on to play with some of the biggest names in jazz, such as Gil Evans, George Benson and McCoy Tyner. He was also the first drummer in the outstanding Weather Report. In 1974 he decided to do an album that would feature rock and funk grooves rather than complicated jazz structures, and decided for Tommy to be part of the guitar solution without an audition.
Mouzon first became aware of Tommy from his playing on Billy Cobham’s Spectrum album. Tommy had also sat in with Mouzon and guitarist Larry Coryell at a club in Boulder in late 1974. Coryell and Mouzon would go on to produce a number of albums with their group Eleventh House.
On October 6, 1974 Mouzon booked rehearsal time at Glen Holly Studio in Los Angeles, and convened there with Tommy on guitar, Rocke Grace on keyboards and Stanley Sheldon on bass. They recorded the material but it was all wiped except for one tape that Tommy took with him. That material contained “The Real Thing,” which was released as a bonus track on the 1993 CD release of Mind Transplant on RPM, and along with rest of the surviving material on the Tommy Bolin Archives release Tommy Bolin & Alphonse Mouzon: Fusion Jam CD.
At the time of the rehearsal Tommy and Stanley were both still living in Colorado. Tommy had left the James Gang in August, and along with Stanley tried to form a band in Colorado that included Mike Finnigan on keyboards and vocals. When that failed in a matter of three weeks they began commuting back and forth to LA looking for opportunties, which included playing together on sessions for an album by Dr. John. They would not permanently relocate permanently to LA until December.
The sessions for Mind Transplant were recorded at the Wally Heider Recording Studio “3” in Hollywood on December 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, 1974. Keyboards and bass were handled by Jerry Peters and Henry Davis. Jay Graydon and Lee Ritenour were also scheduled for guitar parts. Graydon was a noted studio musician who played on countless hits by groups including Steely Dan. Ritenour was also a young lion in the session community, but was rapidly developing into a solo artist.
Mouzon had all three guitarists together in the studio at the same time, rather than splitting up sessions. The guitar parts for Graydon and Ritenour were written out. Tommy did not read music, so Mouzon counted on him to come up with appropriate parts himself. Tommy only had to hear the melody played once or twice, and he would have the it memorized.
Mouzon wrote all the material on the original release, and the result was a mix of rock, funk and jazz that had tremendous appeal among rock listeners. The playing is superhuman, but there are plenty of hooks and booty-shaking grooves. The album is sometimes compared to Spectrum, but it stands on it’s own as an irresistible listen. Graydon and Ritenour are superb, as is the whole band, but the mix of Tommy’s advanced rock chops with Mouzon’s unbelievable thrust and precision was the highlight for many.
Whereas on Spectrum Tommy shared time on leads with Jan Hammer’s keyboards, on Mind Transplant he was pushed right up front on the tunes which featured him as the soloist. Many of Tommy’s fans are drawn to particular parts of his history for tone and style, and the period around the James Gang and Mind Transplant contains some of his most beloved tone and phrasing. Performances ranging from the incendiary leads on “Nitroglycerin” to the beautiful melody and drama of “Golden Rainbows” show Tommy crafting auditory gems.
Mind Transplant was released on Blue Note in March, 1975. It was released on CD for the first time by RPM in 1993 with the addition of “The Real Thing,” a segment of the October 6 rehearsal.
In 1999 the Tommy Bolin Archives released a CD with remastered material from the October 6 rehearsal. In our reviews section Jim Sheridan wrote about Tommy Bolin & Alphonse Mouzon: Fusion Jam. “A carefree musical fling. Tommy and powerhouse drummer Mouzon warm up for the recording of Alphonse’s 1975 album Mind Transplant by blazing through some early drafts of “Homeward Strut,” some slow blues, the swing of “No More Crying,” as well as what would grow to be Deep Purple’s “Love Child.” The highlight is “The Real Thing,” sonically upgraded, a candid photo of Tommy at his improvisational best.
After completing his work on Mind Transplant, Tommy would begin working on his first solo album, Teaser. He would also play guitar solos on Moxy’s debut album. Alphonse Mouzon performed and recorded with guitarist Larry Coryell in Eleventh House, then went on to more successes with top name artists such as Roberta Flack and Al DiMeola, as well as more solo albums. He is currently president of Tenacious Records.
Copyright ©2005 John Herdt.