Instantly recognisable as the wholesale sample in A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders headnodder ‘Electric Relaxation’, ‘Mystic Brew’ by Ronnie Foster has by no means been overlooked (as per our remit here at HCHQ) but there’s much more to this prime cut of dreamy seventies jazz fusion than a single sweet, breezy guitar chord.
String bass, a light, tapping drum rhythm, and the cosmic resonance of the glockenspiel complete the landscape for Foster’s effortlessly emotive, gentle rambling on the organ – a voice at once eloquent and oblique.
All the while, Foster’s fellows remain loose but locked in the pocket. The whole picture is a kind of yogic, vacationing ‘Green Tomatoes’, stripped of its simmering tension and laid in calm recumbency, before an imperceptible rise in temperature is met by a steady, then urgent lift in tempo. The drums step up into the keys’ groove, the guitar chugs up a subtle steam, the vibes spiral into the ether and Foster rides the pipes to the vanishing point.
Even the fade – so often a sign of unfinished business – brings an infinite quality to this serene yet unyielding crescendo. In capturing, conveying, instilling a mood that shares no currency with words or pictures, ‘Mystic Brew’ simply is.