Fats Gaines Band
Fats Gaines Band Presents Zorina
Format: LP, Vinyl
Little is known about Louisiana born vocalist Carol “Zorina” London other than that at some point in her early adolescence she moved to the Bay View area of San Francisco, a city that she would remain in for most of her professional career. Zorina showed promise early on as a professional model, winning both the Top Bay Area Model Award and the Knights of Honour Beauty Pageant in 1972, while also moonlighting at San Francisco’s Playboy Club. She would manufacture her experiences into a singing career, working with the likes of comedian Prof. Irwin Corey, Carol Channing and Randy Crawford. Currently, Zorina lives in Taiwan where she is involved in human rights campaigning and the church, still very much active today. Slightly more is known about Fats Gaines, a jazz musician (saxophonist) and orchestra leader from Kansas who exerted a notable influence in the Bay Area music scene from as early as the 1950’s onwards. Gaines experimented with various genres of music throughout his career, including blues, soul, funk and disco, maintaining the governing principles and stylistic, structural tropes of jazz in his work. Despite his lack of commercial recognition and success, Gaines’ contribution to the Bay Area music scene was significant.
The resultant album between the meeting of Gaines and London barely registered on the radar back when it was released in 1982, a private press release on Avamar Records, a Fats Gaines owned label that’s only other releases were seven-inch singles of Gaines’ music. The average price of an original LP stands at around 200 pounds, although there are currently none listed for sale on Discogs. It is an in demand modern soul and rare-groove record, featuring distinctive synth and orchestral arrangements from members of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, alongside funky and boogie-oriented themes. There are two standout tracks on this album; My Love Is Always—a rare groove cut with sweeping strings and well-staffed brasses that emits a cinematic potency. It has a similar feel to the likes of Samuel Jonathan Johnson’s You, or even Linda Williams’ Our Song, bold, richly orchestrated jazz-funk tunes with melodic complexity and intricate arrangements, a grand and well-constructed sound underlaid with a competent, laid-back groove .For Your Love is revered by many rare groove and modern soul collectors as the key cut on the album, a funky two stepper featuring orchestral harmonies and passionate vocals, the highlight of the track being a deeply groovy, needle sharp bassline and percussive rhythm guitar which make for a sound not too dissimilar to some of Keni Burke’s early eighties output. The chorus opens up with classic jazz-funk textures; strings, horns and chromatic minor 9ths , sounding similar to a slowed down version of Charles Earland’s Coming To You Live, or possibly some of Norman Connors’ later output on Arista. The album also features the vocal ballad Woman in Love scored with sweet vocals from Zorina, and the uptempo boogie of Born To Dance, a track that could concievably have popularity on French dancefloors.