He3 Project – Chapter One, Family Groove

Few have had the opportunity to hear the brilliant music of virtuoso pianist, arranger, and songwriter, Herman Eberitzsch Jr. III. Known to his peers as “funky knuckles,” Eberitzsch crafted an inimitable brand of psychedelic soul and funky jazz during San Francisco’s much-fabled artistic and political awakening in the 60s and 70s. Yet, his boldly experimental music missed the ears of the right A&R man and never saw commercial release. The studio tapes found their way to Eberitzsch’s basement where they remained for 35 years until a chance encounter with Family Groove Records. Over one decade’s worth of Eberitzsch’s original recordings will be mastered and released, resulting in a four-part compilation entitled the HE3 Project.

The first chapter of the HE3 Project features Eberitzsch’s trailblazing efforts from three distinct recording sessions spanning 1971 to ’74. He brought a loose-knit quartet together in ’71 to record a decidedly expressionistic approach to jazz and funk that they had cultivated in the city’s avant-garde clubs and cafes. In ’73, Eberitzsch joined members of Coke Escovedo’s Latin group, Azteca, at Wally Heider and CBS studios to arrange and write demos for Coke’s seminal, self-titled debut. And in ’74, he brought in a full band, Motion, to record at Wally Heider — with songstress Linda Tillery (The Loading Zone) an unknown soul singer named Johnny Lovett on lead vocals and a Tower-Of-Power strength horn section.

Eberitzsch brought this experimental ethos to the studio where he played around with recording techniques. With a child’s amusement, he used an old fashioned Fender Echoplex in “Rapture” and applied a screwdriver to his Hammond keyboard in “Massage” to create wobbling effects. He then manipulated the tape loop, searching loosely for weird sounds that would produce warped textures. The strange, idiosyncratic sounds created in the process helped to shape the psychedelic quality of the music. Yet it never smothers itself in abstraction. “It’s still earthy because it was manipulated not by machines,” he explains while laughing, “but by the hands of the monkey man!”

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