This is one of the hottest albums of the ’70s. Recorded at Rosy’s in New Orleans in 1978 (and originally released a year later as Speak With a Single Voice), it features Galper on piano, Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone and flute, Randy Brecker on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Wayne Dockery on bass and Bob Moses on drums. The hornmen (already famous then for their hard-hitting funk-jazz group, the Brecker Brothers) comprised a blistering front line. Galper was in aggressive form, playing with an energy reminiscent of McCoy Tyner, a spirit of embellishment reminiscent of Art Tatum and a harmonic knowledge reminiscent of Bill Evans. Dockery and Moses formed a heart-pounding tandem.
There was a time when Ray LaMontagne was viewed as the heir apparent to Van Morrison or Jeff Buckley. Part of the Light shakes up those assumptions as the New Hampshire singer/songwriter balances the quiet, loud, and ethereal. Ray’s voice ripples and expands like a pebble splash in a quiet lake, so the vocal echo on “It’s Always Been You” adds a haunting contrail. “As Black as Blood Is Blue” hints that LaMontagne has some Metallica cassettes stashed in his attic. Meanwhile, the ballads here are gorgeously lethal. “Let’s Make It Last” might be Ray’s best one yet, perfect for a wedding first dance. The track represents the album’s exquisite beauty and message: Slow down and appreciate what’s truly important.