Us3 Hand On The Torch on 180g Import 2LP
First Blue Note Album Ever To Achieve Platinum Sales in the US!
Us3 is the brainchild of London-based producer Geoff Wilkinson. Formed in 1992, alongside production partner Mel Simpson, Us3 rose from the ashes of 2 previous incarnations. The first was a limited edition white label 12” release in 1990 called “Where Will We Be In The 21st Century” featuring rapper MC Honey B and jazz pianist Jessica Lauren.
This brought the attention of a (then) fledgling indie label, Ninjatune, and the result was NW1’s 1991 12” “The Band Played The Boogie.” By sampling one of the biggest dancefloor tunes of the burgeoning jazz dance scene, Geoff had unknowingly started a chain reaction. The tune he sampled was Grant Green’s “Sookie Sookie,” originally released on Blue Note Records.
London’s Kiss FM playlisted “The Band Played The Boogie” and Geoff received a call summoning him to EMI’s offices in London. Knowing the sample had not been cleared Geoff was nervous, but somehow talked himself out of being sued and into the Blue Note vaults. By allowing complete access to their legendary back catalog, Blue Note went back to the future.
“It was a brave decision by Bruce Lundvall (Blue Note President),” says Geoff, “but he made me record some demos first, to prove I could do it.” One of those demos, recorded in March 1992, was the Herbie Hancock sampling “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia).” Exactly two years later it was sitting in the US top ten. The resulting album Hand on the Torch subsequently become a global phenomenon. It was the first Blue Note album ever to achieve Platinum status (1,000,000 sales) in the US.
The worldwide success of Us3 took everyone by surprise, and proved a point to Geoff. “I always thought there was a huge potential audience for jazz amongst younger people, and I wanted Us3 to be a point of access for them. By sampling classic jazz tracks, mixing them with beats and raps, and having younger jazz cats playing on top I was acknowledging the past, staying rooted in the present, and looking forward to the future, all at the same time.”
Produced & Mixed - Mel Simpson & Geoff Wilkinson
All Keyboards & Programming - Mel Simpson
Samples, Programming & Scratches - Geoff Wilkinson
Rap - Rahsaan, Kobie Powell & Tukka Yoot / Trumpet - Gerard Presencer
Trombone - Dennis Rollins
Tenor Sax - Mike Smith
Soprano & Tenor Sax - Ed Jones
Soprano Sax - Steve Williamson
Guitar - Tony Remy
Piano - Matt Cooper
Backing Vocal - Marie Harper
Us3 Hand On The Torch Track Listing:
1. Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
2. I Got It Goin' On
3. Different Rhythms Different People
4. It's Like That
5. Just Another Brother
7. I Go to Work
1. Tukka Yoot's Riddim
2. Knowledge of Self
3. Lazy Day
4. Eleven Long Years
5. Make Tracks
6. The Darkside
7. Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) (Instrumental Version)