To my mind this is an exceptionally great album and, at the risk of scaring-off a sizeable proportion of regular music fans, certainly one of the best of the jazz funk genre. Although recorded in 1974, it first came to my attention via the incredible "WALK THAT WALK, TALK THAT TALK", which was deservedly massive on the British rare groove/acid jazz scene back in the late 1980s.
However, if you thought I'd summed the album up with those two sentences, it's probably worth your while to think again...
Sure, COSMIC VORTEX is heavy and funky and chock full of Howard Moon-style noodley-jazz bits - but it also has a sense of fun and humour and brims with joyfully infectious pop moments of the kind that are powerful enough to hoik-in the most hardened jazz-phobic on first listen. This means that whilst Roy Ayers afficianados will go ape for it, you can comfortably recommend it to any adventurous connoisseur of pop music.
Apparently, this was jazz keyboardist Weldon Irvine's first big budget album after getting a deal with RCA records, and it clearly shows in the quality of the production and arrangement (for example, the monstrous heartbeat bass in "LOVE JONES" is disturbingly heavy but hardly distorts even at maximum volume - holy grail or what?). How do you describe the sound? Experimental and adventurous, at least by 1974 standards, but not self-indulgent. Definitely jazz-funk but far more schitzophrenic, inventive and flagrantly spaced-out than run-of-the-mill '70s dancefloor fodder. In spirit, I'd liken it to SCREAMADELICA by Primal Scream. In short, I genuinely think of it as out-on-its-own, left-field popular music, pure and simple, and I passionately believe that it will be appreciated by anybody who loves their pop music gilded with more than a splash of psychedelic colour. Not often said about jazz funk, that.