Rare Prince Funk/Jazz Instrumental Album from 1977 “Loring Park Sessions 77” Unearthed

Cover art for extremely rare Prince instrumental album featuring Prince, Andre' Cymone and David Z.

Cover art for extremely rare Prince instrumental album. Loring Park Sessions 77, featuring Prince, Andre’ Cymone and Bobby Z.

Prior to Prince‘s untimely death last Spring, it was rare that you would be able to find his music online.  Besides his exclusive agreement with streaming provider Tidal, the only time you could hear favorites like “Strange Relationship” or “Controversy” was on the random and temporary upload to YouTube.  Well, since then, a flood of bootlegs and unreleased material have surfaced.

We recently came across a spellbinding instrumental album from 1977 called Loring Park Sessions 77.   Given his first LP, For You, was released in 1978, this project would predate that highly underrated initial effort.  According to YouTube and verified via Prince.org, the sessions were recorded at the rehearsal room in Prince’s first manager, Owen Husney‘s Loring Park office in Minneapolis.  It should be noted that that office is only a few blocks from what was then known as Sam’s and is now known as the legendary First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, where the live performance scenes from the movie, Purple Rain, were filmed.  In addition to Prince’s deft clavinet (keyboard) playing, the album features the extremely funky bass playing of his long time friend and bandmate, Andre’ Cymone and masterful drumming by Robert B. Rivkin AKA Bobby Z.  Both would become key pillars in Prince’s early bands.  Coincidently, one of those groups, The Revolution, which included Bobby Z., recently announced a short tour of the East Coast including Spring dates in New York, Silver Spring, Maryland (outside of Washington, D.C.), and Philadelphia.

The album captures a very funky jazz fusion sound which was vey popular at the time by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Bob James and so many others.  It features 8 mostly up and mid-tempo tunes that, though unnamed, predate his critically acclaimed (and fan loved) Madhouse projects that were released 10 years later and the wildly underrated Rainbow Children album, which was released 24 years later.  This project, which clocks in at just under an hour was recorded during an incredibly prolific time that featured other pre-For You sessions worth investigating like Sound 80 (December 1976 – Summer 1977), 94 East Minneapolis Genius – The Historic 1977 Recordings and The Rebels among many others.  Loring Park Sessions 77 clearly illustrates the genius of one of the greatest musicians of all time and will certainly make for a great listen for years to come (or at least while it exists on YouTube). Enjoy.

Updated on January 22, 2020

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