Well before Shuggie Otis cut his debut album,
musicianship and performance had long been a
part of his life. The son of rhythm and blues legend
Johnny Otis, Shuggie learned to play guitar as
early as the age of two, and performed
professionally with his father's band at eleven.
Throughout his long and illustrious career he'd
performed on records for the likes of Frank Zappa,
Al Kooper, Etta James, and George Duke, to name
a few. In spite of all this,widespread mainstream
success eluded Shuggie for much of his career.
His most famous release to date is his 1974 album
Inspiration/Information, which would experience
new resurgent life in the 2000s. Those willing to
dig a little deeper however, would discover hidden
gold in his earlier releases, especially in the album
directly before Inspiration/Information, his sopho-
more 1971 release Freedom Flight.
As with his debut, Freedom Flight was produced
by Shuggie's father Johnny Otis, and built upon
the distinct sounds of his debut album: lush,
baroque, string section arrangements, paired with
hard funk rhythms, and funky blues melodies, with
the majority of the instruments once again
performed by Shuggie himself. The album also
features backing from premium session greats like
George Duke and Aynsley Dunbar, and the track
"Strawberry Letter 23" which became a monster
hit for The Brothers Johnson 3 years later.
Freedom Flight is a treasure of deft, technical skill,
and virtuosic composition.