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This month we’re featuring Product of Our Souls: The Sound and Sway of James Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra—the earliest mainstream recordings of an African American dance band—in an authoritative package from Archeophone Records.  In honor of Gospel Music Heritage Month, there are two new compilations from the Gospel Friend label: the two-CD Soul Don’t Worry! Black Gospel During the Civil Rights Era 1953-1967, and the tribute to Ohio gospel artist and composer Prof. Harold Boggs, Lord Give Me Strength.

New jazz releases include Cécile McLorin Salvant’s forthcoming album The Window, the Snarky Puppy affiliated group Ghost-Note’s Swagism, American steel pan player Jonathan Scales’ Pillar with his group Fourchestra, jazz flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell’s Maroon Cloud, the vocal group Take 6’s Iconic, Marcus Miller’s Laid Black (with a guest appearance by Take 6), and Diana Purim & Eyedentity’s exploration of Brazilian jazz/trip hop, Many Bodies, One Mind.

Rock-oriented releases include Corey Glover’s new supergroup Ultraphonix’s debut Original Human Music, punk legend Jean Beauvoir’s Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1, and Sean Ardoin’s Kreole Rock and Soul. Portland, Oregon’s Ural Thomas & The Pain confirm it is The Right Time for old-school R&B, “Queen of the Blues” Shemekia Copeland offers America’s Child, boogie woogie pianist Errol Dixon releases the 1973 live recording Midnight Train, and Delmark Records marks the label’s 65th anniversary with Tribute.

Wrapping up this issue is the late Australian indigenous musician Gurrumul’s final release and orchestral collaboration Djarimirri: Child of the Rainbow, Ugandan flutist Samite’s music of Resilience, and our list of August 2018 Black Music Releases of Note.

View review September 4th, 2018

europe

 

Title: The Product of Our Souls: The Sound and Sway of James Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra

Artist: Europe’s Society Orchestra

Label: Archeophone

Format: CD

Release date: June 1, 2018

 

This extraordinary new set from Archeophone Records, The Product of Our Souls, compiles for the first time in history the eight sides recorded by Europe’s Society Orchestra for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Dating from December 1913 to February 1914, these sides represent the earliest mainstream recordings of an African American dance band. In addition, there are twelve tracks featuring recordings of James Reese Europe’s compositions performed by other ensembles of the era, allowing a comparison of performance practices, including differences in arrangements and instrumentation. The compilation is an audio companion to David Gilbert’s excellent socio-cultural history, The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

James Reese Europe is more widely known for his famed Clef Club, the city’s first labor union for African American musicians, which supplied highly skilled dance bands to white elites in New York and beyond. Europe’s Clef Club Orchestra, with over 100 members, also broke racial barriers in Manhattan’s performance spaces, including Carnegie Hall. The recordings on this set, however, feature Europe’s Society Orchestra (ESO)—another revolving group of black musicians—reduced to about a dozen for these Victor sessions.

After James Reese Europe was appointed exclusive music director for social dance pioneers Vernon and Irene Castle, the ESO accompanied their performances. The orchestra’s syncopated rhythms were incorporated into the Castle’s movements, popularizing new dance forms such as the one-step. Hence the reason three of the eight ESO tracks on this set bear titles associated with the Castles and were composed by Europe, or co-written with Ford T. Dabney. The ensemble selected for this session includes flute, clarinet, cornet, baritone horn, violins, cello, piano and drums.  “The Castles in Europe (Castle House Rag)” is considered Europe’s most influential recording and was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2004. The song is a fusion of ragtime and march styles, while also creatively inserting bluesy modulations between major and minor keys.  The Castle’s signature one-step, “Castle Walk,” is notable for the improvised, highly embellished violin solo—a rare feature on recordings in the pre-jazz era—as well as Buddy Gilmore’s percussive effects. The mid-tempo “Castle’s Lame Duck (aka Congratulations Waltz)” has a prominent flute part, while “You’re Here and I’m Here,” an instrumental arrangement of a Jerome Kern-penned Broadway show tune, once again showcases Gilmore’s extraordinary talents.

The initial four tracks recorded in 1913, however, were not composed by Europe and were likely selected by Victor to capitalize on the social dance craze. The lively “Too Much Mustard” features multiple banjo mandolins against a violin and virtuosic clarinet, with Buddy Gilmore adding the groove on an early trap drum-kit. Clarinetist Wilbur Sweatman’s swinging “Down Home Rag” takes the group one step closer to jazz, with the new transfer of the disc revealing background vocals in a bluesy shout style. The other two ESO tracks include the Brazilian maxixe “Amapa,” and the Argentinean tango “El Irresistible,” popularized by the Castles, among others.

The remaining 14 tracks on the set date from 1908-1916 and include other performances of the above ESO repertoire by the Indestructible Band, Prince’s Band, the National Promenade Band, the Van Eps Trio. As one might imagine, these lively but somewhat rigid band renditions are a far cry from Europe’s improvisational pre-jazz style. Also included are five recordings of Europe’s compositions rendered by the popular singers Ada Jones, Bob Roberts, Kathleen Kingston and Billy Murray, as well as the Victor Military Band and Metropolitan Military Band.

Sourced from discs and cylinders in private collections, some of these recordings are relatively rare, and the transfers and digital restoration were done by experts in the field. The extensive 56-page booklet includes an essay and notes on each track by David Gilbert (complete with end notes), historic photographs from archival collections in the U.S. and London, and discographic information. Produced by Archeophone owners Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey, The Product of Our Souls is an authoritative compilation that emphasizes the importance of James Reese Europe as an extraordinary musician, composer, and bandleader who paved the way from ragtime to jazz.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 4th, 2018

The Window

 

Title: The Window

Artist: Cecile McLorin Salvant

Label: Mack Avenue

Formats: CD, LP, Digital

Release date: September 28, 2018

 

Where does one begin when reviewing a talent as astonishing as Cecil McLorin Salvant? Through years of hard work and training, McLorin Salvant has found a way to combine her operatic background with stylistic aspects of legendary singers—from the percussiveness of Ella Fitzgerald, to the creativity of Sarah Vaughn, to the entrancing story telling ability of Billie Holiday and Carmen McCrae. McLorin has crafted a sound all her own, unveiling new aspects of her artistry with every release. In under a decade, she has become a multi Grammy-award- winning artist, winning Best Vocal Jazz Album for her albums For One To Love (2016) and Dreams and Daggers (2017).  Now, with her fourth album for Mack Avenue, The Window, we wait with great anticipation to see what major strides this phenomenal woman will make.

The Window is an album of both live and in-studio duets for which McLorin Salvant has partnered with distinguished jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner. The two come together to explore the endless expressive possibilities of a vocal-piano duo as they freely improvise with everything from the meter to the harmony, playing off of each other perfectly. The two manage to cultivate such a wall of sound on each track that the lack of a full rhythm section almost goes unnoticed.

As the main architect of this 17 track album, McLorin Salvant set out to create a meditative cycle of songs about the “mercurial nature of love,” beginning her journey with a haunting rendition of “Visions” by Stevie Wonder. Listeners are immediately drawn in by a falling piano line from Fortner that’s enough to send chills down your spine, before McLorin Salvant enters so softly with intonation and presence that any singer would be envious. While this live performance is not the version you will hear on the album, it offers just a taste of the power and energy displayed by this duo:

These two work so well together, consistently conveying clear musical conversations while allowing space for each artist to have their own moment to shine. This is especially clear on other stand out tracks such as “Ever Since the One I Loves Been Gone,” “The Sweetest Sound,” and the ever playful “I’ve Got Your Number,” where Fortner lays down a magnificent solo.

One very interesting feature throughout most of McLorin Salvant’s recordings is their lack of reverb. This in conjunction with the interspersion of live tracks, gives the album a very personal quality, as though McLorin Salvant is in the room singing directly to you.

The Window traverses love’s wide universe, from the pleasure of a lover’s touch with its feelings of human communion, to the invisible masks we wear to hide from others and from ourselves. One can easily see that we are witnessing a legend in the making with jazz vocalist Cecil McLorin Salvant.

Reviewed by Jared Griffin

View review September 4th, 2018

shem

 

Title: America’s Child

Artist: Shemekia Copeland

Label: Alligator

Formats: CD, Digital

Release Date: August 3, 2018

 

Since her Outskirts of Love release, “Queen of the Blues” Shemekia Copeland has been striving for a deeper representation of Americana blues. With her newest offering, she has done just that. Combining elements of rock, soul and country, America’s Child is Copeland’s most diverse and compelling work yet. Americana Instrumentalist of the Year winner Will Kimbrough both produces and plays guitar on the album with additional contributors Emmylou Harris, Steve Cropper, J.D. Wilkes, and Al Perkins adding their own unique stylings that seamlessly blend with Copeland.

The opening track, “Ain’t Got Time for Hate,” has an immediate drive and speaks right to the heart of those fed up with the current atmosphere: “One more moment is a moment too late / We ain’t got time for hate.” “Americans,” the next offering, is chock full of slide guitar and open-mindedness about the wonderful diversity within United States: “We’re walkin’, talkin’ contradictions / No two are the same / That’s what makes us beautiful / I hope we never change.” Songwriting props for this song and for “Smoked Ham and Peaches” go to executive producer John Hahn and Mary Gauthier for their collaborative work.

Music legend John Prine joins Copeland on his own “Great Rain,” with Copeland adding her sultry, stirring pipes to Prine’s classic blues chords and vocal growl. Her cover of the Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody” transforms this iconic song into a blues-fueled declaration of independence. Two ballads dominate the line-up as well, adding a softer-yet-edgy sound to Copeland’s repertoire: “Promised Myself,” written by her father the late bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland and the traditional “Go To Sleepy Little Baby.”

Throughout the album, Copeland sings with passion and insight about the chaos and uncertainty in the world while still finding joy all around her. Confidently announcing a new chapter in a constantly evolving story, America’s Child is a courageous and fiery statement of purpose, and a major step forward for the singer whose musical consciousness continues to expand as her star continues to rise.

Reviewed by Amy Aiyegbusi

View review September 4th, 2018

Ural Thomas

Title: The Right Time

Artist: Ural Thomas & The Pain

Label: Tender Loving Empire

Formats: CD, LP, Digital

Release date: September 28, 2018

 

 

We’ve covered a number of artists over the past decide whose careers were revived later in life, including the late, great Charles Bradley. A similar artist who recently entered our radar is soul singer Ural Thomas, a Louisiana-born preacher’s son who opened for the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding, and Stevie Wonder back in the day. Thomas released a few singles in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, most notably “Can You Dig It” with backing vocals by a power trio featuring Merry Clayton, Merry Wells and Brenda Halloway. But like countless artists before him, Thomas gave up on the music business, returning to Portland, Oregon where his family had relocated.

After several decades of performing only occasional gigs, Thomas’s break came when Eric Isaacson, owner of Portland’s Mississippi Records, reissued his out-of-print singles, which attracted considerable local attention. Soul DJ and drummer Soul DJ and drummer Scott Magee helped Thomas put together a backing band, the Pain, likely taking their name from Thomas’s 1967 single, “Pain Is the Name of Your Game.” Their self-titled debut was released in 2016 and around the same time, Thomas was featured on the local PBS program, Oregon Art Beat:

Now, two years later, as Thomas celebrates his 78th birthday, “Portland’s Pillar of Soul” returns with The Right Time, his first album of all original songs. In addition to Magee on drums and percussion, Thomas’s seven-piece backing band includes Bruce Withycombe (The Decemberists) on baritone sax, Portland jazz guitarist Brent Martens who doubles on vibes, bass player Arcellus Sykes, Steve Aman on keys, Dave Monnie on trumpet, Willie Matheis on tenor sax, plus backing vocalists and the Arco Quartet adding some smooth strings.

Thomas doesn’t venture far from his roots, offering 11 tracks of old-school R&B with a funky groove. Opening with “Slow Down,” Aman lays down the B3 tracks while Thomas hollers “slow down, let’s make it last.” On “No Distance (Between You & Me)” the female backing vocalists provide a Motown-style vibe, while “You Care Very Little” is a soulful tale of woe. “Smoldering Fire” gives us a taste of Thomas’s formative years singing doo-wop, with a voice that’s still supple and falsetto ready. One of the highlights is the title track, which harkens back to the James Brown era, while also incorporating contemporary funk and rock influences. The album closes with “Smile,” a heartfelt directive to chase away the blues, sung by a man who knows the power of positive thinking and the value of cherishing life’s finer moments.

Ural Thomas may have lived through plenty of pain in his life, but he didn’t let the music die. On The Right Time, Ural Thomas & The Pain deliver plenty of old school soul, spreading the love to a new generation of fans who just can’t seem to get enough.

 

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 4th, 2018

Swagism
Title: Swagism

Artist: Ghost-Note

Label: Ropeadope

Release Date: April 20, 2018

Formats: CD, Digital

 

Ghost-Note is a project led by two Snarky Puppy members, Robert “Sput” Searight and Nate Werth, who perform with a rotating cast of top session players.  Their newest album, Swagism, is the group’s sprawling and definitive artistic statement, one that is funky, jazzy, and experimental all at once. The record combines grooves that hit hard on the one, progressive jazz gestures, and spoken voicemail interludes that advance the double album’s conceptual and musical narrative.

Ghost-Note’s approach is perhaps best summed up by the album’s opening track, a spoken intro that questions the way that people value both music and choice as concepts, setting up the band as breaking down social and taste barriers through its conceptual framework of “swag,” despite the fact that it’s a band that likely appeals to a fairly narrow set of jazz-hipster listeners.  However, when compared with its bigger brother, Snarky Puppy, Ghost-Note’s approach would certainly be a bit more accessible to a listener not deeply invested in progressive jazz.  Tracks like the title track and “Pacemaker” rely on infectious and danceable grooves, despite featuring impressive improvisation from the group’s stellar ensemble.  Generally speaking, this approach holds true, with groove taking precedence over virtuosity on Swagism. Even the jarring “Shrill Tones” grooves in the way that the Brecker Brother’s “Some Skunk Funk” does—highly rhythmic within its complex melodic phrases. The band does venture into ambient outer space soundscapes once or twice, notably with Kamasi Washington’s featured performance on the socially-conscious “No More Silence.” However, Ghost-Note quickly returns to earth with tracks like “Nod to Dilla,” a miniature headphone symphony that serves as a tribute to the influential hip hop producer J Dilla, and asserts that above all else, groove animates the group’s approach to music.

Swagism, and Ghost-Note’s work in general, represents what funky jazz could have been had it not largely been commandeered by the wah-wah guitars of ‘70s smooth jazz—that is, culturally relevant while musically complex.  This album is challenging, hip, and a fun listen—a trifecta that other groups in every genre should learn from.

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review September 4th, 2018

Pillar

 

Title: Pillar

Artist: Jonathan Scales Fourchestra

Label: Ropeadope

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: September 14, 2018

 

American steel pan player Jonathan Scales is about to release his next project, Pillar, with his group Fourchestra, which includes Maison Guidry (drums) and E’Lon Jordan-Dunlap (bass). Traditionally, pans are played in steelbands performing Calypso music. However, Scales places the steelpan in a contemporary environment using music genres such as jazz, fusion, hip-hop, Latin jazz, and funk, as vehicles for his creative explorations.

Pillar features many world-renowned guest artists including Victor Wooten, Béla Fleck, Jeff Coffin, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Shaun Martin, and Oteil Burbridge. On “Focus Poem,” Scales draws on Latin American and Caribbean rhythms as source materials for his underlying groove, while Fleck—an accomplished banjo player—performs a spirited banjo solo. “The Trap” places the steelpan at the center of a dynamic funk groove with complex rhythmic hits, featuring virtuosic performances by bassists Wooten and MonoNeon, the colorful and energetic sound of Scott’s trumpet, and spirited solos by Guidry and percussionist Weedie Braimah.

This album is above all intriguing, exciting, and lively. Heavily rooted in rhythm, groove, and harmony, Pillar offers sonorities that are pleasing to the ear and comforting to the soul.

Reviewed by Jamaal Baptiste

View review September 4th, 2018

Nicole Mitchell

 

Title: Maroon Cloud

Artist: Nicole Mitchell

Label: FPE Records

Formats: CD, Digital

Release date: August 20, 2018

 

Jazz flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell’s latest album, Maroon Cloud, was recorded live in Brooklyn’s National Sawdust as part of multi-instrumentalist and avant-garde composer John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series. The album features Mitchell performing eight of her original compositions for flute, with vocalist Fay Victor, pianist Aruán Ortiz, and cellist Tomeka Reid. Speaking of Maroon Cloud, Mitchell writes, “Imagination, especially Black imagination, is a really vital and undervalued resource. It’s very clear that we can’t continue in the same direction that we’ve gone, but we need to return to the source of where imagination and creativity come from, because if we don’t have another vision then we can’t implement it, and we can’t make a different future. What makes us special as human beings is our ability to imagine things that don’t even exist yet.”

In this light, Maroon Cloud can be considered a part of the developing ideology of Afro-futurism—a mode of thinking that encourages the envisioning of Black life beyond our current reality. In fact, themes of Afro-futurism can be located in the album’s title itself. While the word “cloud” can refer to a space reserved for imagination and creativity, “maroon” is able to simultaneously embody a couple of meanings: Africans who escaped slavery in the Caribbean or “people being abandoned to their fate.”

Mitchell’s consideration of Black futures is immediately apparent by taking a glance at the composition of the ensemble. The omission of drums is an unusual move for a jazz ensemble or an ensemble that performs music of the African diaspora; however, Mitchell believes it creates “other ways of coming together” because of the ensemble’s need to move and create in “a new direction.”

While Mitchell continues the line of Afro-futurism through the use of her avant-garde jazz background, she certainly makes use of the blues tradition. Whether that be in Victor’s vocals and spoken word on the tracks “Warm Dark Realness,” “Vodou Spacetime Kettle,” and “Hidden Choice;” or Mitchell’s solos on “No One Can Stop Us” and “A Sound;” or the rhythm provided by Ortiz and Reid throughout the album; or the call-and-response between all members of the ensemble, roots of the blues are found throughout the album.

Maroon Cloud manages to “sonically explore the space within our minds where all ideas come from” and is sure to encourage the listener’s envisaging of possible Black futures.

Reviewed by Kennedi Johnson

View review September 4th, 2018

Laid Black

Title: Laid Black

Artist: Marcus Miller

Label: Blue Note

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: June 1, 2018

 

World-renowned bass player and multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller dropped his latest album, Laid Black, over the summer. Released three years after his Afrodeezia project, this album weaves together funk, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and jazz into an amalgam of sounds. Although Miller is the focal figure throughout, we cannot neglect the contributions of his dynamic supporting cast of Kirk Whalum, Take 6, Jonathan Butler, Trombone Shorty, Russell Gunn, Marquis Hill, and Miller’s band, all prominent figures in their own rights.

Laid Black opens with “Trip Trap,” a live number featuring Miller’s funky bassline, a trap influenced hip-hop groove, and lush harmonies intermixed between the horns and synthesizer. Miller follows this with a heartfelt slow blues rendition of “Que Sera Sera,” reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone’s version, sung by Belgian vocalist Selah Sue. Listeners are later treated to “Sublimity ‘Bunny’s Dream’,” a soothing composition that evokes sonorous qualities that resonate with West African musical traditions. Closing the album, Miller reprises “Preacher’s Kid” from his previous album, echoing the sounds of the Black church through the vocally inspired moans and groans produced by saxophonists Whalum and Alex Han, and the vocal harmonies by a cappella gospel sextet, Take 6.

Covering a wide range of genres, Laid Black highlights the interconnected nature of Black music through its local and global sensibilities. By looking at jazz as an extension of the Black music aesthetic, Miller produces sonic qualities that not only blur musical boundaries, but also accentuate the transnational exchange of sounds, ideas, and musical practices within the global Black community.

Reviewed by Jamaal Baptiste

View review September 4th, 2018

take6

 

Title: Iconic

Artist: Take 6

Label: Sono Recording Group

Format: CD, Digital

Release date: April 27th, 2018

 

Six legendary men of Take 6 recently released their 11th studio album, Iconic, reminding us exactly why they are not only one of the most influential a cappella or vocal groups, but one of the most influential jazz ensembles of all time. Their story began in the 1980s at the Seventh-day Adventist affiliated Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, while the group still went by the name Alliance. They primarily performed at local churches and on their college campus. Things began to change for them in 1985 when half of the group graduated and took on Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, and David Thomas. Within two years they were signed to Warner Bros. and changed their name to Take 6.

With ten Grammy Awards, ten Dove Awards, a seven year stint as Best Jazz Vocal Group in Downbeat’s Reader’s and Critic’s Poll, and so many more accolades, Take 6 is still going strong. The current members of the group include founding members Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, David Thomas, and Alvin Chea, plus the later additions of Joey Kibble and Khristian Dentley.  Now, with Iconic, Take 6 makes sure we never forget just who they are!

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In true Take 6 fashion, the album includes intricate adaptations of new and old pop and R&B hits, such as “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, “Sailing” by Christopher Cross, and an extra funky version of “Roof Garden” by Al Jarreau. They close the album by harkening back to their gospel roots with the modern hymn, “Nothing But the Blood.” With the use of thick and luscious harmonies and unique harmonic substitutions, Take 6 makes every tune on this album their very own.

Debuting at number 3 on the ITunes jazz charts, within a month of release Iconic hit number one on the billboard contemporary jazz chart. Take 6 reminds us all exactly why they are ‘Iconic.’

Reviewed by Jared Griffin

View review September 4th, 2018

purim

 

Title: Many Bodies, One Mind

Artist: Diana Purim & Eyedentity

Label: Eyedentitymusic

Formats: CD, Digital

Release date: May 2018

 

Diana Purim was destined from birth to become an artist, touring with Chick Corea’s Original Return to Forever in the belly of her mother, renowned Brazilian jazz singer Flora Purim. Her interest in other styles of black popular music began when she first saw break dancing and heard hip hop music. Diana was later influenced by artists such as Billie Holiday and Bob Marley. Krishna, Diana’s husband and band leader for their group EyeDentity, is the son of renowned jazz bassist Walter Booker, nephew of Wayne Shorter and godson of Herbie Hancock. Krishna began his musical career beat-boxing for Herbie, and also credits Hancock for introducing him to hip hop and to the idea for chart topping track “Rockit,” featuring Grand Mixer D.ST.  Eyedentity has also had the privilege of working alongside many other talented artists including Sergio Mendes, Flora Purim, Wah Wah Watson, Babatunji Olatunji, Alphonso Johnson, The Grateful Dead, and recently with Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Many Bodies, One Mind is an album based on the Buddhist concept which signifies a unity that has at its heart, respect for the diverse and unique qualities of each individual. This unity can be formed only among those who respect one another and cherish each other’s unique attributes and abilities, while working in harmony to compensate for one another’s weaknesses. In essence, many people having the same feeling, thought or aim toward a goal.

Musically the album is infused with an eclectic selection of sounds and musical concepts pulling from, but not limited to Brazilian jazz and psychedelic trip hop. Some of those who contributed musically to the album including Airto Moreira, who appears on the song “Batucada;” Herbie Hancock on the piano solo on “Acordi;” George Duke who guests on “Questions;” Justo Almario who performs tenor sax and flute on “Tombo in 7/4;” and Pete Lockett who adds tablas/Indian percussions on “Você Não Me Engana.”

The essence of the album is embodied in the title track “Many in Body,” a song that is governed by the Buddhist proverb for which it is named. However, during an interview, Krishna and Diana commented that the root song can be traced back to slavery. Krishna says that while slavery was different in South America, where religious and musical freedom was not as heavily governed as it was in America, there are many similarities in the things that were both retained and created musically and culturally in both spaces. While there were many body’s scattered throughout the diaspora, there was still a need for certain types of expression. Not a monolithic expression, but an expression governed by some of the same ideas and principles. Many bodies, one mind.

Reviewed by Bobby E. Davis Jr

View review September 4th, 2018

ultra

 

Title: Original Human Music

Artist: Ultraphonix

Label: earMUSIC

Formats: CD, LP, Digital

Release date: August 3, 2018

 

Original Human Music is the full-length debut album by Ultraphonix, a supergroup consisting of vocalist Corey Glover (Living Colour), guitarist George Lynch (Dokken), bassist Pancho Tomaselli (War), and drummer Chris Moore (Endangered Species). While its members all come from different bands, nothing about this album points to a group that was arbitrarily assembled. Having worked for years with guitar virtuoso Vernon Reid, Corey Glover seems at home working with guitar legend George Lynch. There is also a pre-established familiarity within the rhythm section as Lynch, Tomaselli, and Moore have all worked together previously in Project NFidelikah. Although, Glover and Lynch might be the most recognizable names in this group, Tomaselli and Moore have paid their dues in the business as well. Chris Moore, aside from his various band projects, has worked for years as a Los Angeles session musician, performing music for countless commercials, movie trailers, and soundtracks. Tomaselli, aside from his work playing with War, has also worked with artists of note such as Lenny Kravitz and Janet Jackson as an A&R representative for Virgin Records.

Although some of the core personnel made their names in hard rock, the 12-track album alludes to a variety of styles. For one, Glover belts out gospel-esque vocal phrases throughout. Additionally, some of Lynch’s guitar solos tout jazz and blues influences while still highlighting his unique, unorthodox style of phrasing. There are references to Hendrix-era psychedelia with tracks like “Free,” while “Take a Stand” is a funky tune that feels like an old Living Colour song at times. Furthermore, “Soul Control” presents a funk façade, but it is spiced up with a pre-chorus consisting of a chord progression more commonly associated with modern jazz.

This album is solid. It does not pad its few strong songs with a slew of weak filler tracks, and it’s an easy album to put on and listen to from start to finish. There are, of course, tracks that really stand out such as “Another Day,” a tune that in a perfect world would get plenty of exposure. In a different decade, this would easily have been a hit song. It has a little bit of everything—great songwriting, a memorable vocal melody, and a catchy guitar solo from Lynch. Another notable track is “Walk Run Crawl,” which along with “Another Day” have had official videos released. “Walk Run Crawl” is the hardest track on the album, and it will serve as the first single that many listeners are exposed to.

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As was the case with Living Colour’s body of work, there is more to this album than simply the music. Unlike many hard rock albums where lyrics often seem to have been an afterthought, these songs reflect a deeper sociopolitical consciousness. As Glover states, “[These songs] are about taking the outside world and reflecting on how it affects you.”

Original Human Music is reminiscent at times of a few different bands—specifically Living Colour, King’s X, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It is the work of a supergroup, not so much in the sense that every musician comes from a hugely successful band, but in the sense that each member of Ultraphonix is a master of his craft. Strong, powerful drum tracks, partnered with rock-solid bass, drive each tune on the record. George Lynch and Corey Glover add to it by turning in outstanding performances to create an album that is overtly impressive—the guitars and vocals really jump out to the listener. Original Human Music should be appealing to a variety of rock fans. If it is only heard by fans of the individual members of Ultraphonix, it will be a shame because this is a recording that stands on its own merit.

Reviewed by Joel Roberts

View review September 4th, 2018

Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1

 

Title: Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1

Artist: Jean Beauvoir

Label: AOR Heaven

Formats: CD, Digital

Release date: June 29, 2018

 

Jean Beauvoir is a legend in the world of black rock and Afro-punk artists. Born in Chicago to Haitian-American parents, he started his musical career in a fairly typical manner, learning drums and bass as a kid, and honing his vocals singing doo-wop. But his career took a dramatic left turn when he moved to New York during the punk rock explosion and crossed paths with Rod Swenson and Wendy O. Williams. They invited Beauvoir to become the bass player for the Plasmatics, one of the most infamous punk bands of all time, where he cultivated his instantly recognizable persona and blond Mohawk. He left the Plasmatics in 1981 after their third album, and went on to perform with many other legendary bands, including the Ramones.

Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1, the first part of a planned two volume set, draws from Beauvoir’s solo work as well as songs recorded with his own bands. The majority come from the discography of Beauvoir’s popular heavy metal band, Crown of Thorns (with Micki Free, Michael Paige, and Tony Thompson).  The band’s 1993 eponymous debut album is represented through five tracks including “Crown of Thorns,” “Dying for Love,” “Secret Jesus,” and the stand-out “Hike It Up.”  Beauvoir’s most recent single, “Standing on the Corner for Ya,” was originally featured on this album as well. A few songs are also drawn from the Crown of Thorns albums Breakthrough (1996), Lost Cathedral (1998), and Faith (2008), including the lead single “Rock Ready.”

The short-lived band Voodoo X, formed by Beauvoir with musicians from Berlin and New York, may have only produced one album, Vol. 1: The Awakening (1989), but they hit gold with two songs. The title track, “The Awakening,” was featured on the soundtrack of Wes Craven’s film Shocker.  “Voodoo Queen” was allegedly filmed during an actual live ritual officiated by Beauvoir’s uncle, a renowned Voodoo priest and subject of another Wes Craven film, The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Beauvoir’s solo career is only represented by two tracks from his 1986 debut album, Drums Along the Mohawk, remembered primarily for “Feel the Heat,” the leading track for Sylvester Stallone’s film Cobra.

If you don’t already own the albums cited above (we do!), Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1 is a fine introduction to the work of Jean Beauvoir, a very important musician, composer, and true ‘Icon of Rock.’

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 4th, 2018

sean

 

Title: Kreole Rock and Soul

Artist: Sean Ardoin

Label: Louisiana Red Hot

Formats: CD, Digital

Release Date: September 14, 2018

 

Sean Ardoin may come from a long line of accordion-playing Creole musicians (including Amédé Ardoin and Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin), but he certainly isn’t one to be put in a box when it comes to his music. Ardoin’s newest album, Kreole Rock and Soul, is named after the genre that he created in an attempt to revamp the music of his ancestors. While the album pays tribute to Ardoin’s Creole roots, it also incorporates the styles of contemporary pop and classic rock.

As with any good Creole song, the tracks on Kreole Rock and Soul feature traditional Creole rhythms and instruments like the accordion and washboard. Beyond their shared foundation in tradition, the songs range in style from R&B ballads such as “Butterfly” to the Southern rock-inspired “Kick Rocks.”  As the opening track, “Kick Rocks” introduces listeners to the genre of Kreole rock and soul through the mixing of Ardoin’s signature accordion with fresh songwriting and a catchy chorus. “Butterfly,” a slower song written as a tribute to Ardoin’s wife, blends the style of the traditional Creole slow dance called ‘buckle shining’ with modern R&B influences.

Ardoin’s transformation of Creole and zydeco music has garnered attention far beyond his home state of Louisiana, through appearances on programs from MTV, BET, and Bravo TV, just to name a few. Here’s a recent live performance at French Quarter Fest 2018:

Through his newest album, Sean Ardoin is no doubt accomplishing his mission of bringing Louisiana and its Creole musical traditions to listeners around the country and beyond.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

View review September 4th, 2018

boggs

 

Title: Lord Give Me Strength: Early Recordings 1952-1964

Artist: Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed)

Label: Gospel Friend

Format: CD

Release date: September 21, 2018

 

On this new compilation from Per Notini’s Gospel Friend label, gospel historian Opal Nations recounts the story of Prof. Harold Boggs. Born in Port Clinton, Ohio in 1928, Boggs displayed a rare musical talent as a young boy, both as a singer and pianist. Since he also suffered from an irreversible form of glaucoma, his mother insisted that part of his special tutoring include formal music training. This education gave Boggs the skills to also excel as an arranger, composer, and choir director. In 1947 he formed the Harold Boggs Gospel Singers, and his popularity rapidly spread across Ohio, Indiana and Michigan as the group performed on the church circuit.

As a teenager, Boggs often sang duets with another well-known Port Clinton native, Lula Reed, and served for a time as her coach. After Reed recorded some secular sides for King Records in Cincinnati, Boggs was also signed to the label for a year. His 1952 recording debut for King, “The Half Has Never Been Told,” opens this disc. Just a few months later, Boggs and Reed collaborated on the sides “Heavenly Road” and “My Mother’s Prayer” (tracks 6 and 7), accompanied by Sonny Thompson (in a trio) along with the Harmonaires Male Quartet.

The majority of this set features Boggs’ own compositions, recorded as singles. In 1955 he moved over to the Nashboro label, releasing his infectious uptempo song “When the Spirit of the Lord Comes” and the slow burner “Help Me Jesus” with his newly formed group, the Boggs Specials. There are many other selections that confirm the professor’s songwriting and vocal talents, performed with a rotating cast of Boggs Specials. Boggs went on to release ten full albums for Nashboro from 1966-1977, and later recorded for other labels. The sides presented on Lord Give Me Strength document Boggs’ musical evolution during the early years of his recording career, with R&B influences and a rhythm section becoming more prominent. The final tracks, “That’s Where It’s At” and “My Loving Mother Prayed For Me,” recorded in 1963 and 1964 respectively, are phenomenal performances that lead into the rock and soul era.

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Perhaps not all of Bogg’s songs were entirely original. In the liner notes, Nations comments that Boggs’ “When It Hits You” is a thinly disguised gospel rendition of Ray Charles’ arrangement of Sy Oliver’s “Yes Indeed.” Conversely, Boggs’ 1962 release, “That’s Where It’s At” on the Song Bird label, was later claimed by Sam Cooke, while Boggs’ 1958 composition “Lord Give Me Strength,” was the basis for Eric Clapton’s 1974 release “Give Me Strength,” but later attributed to an earlier release by Lovelace Wallace. Such was the state of musical borrowings back in the day.

Boggs stayed close to his hometown of Port Clinton, later hosting a radio program over WRWR, sponsoring church programs, establishing a chapter of the NAACP, and eventually settling in as pastor of the Gypsum Tabernacle, founded by his mother in 1928. Boggs died in 2000 and, if YouTube comments are any indication, he is still fondly remembered by parishioners who witnessed his performances in churches throughout the Midwest and South.

Lord Give Me Strength is a wonderful tribute to Prof. Harold Boggs, an important ‘golden age’ gospel artist and composer from Ohio.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 4th, 2018

Soul Don't Worry

Title: Soul Don’t Worry! Black Gospel During the Civil Rights Era 1953-1967

Artist: Various

Label: Gospel Friend/NarroWay; Dist. City Hall Records

Format: CD

Release date: September 21, 2018

 

 

Swedish producer and gospel record collector Per “Slim” Notini’s latest compilation, Soul Don’t Worry!, is a two-CD set devoted to Black gospel music from the Civil Rights Era. Notini’s stated goal is to feature recordings released from 1953-1967 “of which a big portion are rare performances.” Across the 47 tracks there are indeed many lesser known gems, including the title track by Henry Hines & Revelations—a re-working of a classic Thomas A. Dorsey song which closes on the refrain, “But I say to my soul don’t’ worry/the Lord will make a way somehow.” These rarities are interspersed with songs by gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson, Marie Knight, the Fairfield Four, Staple Singers, and Inez Andrews, chosen to represent the wide diversity of styles in gospel music of the period.

Those more interested in exploring the Civil Rights Era theme will find many songs that directly address racism, resistance, and the struggle to achieve equality, justice, and freedom. For example, the little known group The Ramparts, led by Benjamin “Scatman” Crothers, sing about “The Death of Emmett Till.” Brother Will Hairston of Detroit tells the story of the Little Rock Nine on his song, “Shout School Children.” After the assassination of JFK in 1963, Cincinnati’s Trumpets of Joy released “The News That Shook the Nation,” while the Tampa-based Butler-Aires penned “Jackie Don’t You Weep.” Almost nothing is known about the Southern Bells, with the exception of their 1966 anti-war song “Viet Nam,” released on an obscure Atlanta label. The Friendly Four, a vocal quartet from Charleston, South Carolina, offered a tribute to the Freedom Riders with the song, “Where is Freedom,” telling listeners to “remember the wonderful ones, who lost their dedicated lives for the precious purpose, and won’t be around to see it through.”

Soul Don’t Worry! provides a compelling overview of gospel music during the Civil Rights Era, with songs that served both the Lord and the movement, some never before released on CD.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 4th, 2018

Resilience

Title: Resilience

Artist: Samite

Label: Samite Music

Formats: CD, Digital

Release date: September 14, 2018

 

Ugandan flutist Samite will officially release his eleventh album, Resilience, later this month. “This music is dedicated to the resilience of the human spirit,” writes Samite. In fact, the inspiration for this album was taken from the juxtaposing scenes he witnessed as he looked upon the beautiful, peaceful landscape of Lake Kivu while listening to the music his families and friends were making together—all along the backdrop of one of the deadliest civil wars in the Congo.

Resilience should be seen as a manifestation of Samite’s lifework of showcasing the “power of music.” In addition to making a living as a touring musician, he collaborated with filmmakers of the documentary Alive Inside: a film that showcases how music can aid with memory retrieval in people who experience dementia. Samite also works with Musicians for World Harmony, an organization that focuses on bringing “the healing power of music into communities in upstate New York and around the country.” As if that were not enough, he frequently visits homes and schools (K-16) to perform and showcase the “power of music.”

Across the album’s twelve tracks, Samite alternates between vocals, flute, litungu, adungu, and bass. Other musical collaborators include David Cullen on guitar, bass, and keyboards, Tony Cedras on guitar/strings and piano, Tristan Jarvis on bass, guitar, and keyboard, Frank Paco on percussion, and Nate Richardson on guitar. The group manages to create a soundscape that makes Samite’s belief in the healing power of music all the more apparent.

For example, Samite was moved to pen the meditative track, “Space,” as he took in the view of his horses and gardens from his studio window. “Waterfall,” on the other hand, was inspired by his time as a refugee. He says that the song was written to “transport him back to the rivers, lakes and mountains of Uganda.” The final track, “Ntinda,” is a heartfelt, soulful addition—a rearrangement of a traditional folk song his mother and Aunt sung to him in Uganda.

Resilience transports the listener to the spaces and places Samite has carried with him throughout his life. Perhaps this transportation is bound to occur because music certainly does have the ability to reach the soul, or as Samite puts it, “the human spirit.”

Reviewed by Kennedi Johnson

View review September 4th, 2018

gurru

 

Title: Djarimirri: Child of the Rainbow

Artist: Gurrumul

Label: SkinnyFish Music

Formats: CD, LP, Digital

Release date:  July 13, 2018

 

Typically we feature releases from African American musicians as well as those connected to the African diaspora. We’re making an exception, however, for the Australian indigenous musician, Gurrumul Yunupingu. Known professionally as Gurrumul, or Dr. G to colleagues, the late singer and multi-instrumentalist enjoyed international success, performing at venues around the world. Gurrumul’s debut album, released in 2008 when he was nearly forty, was followed by two more very successful studio albums and two live albums, all on Australia’s SkinnyFish label. A documentary on his life was released earlier this year in Australia.

Gurrumul’s final album, Djarimirri: Child of the Rainbow, recorded just before his death last summer, is both a tribute and celebration of the artist whose “sublime voice and generous soul…occupied a prominent place in [Australia’s] cultural landscape.” The album was dedicated to the “beauty of Yolngu people, and the Aboriginal nations of Australia.”

The twelve tracks on Djarimirri weave traditional chants and songs from northeast Arnhem Land into orchestral arrangements, composed by Erkki Veltheim, with assistance from Gurrumul and producer Michael Hohnen. This was Gurrumul’s second collaboration with an orchestra, following his award winning 2013 live album His Life and Music with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. For Djarimirri, Veltheim transcribed traditional didgeridoo patterns to produce ostinato-like riffs in the lower strings of the orchestra. Other influences came from minimalist composers such as Phillip Glass and Steve Reich, creating a lush sound with undulating rhythms. The songs, sung by Gurrumul in Dhaŋu and Dhuwala, tell of the octopus, the crow, the creation spirit, and other traditional stories passed down through generations.

Throughout his life, Gurrumul’s artistry served as a bridge between the cultures of black and white Australia. What a tragedy that his unique voice was silenced shortly after his 46th birthday.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 4th, 2018

Midnight Train

 

Title: Midnight Train

Artist: Errol Dixon

Label: Wolf

Formats: CD, Digital

Release date: June 8, 2018

 

Midnight Train is a live recording of blues and “piano boogie woogie” musician Errol Dixon’s performance at Vienna’s popular jazz club, Jazzland, in 1973. The album features a few of Dixon’s originals such as “Pretty Baby,” “Foot Stompin’ Boogie,” “I’ve Got the Blues,” and perhaps his most popular tune, “Midnight Train.” Dixon also plays a number of standards: Aaron Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” Leiber and Stoller’s “Kansas City,” B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby,” Floyd Dixon’s “Hey Bartender,” and Ma Rainey’s “See, See Rider.”

The album’s liner notes include an interview with Dixon conducted by Hans Maitner at Jazzland in 1974, where they discuss topics such as Dixon’s childhood in Jamaica, his move to London, and his opinion on rock ‘n roll. The interview’s transcript is provided in its original German and in an English translation. Anyone who is invested in the preservation of blues music or the documentation of “one of the last living original piano boogie woogie & blues players” should own this album.

Reviewed by Kennedi Johnson

View review September 4th, 2018

Tribute

Title: Tribute – Delmark 65th Anniversary

Artist: Various

Label: Delmark

Formats: CD, LP, Digital

Release date: June 14, 2018

 

Sixty-five years is a mighty long time in the record industry, especially from the label end. In this modern era of digital this, digital that, for a independent label to sustain longevity, let alone a financial profit, is a testament of passion. Bob Koester has that and more. In 1953, Koester founded Delmark Records in St. Louis, but later migrated to Chicago, to perhaps give Chess Records a run for their money. Jazz artists such as Donald Byrd and Bud Powell recorded for Delmark, but it would be blues where the label would make its bones.

Tribute, subtitled Newly Recorded Blues Celebration of Delmark’s 65th Anniversary, is an eleven track compilation of some of the best Delmark has to offer. Artists pay homage to other artists by performing their songs. Omar Coleman gets the party off right with the Junior Wells piece “Train I Ride,” with lots of electric guitar and harp. At the end, Coleman calls out cities Memphis and Chi town. Get on board.

You can’t have a tribute to Delmark without the Bell family. They pay tribute to Carey with “One Day You’re Gonna Get Lucky.” A family affair indeed with a good vibe. “Need Your Love So Bad” is Shirley Johnson’s tribute to Bonnie Lee. This is not your typical begging “please don’t leave me” blues song. You really feel the artist’s pain.

In May of this year, Koester sold Delmark to two Chicago musicians. Koester, who is now in his 80’s is still in the game, but more from a retail end. What a run he had with Delmark. Perhaps the last we will ever see.

Reviewed by Eddie Bowman

View review September 4th, 2018

Following are additional albums released during August 2018—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Ameal: Ameal for 2 (Cameron Studios)
Delgres: Mo Jodi (Jazz Village)
Dennis Jones Band: WE3 LIVE (Blue Rock)
Junior Wells: Box of Blues (6 CD set) (Cleopatra)
RB & Company: Hooked, Chained, & Bound (Oracle)
War & Treaty: Healing Tide (Strong World Ent.)

Classical, Broadway
Alexis Ffrench: Evolution (Sony Masterworks)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Amos Lee: My New Moon (Dualtone)
Blood Orange: Negro Swan (Domino Recording Co.)
Chuck Brown: By Special Request the Very Best of (Raw Venture)
Fulton Street: Problems & Pain (digital)
Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami (DVD) (Kino Lorber)
Kiddy Smile: One Trick Pony (Neverbeener)
Turning Jewels Into Water: Which Way Is Home (FPE)

Gospel, Christian
Demetrius West & Jesus Promoters: Choirology: Study of Choir Music (Black Smoke Music)
FM2 & Intentional: Live From The Choir Stand (Intersound)
Godframe: Hello Jesus (digital)
Tommye Young-West: The Return (digital)
Bryan Andrew Wilson: This Time EP (Bryan’s Songs/CE Music)
Calvin Suggs: Walking By Faith (Alegacy)
James Fortune: The Collection (eOne Music)
Marcel Smith: Everybody Needs Love (digital) (Little Village Foundation)
Pastor Dom & The Dream Team: Worship Exchange (Live) (Nia Music)
Robert Hawkins: Happy (DVD)

Jazz
Bob James Trio: Espresso (Evolution Music Group)
Bunk Johnson: Rare & Unissued Masters Volume Two 1943-1946 (American Music)
Cyrus Chestnut: Kaleidoscope (Highnote)
David P Stevens: Rogue (Sanctifly Music Group)
Eric Darius: Breakin’ Thru (SagiDarius Music)
James Austin Jr.: Songs in the Key of Wonder (JCA)
Jonathan Butler: Close to You (Mack Ave.)
Lori Williams: Out of the Box (digital)
Mako Sica & Hamid Drake: Ronda (Feeding Tube)
Marcus Lewis Big Band: Brass and Boujee (Sharp 11)
Monk Higgins: Extra Soul Perception (reissue) (Real Gone Music)
Nate White: Up Close (Phat Bass Ent)
Sam Rucker: Redemption (Favor Productions)
Scott Petito: Rainbow Gravity (Planet Arts)
Slim Gaillard: Groove Juice: The Norman Granz Recordings (Verve)
The Braxton Brothers: Higher (Braxton Productions)
Tony Kofi / The Organisation: Point Blank (Last Music Company)

R&B, Soul
Ameal: Ameal for 2 (Cameron Studios)
Axl Rich: New Trap Swing (Fifty Deuce Sound Ent)
Barnaba: Gold Never Gets Old (digital) (Slide Visuals)
Bobby Earth: Cloudy McSunshine (digital) (Milky Wayv)
Candi Staton: Unstoppable (Thirty Tigers)
Cornell “CC” Carter: One Love (CDC Productions)
D’Maestro: Got It All (digital)
Dondi: Don’t Call Me Junior (Melldon)
Erica Falls: HomeGrown (Louisiana Red Hot)
Iconya: The Spoon Doon Room (digital) (UpGrade)
Ike & Tina Turner: World of Ike & Tina: Live (Beat Goes On)
Jae Sinnett: Americana Groove Project ( J-Nett Music)
Mary Love: Lay This Burden Down (Ace)
Monique DeBose: The Sovereign One
Peabo Bryson: Stand for Love (Caroline)
Various: Music City Blues & Rhythm (Ace)
Xperience: Piscean (digital)

Rap, Hip Hop
Aminé: Onepointfive (Republic)
B3nchMarQ: We Had Hope (digital) (XLR Media)
Bakka Not Nice: 4Milli (Warner Bros.)
Bas: Milky Way (Dreamville)
Bugzy Malone: Be Inspired (Bsomebody)
Da Buze Bruvaz: Ni&S@Tivity (Grilchy Party)
DāM-FunK: Architecture II EP (Glydezone/SAFT 18)
Damu the Fudgemunk and Flex Mathews: Dreams & Vibrations (Redefinition)
Death Grips: Year of the Snitch (Third Worlds/Harvest)
Fly Anakin and Ohbliv: Backyard Boogie (Mutant Academy)
Fmb Dz & Philthy Rich: Can’T Funk Broke (Empire)
Hyro the Hero: Flagged Channel (Century Media)
Jamall Bufford: Time in Between Thoughts (The Black Opera)
Jay-Boi: Under the Ghetto Bird (Trenchlife)
John Robinson: Rhythms, Jazz and Politics (Beatvizion)
Kev Brown: Homework (Redefinition)
Kliq Fresh: Came in the Game (Fresh Music Group)
Kool G Rap & 38 Spesh: Son Of G Rap (TCF Music Group)
Koran Streets: Late 20s (Steady Leanin)
Lil Wop: Silent Hill EP
Marco McKinnis: Underground (Republic)
Marks: Crush (Coyote)
Nebu Kiniza: From Me 2 You EP (OSHS)
Nef the Pharoah: The Big Chang Theory (Empire)
Nicki Minaj: Queen (digital) (Cash Money)
Nomad Chad: Skinny Hendrix Experience (Monolog)
Odney Smooth: S/T (Odney Smooth)
Pshade & DarkKeys: Love Yourself (DK Worldmusic)
Q Da Fool: 100 Keys (digital) (Roc Nation)
Reese LaFlare: S/T (Empire)
Rossy: Class N Session (Dogsled Music)
Royal: Summer on Main St.
Stefflon Don: Secure (digital)
The Black Sheep: Tortured Soul (X-Ray)
The Deli: Jazz Cat (Cold Busted)
Travis Scott: Astroworld (Epic)
Trippie Redd: Life’s A Trip (digital) (TenThousand Projects)
Ty Dolla Sign & Jeremih: MihTy (Def Jam)
WARHOL.SS: Free Andy EP (EMPIRE)
Wise Intelligent: Ponzie (Intelligent Muzik Group)
YG: Stay Dangerous (Def Jam)
Young Thug: Slime Language (300 Entertainment)
Yungeen Ace: Life of Betrayal (Cinematic)

Reggae
Gemmy: Unruly EP (World Of Wonders)
Mighty Diamonds: Leaders Of Black Countries (reissue) (Kingston Sounds)
Various: Black Man’s Pride 2 (K7)
Various: Yardie (Original Soundtrack) (Island)
Various: Ska Around the World (Putumayo)

View review September 4th, 2018

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