Posts filed under 'African American Culture & History'

Welcome to the May 2017 Issue

Welcome to the May 2017 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re featuring Parking Lot Symphony by New Orleans artist Trombone Shorty and the new Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ collaborative project Tajmo. Other jazz and blues releases include flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Afrofuturist inspired album Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds commissioned by Chicago’s Museum of Modern Contemporary Art, the Jeff Lorber Fusion’s latest smooth jazz release Prototype, the Afro-Cuban/Canadian jazz/electronica band Battle of Santiago’s La Migra, a reissue of Abdullah Ibrahim’s (aka Dollar Brand) avant-garde solo piano suite Ancient Africa, and Early in the Moanin’ by The Soul of John Black (aka Fishbone guitarist John Bigham).

Albums influenced by rap, rock and soul include Chicago MC K’Valentine’s debut Here for a Reason, JC Brooks’ cinematic Neon Jungle, Jose James’ Love in A Time of Madness, the “soultronic production group” Columbia Nights’ first full length project In All Things, and the Pete Rock and Smoke Dza collaboration Don’t Smoke Rock.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of April 2017 New Releases of Note.

View review May 2nd, 2017

April 2017 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during April 2017—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Alberta Hunter: Collection 1921-1940 (Acrobat)
Guitar Slim Jr.: Story of my Life (reissue) (Orleans)
John Primer & Bob Corritore: Ain’t Nothing You Can Do! (Delta Groove Music)
Johnny Guitar Watson: Stressin’ The Strings (Southern Routes)
Mr. Sipp: Knock a Hole in It (Malaco)
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm: S/T (Jay-Vee)
Vintage #18: Grit (digital)

Broadway, Classical
Eric Lamb: Icons (Orlando)
Various: Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers (Masterworks Broadway)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Andre Cymone: 1969 (Blind Tango)
Aye Nako: Silver Haze (Don Giovanni)
B.T. Express: Give Up The Funk: The B.T. Express Anthology (1974-1982) (BBR)
Barenaked Ladies & Persuasions: Ladies & Gentlemen (Raisin’ Records)
Fuzzy Haskins: I Got My Thang Together – The Westbound Years (Westbound Uk)
Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem (Luna Park)
Here Lies Man: S/T (Riding Easy)
Leonce: Insurgency EP (Fade to Mind)
O+S (Cedric LeMoyne & Orenda Fink): You Were Once the Sun, Now You’re the Moon (Saddle Creek)
Various: Honeybeat: Groovy ’60s Girl Pop (Real Gone Music)

Gospel
Brenda Jefferson: Invocation (digital) (Scripture Music Group)
Tammy Mccann And The Grand Voices Of Glory Choir: Tammy Mccann And The Grand Voices Of Glory Choir (SAAR)
Yolanda Adams: Becoming (Red One Media)

Jazz
Adam Turchin: Manifest Destiny (Rope a Dope)
Bobby Watson: Made in America (Smoke Sessions)
Bottle Tree: S/T (International Anthem)
Charles Kynard: Afro-Disiac (vinyl reissue) (JazzDispensary)
China Moses: Nightentales (MPS)
Christian Sands: Reach (Mack Ave.)
Elan Trotman: Electro Sax (Island Muzik Productions)
Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial (Verve)
Gerald Clayton: Tributary Tales (Motema)
Gruppo Afro Mediterraneo: 1972 Blues Jazz Session (Black Sweat)
Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Live at Newport (Basin Street)
Jamire Williams: Effectual (Leaving)
Jowee Omicil: Let’s Bash! ( Jazz Village)
Louis Jordan: Volume One 1939-1947 (Real Gone Music)
Nick Mazzarella & Tomeka Reid: Signaling (Nessa)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So Is Is (Legacy)
Roberto Blanco: Swinging New York (Connector)
Rusty Bryant: Fire Eater (vinyl reissue) (JazzDispensary)
S.O.A.R. (Sounds of A&R): Let’s Stay Forever (Cutmore)
Terence Blanchard: The Comedian OST (Blue Note)

Latin
Cuban Beats All Stars: La Receta (Timba)
Mayito Rivera: Estoy Aqui (Connector)

R&B, Soul
AverySunshine: Twenty Sixty Four (Shanachie)
David Brinston: Sidepiece Motel (Ecko)
Dr. E: Presents Songs for the Struggle (Give Us Free Records)
Ephemerals: Egg Tooth (Jalapeno)
Johnny Nash: Stir It Up – The Anthology, 1965-1979 (SoulMusic)
Mary J. Blige: Strength of a Woman (Capitol)
Norman Brown: Let It Go (Shanachie)
PJ Morton: Gumbo (Morton)
Quinton Marcel: The Blueprint (Hit Man)
Sean Whyte: Love Affair (Indie Music Factory)
Tanika Charles: Soul Run (Record Kicks)
Tommy Edwards: Singles Collection 1951-62 (Acrobat)
Various: More From the Other Side of the Trax: 45 RPM rarities (Kent)

Rap
Allan Kingdom: Lines (So Cold)
Benash: CDG (Capitol Music France)
Blackburner Vs. Dmx: Dog Eats Rabbit (Hypnotic)
Camp Lo: On the Way Uptown (Persia )
Daye Jack: No Data (Warner Bros. )
DJ Smoke and Nate Dogg: G Funk Era Mixtape (Imports)
J Dilla: Motor City (Nature Sounds)
Joey Bada$$: ALL – AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ (Cinematic Music/Pro Era)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn (Aftermath)
Migos: Culture (300 Entertainment)
Moneybagg Yo: Heartless (Be Great Music Group)
Nines: One Foot Out (XL)
Roc Marciano: Rosebudd’s Revenge (Marci Enterprises)
Starlito & Don Trip: Stepbrothers 3 (Grind Hard LLC)
Tech N9ne: Dominion [CD/DVD] (Strange Music )
The R.O.C.: Digital Voodoo (Majik Ninja)
Wale: Shine (Atlantic Urban)

Reggae, Dancehall
Augustus Pablo: King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown (reissue) (Clocktower)
Slim Smith: Just a Dream (reissue) (Clocktower)
Wrongtom Meets The Ragga Twins: In Time (Tru Thoughts)

World
Gino Sitson: Body & Voice (Buda Musique)
Vieux Farka Touré: Samba (Six Degrees )
YOUSSOU N’dour: Africa Rekk (Sony )
Kekele: Kinavana (Stern’s Africa)
Various: Vodou Drums in Haiti 2 (Soul Jazz)

View review May 2nd, 2017

Welcome to the April 2017 Issue

March 2017 Black Grooves small
Welcome to the April 2017 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

We’re celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month with two projects paying homage to Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th Anniversary on April 25, 2017: Regina Carter’s Ella: Accentuate the Positive and Patrice Williamson’s Comes Love.

Other jazz releases include cellist Akua Dixon’s Akua’s Dance, the new project Langston Hughes: The Dreamkeeper narrated by Eric Mingus, Kevin Eubanks’ bicoastal collaboration East West Time Line, Soul Science Lab’s jazz/rap/soul fusion album Plan for Paradise, and the Hot 8 Brass Band’s On the Spot.

Under the categories of blues, rap, rock and soul we’re featuring Eric Bibb’s timely new release Migration Blues, Ruthie Foster’s Joy Comes Back, Atlanta rapper Future’s Hndrxx, the forthcoming Record Store Day release Curtis Knight feat. Jimi Hendrix: Live At George’s Club 20, 1965-66, and the first CD reissue of the 1979 soundtrack album The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, scored by Thom Bell.

New gospel music releases include the Edna Gallmon Cooke compilation My Joy – Rare Recordings 1948-1966 on the Gospel Friend label, and Smithsonian Folkways’ second release featuring the McIntosh County Shouters titled Spirituals & Shout Songs from the Georgia Coast. Under world music we’re featuring Republique Amazone from the West African all-female supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique, and Kidal from the Mali band Tamikrest.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of March 2017 Releases of Note.

View review April 4th, 2017

March 2017 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during March 2017—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk Country
Big Daddy Wilson: Neckbone Stew (Ruf)
Bukka White: High Fever Blues: Complete 1930-1940 Recordings (Soul Jam)
Eric Gales: Middle of the Road (Provogue/Mascot)
Gary Clark Jr.: Live North America 2016 (Warner Bros.)
Gene Mighty Flea Conners: Sanctified (Remastered) (JSP)
Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi: Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train (M.C. Records)
John Lee Hooker: Whiskey & Wimmen: John Lee Hooker’s Finest (Vee-Jay )
Leo Bud Welch: Live at the Iridium (Cleopatra)
Lettuce: More Crushmore (Lettuce Records)
Lightnin’ Hopkins: Live In Denver [1974] (Klondike)
Teddy Williams: Worry Off My Mind (Big legal Mess)

Classical, Spoken Word, Soundtrack
Roscoe Mitchell: Four Compositions (reissue) (Lovely Music)
Roscoe Mitchell: Pilgrimage (reissue) (Lovely Music)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Cilantro Boombox: Shine (digital)
Columbia Nights: In All Things (Record Breakin’ Music)
Danko Jones: Wild Cat (AFM/Soul Food Music Dist.)
Delta Moon: Cabbagetown (Jumping Jack)
E-Life 7: Miked Up (Three 2 Go Music)
Flyjack: New Day (Bean Pie Records)
KXM (with Dug Pinnick): Scatterbrain (Rat Pak)
Mother’s Finest: Love Changes: Anthology 1972-1983 (SoulMusic)
Osunlade: Pyrography (vinyl) (BBE)
Sampha: Process (Young Turks)
Star Stuff: Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 (Company)
Theo Parrish: First Floor, Part 1 & 2 (vinyl) (Peacefrog)
Wayne Snow: Freedom TV (Tartelet)

Gospel, Christian Rap
Carolyn Traylor: The Best of My Story (Traylor Made Music Group)
Da’dra: All of Me ( Greathouse Music Group / DREAM)
JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise: You Deserve It (eOne)
Jor’Dan Armstrong: Vibes EP (SeaQ/Good Guys)
Montel Dorsey & Muniversity: Love Over Hate (eOne)
Rev. Sam Dixon: My Soul Says Yes (Asherah)
The Williams Singers: In Real Time (CD + DVD) (Blackberry)
Various: Lord Have Mercy: The Soulful Gospel of Checker Records (Playback)
William McDowell: Sounds of Revival II: Deeper (eOne)

Jazz
Abdullah Ibrahim: Ancient Africa (reissue) (Sackville)
Bill Evans Trio: On A Monday Evening (previously unreleased) (Fantasy)
Billy Childs: Rebirth (Mack Ave.)
China Moses: Nightintales (MPS)
Christian Scott Tunde Adjuah: Ruler Rebel (Ropeadope)
Collocutor: The Search (On the Corner)
David L. Harris: Blues I Felt (digital)
Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble feat. Vijay Iyer: Transient Takes (Denmark)
Heads of State: Four in One (Smoke Sessions)
Howard Johnson And Gravity: Testamony (Tuscarora)
Idrees Sulieman Quartet: The 4 American Jazz Men in Tangier (Sunnyside)
Jamiroquai: Automaton (Virgin EMI)
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste: The Music of John Lewis (Blue Engine)
Jazz Passengers: Still Life With Trouble (Thirsty Ear)
Joey DeFrancesco & The People: Freedom project (Mack Ave.)
Johnny Griffin: Riverside Collection 1958-1962 (Enlightenment)
Marcus Anderson: Limited Edition (Anderson Music, LLC)
Matthew Shipp & Ivo Perelman: The Art of Perelman-Shipp (Leo)
Ronald Bruner, Jr.: Triumph (World Galaxy / Alpha Pup)
Roscoe Mitchell With Yuganaut: Four Ways (Nessa)
Sol: Upfront (Pacific Coast Jazz)
Steve Nelson: Brothers Under the Sun (Highnote)
Trio 3: Visiting Texture (Naxos)
William Parker & Stefano Scodanibbio: Bass Duo (Aum Fidelity)

Latin
Daymé Arocena: Cubafonía (Brownswood)
Ondatrópica: Baile Bucanero (Soundway)

R&B, Soul
6lack: Free 6lack (Interscope )
Chet Ivey: A Dose Of Soul – The Sylvia Funk Recordings 1971-75 (BGP)
Frankie & The Spindles: Count To Ten: The Complete Singles Collection 1968-77 (Playback)
Johnny Guitar Watson: At Onkel Po’s Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1976 (NDRInfo)
Kevin Ross: The Awakening (Motown)
Khalid: American Teen (RCA)
La’Porsha Renae: Already All Ready (Motown)
Lee Fields & the Expressions: Special Night Instrumentals (Big Crown)
Leela James: Did It For Love (BMG)
Nicole Willis, Jimi Tenor & Jonathan Maron: Big Fantasy (For Me) / Tear It Down (Persephone)
Norman Connors: Valentine Love: The Buddah/Arista Anthology (SoulMusic)
Otis Junior & Dr.Dundiff: Hemispheres (Jakarta)
Roscoe Shelton: Best of Roscoe Shelton (Sunset Blvd )
Selina Albright: Conversations (Golden Rays Music )
Stevie Wonder: Live at the Regal Theater Chicago June 1962 (Jambalaya)
Syd: Fin (Columbia)
Syl Johnson: My Funky Funky Band (Numero)
Syl Johnson: We Do It Together (Numero)
Trey Songz: Tremaine (Warner)
Vanessa Collier: Meeting My Shadow (In Tune Music Group)
Various: Soul of the 60s (Time Life)
Various: This Love Is For Real – The Sweet Soul Of Chicago: 1968-1981 (Interstate)
Various: This Time Will Be Different The Sweet Soul Of Philadelphia: 1968-1982 (Interstate)

Rap
50 Cent: Best Of (Aftermath)
Alchemist: Rapper’s Best Friend 4 (ALC)
Amir Obè: NØTÇW (digital) (Def Jam)
Body Count: Bloodlust (CD + DVD) (Century Media)
Boondox: The Murder (Majic Ninja)
Clutchy Hopkins & Fat Albert Einstein: High Desert Low Tide ( Aural Tradition)
Daye Jack: No Data (digital) (Warner Bros.)
Deaf Switch & Toon Kurtis: Backup (Dirty Version)
Devin the Dude: Acoustic Levitation (Coughee Brothaz Ent.)
Dorrough: Ride Wit Me (Real Talk Ent)
Dr. Dooom: First Come, First Served (Threshold)
Drake: More Life: A Playlist by October Firm (Young Money Ent./Cash Money)
Freddie Gibbs: You Only Live 2wice (digital) (ESGN/Empire)
Goldlink: At What Cost (digital) (Squaaash Club/RCA)
Gorilla Zoe: Don’t Feed Da Animals 2 (Real Talk Ent.)
GrandeMarshall: Risk/Reward (Fool’s Gold)
Homeboy Sandman: Veins (Stones Throw)
IAM: Revolution (Universal France
Stalin: I Don’t Sell Dope No Moe (Livewire)
J.I.D: The Never Story (digital) (Dreamville/Interscope)
K’Valentine: Here for a Reason (Javotti Media)
Kodak Black: Painting Pictures (digital)
Kool Keith & KutMasta Kurt: Your Mom Is My Wife EP (Threshold)
Little Simz: Stillness in Wonderland (Age 101)
Locksmith: Olive Branch (digital) (Landmark Ent.)
Mike WiLL Made-It: Ransom 2 (digital) (Eardruma/Interscope)
Mozzy: Fake Famous (Mozzy Records)
Murs: Captain California (Strange Music)
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: Drool (Sooper/Father-Daughter)
O.C.: Same Moon Same Sun: 1st Phase (Ditc )
Oddisee: The Iceberg (Mello Music Group)
P.O.S: Chill, Dummy (Doontree)
Porter Ray: Watercolor (Sub Pop)
Raekwon: The Wild (H20)
Realz: Blue Lion Chamber (Chambermusik/Thrice Great)
Rick Ross: Rather You Than Me (Epic)
Shawty Lo: R.I.C.O. (digital) (300 Ent.)
Slum Village: Fantastic Collection (Ne’Astra Music Group)
Too $hort: The Pimp Tape (Dangerous Music)
Tuamie: Holy Ghost Spirituals (Fat Beats)
Your Old Droog: Packs (Fat Beats)
Iam: Revolution (Universal)

Reggae, Dancehall
Dillinger: Answer Me Question (reissue) (Radiation Roots)
Inna de Yard: The Soul of Jamaica (Chapter Two/Wagram)
Jackie Edwards: Mr. Peaceful (Kingston Sounds)
Jackie Mittoo: The Keyboard King (reissue) (Radiation Roots)
Keith & Tex: Same Old Story (Liquidator Music)
Prince Far I: Psalms for I (Deeper Knowledge)
Queen Ifrica: Climb (VP)
Skatalites: Foundation Ska (Studio One)
Talisman: Don’t Play with Fyah (Sugar Shack)
Various: Hustle! Reggae Disco – Kingston, London, New York (Soul Jazz)

World
Abdou El Omari: Nuits D’été
Elida Almeida: Djunta Kudjer EP (Lusafrica)
Ibibio Sound Machine: Uyai (Merge)
Livy Ekemezie: Friday Night (Odion Livingstone)
Mokoomba: Luyando (OutHere)
Ondatrópica: Baile Bucanero (Soundway )
Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circuit)
Red Baraat: Bhangra Pirates (Rhyme & Reason)
Seydou Boro: Hôrôn (Indigo)
Somi: Petite Afrique (OKeh)

View review April 4th, 2017

Welcome to the March 2017 Issue

March 2017 Black Grooves small op2
Welcome to the March 2017 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

We’re celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring two new albums by women who address racial oppression and resilience: Rhiannon Giddens’ Freedom Highway and Measha Brueggergosman’s Songs of Freedom. We’re also featuring Valerie June’s atmospheric new album The Order of Timeblues singer Thornetta Davis’ Honest Woman, and gospel legend CeCe Winans’ Let Them Fall In Love.

New reissues and compilations include When Colors Come Together…The Legacy of Harry Belafonte which celebrates the artist’s 90th birthday, and Now-Again’s re-release of Mark III’s Marvin Whoremonger. World music releases include the new deluxe edition of Strictly Roots by the reggae family group Morgan Heritage, and Build Music from Sierra Leone natives Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang.

Other new releases include Thundercat’s eclectic album Drunk and Funk Box from the Atlanta-based group The Maxx.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of February 2016 Releases of Note.

View review March 6th, 2017

CeCe Winans – Let Them Fall in Love

Cece winans
Title: Let Them Fall in Love

Artist: CeCe Winans

Label: Pure Springs Gospel

Formats: CD, LP, MP3

Release date: February 3, 2017

 

There is no denying that CeCe Winans is one of the most successful female gospel artists ever, with 10 Grammys, 20 Dove Awards, and 7 Stellar Awards. She’s been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, sold over 5 million albums in the United States, and guest starred on multiple TV shows. After taking a break from the studio, this powerful gospel artist is back for her first album in almost a decade, Let Them Fall in Love, which was produced by her son Alvin Love III.

Recorded in Nashville and New York City, the project was mixed by Dae Bennett (Tony Bennet, Amy Winehouse) and Jimmy Douglass (Pharrell Williams). These talented collaborators worked to bring Alvin and CeCe’s vision to life: an album that bridged generations of Christians, based on past traditions yet applicable to the present.

Much of the album has a distinct Motown feel. From the opening track “He’s Never Failed Me Yet” (CeCe’s personal testimony to faith) to “Hey Devil!” (a rebuking duet with the Clark Sisters), the swelling, orchestral sounds of the Nashville String Machine and the vocal harmonies echo the heyday of Motown and pop music of the 1960s.

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Despite the prevalence of the pop vocal harmony sound, a couple of songs on the album have a true gospel feel. “Dancing In the Spirit” featuring Hezekiah Walker and his Love Fellowship Choir is a jubilant celebration of faith that physically moves everyone in the church.

Winans’ incredible vocal talent is heard most clearly on the other predominantly gospel song, “Marvelous.” The simplicity of Winans’ voice with organ and piano is moving, and builds a powerful crescendo as a gospel chorus softly enters with background vocals, eventually growing in volume until they completely fill the space. By the end, it is no wonder why Winans describes the track as a “musical embodiment of the black church.”

Songs like “Lowly,” about pride and humility aimed at young men, and the slow, somber track “Never Have to Be Alone” about turning away from God only to find that he still remains, have a more contemporary Christian music feel. These songs are representative of the album’s goal to engage younger listeners.

Whether or not Let Them Fall in Love truly succeeds at bridging a generation gap, Winans always wows with her powerful vocals and truly soars on the gospel-style songs.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

View review March 1st, 2017

Mark III – Marvin Whoremonger

Marvin Whoremonger
Title: Marvin Whoremonger

Artist: Mark III

Label: Now Again

Formats: CD, LP

Release date: November 18, 2016

 

For the uninitiated, Now Again Records is an imprint that specializes in unearthing rare and obscure soul and funk recordings.  Each re-release is accompanied by detailed liner notes.  The notes really speak to one of the great things about Now Again—they do not just unearth the music, but also the stories behind them.  The story behind Mark III’s Marvin Whoremonger is simultaneously as interesting and disjointed as is the music on the album.

The story told in the 26 page illustrated booklet primarily follows the lives of Marvin Neroes, who serves as the vocalist on Marvin Whoremonger, and the producer of the album Charles Lober Abu “Cholly” Williams. Neroes led a rough life and came across Williams in Las Vegas while in his early twenties. Williams, who reportedly had a fondness for “left of center” projects, linked Neroes up with brothers Richard and Michael Thompson (guitar and drums respectively) and Clifford Johnson (bass), who were still in their teens. Williams’ vision for these musicians was to create a concept album; the result, while light on cohesiveness, presents a unique (if somewhat half baked) project.

Marvin Whoremonger is a surprisingly synth heavy (Williams brought in a keyboard player and horn section for some tracks) album that shows the youthful exuberance of the players and the almost stream of consciousness lyrics of Neroes. The bulk of the album feels like a soundtrack to film that never was, recalling some of the jammy, looseness of Earth, Wind & Fire on the soundtrack to Melvin Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.  The best of these “concept” tracks for my money is “Pusher Man” and “Funky Heaven,” which both boast standout use of synth from the unnamed keyboardist along with great guitar and bass work.

Oddly enough, the album completely switches gears on the tracks “Going to the Top” and “The Party’s Over,” which Williams allowed the band to oversee. It is on these two tracks, however, that I personally really see the potential for what this band may have accomplished had they been given time to grow as a unit. These tracks are straightforward, uptight and funky, and stick out on the album like sore thumbs in the most positive way imaginable.

My hat goes off to Now Again for continuing to bring albums like Marvin Whoremonger to light, as well as highlighting the intriguing stories of the folks who made them. While this album may not be my favorite among Now Again’s releases, it was still interesting to listen to and learn the story behind its creation.

Reviewed by Levon Williams

View review March 1st, 2017

The Maxx – Funk Box

The Maxx
Title: Funk Box

Artist: The Maxx

Label: Cadabra Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: May 6, 2016

 

The Maxx’s six song Funk Box is a short and sweet testament to a band who really has “they thang together.”  Formed in Atlanta in 1980, the core members of the band— Rod Whittaker, Leroy “Roc” Lovelace and Steven Rollins—have spent decades playing together and learning from each other and it shows throughout this EP.  Joined by Dwight Smith (drums), Andre Bernard (trombone/keyboards/vocals), Menes Ray (trumpet/vocals) and vocalist Rainy Middleton, the band packaged their all into this album with cuts that make clear why they are in high demand as a performing band.

Funk Box begins with the high energy track “Emergency” which features Middleton’s sultry vocals front and center as well as The Maxx’s strong horn section, with an excellent muted trumpet solo near the end by Ray (see the live performance of the song below).  Next up is “I Can’t Deny” with its heavyweight bassline. The effects make it a bit hard to tell if this was a bass guitar or synth, but either way it was “sho nuff funkay.” These two tracks together really serve as a 1-2 punch to get the party started, with the horns really strutting their stuff on both.

The next two tracks, “I Know” and “Rock With You,” have the feel of a “modern jook joint.” That is, not the the type of jook joints one may have seen in The Color Purple, but more like the joints from the legions and union halls in the ’80s that were packed with folks dancing to the latter day hits of artists like Denise LaSalle and Clarence Carter.  “Rock With You” has the added attraction of a male vocalist that takes the song up a notch near the end.

“Meant To Be” is a soulful track that would make Ann Peebles and the Hi Rhythm Section proud. “Love’s Gonna Get You,” which closes out the EP, must be great performed live with its interplay between the band, Middleton and male vocalist John Bigham (aka The Soul of John Black, who did most of the writing and production).

All in all, Funk Box is a great advertisement for The Maxx as a live band. Their brand of danceable funk is surely a crowd pleaser.

Reviewed by Levon Williams

View review March 1st, 2017

February 2017 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during February 2017—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk Country
Eddie Bo, Chris Barber: The 1991 Sea-Saint Sessions (Last Music Co.)
Hayes McMullan: Everyday Seem Like Murder Here (LITA)

Classical, Spoken Word, Soundtrack
Grace Bumbry: The Art Of Grace Bumbry (Deutsche Grammophon   )
Jordi Savall: the Routes of Slavery (Alia Vox)
Leontyne Price: Puccini: Tosca (Decca)
Steve Brown: Live at the Atlanta Comedy Theater (ATL Comedy Theater)
Various: The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh OST (Real Gone Music)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears: Backlash (Ingrooves)
Chameleon: Chameleon (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Dawn Richard: Redemption (expanded ed.) (Local Action / Our Dawn Ent.)
Della Reese: Special Delivery (Sepia)
Just Robyn: Mustard Seed (Joziewood)
Pazant Brothers: Skunk Juice: Dirty Funk From the Big Apple (BGP)
Sinkane: Life & Livin’ It (City Slang)
Thievery Corporation: The Temple of I & I (ESL Music)

Gospel, Christian Rap
AnG White: I Am AnG White (C Bazz Ent.)
Anthony Evans: Back to Life (Sherman James Productions)
Antonia Wilson: The Sower and the Seed (Tight Tunes Inc)
Ayiesha Woods: The Runway Project (Original Peace Music Group)
Meachum L. Clarke & True Purpose: The Victory Experience
Minister Antonio Coney & The Voices of Fire: I Been Born Again (Deltone)
Mos Stef: Christian Hip Hop 101 (Victorious Life)
Speez: Let Me Introduce Myself (I’M DOIN’ JESUS)
Tramaine: Clear (Divine Light Media)

Jazz
Albert Ayler Quartet: The Hilversum Sessions (Modern Silence)
Cameron Graves: Planetary Prince (Mack Avenue)
Carmen Lundy: Code Noir (Afrasia Productions)
Chris McClenney: Portrait in Two EP
Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM)
Curtis Brothers Quartet: Syzygy (Truth Revolution Records)
David Weiss & Point of Departure: Wake Up Call (Raopeadope)
Elijah Rock: Gershwin For My Soul
Harriet Tubman: Araminta (Sunnyside Communications )
Heads of State: Four in One (Smoke Sessions)
Kayla Waters: Apogee (Trippin N Rhythm)
Mike Longo Trio: Only Time Will Tell (Consolidated Artists Prod)
Nicholas Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (Paytone-Ropeadope)
Ransom Moreland Jr: Restoration
The Baylor Project: The Journey (Be A Light)
Tiger Trio (with Nicole Miller): Unleased (Rogueart)
Xixel Langa: Inside Me (Modigi)

R&B, Soul
Andy Suzuki & The Method: The Glass Hour (digital)
Aretha Franklin: Aretha (2 CD deluxe ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Brenton Wood: The Very Best Of (Concord)
Charlie Wilson: In It To Win It (RCA)
Chocolate Milk: Chocolate Milk (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Chocolate Milk: We’re All in This Together/Milky Way (Funky Town Grooves)
D.J. Rogers: Love, Music & Life (Funky Town Grooves)
Delegation: Promise of Love: Limited (Clinck )
Divine Brown: Crazy Love Amplified EP
Eddie Kendricks: Something More (Funky Town Grooves)
Emanny: Black Heart (digital)
Gladys Knight & the Pips: 2nd Anniversary (Funky Town Grooves)
Gladys Knight & the Pips: I Feel a Song (Funky Town Grooves)
Gladys Knight & the Pips: The One and Only (Funky Town Grooves)
Jermaine Jackson: Don’t Take It Personal (Funky Town Grooves)
Jermaine Jackson: Precious Moments (Funky Town Grooves)
Jesse Boykins III x Two Fresh: TOKiMONSTA’s Young Art Sound
Jessica Manning: What If I Run
José James: Love in a Time of Madness (Blue Note)
Moonglows: Complete Singles As & Bs 1953-62 (Acrobat)
Oleta Adams: Third Set
Phil Perry: Breathless (Shanachie)
Roy Roberts: Roy Roberts Experience (Perfect Toy)
Sampha: Process (Young Turks)
Sergio Sylvestre: S/T (Sony )
Sir: Her Too EP (digital) (TDE)
Starpoint: Restless/Sensational (reissue) (Cherry Red)
SYD: Fin (Columbia)
Tef Poe: Black Julian (Footklan Music Group)
Tymes: Turning Point (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)

Rap
A$AP Mob: Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends
Big Sean: I Decided (G.O.O.D. Music)
Black Moon: Enta Da Stage: The Complete Edition (box set) (Fat Beats)
Ces Cru: Catastrophic Event Specialists (Strange Music)
Christopher Martin: Big Deal (VP)
Dej Loaf and Jacquees: F*ck A Friend Zone (digital)
Denmark Vessey: Martin Lucid Dream ( Street Corner Music)
Fat Joe & Remy Ma: Plata O Plomo (RNG)
Funky DL: Marauding At Midnight: A Tribute To The Sounds of A Tribe Called Quest (Washington Classics)
Future: S/t
Ill Bill: Septagram (Uncle Howie)
Joe Young: Invincible Armour ( YoungLife Music Group)
Karriem Riggins: Headnob Suite (Stone’s Throw)
K-DEF: In the Moment (vinyl) (Redefinition)
Kent Jones: The Luh Tape (digital)
Kirk Knight: Black Noise (digital)
LiKWUiD & 2 Hungry Bros.: Fay Grim ( HiPNOTT)
Lil Reese: Better Days (digital) (RBC)
Lupe Fiasco: DROGAS Light ( 1st & 15th Productions)
Neek The Exotic: The Neek The Exotic Experience ( Still On The Hustle Music)
Nines: One Foot Out (digital) (XL)
Nobigdyl: Canopy (digital) (indie tribe)
Olivier St. Louis: Ever Since the Fall ( Jakarta)
Par-City: The Young, Dope & Gifted II (Par-City)
Paul Nice: Ultimate Block Party Breaks Volumes 3 (Super Break)
Quelle Chris: Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often (Mello Music Group)
Reek Daddy: Fiery Hot Rocks
Shield Enforcers: Crash Course ( ChamberMusik)
“Starlito and Don Trip:”  karate in the Garage (digital)
Steven Malcolm: S/T (digital) (4 AGAINST 5)
Urban Legend Blakboy: Koais Atrd (Mathutie)
Various: New Gen (XL)
Westside Gunn: Riots On Fashion Avenue (Effiscienz)
Young Dolph: Gelato (Paper Route Empire )

Reggae, Dancehall
Lyricson: Revolution Time Again (Undisputed)
Nafrythm: Ocean (RCM)
Neville Staple: Return of Judge Roughneck (Cleopatra)
Samu: My Soul (Maxizamus)
Skatalits: Foundation Ska ( Studio One)

World
Aurelio: Darandi (Real World)
Black Market Brass: Cheat & Start a Fight (Secret Stash)
Flavia Coelho: Sonho Real (PIASL)
Joe King Kologbo: Sugar Daddy (vinyl) (Strut)
Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita: Transparent Water (Ota)
Saddysa: African Modern Spirituals
Tinariwen: Elwan (Anti/Epitaph)

View review March 1st, 2017

Welcome to the February 2017 Black History Month Issue

Welcome to the February 2017 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re not only celebrating Black History Month, but also our 10th anniversary and 2000th post! Many thanks to our supporters – including our reviewers and readers as well as the artists, publicists, promoters and record labels who make Black Grooves possible.

Our feature projects coalesce around themes related to the Black American experience: Otis Taylor’s Fantasizing About Being Black, Miles Mosley’s debut album Uprising (with the West Coast Get Down), Noah Preminger’s Meditations on Freedom, Atlanta rapper T.I.’s Us or Else: Letter to the System, Randy Weston’s The African Nubian Suite, Nate Smith’s debut album KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere, and Afro-punk trio BLXPLTN’s provocative New York Fascist Week.

We’re also featuring new releases from groups fronted by women, including Black Rose by Shirley Davis & the Silverbacks, Southern Avenue’s self-titled debut on Stax, Meditations of a G by the violin-viola duo Chargaux, Long Live the Angels by Scottish singer-songwriter Emile Sande, and Late Nights & Heartbreak by British soul singer Hannah Williams & The Affirmations.

On a Valentine’s Day theme, there’s Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better from jazz vocalist Allan Harris, and for Mardi Gras celebrations there’s Viral by the Jefferson St. Parade Band and Lapeitah from New Orleans funk musician Corey Henry.

Other new releases include Got Soul by Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Hot Coffey in the D celebrating side projects of Funk Brother Dennis Coffey, Devil is Fine by the black metal musician known as Zeal & Ardor, counterbalanced by the Miami Mass Choir Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

Wrapping us this issue is the world music compilation Synthesize the Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica from the Cape Verde Islands 1973-1988, a DVD of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s recent production of Hamlet featuring a black cast and composer, and our compilation of January 2017 Releases of Note.

View review February 1st, 2017

Allan Harris – Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better

Allan Harris
Title: Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better

Artist: Allan Harris

Label: Love Productions

Formats: CD, LP, Digital

Release date: September 16, 2016

 

Vocalist Allan Harris combines the soundscapes of Harlem—jazz and R&B with a dash of blues and Braziliam beats—on his latest release Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better. Subtitled Black Bar Jukebox Redux, the album is a follow up to his 2015 release Black Bar Jukebox, and provides the same eclectic mix of covers and original material. Harris again draws upon his longtime collaborator, Pascal Le Boeuf, to cover pianos and Hammond B3, who is joined in the rhythm section by Russell Hall on bass, Shirazette Tinnin on drums and cajón, and Freddie Bryant on guitar.

The album opens with the Harris penned “Mother’s Love (Nobody’s Gonna Love You), a swinging upbeat jazz number that’s timeless in character, both musically and in subject matter. This is followed by a cover of Steely Dan’s “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” which is nicely transformed through the syncopated jazz rhythms and excellent keyboard solos from Le Boeuf, though the somewhat limited vocal range doesn’t allow Harris to shine. On the Johnny Mercer standard “I Remember You,” Harris achieves a much warmer, more sultry timbre, that when combined with Le Boeuf’s subtle keyboard phrasings and bluesy riffs, would be a perfect accompaniment for a candlelight dinner. This segues perfectly into an after dinner dance, courtesy of the Stan Getz & João Gilberto samba, “Doralice,” which Harris sings in Portuguese. Then the classic “Moody’s Mood For Love” takes us into a slow dance, for a perfect close to the evening.

Perhaps the most daring arrangement is the reimagining of Jimi Hendrix’ “Up From the Skies” (the single from Axis: Bold as Love). Though the original song had a definite jazz feel, Harris and the band provide a smooth, swinging accompaniment making it sound like more of a jazz classic, until Le Boeuf breaks out with a funky B3 solo. The highlight of the album might be “Blue Was Angry,” from Harris’s Cross That River song-cycle. This bluesy, countrified song is a complete departure, with a mid-section that turns into a story about an enslaved man escaping his master, and a finale featuring a no holds barred jam with percussion and keyboards.

Think of Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better as the jukebox for your Valentine’s Day, with enough variety to take you from dinner to the dancefloor.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review February 1st, 2017

January 2017 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during January 2017—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk Country
David “Honeyboy” Edwards: I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know (Omnivore)
Ronnie Baker Brooks: Times Have Changed (Provogue)
Danni Peace: The Odyssey

Classical
Kathleen Battle: Complete Sony Recorordings (Sony/Naxos)
Measha Brueggergosman: Songs of Freedom (Outside Music)
Cynthia Haymon/Wilard White: Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s Porgy and Bess (Warner Classics/Parlophone)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Various: Studio One Rocksteady, Vol. 2 (Soul Jazz)
Anonymous Choir: Sings Stax (Mind Rider)
King’s X: Dogman (reissue) (King’s X)
King’s X: Ear Candy (reissue) (King’s X)
King’s X: King’s X (Reissue) (King’s X)
King’s X: Out of the Silent Planet (reissue) (King’s X)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
The Williams Singers: In Real Time (Blackberry)
McIntosh County Shouters: Spirituals & Shout Songs from the Georgia Coast (Smithsonian/Folkways)
Various: WOW Gospel 2017 DVD (RCA Inspiration)
Lyrically Blessed: Freedom (Lyrically Blessed)

Jazz
Throttle Elevator Music & Kamasi Washington: Retrospective (Wide Hive)
Three Sounds: Groovin’ Hard: Live at the Penthouse (Resonance)
Noah Young: Start the Reactor (Noah Young)
Jeff Siegel/Feya Faku: King of Xhosa (ARC)
Muhammad Ali: The Greastest OST (reissue) (Varese Sarabande)
Vibration Black Finger: Blackism (Enid)
Mark Whitfield: Grace (Marksman Productions)
Mark Lewis: New York Session (Audio Daddio)
Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home (Rough Trade)
Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear)
Lil Bibby: FC3 the Epilogue (digital)

R&B, Soul
Tony Fletcher: In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett (Oxford University Press)
Tina Turner: Windy City Limits: Chicago Broadcast 1984 (FM Concert Broadcasts)
Soul Scratch: Pushing Fire (Colemine)
Sugar Pie DeSanto: A Little Bit of Soul 1957-1962 (Jasmine)
Desiree Jordan: The Principles Present (Rich Life/Zosmooth)
Manhattans: I Kinda Miss You: The Anthology – Columbia Records 1973-1987 (Soul Music)
Nathan East: Reverence (Yamaha Ent.)
Kehlani: SweetSexySavage (Atlantic)
Omar: Love in Beats (Freestyle )
Dawn Richard: Infrared EP (Fade to Mind)
Bell Biv DeVoe: Three Stripes (eOne)
Various: Men in the Glass Booth (BBE)
Chief Keef: Two Zero One Seven (mixtape, digital)

Rap
Lil Ross: The Connection
Jefe: The World is Yours (digital)
Jaylib: Championship Sound: The Remix (LP) (Stones Throw)
Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 3
Ran Reed: Still Commanding Respect
Tristate x Oh No : 3 Dimensional Prescriptions (Heiroglyphics)
PnB Rock: Gttm: Goin Thru The Motions (Atlantic)
Reek Daddy: Firey Hot Rocks
Prodigy of Mobb Deep: Hegelian Dialectic (The Book Of Revelation) (Vodka & Milk)
Nadio Rose: Highly Flammable
Ras Kass: Intellectual Property (vinyl) (Goon Music)
PartyNextDoor: PartyNextDoor 3 (OVO)
Wyclef Jean: J’ouvert (eOne)
Tinie Tempah: Youth
Damu the Fudgemunk : Vignettes (Redefinition)
Homeboy Sandman: Actual Factual Pterodactyl (Boy Sand Industries)
Denzel Curry: Imperial (Loma Vista)
P.O.S.: Chill, Dummy (Doomtree)
Wiley: Godfather (Wiley)
Elaquent: Worst Case Scenario (vinyl) (Urbnet)
Juelz White: This Sh-T Ain’t Free (Juelz White Music)
Raised By Seuss: Unless: Twenty Years Too Late (Untek)
Loyle Carner: Yesterday’s Gone (Virgin EMI)

Reggae, Dancehall
Lloyd Parks: Time A Go Dread (Pressure Sounds)
Sylford Walker: Lamb’s Bread (Greensleeves)

World
Jake Sollo: Coming Home (PMG)
Mighty Flames: Metalik Funk Band (PMG)
Black Children Sledge Funk Co. Band: Vol. 3 (PMG)
The Nile Project: Jinja
Various: Calabar-Itu Road: Groovy Sounds From South Eastern Nigeria (1972-1982) (Comb & Razor)
Baba Sissoko: Tchiwara (Good Fellas)
Joe Kemfa: Jungle Juice (reissue) (PMG)
Wells Fargo: Watch Out (Now Again)
Awa Poulo: Poulo Warali (Awesome Tapes From Africa)

View review February 1st, 2017

Welcome to the January 2017 issue

Welcome to the January 2017 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month were leading with two big December releases: Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! and A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. Other new hip hop and rock releases include Totem Pole from the Philly band Johnny Popcorn (led by Hezekiah), and the trap music of Post Malone on Stoney.

New jazz releases include Pennal Johnson’s Conversations: Live in Chicago, Gregory Porter’s Live in Berlin, Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days, and Kosi’s I Know Who I Am. Also featured is jazz/classical pianist Daahoud Salim’s Erwin Schulhoff: Forbidden Music, Senegalese artist Élage Diouf’s Melokáane, and the Gospel Pioneer Reunion DVD (finally released by the Gaither Music Group after nearly 25 years).

Continuing our annual winter blues theme, there are reviews of Grown Ass Woman by Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire, Cab Driving Man by Mississippi Heat, One of a Kind by Grady Champion, and Live at Rosa’s Lounge by Omar Coleman.

Under the category of reissues and compilations, there’s the first CD release of Dee Dee Sharp’s Songs of Faith, Bobby “Blue” Bland: The Singles Collection, 1951-62, Evelyn “Champagne” King: The Complete RCA Hits and More, and John Lee Hooker: The Modern, Chess & VeeJay Singles Collection, 1949-62.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of December 2016 Releases of Note.

View review January 4th, 2017

December 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during December 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Charles Brown: Drifting Blues: His Underrated 1957 LP (Soul Jam)

Broadway, Soundtrack
The Hamilton Mixtape (Atlantic)
Hidden Figures: The Album (Columbia)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Little Richard Band: California I’m Comin’ (Hitman)
Nosizwe: In Fragments (So Real)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Adrian B. King: New, the Next Chapter (JDI)
Miami Mass Choir: Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center (MaJo)
Mills Brothers: Wonderful Words of Life-The Inspirational Recordings (Real Gone)
Shenna Walker: My Life (Green Print Ent.)

Jazz
Africa Djembe: Dajaloo (Babsbeatproductions)
Kenny Wellington: Free Spirit (Expansion)
Lisa Hilton: Day & Night (CD Baby)
Nicolas Lossen: Pié Coco’a, the African American Jazz Tale (Bô Kay Studio)
Norman Brown: Let It Go (Shanachie)
PJ (Pennal Johnson): Christmas on Polk Street (Hitman)
Sun Ra: Singles – The Definitive 45s Collection 1952-1991 (Strut)
Victor Bastidas De Paises Project: Canto Choco (De Paises Music)

R&B, Soul
Archie Bell & The Drells: Let’s Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story (BBR)
Baby Washington: That’s How Heartaches Are Made, 1958-1962 (Yeah Mama)
Coasters: Complete Singles 1954-62 (Acrobat)
Deniece Williams: Black Butterfly – Essential Niecy (BBR)
Fifth Dimension: Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 1966-1975 (3 CDs) (Real Gone)
Frankie & the Spindles: Count to Ten – Complete Singles 1968-77
Jackson 5: 5 Classic Albums (box set) (Universal)
Jacob Latimore: Connection (Empire)
Jarrod Milton: Girl (digital)
John Legend: Darkness and Light (Columbia)
Johnny Bristol: Modern Soul Classics 1974-1981 (Playback)
Linda Jones: Precious – The Anthology (Kent)
Vivian Reed: Yours Until Tomorrow – Epic Years (SoulMusic)

Rap
Gza/Genius: Dark Matter (iHipHop)     
Mozzy & Trae Tha Truth: Tapped In (ABN)
Ras G: Baker’s Dozen (vinyl) (Fat Beats)
Ab-Soul: Do What Thou Wilt (digital)
Bond St District: A Church On Vulcan (Friends)
General Steele & ES-K: Building Bridges (Bucktown USA)
Gensu Dean: R.a.w. (Mello Music)
G-Mo Skee: My Filthy Spirit Bomb (Majik Ninja)
Hassan Haze: Neteru Muses (Jesluv Music)
Hodgy Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide (Odd Future/Sony)
J French: Jaguar Jesus (IV League Ent.)
Julz: The Genesis (Vibes Music)
K-Def: (American) Gangster Instrumentals (vinyl) (Redefinition)
Kid Cudi: Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ (Republic)
King Basil: Welcome to Wilmington (Rebels No Savage)
Lloyd: Tru EP (Empire)
Pete Rock & Smoke Dza: Don’t Smoke Rock (Ihiphop)
Sean Price: Gorilla (box set) (Duck Down)
Tech N9ne: The Storm (Strange Music)
The Lox: Filthy America…It’s Beautiful (Roc Nation)
Trademark Da Skydiver & Young Roddy: Family Business (Ihiphop)
Various: New Gen (XL)
Waka Flocka: Trap Goes Techno (DVD) (226 Film Production)

Reggae, Dancehall
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Legend Live – Santa Barbara County Bowl, 11/25/1979 (CD/DVD) (Trojan)
UB40: Unplugged (Ume)

World
Fela Kuti: Complete Works (29 CD+DVD box set) (Knitting Factory)
Tiken Jah Fakoly: Dernier Appel (Wrasse)
Various: Doing It in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria (Soundway)

View review January 3rd, 2017

Welcome to the December 2016 issue of Black Grooves

Welcome to the December 2016 holiday issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re featuring an Overview of Holiday Music with new releases from Andra Day, Leslie Odom Jr., Bob Baldwin, Kenny Lattimore, R. Kelly and Big Freedia.  Our Recent Books on Music Recommended for Holiday Giving include biographies of Charles Wright (Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band), New Orleans jazz legend Danny Barker, soul icon Curtis Mayfield, and EW&F’s Maurice White, as well as Ben Westoff’s Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap and Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader.

New releases include Common’s Black America Again, Solange’s A Seat at the Table, Dom Flemons & Martin Simpson’s Selection of Ever Popular Favourites, the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s Basically Baker Vol. 2 (a tribute to David Baker), Trevor Weston Choral Works performed by Trinity Wall Street and Julian Wachner, and the DVD and OST album Miss Sharon Jones.

Reissue projects include Dust-to-Digital’s book/CD Washington Phillips & his Manzarene Dreams, the Bear Family box set Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – A Music Man Like Nobody Ever Saw, the two CD compilation Best of Proverb & Gospel Corner Records: 1959-1969, the complete recordings of Otis Redding: Live at the Whisky A Go Go, a remastered and expanded edition of the Isley Brothers’ Go For Your Guns, and two classic Blind Boys of Alabama reissues in expanded editions – the holiday album Go Tell It on the Mountain and their 2005 release Atom Bomb.

 Wrapping up this issue is the 2017 Blues Images Calendar/CD set 24 Classic Blues Songs from 1920s Vol. 14 and our list of November 2016 Releases of Note.

View review December 1st, 2016

November 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during November 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Howlin’ Wolf: Shake For Me: The Lost FM Broadcast Tapes 1975 (Laser Media)
Little Walter: Boom Boom (Black Knight)
Muddy Waters: Muddy Waters Story  (Maximum Series)
Muddy Waters: Elevate Me Mama  (Black Knight)
Sharon Lewis And Texas Fire: Grown Ass Woman (Delmark)
Willie Clayton: Heart & Soul Reloaded  (Endzone Ent.)

Classical
Marion Anderson: Let Freedom Ring (JSP)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Bruno Mars: 24K Magic (Atlantic)
Craig David: Following My Intuition ( Speakerbox/Insanity)
Du-Rites: J-Zone & Pablo Martin Are the Du-Rites (Redefinition)
Harsh Crowd: Better EP
Joan Armatrading: Me Myself I – World Tour Concert (Savoy)
Marvin Whoremonger: Mark III (Now Again)
Nth Power: Live to Be Free (Harmonized Records)
Prince: 4EVER (Warner Bros.)
The Weeknd: Starboy (Republic)
Toro Y Moi: Live from Trona (Carpark)
Various: Keb Darge Presents the Best of Legendary Deep Funk

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Eddie James: Magnify (Dreambridge)
Sho Baraka: The Narrative (Humble Beast Records)
Swanee Quintet: Complete Nashboro Releases 1951-62 (Acrobat)
Tasha Cobbs: One Place Live at Capitol Studios (Motown Gospel)
Various: Gospel Pioneer Reunion (DVD) (Gaither Studios)
VaShawn Mitchell: Secret Place: Live in South Africa (Motown Gospel)

Jazz
Dizzy Gillespie:  Concert of the Century – A Tribute to Charlie Parker (Justin Time)
Gregory Porter:Live in Berlin (Eagle Rock)
Gregory Porter and Melody Gardot: Jazz Loves Disney (Verve Int’l)
Herbie Hancock: Early Years: Selected Recordings 1961-62 (Acrobat)
Jerome Jennings: The Beast (Iola)
Miles Davis Quintet: Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions (Prestige)
Nat King Cole: How High The Moon: The Lost Tapes (Laser Media)
Roberto Fonseca: ABUC (Impulse)
Wallace Roney: A Place in Time (Highnote)
Yussef Kamaal: Black Focus (Brownswood)

R&B, Soul
94 East Ft. Prince: S/T (Charly)
Aaron Abernathy: Monologue (Aaron Abernathy Music)
Alicia Keys: HERE (RCA)
Bobby Bland: Singles Collection 1951-62 (Acrobat)
Carleen Anderson: Cage Street Memorial – The Pilgrimage  (Freestyle
Chuck Willis: From The Bottom Of My Heart: My Life, My Story, My Songs (Jasmine)
denitia and sene.: love and noir. (Input)
Donna Summer: Ultimate Collection
Emeli Sandé: Long Live The Angels [Deluxe Edition] (Capitol)
Hannah Williams & The Affirmations: Late Nights & Heartbreak (Record Kicks)
Harleighblu X Starkiller: Amorine (Tru Thoughts)
Intruders: Save the Children (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Joe: #MyNameIsJoeThomas
J-Wonn: The Legacy Begins (Music Access Inc.)
Lee Fields & The Expressions: Special Night (Big Crown)
Lula Reed: I’m A Woman (But I Don’t Talk Too Much) (Jasmine)
Melba Moore: Standing Right Here: Anthology Buddah & Epic Years (SoulMusic)
Myles Sanko: Just Being Me (Légère)
Rozetta Johnson: A Woman’s Way (Kent)
Slim Gaillard: Searching For You: The Lost Singles of McVouty (Sunset Blvd.)
Sonny Knight and the Lakers: Sooner or Later (Secret Stash)
Various: One-Der-Ful Collection – Midas Records  (Secret Stash)
Various: Funk the Disco (Ministry of Sound)
Yonrico Scott: Life of a Dreamer (Blue Canoe)

Rap
A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service  (Epic)
Big Scoob: H.O.G. (Strange Music)
Black Milk & Nat Turner: Sunday Outtakes (Computer Ugly)
Blu & Union Analogtronics: Cheetah in the City (Fat Beats)
Czarface : A Fistful Of Peril  (Silver Age)
DJ Luke Nasty: Highway Music: Stuck in Traffic  (Othaz)
Dubble-Oo: Next Level (Space Age Ent.)
E-40: The D-Boy Diary: Book 1 & 2 (Heavy on the Grind)
Invisibl Skratch Piklz : 13th Floor (Alpha Pup)
Journalist 103: Battle for the Hearts & Minds  (Babygrande)
Lewis Parker: Release the Stress (King Underground)
Mac Dre: Ronald Dregan (Sumo/Thizz Entertainment D50)
Mac Dre: The Genie of the Lamp (Sumo/Thizz Entertainment D50)
Philthy Rich: Hood Rich 4 (Scmmllc / Empire)
Saba: Bucket List Project (digital) (Saba Pivot, LLC)
Sleepdank: Airport Lifestyle (Hands Down Ent.)
Soprano: L’Everest ( Warner Music France)
Swet Shop Boys : Cashmere (Customs)
Tall Black Guy: Let’s Take a Trip (First Word)
The Flying Dutchmen: Foul Weather (Thrice Great)
The Game: 1992 (eOne)
The Kleenrz: Season 2 (NRK)
The Outlawz : Living Legends
Tone Spliff: Pull No Punches (Mind Write Music)
Travis Scott: Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight (Epic)
TreSolid : Applying Pressure (Black Market)
U.G.: Portals (Creative Juices)
Unknown Mizery: Kill the Flowers (Thrice Great)
Various: Latest & Greatest Hip-Hop Anthems (Union Square Music)
Various: BBE20: Attitude, Belief & Determination (BBE)
Vellione: Stranded on the Wire (Livewire)
Wycliff Jean: J’ouver EP
Zeroh: Tinnitus (Hit+Run)
Z-Ro: Legendary (1 Deep Ent.)

Reggae, Dancehall
Alkaline: New Level Unlocked (Zojak World Wide)
Black Uhuru: Live At Rockpalast (DVD) (Made In Germany Music)
Bunny Wailer: Solomonic Singles 1: Tread Along 1969-1976 (Dubstore)
Bunny Wailer: Solomonic Singles 2: Rise & Shine 1977-1986 (Dubstore)
KutiMangoes: Made in Africa (Tramp)
Max Romeo: Horror Zone (Nu-Roots Records)
No-Maddz: Sly & Robbie Presents No-Maddz  (Nomaddz/Epiphany)
Osunlade: Mix The Vibe-King Street Goes Yoruba  (King Street Sounds)
Patrice: Life’s Blood (Supow Music)
Various: Merritone Rock Steady 1: Shanty Town Curfew 66-67 (Dubstore)
Various: Kuduro Reggaeton Hits 2017
Yabby You: Beware Dub (Expanded ed.) (Pressure Sounds)

World
Baloji: 64 Bits & Malachite (Bella Union)
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque in Upper Volta (3xCD)  (Numero)
Le Tout Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Madjafalao  (Because Music)
Noura Mint Seymali : Arbina (Glitterbeat Records)
PeruJazz: Verde Machu Picchu (Vampisoul)
Tiken Jah Fakoly: Racines (Wrasse)

View review December 1st, 2016

Welcome to the November 2016 issue of Black Grooves

Welcome to the November 2016 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

Since November brings Election Day we’re featuring projects with political themes including Make America Great Again! by Delfeayo Marsalis & Uptown Jazz Orchestra and The Transformations Suite by Samora Pinderhughes, in addition to jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith’s America’s National Parks celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service.

Under the umbrella of rock, rap and soul there’s Timothy Bloom’s The Beginning, Melissa Etheridge’s Stax tribute Memphis Rock and Soul, Nashville duo Muddy Magnolias’ Broken People, Pigeon John’s Good Sinner, Ashleigh Smith’s Sunkissed, teenage punk trio Unlocking the Truth’s debut album Chaos, and the Afrofuturist concept album Splendor & Misery from experimental rap group clipping., fronted by Hamilton star Daveed Diggs.

We’re also pleased to be promoting two projects with Indiana University ties: Allegro io son, the latest release from bel canto tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and Timeless from the popular R&B group After 7 featuring IU Soul Revue alums Melvin and Kevon Edmonds.

Notable historic releases include Marian Anderson’s Let Freedom Ring! and Mahalia Jackson’s Moving On Up a Little Higher which both feature previously unreleased material. Jazz releases include Joshua Breakstone’s cello quartet on 88, Quincy Jones & His Orchestra Live in Ludwigshafen 1961, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra on All My Yesterdays. Under folk and world music we’re featuring the Afro-Colombian group M.A.K.U Soundsystem’s Mezcla, South African singer Lorraine Klaasen’s Nouvelle Journee, a reissue of Josh White’s Josh at Midnight, and the compilation Space Echo: Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of October 2016 releases of note.

View review November 1st, 2016

October 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during October 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Angel Faye Russell: Taste of Angel (Music Access)
Arthur Gunter: Baby Lets Play House Complete Excello Singles (Jasmine)
Big Daddy Wilson: Time (Dixiefrog)
CeDell Davis: Even The Devil Gets The Blues (Sunyata)
Dom Flemons & Martin Simpson: Selection of Ever Popular Favourites (Fledg’ling)
Jerimiah Marques & The Blue Aces: Winning Hand (The Last Music Company)
John Lee Hooker: Modern, Chess & Veejay Singles Collection 1949-62 (Acrobat)
Lightnin’ Hopkins: Thinkin’ And Worryin’ – Aladdin Singles 1947-1952 (Jasmine)
Mississippi Heat: Cab Driving Man (Delmark)
Mississippi John Hurt: Spike Driver Blues: Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings (Dark Was the Night Records)
Rev. Km Williams : The Real Deal Blues (Cleopatra)
Sonny Rhodes: Then & Now (Blues Express)
Trudy Lynn: I’ll Sing the Blues for You (Connor Ray Music)
Various: Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920s Calendar (Blues Images)
Various: Rough Guide To Delta Blues (Rough Guide)

Classical
Leontyne Price: Prima Donna Assoluta – Her Ultimate Opera Recordings (Box set) (Sony Classical)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Misc.
Kadhja Bonet: The Visitor (Fat Possum)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Anthony Faulkner: Guardian Angel (7th Chapter Music)
Bishop Paul S. Morton: Legacy: Live in New Orleans (Light Records)
Clifton Ross III: I Believe God (digital) (CDBaby)
Dee Dee Sharp: Songs of Faith (reissue) (ABKCO)
Derek Minor: Reflection (eOne)
Hart Ramsey & The NCC Choir: True Story (eOne)
Mahalia Jackson: Sings–The Great Television Performances (Real Gone)
Nimisilla Park : Welcome to Nimisilla Park (Coal Mine Ent.)
Rance Allen Group: Live From San Francisco (CD + DVD) (Tyscot)
Various: Best of Proverb & Gospel Corner Records (Narro Way/City Hall)

Holiday
Bob Baldwin: The Gift Of Christmas (Red River Entertainment)
Kenny Lattimore: A Kenny Lattimore Christmas (Motown Gospel)
Phillip Carter & SOV: Christmas
R. Kelly: 12 Nights Of Christmas (RCA)
Various: Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol. 1: The Vocalists (Verve)
Various: Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol. 2: The Instrumentals (Verve)

Jazz
Charles Mingus: Complete Albums (Enlightenment)
Daniel Weatherspoon: The Langley Park Project (Longlife Entertainment)
David S. Ware & Matthew Shipp Duo: Live in Sant’Anna Arresi 2004 (AUM Fidelity)
Earl Hines All Stars: Live at CLub Hangover, S.F. 1957 (Acrobat)
Fostina Dixon: Here We Go Again (Fossiebear Inc. Productions)
George Cables: The George Cables Songbook (HighNote)
Josef Leimberg: Astral Progressions (digital) (Alpha Pup)
Kenny Burrell: Complete Albums Collection 1956-1957 (Enlightenment)
Kenny Burrell: Complete Albums Collection 1957-1962 (Enlightenment)
Malia: Malawi Blues / Njira (MPS)
Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 (Legacy)
Mili Bermejo and Dan Greenspan: Arte del Dúo (Ediciones Pentagrama)
Orrin Evans: #knowingishalfthebattle (Smoke Sessions)
Pennal Johnson : Conversations: Live In Chicago (Hitman)
Ramsey Lewis: Hot Dawgit: Anthology – Columbia Years (SoulMusic)
Shabaka and the Ancestors: Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood)
Zoot Sims Quintet: Buried Gold: Complete 1956 Quintet Recordings (Acrobat)

R&B, Soul
Ari Lennox: Pho (Dreamville/Interscope)
Chet Ivey: A Dose Of Soul – The Sylvia Funk Recordings 1971-75 (BGP)
Della Reese: Singles Collection 1955-62 (Acrobat)
Dr. John: Musical Mojo Of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music (Concord)
Edwin Birdsong: S/T (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Eric Benet: Sunshine (Primary Wave)
Evelyn “Champagne” King: The Complete RCA Hits and More! (Real Gone)
Johnny Mathis: Complete US Singles As & Bs 1957-62 (Acrobat)
Jones: New Skin (Pias America)
Kadhja Bonet: The Visitor (Fat Possum/Fresh Selects)
Kevin Ross: Awakening (Motown)
Lizzo: Coconut Oil (digital) (Atlantic)
Otis Redding: Dictionary of Soul (2CD 50th Anniv. Ed.) (Rhino/Atlantic)
Otis Redding: Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings (Stax)
Rebecca Ferguson: Superwoman (RCA)
Sebastian Kole: Soup (Motown)
Sly & The Family Stone: Ain’t But The One Way (Friday Music)
Syreeta: The Rita Wright Years – Rare Motown 1967-1970 (Kent)
The Seshen: Flames & Figures (Tru-Thoughts)
Various: Let It Be – Black America Sings Lennon, Mccartney And Harrison (Ace)
Various: Please Relase Me – The Soulful Side Of Country (Jasmine)

Rap, Hip Hop
Cakes Da Killa: Hedonism (Ruffians)
Sleepdank: Airport Lifestyle (Hands Down)
A-F-R-O and Marco Polo: A-F-R-O Polo (Duck Down Music)
Bizzle: Crowns & Crosses (digital) (God Over Money LLC)
BROOKZILL!: Throwback to the Future (Tommy Boy Ent.)
D.I.T.C.: Sessions (digital) (The Fam Agency)
D.R.A.M.: Big Baby D.R.A.M. (digital) (Empire)
Damian Lillard (Dame D.O.L.L.A.): The Letter O (digital) (Vibe Music)
DJ Shadow: Endtroducing (3CD set) (Mercury)
Gaika: Spaghetto (Warp)
Gucci Mane: Woptober (Atlantic)
Ishdarr: Broken Hearts & Bank Rolls (Empire)
Stalin: On Behalf of the Streets 2 (Livewire/Empire)
Jay Prince: Smile Good (Cosa Nostra Music)
Joe Budden: Rage & the Machine (Mood Muzik Entertainment / EMPIRE)
Journalist 103: Battle for the Hearts and Minds (Babygrande)
Lauryn Hill : The Lauryn Hill Story (Chrome Dreams)
Lil Keke: ABA IV (digital) ( SoSouth)
L’Orange & Mr. Lif: The Life & Death Of Scenery (Mello Music Group)
Mark Steele: Almost Time (digital)
Mickey Factz x Nottz: The Achievement: circa ’82 (digital) ( W.A.R. Media)
Napoleon Born Apart: Infinite Nights (Hit Man)
NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge): Yes Lawd! (Stones Throw)
OG Maco: Children of the Rage (Columbia/Motown)
Saba: Bucket List Project (digital) (Saba Pivot, LLC)
Soprano: L’Everest ( Warner Music France)
Swet Shop Boys : Cashmere (Customs)
The Game: 1992 (eOne)
The Outlawz : Living Legends
U.G.: Portals (Creative Juices)
Various: Latest & Greatest Hip-Hop Anthems (Union Square Music)
Various: BBE20: Attitude, Belief & Determination (BBE)

Reggae, Dancehall
Alkaline: New Level Unlocked (Zojak World Wide)
Bunny Wailer: Solomonic Singles 1: Tread Along 1969-1976 (Dubstore)
Bunny Wailer: Solomonic Singles 2: Rise & Shine 1977-1986 (Dubstore)
No-Maddz: Sly & Robbie Presents No-Maddz (Nomaddz/Epiphany)
Osunlade: Mix The Vibe-King Street Goes Yoruba (King Street Sounds)
Patrice: Life’s Blood (Supow Music)
Various: Merritone Rock Steady 1: Shanty Town Curfew 66-67 (Dubstore)
Various: Kuduro Reggaeton Hits 2017

World
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque in Upper Volta (Numero)
Le Tout Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Madjafalao (Because Music)
Noura Mint Seymali : Arbina (Glitterbeat Records)
PeruJazz: Verde Machu Picchu (Vampisoul)

View review November 1st, 2016

Welcome to the October 2016 issue of Black Grooves

Welcome to the October 2016 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re featuring previously unreleased recordings of jazz pianist Erroll Garner on Ready Take One, as well as the genre bending albums ArtScience by the Robert Glasper Experiment and De La Soul’s and the Anonymous Nobody…

New R&B, blues and rap releases include Andre Cymone’s funky pre-election protest EP Black Man in America; the retro-soul of Danish duo Black Dylan on Hey Stranger and Lady Wray on Queen Alone; the “Prince of Sophisticated Soul” Will Downing’s tribute to female vocalists on Black Pearls; “The Voice” alum Javier Colon’s Gravity; JJ Thames’ collaboration with Mississippi guitarist Eddie Cotton on Raw Sugar; and DC lawyer and rapper Tarica June’s EP Stream of Consciousness, Vol. 1.5.

World music releases include The Frightnrs’ reggae album Nothing More To Say; Richard Bona & Mandekan Cubano’s tribute to the musical diversity of Cuba on Heritage; the Ethiopian-American pop group Debo Band’s Ere Gobez; and Haitian-born artist Wesli’s blending of vodou and rara with rap and reggae on Ayiti, Étoile Nouvelle.

Additional compilations featured this month include Chicago blues label Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection; regional soul music from Washington, DC on True Enough: Gene & Eddie with Sir Joe at Ru-Jac; and from New Orleans, A Message from The Meters: The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of September 2016 Releases of Note.

View review October 3rd, 2016

September 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during September 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Big Jay McNeely: Blowin’ Down the House-Big Jay’s Latest & Greatest (Cleopatra)
Bobby Rush: Porcupine Meat (Rounder Records)
Elmore James & His Broomdusters: Slide Order Of The Blues (Jasmine)
Grady Champion: One of a Kind (Malaco Records)
Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes & Terry ‘Harmonica’ Bean:                Twice As Hard (Broke & Hungry)
Jimmy Liggins: Knocking You Out – A Singles Collection Featuring All The Hits 1947-1959 (Jasmine)
Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials: The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials (Alligator)
Mighty Sam Mcclain: Time And Change – Last Recordings (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)
Natalia M. King:Bluezzin T’il Dawn (Naxos)
New Orleans Suspects: Kaleidoscoped (Louisiana Red Hot)
Robert Finlay: Age Don’t Mean A Thing (Big Legal Mess)
U.P. Wilson: Whirlwind (remastered ed.) (JSP)

Classical
Choir of Trinity Wall Street: Trevor Weston Choral Works (ACIS)
Daahoud Salim: Erwin Schulhoff: Forbidden Music  (Challenge Classics)
Lawrence Brownlee: Bel Canto Arias (Delos)
S.E.M. Ensemble: Julius Eastman: Femenine (Frozen Reeds)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Adrian Younge: Electronique Void: Black Noise (Linear Labs)
Beyoncé: The Complete Story (2 DVD Collector’s Box Set) (The Collector’s Forum)
Brian Culbertson: Funk (BCM Entertainment)
Jordan Fisher: S/T EP (Hollywood Records)
Miko Tolliver: Attack of the Kittie Perm (Kittie Perm)
Nephew Tommy aka Thomas Miles: Lost Prank Phone calls Part 1 (CSD)
Prince: Up Close & Personal (DVD) (Nibon Silver Films)
Prince: Purple Reign In New York (Carrier Dome, Syracue, 1985) (SMOKIN’)
Sex Stains: Sex Stains (Don Giovanni )
Skye & Ross: S/T (Cooking Vinyl)
ThunderSoul Orchestra: 528-0728 (Suite 28)
TJ: Time is Wasting
Kamau Bell : Semi-Prominent Negro (Kill Rock Stars)
Zapp: Zapp I / Zapp II / Zapp III (Cherry Red)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Audrey Cher: The Intro (Hitman)
Best of Proverb & Gospel Corner Records, 1959-1969 (Narro Way/City Hall)
Charles Jenkins: Think About These Things (Inspired People/Empire Dist.)
Fred Hammond: Worship Journal (Live) (RCA Inspiration)
Joe Pace: Joe Pace Presents: H. B. Charles Jr. And The Shiloh Church (360MusicWorX)
Luther Barnes & the Restoration worship Center Choir: Favor of God (Shanachie)
Lynntesha Roberts: Give God The Glory (Ophirgospel)
Mahalia Jackson: Moving Up a Little Higher (Shanachie)
Phillip Carter & SOV: Live from Zion (SOV)
Roy & Revelation: Blest By the Best Live (Malaco)
Tamela Mann: One Way (Tilly Mann Music Group)

Jazz
Andrew Cyrille & Bill McHenry: Proximity (Sunnyside)
Albert Ayler: Ghosts (reissue) (Skokiaan)
Allan Harris: Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better(Love Productions Records/Membran Entertainment)
Andrew Cyrille Quartet: The Declaration Of Musical Independence (ECM)
Bobby Kapp & Matthew Shipp: Cactus (Northern Spy)
Bobby Timmons: Holiday Soul (reissue) (Prestige)
Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra : Basically Baker Vol. 2 (Patois)
Delfeayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orchestra : Make America Great Again! (Troubadour Jass)
Dizzy Gillespie: Live in Vegas 1963 Vols. 1 & 2 (Jazz Rewind )
ELEW: And to the Republic (Sunnyside)
Etienne Mbappe & The Prophets: How Near How Far (Abstract Logix)
Herb Alpert & Hugh Masakela : Main Event Live (remastered reissue) (Herb Alpert Presents)
Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau: Nearness (Nonesuch)
Kim Scott: Southern Heat (Innervision)
Richard Elliot: Summer Madness (Heads Up)
Saltman/Knowles: Almost (Pacific Coast Jazz)

Shabaka & The Ancestors: Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood)
Shirley Horn: Live At The Four Queens (Resonance)
Soul Basement: What We Leave Behind  (ITI)
Spirits of Rhythm: Fine Jazzmen Whose Object Was Fun (JSP)
The Cookers: The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart (Smoke Sessions)

R&B, Soul
Az Yet: She’s Magic (X-Ray)
Betty Harris: Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul (Soul Jazz)
Brent Faiyaz: A.M. Paradox EP
Dave Hollister: The Manuscript (Shanachie)
Dionne Warwick: The Warner Bros. Recordings (Real Gone Music)
Elayna: Elayna
Frankie & The Spindles: Count to Ten – Complete Singles Collection 1968-77 (Playback )
George Duke: Shine On: Anthology – Epic Years 1977-1984 (SoulMusic)
Gerald Albright: G
I, Ced: What Are We Looking For? (Movenext Media)
Ike & Tina Turner: The Complete Pompeii Recordings 1968-1969 (Goldenlane)
Izzy Bizu: Moment of Madness (Epic)
Jackie Venson: Jackie Venson Live
James Booker: Bayou Maharajah (DVD) (Cadiz Music Ltd)
Kindred the Family Soul: Legacy of Love (Nal)
Nina Simone: What Happened, Miss Simone? (DVD) (Eagle Vision)
Otis Redding: Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings (Stax)
Pigeon John: Good Sinner (Dine Alone Music/Universal)
Sam Cooke: Complete Solo Singles As & Bs 1957-62 (Acrobat)
serpentwithfeet: Blisters EP (Tri Angle )
Shaun Escoffery: Evergreen
Tee Mac: Night Illusion (reissue) (SoulJazz)
The Excitements: Breaking the Rule (Penniman)
The Isley Brothers: Groove with You…Live (Real Gone Music)
Usher: Hard II Love (RCA)
Various: Instrumentals Soul-Style Volume 2 (History of Soul)
Various: Come Back Strong – Hotlanta Soul 4 (Kent)
Various: Prince’s Jukebox – The Songs That Inspired The Man (Chrome Dreams)

Rap, Hip Hop
Philthy Rich & Mozzy : Political Ties (Mozzy)
Apollo Brown & Skyzoo: The Easy Truth (Mellow Music)
Audio Push: 90951
Chinx: Legends Never Die (eOne)
Clipping: Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop)
Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition (Warp)
DJ Smoke & Kid Ink: Ink Factory Mixtape
Dreezy: No Hard Feelings (Interscope)
Durrty Goodz: Hungry Belly
Ezale and DJ Fresh: The Tonite Show With Ezale (Fresh in the Flesh)
Kool Keith: Feature Magnetic (Mellow Music)
Kunta: Death Before Betrayl (City Hall)
Lil Bibby: FC3 the Epilogue
Living Colour: Mixtape EP
Maitre Gims: A Contrecour (Jive Epic)
Mykki Blanco: Mykki
Outlawz: Living Legendz (City Hall)
Phonte: No News is Good News
Rasul Allah 7: Heru, the Face of the Goldem Falcon) (Chambermusik Special Products )
Reks: The Greatest X (Brick)
Scallops Hotel (AKA Milo): Plain Speaking (Ruby Yacht)
Show Banga: Showtime 2 (Mo Betta)
Ty Dolla $ign: Campaign
Various: Get Down OST (RCA)
Wyclef Jean: J’Ouvert EP

Reggae, Dancehall
Black Uhuru: Live At Rockpalast – Essen 1981 (Made In Germany Musi)
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari: Grounation
Dennis Alcapone: Yeah Yeah Yeah – Mash Up the Dance (Kingston Sounds)
Freddie McGregor : True To My Roots (VPAL)
Jah9: 9 (VP)
Lee Scratch Perry: Must Be Free (Megawave)
Pat Kelly: Jamaican Soul (Kingston Sounds)
Resonators: Imaginary People (Wah Wah)
The Frightnrs: Nothing More to Say (Daptone)
Various: Dance Inna: Delamere Avenue (Black Solidarity)

World
Alsarah & the Nubatones: Manara (Wonderwheel)
Bitori: Legend of Funana: Forbidden Music of the Capes (Analog Africa)
Élage Diouf: Melokáane
Funkees: Now I’m a Man (reissue) (PMG)
Nana ‘Angel’ Love: Obaatan Pa (BBE)
Omar Sosa & Paolo Fresu : Eros (OTA)
Pat Thomas: Coming Home: Original Ghanaian Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1967-1981 (Strut)
Various: Nigeria Soul Fever (Soul Jazz)
Various: Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics (Sterns Africa)
Zion & Lennox:  Motivan2 (Warner Music Latina)
Various: Zouk Anthology (box set)
Zomba Prison Project: I Will Not Stop Singing (Six Degrees)

View review October 3rd, 2016

Welcome to the September 2016 Issue

Welcome to the September 2016 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re featuring a wide variety of new jazz releases, including violinist Scott Tixier’s Cosmic Adventure, vocalist Catherine Russell’s Harlem On My Mind, drummer Will Calhoun’s Celebrating Elvin Jones, trumpeter Marquis Hill’s The Way We Play, Allen Toussaint’s tribute to jazz and New Orleans R&B greats on the posthumous album American Tunes, British jazz/funk band Incognito’s In Search of Better Days, Bob Baldwin’s double album The Brazilian-American Soundtrack, and the Austin-based band Hard Proof’s Public Hi-Fi Sessions that fuses Afrobeat, funk, and jazz.

Under classical music, we’re featuring South African coloratura Pretty Yende’s debut album Journey.  New blues and R&B releases include the Mike Wheeler Band’s Turn Up!!, Macy Gray’s Stripped, Vaneese Thomas’ genre blending album Long Journey Home,  and Atlanta singer-songwriter Anthony David’s The Powerful Now. Michael Franti & Spearhead’s summer release, SoulRocker, showcases their socially conscious pop and hip hop-infused reggae. New DVD/Blu-ray releases include three Robert Mugge Films celebrating Louisiana music, with an emphasis on Zydeco.

Tying in with the back-to-school theme is Numero Group’s compilation Afterschool Special: The 123s of Kid Soul. Also featured is Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsy’s Machine Gun: Live at Fillmore East 9/30/16 (the first official release of their unedited first set), plus the first release on CD of the Isley Brothers’ “lost live album” from 1980, Groove With You…Live!

Wrapping up this issue is our list of August 2016 Releases of Note.

View review September 1st, 2016

Mike Wheeler Band – Turn Up!!

mike wheeler band

Title: Turn Up!!

Artist: Mike Wheeler Band

Label: Delmark

Format: CD, MP3

Release Date: April 15, 2016

 

 

One of the busiest guitarists in Chicago, Mike Wheeler has an impressive resume, having played with such luminaries as Demetria Taylor, Nellie Travis, and Big James and the Chicago Playboys.  Serving as leader on his sophomore Delmark release, Turn Up!!, Wheeler leads his band through a sizzling 13 song set, full of tight arrangements and satisfying grooves.

Most of the material on Turn Up!! is straight-ahead blues. Numbers such as “Sweet Girl” showcase the band’s hard-earned solid groove, doubtless acquired over countless evenings working with similar funky blues numbers. However, this release isn’t an entirely tourist-in-the-city-for-the-weekend affair.  “Brand New Cadillac,” for instance, is built around heavy layered guitar riffs that wouldn’t have been out of place during Black Sabbath’s early days, with a stylish guitar solo to match.

While Wheeler is a solid singer and songwriter, the real stars of this record are the band’s chops and grooves.  The band dips into funky R&B on “Yeah!,” with bassist Larry Williams and Wheeler dropping in with solid and funky solos.  The band also excels at the slow burn, as on “Nothing Lasts Forever.” Their cover of Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” grooves hard, with solo breaks for Wheeler and Williams, who plays slap-bass bebop that lays deep in the funk groove. “Sad State of the World” provides another opportunity for soloing, as the nearly 8 minute long tune, heavily orchestrated in the style of The Band, gives Wheeler an opportunity to burn, even if—like many gestures at social commentary from musicians who don’t do it all the time—the lyrics are maudlin at best.

Overall, Turn Up!! Is a solid musical statement from a group of Chicago heavyweights.  Blues fans must check this out, and blues guitarists will want to cop some of Wheeler’s tasteful and flawlessly executed licks.

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review September 1st, 2016

Three Robert Mugge Films Celebrate Louisiana Music

Music has been used throughout the centuries to mourn, celebrate, protest, and communicate. Music also brings communities together, and can raise awareness of those in need. Due to the recent flooding in Louisiana, which once again has left thousands homeless, we’re drawing attention to the state through three Robert Mugge documentaries that highlight and celebrate the diverse communities, unique musical traditions, and vibrant culture present in Louisiana. All were released on DVD or Blu-ray earlier this year.

Zydeco Crossroads
Title: Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale of Two Cities

Director: Robert Mugge

Label: MVD

Formats: Blu-ray, streaming video

Release date: March 25, 2016

 

Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale of Two Cities is a new documentary about Philadelphia radio station WXPN’s sixteen-month project, supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, which explored, preserved, promoted and celebrated the Creole culture of Southwest Louisiana. The film features Zydeco music and musicians both past and present, connecting them to the blues and the social, political, and cultural history of Southwestern Louisiana. In 2016 it received the Best Blues & Roots Film Award at the Clarksdale Film Festival.

Rhythm N Bayous
Title: Rhythm ‘N’ Bayous: A Road Map to Louisiana Music

Director: Robert Mugge

Label: MVD

Format: DVD

Release date: March 25, 2016

 

Rhythm ‘N’ Bayous: A Road Map to Louisiana Music (2000) is a three part film that the New York Times’ Stephen Holden called “part musical travelogue, part anthology, part archival document.” The film chronicles Mugge’s journey throughout Louisiana as he compiles a singing dictionary of the state’s roots music styles and assorted hybrids, from the blues and gospel to swamp pop to the fusion of Cajun, Creole and rock ‘n’ roll known as zydeco.

Kingdom of Zydeco
Title: The Kingdom of Zydeco

Director: Robert Mugge

Label: MVD

Formats: Blu-ray, streaming video

Release date: April 8, 2016

 

Mugge’s third film released this year, The Kingdom of Zydeco (1994), delves into the Black Creole music scene of Southwest Louisana and attempts name a new “King of Zydeco” in the 1990s. Throughout the film, Mugge discusses musicians such as Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis, Rockin’ Dopsie, and Beau Jocque. Also featured are concerts, including a joint appearance by Boozoo Chavis and Beau Jocque, as well as stories from nightclub owners and zydeco deejays. This is a fantastic record of the many musicians and characters who made up the time period many call zydeco’s “Golden Era.”

Whether a beginner or a life-long scholar of music in Louisiana, these films are sure to help anyone gain new insights about the state’s unique music and cultural traditions.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

View review September 1st, 2016

August 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during August 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Albert Collins: Ice Pickin’ (reissue) (Alligator)
Annika Chambers: Wild & Free (Oarfin)
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup: Music Man Like Nobody Ever Saw (Box set) (Bear Family)
JJ Thames: Raw Sugar (Dechamp )
Little Walter: Complete Checker Singles A’s & B’s 1952-60 (Acrobat)
Lurri Bell: Can’t Shake This Feeling (Delmark)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic    
Amos Lee: Spirit (Republic)
California King: Grown Folks Talking EP (Bandcamp.com)
Dazz Band: Hot Spot (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
GAWVI: Lost in Hue EP (Reach)
Kon: Kon & The Gang
L.A. Salami: Dancing with Bad Grammar (Sunday Best/ PIAS America)
Nao: For All We Know (RCA)
Prince: Naked In The Summertime: 1990 Broadcast (2 CD) (Hobo)
Prince: Rock in Rio 2, July 1991 (Hobo)
Prophets of Rage: Party’s Over (Prophets of Rage)
Xl Middleton & Eddy Funkster: S/T (Mofunk)

Gospel, Gospel Rap    
Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters: Lift Me Up (Sirens)
Church Choir: If God Be For Us (Kee Music Group)
Donnie McClurkin: The Journey (RCA Inspiration)
Jekalyn Carr: The Life Project (eOne)
Various: Greenleaf – The Gospel Companion Soundtrack Vol. 1 (Malaco)
XP: Chasing Grace

Jazz  
Abbey Lincoln: Love Having You Around – Live at Keystone Korner Vol. 2 (HighNote)
Ashleigh Smith: Sunkissed (Concord)
Barbara Dane and Tammy Hall: Throw it Away… (Dreadnaught)
Barry Harris: Live in Tokyo (expanded ed.) (Elemental Music)
Charles Mcpherson: Live in Tokyo (expanded ed.) (Elemental Music)
Clarence Penn, Mark Helias & Uri Caine: Calibrated Thickness (816Music)
Darren Barrett: Trumpet Vibes – The Music of Amy Winehouse (dB Music )
Derrick Hodge: The Second (Blue Note)
Jimmy Raney: Live in Tokyo (expanded ed.) (Elemental Music)
John Beasley: Presents MONK’estra, Vol. 1 (Mack Ave.)
Nasambu + Kibrom : Peace, Love and Mercy EP (Bandcamp)
Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the Three Sided Dream (DVD)
World’s Experience Orchestra: The Beginning Of A New Birth/As Time Flows (Now-Again)
Blair Bryant: Gold (Innervision)
Harlem Hamfats: Masters of Jazz & Blues 1936-1944 (JSP)
Robin Barnes: Songbird Sessions EP (Rhythm Elevation )
Steve Lehman:  “Sélébéyone” (PI )

R&B, Soul
Abra: Princess (Awful)
Angie Stone: Covered in Soul (Goldenlane)
Anthony David: The PowerFUL Now  (Shanachie)
Dave Hollister: The Manuscript (Shanachie)
Dexter Wansel: Stargazer: Philadelphia International Records (BBR)
Eddie Levert : Did I Make You Go Ooh (Blakbyrd Ent.)
Gallant: Ology (Warner Bros.)
Jimetta Rose : The Light Bearer
Johnnie Frierson: Have You Been Good To Yourself (Light in the Attic)
Lee Moses: Time And Place (Light in the Attic)
Leon Timbo : What Love’s All About  (eOne)
Michael Jackson: Japan Broadcast 1987 (Goldfish)
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings:  Miss Sharon Jones! OST (Daptone)
Shirley Davis & the Silverbacks:  Black Rose ( Tucxone)
Tamara Tramell: The Best Night of My Life (JSP)
Tory Lanez: I Told You (Interscope)
Wilson Pickett: Complete Atlantic Singles Vol. 1 (Real Gone)

Rap, Hip Hop
Banks & Steelz (aka RZA): Anything But Words (Warner Bros.)
Big Capp & Bun B: Streets-R-Minez (II TRILL ENT WEST)
Damu the Fudgemunk: Untitled Vol. 2 EP (Redefinition)
De La Soul: And the Anonymous Nobody ( AOI)
DJ Khaled: Major Key (Epic)
Hieroglyphic Being: The Disco’s Of Imhotep (Ninja Tunes)
Hollow Tip And C-Dubb:  Mercenary Mobmuzik 2 (Mercenary Ent.)
J Dilla: King of Beats (Yancy Media Group)
Jarren Benton: Slow Motion Vol. 2 (Benton Ent.)
J-Diggs: California Livin Pt. 3: Chasin My Dreams (Thizz Ent.)
Lando Chill: For Mark, Your Son (Mello Music Group)
MarQ Spekt & Blockhead: Keep Playin’ (HiPNOTT)
MarQ Spekt & MOBONIX: Bionic Jazz (HiPNOTT)
Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife 2 (Interscope)
Ras Beats: Control Your Own ( Worldwyde)
Roots Manuva: Bleeds (Big Dada)
Sam The Sleezbag & DJ Mekalek: #SleezbagMekalekTape
Sheefy Mcfly: Edward Elecktro (Limited Ed. LP)  (Mahogani Music)
Slim Thug: American King (Hogglife Ent.)
Various: Bad Boy 20th Anniversary Box set (5CD) (Bad Boy)
Various: Kon & The Gang (BBE)

Reggae, Dancehall     
Derrick Harriott : Reggae, Funk & Soul 1969-1975 (Dubstore)
Easy Star All-Stars: Radiodread (expanded ed.) (Easy Star)
Frankie Paul: Forever (World Records)
Various: Money Maker (reissue) (Studio One)
Various: King Jammy Presents New Sounds of Freedom (VP)

World
Lakuta: Brothers and Sister (Tru Thoughts)
Mateo Kingman: Respira (AYA )

View review September 1st, 2016

Welcome to the August 2016 issue

Welcome to the August 2016 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

We’re kicking this month off with the latest surprise release by R&B auteur Blood Orange, Freetown Sound.  August brings a full slate of other soul and R&B releases as well, including new albums by two established soul singer-songwriters: Anthony Hamilton’s What I’m Feeling and William Bell’s This is Where I Live.  We have a long-awaited set of recordings by Betty Davis compiled as The Columbia Years, 1968-69, featuring  a supporting cast of late 60s jazz-fusion luminaries, plus two additional compilations: Brook Benton’s Rainy Night in Georgia: The Complete Reprise & Cotillion Singles A’s and B’s and The Delfonics’ 40 Classic Soul Sides. Also featured is DJ Spinna Presents the Wonder of Stevie, Vol. 3, an album full of Stevie Wonder covers by various artists.

In blues, we’ve reviewed Chicago guitarist Toronzo Cannon’s newest release The Chicago Way, and harmonica virtuoso Sugar Blue’s Voyage. In jazz, there’s vibraphonist Warren Wolf’s latest release Convergence, plus two compilations of previously unreleased Stan Getz recordings from the 1970s, Moments in Time and Getz/Gilberto ’76.

In rock, we’re featuring Fantastic Negrito’s (re)inventive album The Last Days of Oakland, and in rap we’re breaking down Talib Kweli’s Fuck the Money, a free digitally-released screed against commercialism.  Under the category of world music is the Pan-African reggae of Fidel Nadal’s Tek a Ship.

Finally, we’re featuring a book review of Jean E. Snyder’s Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance, which charts the life and work of the seminal Black composer.

Wrapping up this month’s issue is our list of July 2016 releases of note.

 

View review August 1st, 2016

Book – Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance

harry t burleigh book

Title: Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance

Author: Jean E. Snyder

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Formats: Book (hardcover and ebook editions)

Release date: March 1, 2016

 

Ethnomusicologist Jean Snyder’s new biography of Harry T. Burleigh, most famous for art-song arrangements of spirituals and for influencing Antonin Dvorak, will stand as the definitive biography of Burleigh for the foreseeable future. Snyder consulted primary sources provided to her by the Burleigh family and several archives, as well as materials provided to her by Anne Key Simpson, author of Hard Trials: The Life and Music of Harry T. Burleigh (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990). Snyder’s previous work on Burleigh includes her dissertation, “Harry T. Burleigh and the Creative Expression of Bi-Musicality: A Study of an African-American Composer and the American Art Song” (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1992), and two recordings of his music.

The book is worth reading for anyone interested in the cultural life of African American communities in the “Promised Land” after the Civil War. Burleigh (b. 1866) benefited from a family dedicated to arts and education as well as a family tradition of civil rights activism. Burleigh’s visually-impaired grandfather had purchased his freedom and then moved to Erie, where he assisted with the Underground Railroad. Burleigh’s mother attended an all-black school funded by a white abolitionist, learning Greek and Latin. She went on to teach at an all-black school, but when she applied for work at the local white school, she could work only as a “janitress.” Burleigh learned spirituals from his grandfather and attended the local black church, but he also sang at the local white Episcopal church and later with other white singers in the region. He and his mother received their education from schools set up by sympathetic white philanthropists, but they could only attend prestigious “musicales” (house concerts) by serving as maid and doorman. This conflicting racial atmosphere would both nurture and frustrate Burleigh. By the age of 22, he emerged from his formative years in Erie as an accomplished musician with a deep regard for both European and African American culture and the knowledge of how to navigate the artistic circles of both races.

Part II consists of chapters 4-13, and takes up where most casual biographies begin: Burleigh’s enrollment in the National Conservatory of New York City, where he would meet Antonin Dvorak. By then he had enjoyed something of a career as a vocal soloist, performing often in Cleveland, Erie, and beyond. He was admitted to the top vocal course of study, supported by a tuition scholarship as well as funding from patrons in Erie. He also held professional singing positions at Temple Emmanu-el, the most prestigious synagogue of New York, and St. George’s Episcopal Church. Dvorak arrived at the conservatory in Burleigh’s second year, and Burleigh became the librarian and copyist for the student orchestra that Dvorak conducted. The two became very close, and of course Burleigh famously sang spirituals for him.

Dvorak’s belief in the importance of untutored, or “folk” music dovetailed with the duality of Burleigh’s cultural background, but he was one of many influences on him. Burleigh also became friends with Will Marion Cook and Frederick Douglass, and he worked with them on “Colored-American Day” at the World’s Columbian Exposition (a.k.a. Chicago World’s Fair, 1893) in which they countered the “Dahomey” display of ragtime and the still-current stereotypes of traveling minstrel shows.  The attendees included Paul Laurence Dunbar, who would become a close friend, and journalists from many black newspapers, who spread news of his accomplishments.

Burleigh remained in New York, his career as a classically-trained singer largely limited to church music. He sang at the most prestigious (and elitist) black Episcopal church, yet his circle of friends included theater performers.  He also associated with black society of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  The latter connection came via his wife, who grew up in D.C. The Burleigh family became almost as active in D.C. cultural activities as they were in New York.

Throughout the remainder of the book, we see that Dvorak was only one of Burleigh’s many famous associates: he was friend and defender of Booker T. Washington; he sang the first African-American performance of his friend Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast; he served on the board of the Music School Settlement founded by David Mannes; and he worked with Alain Locke (among others) to promote African-American artistic endeavors.

Burleigh sang standard European repertoire, American art songs, and “plantation songs,” as if to say “these are all equally worthy of being heard and respected.” He mentored and collaborated with the greatest African American musicians of his era, promoting spirituals in this way as well as in his own performances. The book also details numerous mentoring relationships with emerging artists, such as the young Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, who frequently performed his arrangements of spirituals.

Modern readers may be surprised to learn that some African Americans of the era lived rather privileged lives. Burleigh’s accomplishments bought him entreé into this elite class. Readers will learn about trips to the beach and the generosity of the elite in supporting struggling artists and activists. “Lifting up the race” was no mere metaphor for them—they provided mentoring and funding to many who are now famous in their own right.

The final chapters of the book focuses on Burleigh’s wife, Louise Alston. Her personal ambitions and feelings of abandonment due to her husband’s active career epitomize the frustrations of many wives, black and white. After some success writing poetry in dialect, she pivoted to a career portraying Native American heritage.

This book reveals Burleigh to have been much more than an arranger of spirituals and a church musician. He was a force for African-American art and culture, compelling respect in listeners and raising standards among his students. Snyder does an excellent job of portraying both the racial atmosphere of the era and Burleigh’s use of his time and talent to promote the music and the people who had been denigrated for too long. In hindsight, his compositions seem to marginalize him in the wider context of classical music history, but Snyder emphasizes that his historical footprint is much bigger than his compositional output.

There are 50 pages of copious endnotes which may inspire readers to pick up a thread and follow another figure from black music history through the same archives that Snyder consulted. The only drawback is that many chapters are topical, rather than chronological, so there are many digressions. A timeline of Burleigh’s life would have made some chapters easier to navigate. Otherwise, the book is a worthy addition to any library, personal or institutional, that collects information about black music and important figures in African American history.

Reviewed by Amy Edmonds

 

 

View review August 1st, 2016

July 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during July 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Big Maybelle: Complete King, Okeh And Savoy Releases 1947-59 (Acrobat)
Charles Wilson: Troubled Child (Severn)
Chicago Beau: Black Names Ringing (Katalyst Ent.)
Junior Wells: Blues Hit Big Town (reissue) (Delmark)
Kenny Neal: Bloodline (Cleopatra Blues)
Lou Pride: Keep On Believing (Severn)
Nora Jean Bruso: Going Back to Mississippi  (Severn)
Omar Coleman: Live (Delmark)
Otis Clay: Live In Switzerland 2006 (Rockbeat)
Roy Gaines: New Frontier Lover (Severn)
Son House: Special Rider Blues: The 1930-1942 Mississippi and Wisconsin Recordings (Soul Jam)
Ursula Ricks: My Street (Severn)
Various: Putumayo Presents Blues Party (Putumayo)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Billy Cobham: Live at Montreux Switzerland 1978 (U.S. Dist.)
Chassol:  Ultrascores II (digital) (Tricatel)
Death Grips: Bottomless Pit (Harvest)
Eric Gales: A Night on Sunset Strip (CD + DVD) (Cleopatra Blues)
GAWVI: Lost in Hue EP (Reach)
Nao: For All We Know (RCA)
Ravyn Lenae: Moon Shoes (Digital)
Steven Julien: Fallen (Apron)
Unlocking The Truth: Chaos (Tunecore)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Candi Staton: It’s Time to Be Free (MRI)
Dayna Caddell: Push (eOne)
Half Mile Home: Don’t Judge Me (Wideawake Ent. Group)
Hezekiah Walker: Better – Azusa The Next Generation 2 (eOne)
Nate Bean & 4Given: Hymns and Devotionals Unplugged (Dream Gospel)
Roy Tyler: Three Way Calling (Severn)
Sue “Momma Sue” Roseberry: Magnificent God (New Day dist.)
Various: Holy South: Revolt (Holy South)
William Murphy: Demonstrate (CD/DVD) (RCA Inspiration)

Jazz
Black Art Jazz Collective: S/T (Sunnyside)
Bob Baldwin: The Brazilian-American Soundtrack (Red River Entertainment)
Brother Ah & The Musical Sound Awareness Ensemble: Sound Awareness (reissue) (Manufactured)
Brother Ah & The Musical Sound Awareness Ensemble: Move Ever Onward (reissue) (Manufactured)
Brother Ah & The Musical Sound Awareness Ensemble: Key to Nowhere (reissue) (Manufactured)
Charlie Parker: Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes (Verve)
Clark Terry: Complete Albums Collection: 1961-1963 (Chrome Dreams)
Clark Terry: Complete Albums Collection: 1954-1960 (Chrome Dreams)
Davell Crawford: Piano in the Vaults, No. 1 (Basin Street)
Denny Zeitlin: Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions (Sunnyside)
Doug Ward: Touch My Beloved’s Thought (Greenleaf)
Elan Trotman’s Tropicality: Double Take (Island Muzik)
Greg Ward and 10 Tongues: Touch My Beloved’s Thought (Greenleaf Music)
Kenny Garrett: Do Your Dance (Mack Avenue)
Milton Marsh: Monism (1st time on CD) (Manufactured)
Nina Simone: The Philips Years [7 LP Box Set] (Verve)
Richard Bona & Mandekan Cubano: Heritage (Qwest)
Sam “The Man” Taylor: Plays the Bad & The Beautiful (1st CD release) (Phono)
WPG Trio: Small, Medium, Large (Severn)

R&B, Soul
Clarence Spady: Just Between Us (Severn)
Aaron Neville: Apache (Tell It Records)
Coffee: Slippin’ & Dippin’ (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Eruption: Eruption Featuring Precious Wilson (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Fantasia: Definition Of (RCA)
Frankie & The Spindles: Count to Ten – Complete Singles Collection 1968-77 (Playback)
Hank Ballard & The Midniters: Unwind Yourself – The King Recordings Of 1964-1967 (Kent)
Isley Brothers: Go For Your Guns (expanded ed.) (Iconoclassic)
James Carr: Losing Game: Goldwax Rarities (Kent)
Jason Derulo: Platinum Hits (Warner Bros.)
Johnny Bristol: Modern Soul Classics 1974-1981 (Playback)
Keith Sweat: Dress To Impress  (RAL)
Marc Ribot’s The Young Philadelphians: Live in Tokyo (Yellowbird)
Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate (Interscope)
Prince: Reign Of The Prince Of Ages (DVD) (Azure)
Roy Woods: Waking at Dawn (digital) (Warner Bros.)
The Delfonics: 40 Classic Soul Sides (2-CD Set) (Real Gone Music)
Various: Greg Belson’s Devine Disco: American Gospel Disco 1974-1984 (Cultures of Soul)
Various:  DJ Spinna Presents The Wonder of Stevie Vol. 3 (BBE)
Will Downing: Black Pearls (Shanachie)
Wilson Pickett: The Complete Atlantic Singles Vol. One (Real Gone)

Rap, Hip Hop
Awall Aka 2piece: Rock It Like This (Fahrenheit)
Big Hoodoo: Asylum (Psychopathic)
Blaq Poet: The Most Dangerous (digital) (Marvel)
Blu & Nottz: Titans in the Flesh EP (Coalmine Music)
Dillon & Paten Locke: Food Chain  (Full Plate)
DJ Drama: Quality Street Music 2 (eOne)
Don Trip: Head That Wears the Crown (Soh)
Dr. Ama: Split Personali-D (reissue) (ChamberMusik)
Durrty Goodz: Not Been Televised EP (Tru Thoughts)
Enforcers (El Da Sensei & K-Def): Jersey Connection (Slice of Spice)
First Division: Overworked & Underpaid  (Soulspazm)
Flowdan: Disaster Piece (Tru Thoughts)
Gensu Dean & Denmark Vessey: Whole Food (Mello Music Group)
Gucci Mane: Everybody Looking  (Atlantic)
HusMozzy: Hustle God (Mozzy Records)
J Dilla: The Diary Instrumentals (Mass Appeal)
J Stalin: I Shoulda Stayed In School (Black Market)
Kemba: Negus (digital)
Kool Keith: Tashan Dorrsett – The Preacher (Junkadelic)
Lil Durk: 2X (Def Jam)
Lua Proc: Fish Tailing (High End Society)
N.W.A & Eazy E: The Kings of Compton (DVD) (eOne)
Reef The Lost Cauze & Bear-One: Furious Styles (Soulspazm)
Sadat X: Aqua (Tommy Boy Ent.)
ScHoolboy Q: Blank Face (Interscope)
Snoop Dogg: Coolaid (eOne)
The Other Guys: Life in Analog (HiPNOTT)
The Team: Hell of a Night 2 (Moe Dee Ent.)
Wale: Summer on Sunset mixtape (digital) (Rap)
Z-Ro: Drankin’ & Drivin’ (1 Deep Ent)

Reggae, Dancehall
Linval Thompson: Linval Presents: Encounters Pac Man (Greensleeves)
Mykal Rose: Rasta State (VP)
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno: 1000 Watts (Tru Thoughts)
Stephen Marley: Revelation Part II,The Fruit of Life (Ghetto Youths Int.)
Various: Coxone’s Music 2: The Sound of Young Jamaica (Souljazz)

World
Alma Afrobeat Ensemble: It’s Time (Slow Walk Music)
People Rock Outfit (P.R.O.): Blacky Joe (Soundway)
Various: Nigeria Freedom Sounds! Calypso, Highlife, Juju & Apala: Popular Music and the Birth of Independent Nigeria 1960-63 (Soul Jazz)

View review August 1st, 2016

Welcome to the July 2016 issue

Welcome to the July 2016 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

We’re kicking off this month’s issue with a tribute to the late, great Bernie Worrell who released his final album Retrospectives this year.  Also featured is the self-titled debut by the new rock supergroup Project N-Fidelikah, with Fishbone’s Angelo Moore.

July brings a number of soul releases, including Charles Bradley’s Changes, the newest self-titled release by Bloomington’s own Durand Jones and the Indications, and two compilations of Chicago soul—Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985 and the Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park, a tribute to the Chicago deejay Bob Abrahamian who specialized in collecting and playing Chicago Sweet Soul. Another compilation, 4th Coming’s Strange Things, is a funky record that earns its title with off-the-wall experimentation.

Under jazz there’s the new release, Planetary Prince, from Cameron Graves (a member of the groundbreaking West Coast Get Down collective). Our hip hop release of the month is The Rebellion Sessions, an instrumental collaboration between rapper/producer Black Milk and Washington, D.C. group Nat Turner.

In world music, we’re featuring Musique de Nuit—a cello/kora collaboration between Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal, as well as the Afrobeat compilation Rich Medina Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk

Wrapping up this month’s issue is our list of June 2016 Releases of Note.

View review July 1st, 2016

Bernie Worrell – Retrospectives

bernie worrell_retrospectives

Title: Retrospectives

Artist: Bernie Worrell

Label: PurpleWOO Productions

Format: CD, LP, MP3

Release Date: January 20, 2016

 

 

Keyboardist Bernie Worrell passed away on June 24, and his final album, Retrospectives, is a reminder of the legendary musician’s claim to fame as an ever-fresh and funky player.  As keyboardist for groups like Parliament-Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins’s Rubber Band, Talking Heads and the countless other projects that Worrell has participated in over the course of his storied career, he developed a unique and ever-innovative style of playing and composing. In addition to acoustic pianos, Hammond B3s, Clavichords, MOOGs and Melodicas, Worrell is reported to have been the second musician to acquire an RMI (Stevie Wonder being the first to get the Rocky Mountain Instruments Electric Piano). It is doubtless true, however, that his alternatingly spacey and funky sounds set the tone for keyboardists who would employ these instruments from the 1970s through the present.

On Retrospectives, Worrell uses a variety of keyboard instruments to create rich musical tapestries—the record features only Worrell and two drummers, Donald Sturge and Anthony McKenzie II, but Worrell’s multitracked use of his veritable arsenal of keys lends the record a  feel that is nearly orchestral at times.  Even at his advanced age, Worrell’s playing was still sharp when recording these tracks—his funky Clavinet rhythms interweave with melodic synthesizers and richly textured organ sounds on “Joyful Process” (even quoting “Jesus Loves Me” on the tune’s introduction).  Ever true to form, Worrell takes listeners “out there” on Retrospectives, too, bringing in the signature phased-out synth lines that were a trademark of his work in P-Funk’s catalog, taking it far out over steady piano-based grooves.  Most of the record continues in this fashion, an ever-evolving collection of musical textures, grooves, and melodies.  This is music to be slowly and gradually absorbed, preferably through a pair of high-quality headphones—my tinnitus acted up a bit on a few songs simply due to the incredible pitch range that Worrell employed on several tracks. This record makes it clear that Worrell didn’t lose his ability to be sonically and musically challenging with age.

While we may have lost a legend this month, Worrell’s musical legacy, as reflected on Retrospectives, is a rich and diverse one. This album is a wonderful way to cap off a truly remarkable career.


Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review July 1st, 2016

Project N-Fidelikah

project_nfidelikah

Title: Project N-Fidelikah

Artist: Project N-Fidelikah

Label: Rat Pak Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: May 27, 2016

 

 

Is it possible to create a supergroup full of lesser-known musical personalities?  Not every musician is a Beatle or Bob Dylan, and not all supergroups, therefore, can have the kind of surefire star power that The Traveling Wilburys did.  However, the perennial problem with supergroups is that, inevitably, dominant personalities usually win out and the group’s sound ends up getting compromised in the process.  Project N-Fidelikah, however, doesn’t have the typical “too many cooks” supergroup problem, in part because it doesn’t have a typical supergroup lineup, drawing musicians from the category of “bands you’ve heard of but don’t know their catalog too well.”  Project N-Fidelikah features vocalist, organist and saxophonist Angelo Moore, aka Dr. Madd Vibe (Fishbone), guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, The Lynch Mob), bassist Pancho Tomaselli (War), and studio drummer Chris Moore. The group’s lineup reads like an ESP guitar ad (Lynch and Tomaselli are both endorsers, and the story is that they met through the guitar company), but plays with the scrappiness of a garage band. N-Fidelikah’s sound draws heavily from the eclectic rock of Fishbone and their contemporaries in the late-’80s/early-’90s LA rock scene,while clearly incorporating other members’ musical personalities. The confluence of these influences makes Project N-Fidelikah eclectic, humorous, and generally off-the-wall.

Check out the group’s first single, “Landslide Salvation”:

Perhaps prophesying the 2016 return of fellow LA rockers’ The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the transformation of Rage Against the Machine’s core group into Prophets of Rage, Project N-Fidelikah is about more than indulging the nostalgia market for the funky rock of a particular time and place. Digging deep into funk influences, Chris Moore and Tomaselli set up monster grooves throughout the record.  Perhaps surprisingly for a hair metal superstar, Lynch uses these grooves as a canvas for articulate (even downright economical) guitar work, at times digging deep into the groove with distorted power chords and at other times drawing upon his ’80s chops to provide a burst of energy and color that compliments a given song’s groove rather than overriding it.  Dr. Madd Vibe’s lyrics and sax top off the gradual layering, tackling political issues (“Anchor Babies”), race (“I Wanna Be White (But I Can’t)”), and the abuses that the music industry inflicts upon artists (“Exposure Fi’Pay”).  Even the group’s jammiest (and perhaps most interesting) track, “Deprivation of Independence,” is a meditation upon mass surveillance, while its slow-burn groove is equally useful as a vehicle for lick trading, punctuated by tasty guitar solos from Lynch and sax lines from Angelo Moore.

All-in-all, Project N-Fidelikah is a strong effort by the funkiest supergroup you’ve never heard of.  The album is lyrically and musically challenging, while full of enough tasty grooves and licks to keep listeners coming back for more, even after they’ve absorbed the record’s striking social critique.

 

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review July 1st, 2016

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