Posts filed under 'African American Culture & History'

Welcome to the September 2017 Issue

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

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re featuring Afro-Latin music including Arturo O’Farrill & Chucho Valdés collaboration on Familia Tribute to Bebo & Chico, Aruan Ortiz’s solo piano album Cub(an)ism, Chicago band Esso! Afrojam Funkbeat’s sophomore release Juntos, the Afro-Venezuelan group Betsayda Machado & La Parranda El Clavo’s debut Loé Loá: Rural Recordings Under the Mango Tree, and the new anthology I Try devoted to Angela Bofill, a Cuban American-Puerto Rican singer who successfully crossed over into R&B.

Jazz and fusion releases include the Liberation Music Collective’s Rebel Portraiture, Ahmad Jamal’s Marseille, a 1982 concert led by Jaco Pastorius on Truth, Liberty & Soul, The Three Sounds’ Groovin’ Hard: Live at the Penthouse from a 1960’s concert, Minneapolis band Nooky Jones’s self-titled debut, and Mindi Abair & the Boneshakers’ first studio recording The Eastwest Sessions.

Funk, rock, rap and soul releases include Starchild Jr.’s (aka Garret Shider) P-funk tribute to his father on Hand Me Down Diapers, Living Colour’s Shade, Big Boi’s Boomiverse, and Goapele’s EP Dreamseeker.

Wrapping up this issue is our listing of August 2017 Releases of Note.

View review September 1st, 2017

¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat – Juntos

Esso
Title: Juntos

Artist: ¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat

Label: Sonic Octopus/Dist. via Bandcamp

Formats: Digital (MP3, FLAC, etc.)

Release date: September 8, 2017

 

Garnering the titles “Best New Band” and “Best International/World Music Act” in last year’s poll by the Chicago Reader, ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat is capitalizing on their local popularity with their new full-length sophomore release. Juntos, which means “together” in Spanish, is indicative of the multi-cultural ensemble that’s comprised of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Colombian, and African American musicians. Band members include Armando Perez (guitar/vocals), Kevin Miller (saxophone), Dan Lieber (drums/percussion), Ezra Lange (bass), Diana Mosquera (vocals), Puerko Pitzotl (percussion), Jess Anzaldua (percussion), Matt Davis (trombone), and Luis Tubens (vocals).

The album’s title also reflects the socially conscious nature of the project as well as band’s aspirations to unite their city. As stated by Perez, “We believe, especially growing up and witnessing the social divisions and violence in Chicago, that we can only move forward as a people, united with tolerance and understanding. Divisions are a social construct and we believe music is one of those special things that brings people together.”

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ESSO performs an infectious fusion of tropical funk and cumbiation—a blending of cumbia with reggaetón. Opening with sensuous rhythms, “Baila” is an excellent example of the band’s synthesis of more traditional Latin music interspersed with raps and electronic effects. Following is the harder, funk-driven Afrobeat song “La Calle,” about the challenges of growing up on the streets of Chicago, particularly among first generation immigrant families. Vocalist Diana Mosquera is featured prominently on her self-penned “Mariposa Negra,” while traditional Yoruban chants over several layers of percussion form the basis of “Homenaje.” Cuban-born DJ AfroQbano, now based in Chicago, programmed the beats on “Piramides,” “Meet Me Out,” and “Stone Eagle”—the latter two the only songs in English. Tracks such as “Somos Hermanos” and “Mi Gente” perhaps best articulate the group’s socio-political message of coming together as brothers and sisters and communities to strive for a better future.

On Juntos, ESSO Afrojam Funkbeats combine tight horns with an array of percussion to create infectious dance beats all while espousing the necessity of solidarity and embracing the multicultural nature of communities. This is world music fusion at its finest!

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

View review September 1st, 2017

Two Live Releases from Resonance Records – The Three Sounds & Jaco Pastorius

The Three Sounds

 

Title: Groovin’ Hard – Live at the Penthouse 1964-1968

Artist: The Three Sounds

Label: Resonance 

Formats: CD, LP, digital

Release date: January 13, 2017

 

Truth Liberty and Soul

Title: Truth, Liberty & Soul – Live In NYC

Artist: Jaco Pastorius

Label: Resonance

Formats: CD, LP, digital

Release date: May 26, 2017

 

 

Resonance Records’ George Klabin and Zev Feldman continue mining the world’s vaults and closets and unearthing excellent-quality jazz recordings previously unissued as commercial albums.  Among their releases this year are albums by Gene Harris’s  piano trio The Three Sounds recorded in Seattle in the 1960’s, and a gala 1982 big-band fusion concert led by the late great bassist Jaco Pastorius and recorded by National Public Radio at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall. The albums offer entertaining and excellent-sounding windows into two very distinct styles of jazz.

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The piano trio (piano, bass and drums) was a stable of urban jazz bars in the post-WWII era, popularity peaking in the late 1950’s through the 1960’s. Famous piano trios were led by Erroll Garner, Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Peterson, among others. And there was also The Three Sounds, fronted by keyboard ace Gene Harris. Resonance’s producers located and secured rights to a series of Three Sounds performances at The Penthouse club in Seattle, which were originally tape-recorded and broadcast over local radio. The performances feature Harris and bassist Andy Simpkins with different drummers present for each of the three different recording dates (1964, 1966 and 1968).

Musically, The Three Sounds hew more toward the jazz side of soul-jazz, as compared to Ramsey Lewis for instance, with the emphasis on a swinging groove. Harris was a skilled pianist, but he emphasized musicality over technical chops. He and his band mates were in sync and projected a logical and well-thought concept of how to play their way around their set lists. Album highlights include the Harris originals “Blue Genes,” “Rat Down Front” and “The Boogaloo,” plus covers of Neil Hefti’s “Girl Talk” and Johnny Mandel’s “The Shadow of Your Smile” that avoid stereotypical schmaltz traps and groove along nicely.

Jaco Pastorius was a self-taught and revolutionary bassist (for more on that, check out the documentary film “Jaco”). He gained fame as part of fusion-jazz mega-stars Weather Report, but left the band in 1981 and formed an ensemble he called the Word of Mouth Band. An expanded version of that group performed at Manhattan’s Avery Fisher Hall on June 27, 1982 as part of the Kool Jazz Festival, and the performance was recorded by National Public Radio’s “Jazz Alive!” program. The Resonance 2-CD release includes 40 minutes of music not included in the original broadcast.

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For this performance, the Word of Mouth Band included members of the A-list of New York studio musicians, some of whom were familiar names as part of that era’s “Saturday Night Live” band. Fans of the “Blues Brothers” movies will recognize names like “Blue” Lou Marini on tenor sax and Alan Rubin on trumpet. Plus, legendary harmonica player Toots Thielemans joined the band for seven numbers.

The big band that Pastorius brought on stage was very much of fusion jazz and of the early 1980s. It included Pastorius’s electric bass (with heavy amplification and effects), steel drums played by Othello Molineaux, tuba player David Bargeron, percussionist Don Alias, plus six sax-men, six trumpets, three trombones and two French horns. In the drum seat was Pastorius’s former Weather Report bandmate, Peter Erskine.

One of the reasons Pastorius left Weather Report was an on-going disagreement with band founder Joe Zawinul about how far the band should move toward electronic effects and synthesizers. Although much younger than Zawinul, Pastorius favored an approach closer to jazz’s acoustic traditions. His vision, as presented with the Word of Mouth Band, is modern and somewhat electrified, but firmly rooted in traditional large-ensemble jazz. It’s no accident, for instance, that the band presents a very recognizable cover of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.” As far as fusion-jazz style, this band favors Latin and funky flavors as opposed to the slicker and somewhat disco-esque music of later-era Weather Report.

Even though the ensemble is large and some of the arrangements are dense, the playing is flawless. Engineer Paul Blakemore, who made the original recording for NPR, returned to his multi-track tapes and remixed the concert, the result being superb, punchy and detailed sound.

Both of these albums are the latest examples of Resonance’s emphasis on quality music above all else, followed closely by quality recordings. As is always the case with Resonance releases, both albums feature hefty booklets full of details about the musicians, performances’ times and places and producer Feldman’s always entertaining tales of scouring the vaults and closets to find the hidden jazz gems.

It’s interesting listening to these albums back-to-back, noting the different times and places, and the very different styles of music included in the big tent of jazz. In a modern context, the Pastorius concert is an afternoon on the deck with friends, beer, chips and salsa – fun, bright and energetic. The Three Sounds club dates go well with an adult beverage, low light and a comfortable chair – engaging and relaxed but never dull.

Reviewed by Tom Fine

 

 

View review September 1st, 2017

Welcome to the August 2017 Issue

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

As a tie-in to the annual AfroPunk Festival, we’re featuring rock-oriented releases including emerging Seattle artist Ayron Jones’s Audio Paint Job, Benjamin Booker’s socially conscious Witness, The Isley Brothers and Santana collaboration Power of Peace, the EP Over the Covers from Austin Latin funk band Brownout, and Bloodlust from Ice T’s heavy metal band Bodycount.

New jazz and R&B projects include Ronald Bruner Jr.’s Triumph (featuring his brothers Thundercat and Jameel Bruner), Splendid Things Gone Awry from the experimental jazz/hip hop/soul duo  Summer of ’96 (Antman and Lonnee Stevens), Phil Perry’s Breathless, and Billy Ocean’s Here You Are, The Music of My Life.

This month’s blues feature is the Sherman Holmes Project’s The Richmond Sessions, the gospel feature is Sure. Focused. Centered from NextGeneration Choir (St. Louis Shalom Church City of Peace), and the rap feature is Chris Rivers’ DeLorean.

World music releases include Transmisión en la Eritá Metathe story of Afro-Cuban religious drums from ethnomusicologist Amanda Villepastour and Cuban producer Luis Bran, and the compilation Sly & Robbie present Taxi Gang in Disco Mix Style 1978-87.

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

View review August 1st, 2017

Welcome to the July 2017 Issue

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

This month’s issue kicks off with an overview of releases from the recent PBS series American Epic and American Epic Sessions, plus new releases from pioneers of rap and rock: Jay-Z’s 4:44 and the late Chuck Berry’s final album, Chuck.

 

In honor of Leontyne Price’s 90th birthday, we’re featuring Decca’s new deluxe edition of her 1961 recording of Verdi’s Aida. Also under classical music is string trio Hear in Now’s new project Not Living In Fear.

Jazz, R&B and funk releases include Bokanté’s world music influenced Strange Circles, New Jersey neo-soul artist SZA’s debut studio album CTRL, Philly smooth jazz duo Pieces of a Dream’s Just Funkin’ Around, a Stax 60th anniversary vinyl reissue of the soundtrack to Melvin Van Peeble’s landmark film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, and the compilation More From the Other Side of the Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968.

Gospel releases include Anita Wilson’s Sunday Song, the Como Mamas sophomore album Move Upstairs, Acrobat’s The Alberta Hunter Collection 1921-1940, and Steven Malcolm’s self-titled Christian rap debut.

Wrapping up this issue is Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi’s Piedmont blues tribute album Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train, and our listing of June 2017 Releases of Note.

View review July 7th, 2017

June 2017 Releases of Note

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

Blues, Folk, Country
Big Joe Williams: Southside Blues (Rockbeat)
Blind Willie Johnson:  American Epic – Best of Blind Willie Johnson (Third Man)
Cash Box Kings: Royal Mint (Alligator)
Jimmy Witherspoon: Live at the Renaissance & Monterey (Soul Jam)
Lead Belly: American Epic – Best of Lead Belly (Third Man)
Little Willie Farmer: I’m Coming Back Home (Wolf)
Memphis Jug Band: American Epic – Best of Memphis Jug Band (Third Man)
Mississippi John Hurt: American Epic – Best of Mississippi John Hurt (Third Man)
Skip James: Special Rider Blues, Early Recordings, 1931(Soul Jam)
Son House: Special Rider Blues, 1930-42 Mississippi & Wisconsin (Soul Jam)
Various: American Epic – Best of Blues (Third Man)
Willie Clayton: Crossroads of the Blues (Endzone Ent)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup: Rocks (Bear Family)
Benjamin Booker: Witness (ATO)
Chuck Berry: Chuck (Dualtone)
Denai Moore: We Used To Bloom (Because Music)
Junie Morrison: Junie – Complete Westbound Recordings 1975-76 (Westbound)
Merry Clayton: Gimme Shelter (reissue) (Real Gone Music)
Moniquea: Blackwavefunk (Fat Beats)
P.O.D.: Satellite (Atlantic)
Prince: Purple Rain (3 CD+DVD expanded ed.)(Warner Bros.)
Tackhead: Lost Tapes Vol. 1 (Echo Beach)
Terrence Parker: God Loves Detroit (Planet E Communications)
Valenti Funk: Valenti (Clear Zebra)

Gospel, Contemporary Christian
B.B. King: Sings Spirituals (Soul Jam)
Earnest Pugh: Fully Persuaded (P-Man Group)
James Fortune & FIYA: Dear Future Me (eOne Music Nashville)
Patrick Hollis & United: Back Again (Ecko)
Preashea Hilliard: The Glory Experience (New Day Ent.)

Jazz
Ambrose Akinmusire: A Rift In Decorum Live (Blue Note)
Amina Baraka & The Red Microphone: S/T (Forced Exposure)
Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Vol. 4 (Omnivore)
Barbara Morrison: I Wanna to be Loved (Savant)
Bert Myrick: Live ‘n Well (reissue )(BBE)
Binker and Moses: Journey to the Mountain of Forever (Gearbox)
Braxton Cook: Somewhere in Between (Fresh Selects)
Charles Mingus: Complete Birdland 1961-1962 Broadcasts (Solar)
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Centennial Trilogy 2 – Diaspora (Ropeadope)
Denys Baptiste: The Late Trane (Edition)
Adam Roger’s Dice: S/T (Adraj)
Dwight Trible with Matthew Halsall: Inspirations (Gondwana)
Irvin Mayfield & New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Live at Newport (Basin Street )
J.J. Johnson: Columbia Albums Collection: 1956-1961 (4 CDs)(Enlightenment)
Jackiem Joyner: Main Street Beat (Artistry Music )
James Brandson Lewis Trio: No Filter (BNS Sessions)
Jimmy Smith Trio: Complete 1957-1959 Sessions (Phono)
Jowee Omicil: Let’s BasH! (Jazz Village)
Julian Vaughn: Bona Fide (Trippin N’ Rhythm)
Kris Funn: Cornerstore (digital) (Kristopher Funn Music)
Latimore: A Taste of Me: Great American Songs (Essential Media Group)
Naturally 7: Both Sides Now (Warner)
Nina Simone:  Complete 1959-61 Live Recordings (Essential Jazz Classics)
Quincy Jones:  20 Classic Albums (10 CD set) (Real Gone Jazz)
Roscoe Mitchell: Bells for the South Side (ECM)
Summer of ’96: Splendid Things Gone Awry (RED)
Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane: Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (100th Anniversary vinyl box set) (Craft)
Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: Handful of Keys (Blue Engine)
Zem Audu: Spirits (Origin)

R&B, Soul
Angela Bofill: I Try – Anthology 1978-1993 (Soul Music)
Beatles: Early Beatles Repertoire 1960-61 (Rhythm & Blues)
Brooks Long & The Mad Dog No Good: Mannish Boys (Morphius)
Cody ChesnuTT: My Love Divine Degree (Handwritten)
Coolee Bravo: 20 Minutes in Chicago EP (digital)
Eruption: Best of Eruption (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Felicia Temple: Balancing Act
Fred Wesley & the Generations: S/T  (Minor Music)
H.E.R.: H.E.R. Vol. 2 (RCA)
Ideeyah: Brave (EVRY Music)
India.Arie: SongVersation: Medicine EP (digital)
Jay King: Helen’s Son (Expansion)
LaBelle: The Anthology (SoulMusic)
M.T.B.: It’s Meant to Be (eOne)
Mali Music: The Transition of Mali (ByStorm Ent./RCA )
Mike City: Presents the Feel Good Agenda Vol. 1 (BBE)
Ms. Irene Renee: Ubiquitous Soul (D.A.P.)
Ricky Latt: Welcome to Soulville (W.A.G.E. Ent)
Ronald Bruner, Jr.: Triumph (vinyl) (World Galaxy; Alpha Pup)
Rudy Ray Moore: Sensuous Black Man (1st CD reissue) (Dolemite)
Sly5thAve: Composite EP (digital) (Tru Thoughts)
Soul Understated: Songs in the Key of Grease (Shanachie)
TLC: TLC (852 MUSIQ)
Various: Nothing But a Houseparty – Birth of Philly Sound 1967-71 (Kent)
Various: Inner Peace: Rare Spiritual Funk & Jazz Gems (WeWantSounds)

Rap, Hip Hop
Mozzy & Gunplay: Dreadlocks & Headshots (Real Talk Ent)
13 Boy’z: Last of a Dying Breed (East Town)
2 Chainz: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (Def Jam)
Abra: Princess EP (True Panther Sounds)
Aha Gazelle: Trilliam 2 (mix tape)(Reach)
Berner & Styles P: Vibes (Bern One Ent.)
Big Boi: Boomiverse (Epic)
Blacastan & Stu Bangas: Uncanny Adventures of Watson & Holmes (Brick)
Bleezo & Sav Sicc: Twin Evil 2 (Cway Muziccore)
Bone Thugs: New Wave (eOne)
Bryson Tiller: True to Self (RCA)
Chief Keef: Thot Breaker (RBC)
Da Buze Bruvaz: Adebisi Hat (Grilchy Party)
Dane Uno: Everything in the Dark Comes to the Light (Junkadelic Music)
DJ Khaled: Grateful (Epic)
Game Theory: 2 Steps From the Middle Ages (Omnivore)
Gensu Dean & Wise Intelligent: Game of Death (Mello Music)
Gunplay: The Plug (Real Talk Ent.)
Ice Cube: Death Certificate (25th anniversary ed.)(Cubevision)
Jarren Benton: The Mink Coat Killa (Benton Enterprise)
JL: Tech N9ne Present’s JL DIBKIS (Strange Music)
Joyner Lucas:  508-507-2209  (Atlantic)
Kero One & Azure: Kero & Azure (Plug)
Kool G Rap: Return of the Don (Clockwork Music)
Krayzie Bone: Eternal Legend (Real Talk Ent.)
Krayzie Bone & Young Noble: Thug Brothers 2 (Real Talk Ent.)
Mack Bone: What Y’all Want Me 2 Do? (Soundblanket)
Mazon: S/T (digital) (Mazon Music)
MC Eiht: Which Way Iz West (Year Round)
Monty: Monty Zoo II (RGF Productions)
Mr Capone-E: California Love – All Eyez on Me (Hi Power Ent.)
Propaganda: Crooked (Fair Trade)
Public Enemy: Nothing Is Quick in the Desert (free download)
Sadat X: Sum of a Man (vinyl) ( Dymond Mine)
Showbiz & A.G.: Take It Back (D.I.T.C.)
Stevie Stone: Level Up (Strange Music)
Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer (#Merky)
Twista: Crook County (GMG Ent.)
Various: Boombox 2: Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro & Disco Rap 1979-83 (Soul Jazz)
Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory (Def Jam)
Z-Ro: No Love Boulevard (1 Deep Ent.)

Reggae, Dancehall
Ambassa: Ride the Samples (Wakeditown)
Ammoye: The Light (eOne Music Canada)
Bob Marley & Wailers: Lively Up Yourself: Roots of a Revolution 1967-71 (Wewantsounds)

World
“Om” Alec Khaoli: Say You Love Me (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Kondi Band: Salone (Strut)
Oté Maloya: Birth of Electric Maloya on Réunion Island 1975-86 (Strut)
Songhoy Blues: Resistance (Fat Possum)
Sonia Aimy: Nigerian Spirit (Saimy’s Art)
Supercombo: Explorations (Z Production)
Tanzania Albinism Collective: White African Power (Six Degrees)
Various: Beating Heart – South Africa Vol. 1 (Beating Heart)
Various: John Armstrong presents Afrobeat Brasil (BBE)
Various: Pop Makossa: Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976 -84 (Analog Africa)

View review July 5th, 2017

Welcome to the June African American Music Appreciation Month issue

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

As one might expect, many of this month’s new releases come with a heavy dose of socio-political themes. These include our three featured jazz releases: vocalist Jazzmeia Horn’s debut album A Social Call, Brian McCarthy’s Civil War inspired project The Better Angels of Our Nature which drops a week before Juneteenth, and B3 virtuoso Gregory Lewis’ Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite which pays tribute to Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Aiyana Jones.  Other jazz releases include the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s contemporary project So It Is, Terence Blanchard’s soundtrack album from The Comedian, and the new Wes Montgomery release from Resonance, Smokin’ in Seattle.

Two releases are devoted to African American composers: Zenobia Powell Perry Piano Works performed by Josephine Gandolfi, Deanne Tucker, and LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, and Richard Dowling’s new 3-CD box set The Complete Piano Works of Scott Joplin, released on the 100th anniversary of Joplin’s death. New R&B/soul releases include the CD/DVD Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There: An All-star Concert Celebration recorded in 2014, Mint Condition member Stokley Williams’ solo debut Introducing Stokley, and a preview of forthcoming reissues from Concord in celebration of Stax Records 60th Anniversary

Our politically conscious rap picks are Joey Badass’ All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ and Oddisee’s The Iceberg, while rock and funk-oriented releases include The New Respects’ Here Comes Trouble, Barbados-born singer-instrumentalist Bobby Saint’s Unholy EP, veteran Garland Jeffreys’ 14 Steps to Harlem, blues-rocker Selwyn Birchwood’s Pick Your Poison, and a compilation devoted to P-Funk’s Fuzzy Haskins I Got My Thang Together: The Westbound Years

Wrapping up this issue is Kenyan-born vocalist Naomi Wachira’s sophomore album Song of Lament; the compilation Zaire74: The African Artists featuring previously unreleased performances from the music festival surrounding the infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match; and our May 2017 Releases of Note.

View review June 2nd, 2017

Gregory Lewis – Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite

gregorylewis
Title: Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite

Artist: Gregory Lewis

Label: Self released

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: May 5, 2017

 

A virtuoso on the Hammond B3, Gregory Lewis (aka Organ Monk) wowed the Chamber Music America conference last year when his group performed Thelonious Monk and a few of Lewis’s own chamber jazz compositions in their signature funky, Monk-inspired contrapuntally intricate style. One of those original works, The Breathe Suite, is featured on this newly released album, performed by Lewis with members of his regular quintet: tenor saxophonist Reggie Woods, trumpeter Riley Mullins, guitarist Ron Jackson, and drummer Jeremy “Bean” Clemons. Supplementing this line-up is drummer Nasheet Waits and guitarist Mark Ribot, who replace Clemons and Jackson on the first and third movements.

Four of the five movements of The Breathe Suite are dedicated to an African American killed during confrontations with police officers or vigilantes. With this project Lewis joins the ever growing rank of composers and musicians who write and perform as a personal form of protest: “I can’t protest, because if I protest I go to jail. And if I go to jail I can’t feed my five kids. So what I can do is what I do – I write music . . . Even if it brings joy for just a minute to these families, that’s what I can do.”

The first movement and by far the largest portion of the suite is “Chronicles of Michael Brown.” Clocking in at nearly 19 minutes, the track begins in an instrumental fog of distortion, over which the organ sounds an elegy. As the work progresses, one can’t help but reflect on the events of August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown’s body lay on the pavement for hours on end. Likewise, the music seems to portray an alternate reality, where straight ahead solos are sharply punctuated at odd moments by organ or guitar, oftentimes shifting between free jazz and funk rock like a collision of cultures. As the movement builds to a climax, it becomes more atonal, gradually fading out on a cymbal roll like a spirit rising up to heaven.

The second movement, “Trayvon,” is of course dedicated to young Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Scored for organ, guitar and drums, this track is more of a fast paced interlude, with Lewis freely riffing on the B3 and Jackson taking a brief guitar solo near the end. The trio continues in similar style on “Aiyana’s Jones Song,” referencing the seven-year-old girl shot and killed in 2010 during a Detroit Police raid. As the movement concludes, the instruments fall into a repetitive pattern, suggesting a never ending cycle.

“Eric Garner” is eulogized in the fourth movement by the full quintet. On this slow, haunting track, Lewis provides sustained chords on the B3 while the other instruments improvise, with special effects creating a discordant soundscape that has us floating through time and space. The suite concludes with “Ausar and the Race Soldiers” (reprised in the 6th track), a more straight ahead movement that still offers ample room for free improvisation and solos.

Gregory Lewis Quintet’s stated mission is “to expand upon the interpretation of jazz and create a catalogue of 21st century American originals.” In this they have surely succeeded, creating a highly original, socially conscious work inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the cycle of violence and deadly oppression which led to its creation.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

 

View review June 2nd, 2017

Stax 60th Anniversary Releases

Stax

Just in time for Black Music Month, Concord Music Group announces its Stax Records 60th Anniversary celebration.  The year long celebration will include new hits compiliations as well as remastered vinyl offerings and brand new box sets with rare deep cuts from the Stax catalog.  Great tracks from artists like Isaac Hayes, Johnnie Taylor, The Staple Singer, Sam & Dave, Booker T. & The MGs and of course Otis Redding will be revisited during the year.

For those of us who are well steeped in the most popular output of the record label, Stax 60th also promises some surprises: a re-release of the soundtrack to Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song which features music by Earth, Wind & Fire in their pre-That’s The Way Of the World orientation; a box set spanning Isaac Hayes’ catalog from 1962-1976; and a new fourth volume of their acclaimed Complete Stax Singles box sets. This new box set will include lots of music from Stax’s subsidiary labels like Volt, Enterprise, Hip, Chalice and others.  While much of this music is being kept alive and well in Memphis at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy, it’s a great time to make sure the whole world remembers what made the music from Stax Records so special. We’ll be reviewing these new releases in the near future.

Levon Williams

View review June 2nd, 2017

Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There – An All-Star Concert Celebration

Mavis
Title: Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration

Artist: Various

Label: Blackbird Presents

Formats: CD, MP3, DVD

Release date: June 2, 2017

 

 

This exciting release is a star-studded celebration of Mavis Staples, honoring her 75th birthday and the soul music that shaped her career. Presented on both video and audio formats, this concert performance was recorded live at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago on November 19, 2014. Each song features a line-up of special guest musicians performing with Mavis and her All-Star Band directed by Grammy Award-winner Don Was. Accomplished country, soul, and R&B musicians such as the late Gregg Allman, Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo, Emmylou Harris, and Aaron Neville take the stage alongside up-and-coming generations of rock, folk, and soul musicians like Jeff and Spencer Tweedy, Grace Potter, and Glen Hansard.

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The live concert exhibits high energy in every song and is certainly worth viewing for an all-consuming soulful experience. The show opens as Joan Osborne steps out on stage performing “You’re Driving Me (To The Arms of a Stranger)” followed by Keb’ Mo’ on “Heavy Makes You Happy.” A camera occasionally sets its focus off-stage on Mavis Staples’ joyful smile as she sings and dances along with the music.

From Buddy Miller’s “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind On Jesus)” to Taj Mahal’s “Wade In The Water,” each performance adopts Christian themes and engages with gospel influences. Many of the songs featured in this concert, such as Michael McDonald’s “Freedom Highway” and Eric Church’s “Eyes On The Prize,” reflect Mavis’s dedication to the Civil Rights Movement when she sang with the Staple Singers. Aaron Neville’s gentle voice sweetly complements while sharply contrasts Mavis’ unrivaled iconic vocals on “Respect Yourself.”

Between songs on the DVD release, the guest artists share their appreciation for Mavis Staples and her creative contributions to soul and R&B music. Her commitment to quality and giving her best with every performance can be seen in her energy on stage and engagement with the audience, especially on her solo song, “I’ll Take You There.” The full ensemble on “The Weight” combines the spirit of the night in one final and satisfying crowd-pleaser. This explosive collection of renowned musicians sharing the stage to honor Mavis Staples feels like the greatest birthday party you would not want to miss. Luckily, you can catch the concert when it will be aired on the cable network AXS TV on June 4th.

Reviewed by Jennie Williams

View review June 2nd, 2017

Stokley – Introducing Stokley

Stokley
Title: Introducing Stokley

Artist: Stokley

Label: Concord

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: June 23, 2017

 

 

Introducing Stokley by Stokley Williams is an interesting record, and I mean that in most complimentary way possible.  Williams, well known to R&B fans for the past twenty plus years as the lead singer of the band Mint Condition, steps out on Introducing Stokley to chart his own course. It would have been very easy for Williams to tread the tried and true path of Mint Condition (who are one of the best bands to come out of the 1990s along with Tony! Toni! Toné!), but instead Williams brings forth an offering which is simultaneously approachable and eclectic.

The album’s opener and lead single “Level” finds Williams embracing a modern R&B feel with hip-hop leanings.  The track is rhythmic and bangs with hard 808 drums that compliment Williams’ always excellent singing surprisingly well.

On “Think of U” Stokley’s voice, which sounds somewhat reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, is on full display. Williams has always been a strong vocalist and he doesn’t hold back on his solo debut. “Art In Motion” serves as kind of a bridge between electronic and acoustic music, with an appearance by Robert Glasper on keyboards.  The song’s breakdown is especially interesting as all the elements mix together.

“Victoria” is probably the most “experimental” track on the album, playing into Williams’ flair for drama as a man pleading for a woman’s presence.  The musical backing for the song includes elements of jazz, R&B and African influences, all held together by Stokley’s vocals which he enjoys playing around with throughout the track. “U&I” is a duet with Estelle which works very well as a modern adaptation of the great male/female duos like Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack or Jerry Butler & Thelma Houston.  “Forecast” sees Williams’ incorporating an ever so slight hard rock element as he laments the difficult outlook on a not-so-good relationship.  The album’s closer, “Wheels Up,” is an uplifting (pun intended) track about not letting others rain on your parade.  Williams, who is also a talented percussionist, lends some steel drum to this track.

With Introducing Stokley, the artist achieves the difficult task of engaging fans of his work with Mint Condition while making this solo effort truly his own.

Reviewed by Levon Williams

 

View review June 2nd, 2017

May 2017 Releases of Note

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

Blues, Folk, Country
Harrison Kennedy: Who U Tellin’? (Electro-Fi)
Lindsay Alexander: Two Cats (Delmark)
Tony Jackson: S/T (DDS Ent.)
Various: Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues (World Music Network)
Various: American Epic: The Collection (Box Set) (Legacy)

Comedy, Spoken Word
Clayton English: All the Same (Comedy Dynamics)
Flip Wilson: Cowboys & Colored People (Wounded Bird)
Flip Wilson: You Devil You   (Wounded Bird)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Bobby Saint: Unholy EP (Shoot To Kill Music)
Chastity Brown: Silhouette of Sirens (Red House)
Mtume: Prime Time: The Epic Anthology (SoulMusic)
The New Respects: Here Comes Trouble (Credential)
Ziggy Funk: Boxer’s Fracture (BBE)

Gospel, Contemporary Christian
Alice Coltrane: World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)
Ben Tankard:  Full Tank 3: Cantankerous (Ben-Jammin Universal)
Como Mamas: Move Upstairs (Daptone)
Jermaine Dolly: Dolly Express (By Any Means Necessary)
LaVarnga Hubbard: Better Is Coming (eOne)
Mandisa: Out of the Dark (Sparrow/Capitol)
Sherwin Gardner: Greater (Tyscot)

Jazz
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones: UFO Tofu (Warner Bros.)
Camille Thurman: Inside the Moment (Chesky )
Charnett Moffett: Music From Our Soul (Motéma Music)
Christian Sands: Live From Jazz at the Bistro (Mack Avenue)
Eclectik Percussions Orchestra & Olive Lake: Traces De Vie (Passin’ Thru)
Heliocentrics:  A World of Masks (Soundway)
Jaco Pastorius: Truth, Liberty & Soul – Live in NYC (Resonance)
Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem)
Julian Vaughn: Bona Fide (Trippin’ & Rhythm)
Lionel Loueke: The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke   (Earshift)
Louis Hayes: Serenade For Horace (Blue Note)
Matthew Shipp, Mat Walerian, William Parker: This Is Beautiful Because We Are
Beautiful People (ESP Disk)
Naturally 7: Both Sides Now (Warner)
Oliver Lake & Joseph Bowie: Live At “A Space” 1976 (Sackville)
Patti LaBelle: Bel Hommage (GPE)
Pieces of a Dream: Just Funkin’ Around (Shanachie)
Richard Dowling: Complete Piano Works of Scott Joplin (3CD set) (Rivermont)
Sean Jones: Live from Jazz at the Bistro (Mack Avenue)
Skinny Hightower: Emotions (Trippin & Rhythm)
Teodross Avery: Post Modern Trap Music (Katalyst Ent.)
Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (OST) (Sam Records/Saga)
Theo Hill: Promethean (Posi-Tone)
Various: Jazz Ladies 1924-1962 (Naxos)
Various: Savory Collection Vol. 3, Honeysuckle Rose: Fats Waller and Friends
(National Jazz Museum in Harlem )
William Appling: Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Waltzes & Marches (W.A.S.O.)
Ragan Whiteside: Treblemaker (Randis Music)

R&B, Soul
Albert King: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)
Bob Holmes: Nashville Soul   (Ace/Kent)
Booker T. & The MG’s: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)
Carla Thomas: Stax Classics  (Stax/Concord)
Clarence Daniels Orchestra: Hard Workin: West Coast Big Band R&B Grooves (Ace/Kent)
Darien Dean: Departures (My Mouth Music)
Dramatics: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)
Don Bryant: Don’t Give Up on Love (Fat Possum)
Eric Roberson: Earth (Blue Erro Soul)
Freddie North: What Are You Doing To Me – Complete A-Bet Recordings (Kent)
Goapele: Dreamseeker EP (Skyblaze)
Isaac Hayes: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)
Jeanette Jones: Dreams All Come True (Playback)
Johnnie Taylor: Stax Classics  (Stax/Concord)
LeToya Luckett: Back 2 Life (eOne)
Maysa: Love is a Battlefield (Shanachie)
Otis Redding: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)
Ruth B: Safe Haven (Columbia)
Sam & Dave: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)
Staple Singers: Stax Classics  (Stax/Concord)
Various: Shrine – Rarest Soul Label Vol. 2 (Kent)
Various: The Big Beat: Dave Bartholomew Songbook (Ace/Kent)
Various: Dreamgirls (Original London Cast Recording) (Sony Classical)
Various: Virtue Recording Studio (Tramp)
Various: Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song OST (Stax/Concord)
William Bell: Stax Classics (Stax/Concord)

Rap
Azizi Gibson: Memoirs of the Reaper (Prehistoric)
B.O.B.: Ether (Empire)
Big L: The Big Picture (reissue) (RPG)
Brother Ali: All the Beauty in This Whole Life (Rhymesayers)
Buddy & Kaytranada: Ocean & Montana EP (Cool Lil Company)
Daylyt & Willie B: Let There B Lyt (Champions Only 98)
David Banner: The God Box (Banner Vision)
Dr. Octagon: Dr. Octagonecologyst (Vinyl box reissue) (Get On Down)
Endemic Emerald & Skanks The Rap Martyr: Rapsploitation (No Cure)
Faith Evans and the Notorious B.I.G.: The King & I (Rhino)
Gucci Mane: Droptopwop (Atlantic)
Insight The Truncator: Ears Hear Spears (Redefinition)
Jus-P: Supafriendz 2 (Chambermusik)
K.A.A.N. & Klaus Layer: Abstractions (Redefinition)
Kid Ink: 7 Series (RCA)
Lil Darrion: Blame the Streets (Black Market)
Lil Yachty: Teenage Emotions (Quality Control Music)
Logic:  Everybody (Def Jam)
Molecules & Showbiz: A Bronx Tale (Legion)
Montana of 300: Don’t Doubt the God (eOne)
Nef the Pharaoh: The Chang Project  (Sick Wid It)
Philthy Rich: Loyalty B4 Royalty 4 (Black Market)
Quelle Chris: Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often (Mello Music)
Snoop Dogg: Neva Left (Empire)
Stik Figa: Central Standard Time (Mello Music)
The Underachievers: Renaissance (RPM Music)

Reggae, Dancehall
Cornell Campbell: Ropin’ (Radiation Roots)
King Tubby: Shalom Dub (Radiation Roots)
Morgan Heritage: Avrakedabra  (CTBC)
Techniques & Friends: Winston Riley’s Rock Steady & Early Reggae 1968-1969 (Dubstore)

World, Latin
Erik Aliana & Pickett: Just My Soul   (Buda Musique)
Kanazoe Orkestra: Miriya (Buda Musique)
Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu of Ethiopia (Strut)
Oumou Sangaré: Mogoya (No Format!)
Quantic/Nidia Gongora: Curao (Tru Thoughts)
Timbila & Chartwell Dutiro :  Sadza With the Head of A Mouse (Lion Songs)
Various: Afro Rap: L’Album  (Wagram Music)
Various: Putumayo Presents Cuba! Cuba! (Putumayo)

View review June 1st, 2017

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

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