Posts filed under 'African American Culture & History'

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.)

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)

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)

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.)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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

View review November 1st, 2016

Welcome to the October 2016 issue of Black Grooves

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

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

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

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

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

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

View review October 3rd, 2016

September 2016 Releases of Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View review October 3rd, 2016

Welcome to the September 2016 Issue

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

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

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

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

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

View review September 1st, 2016

Mike Wheeler Band – Turn Up!!

mike wheeler band

Title: Turn Up!!

Artist: Mike Wheeler Band

Label: Delmark

Format: CD, MP3

Release Date: April 15, 2016



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

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

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

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

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review September 1st, 2016

Three Robert Mugge Films Celebrate Louisiana Music

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

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

Director: Robert Mugge

Label: MVD

Formats: Blu-ray, streaming video

Release date: March 25, 2016


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

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

Director: Robert Mugge

Label: MVD

Format: DVD

Release date: March 25, 2016


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

Kingdom of Zydeco
Title: The Kingdom of Zydeco

Director: Robert Mugge

Label: MVD

Formats: Blu-ray, streaming video

Release date: April 8, 2016


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

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

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

View review September 1st, 2016

August 2016 Releases of Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View review September 1st, 2016

Welcome to the August 2016 issue

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

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

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

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

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

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


View review August 1st, 2016

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

harry t burleigh book

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

Author: Jean E. Snyder

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Formats: Book (hardcover and ebook editions)

Release date: March 1, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewed by Amy Edmonds



View review August 1st, 2016

July 2016 Releases of Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View review August 1st, 2016

Welcome to the July 2016 issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

View review July 1st, 2016

Bernie Worrell – Retrospectives

bernie worrell_retrospectives

Title: Retrospectives

Artist: Bernie Worrell

Label: PurpleWOO Productions

Format: CD, LP, MP3

Release Date: January 20, 2016



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

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

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

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review July 1st, 2016

Project N-Fidelikah


Title: Project N-Fidelikah

Artist: Project N-Fidelikah

Label: Rat Pak Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: May 27, 2016



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

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

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

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


Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review July 1st, 2016

Rich Medina Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk

rich medina jump funk

Title: Rich Medina Presents Jump “N” Funk

Artist : Various Artists

Label: BBE

Format: CD, LP

Release Date: May 27, 2016



It would be unfair to fault readers who are unfamiliar with Afrobeat. It’s not commercial music and unless you’re a regular NPR listener, the genre might have escaped your notice. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones who saw the musical Fela! –if you were, then you know this music is heavy on horns and bass. If you weren’t, then this CD provides a condensed Afrobeat education. It’s a genre pioneered in the late ’60s by Fela Kuti. Nicknamed “The Black President,” Kuti was to Nigeria what Bob Marley was to Jamaica. Kuti was not afraid to take the Nigerian government to task for corruption and lying to the people, using his music to get social and political messages across. On this two disc set, DJ Rich Medina presents Jump N Funk, a collage of Afrobeat music, titled after the parties Rich Medina helped create and where he still regularly spins Afrobeat classics. These parties never really took off in Medina’s hometown of Philadelphia, but in New York, London, and Miami there is no parking on the dancefloor.

I found it odd that Fela’s son Femi is nowhere to be found on this CD, but Fela’s youngest son, Seun, was featured on two tracks. Disc two opens with the Antibalas, who are one of the biggest Afrobeat acts going today, not counting members of the Kuti family. They open disc two with a live version of “World War IV” at Jazz Café in London, with the lead singer taking the Clinton administration and other world leaders to task. This disc also includes a remake of 1972’s “Soul Moukusa,” a track that early B-boys would use as the soundtrack for popping and locking, while hip hop DJs Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa would cut it up in New York City parks. This remake stays true to the original. Disc one has another remake, Timmy Thomas’s 1973 cut, “Everbody Wants to Live Together,” covered by River Ocean on this set. This sentiment clearly maintains its value in the turbulent times that 2016 has brought.

Back to Seun Kuti. On “Don’t Give That Shit To Me” he says, “Don’t bullshit Africa”—a confrontational stance that shouldn’t put newbies off too much. Even though it is immanently danceable, this is angry political music at heart. Rich Medina appears on two tracks: on disc one’s “Too Much” with Martin Luther & Madlouna, and with Antibalas on “Ja Joosh.”  If ever commercial radio programmers wanted to expose this music to a wider fan base in the US, this radio-friendly cut would be the track to get behind.

Afrobeat isn’t for everyone, but if you like a message in your music, I highly urge you to give Rich Medina Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk a try.

Reviewed By Eddie Bowman


View review July 1st, 2016

The Emotions – Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985

the emotions_blessed_the emotions anthology

Title: Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985

Artist: The Emotions

Label: BBR/dist. Cherry Red

Format: 2-CD set

Release date: May 6, 2016


One of the most successful sister groups of the era, the Emotions parlayed the talents of Sheila, Wanda, and Jeanette Hutchinson with top producers and songwriters to create many indelible hits throughout the ‘70s.  For this two-disc compilation, forty classic tracks were selected from the group’s Stax/Volt, Columbia, Motown and Red Label catalog by producer Wayne A. Dickson. The set is packaged with a 24-page booklet featuring the essay “In a Beautiful Way: The Blessed Journey of the Emotions” by Christian John Wikane, which draws from recent interviews with Wanda Hutchinson Vaughn and the late Maurice White.

The Emotions’ story begins in Chicago, with an upbringing firmly rooted in the church where they joined their father Joe in the gospel group known as the Hutchinson Sunbeams. The sisters would cut their first single in 1964 for the Vee Jay-distributed Tollie label, followed by several more efforts, before Pervis Staples encouraged them to focus on the soulful side of R&B and move to Stax Records. There they were paired with Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and the rest, as they say, is history. This anthology begins with the Emotions’ first Volt single, “So I Can Love You,” which propelled them onto the charts in 1969 and became the title of their first album.

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The majority of the material on Blessed: The Emotions Anthology was drawn from studio albums issued by the Emotions between 1976 and 1985, including the Charles Stepney produced Flowers (1976), and four albums produced by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White: Rejoice (1977), which topped the R&B charts and included the hit single “Best of My Love” and “Blessed;” Sunbeam (1978), which features an all-star backing band; Come Into Our World (1979), and New Affair (1981). Several tracks are also included from Sincerely (1984), released on Chicago’s independent Red Label Records, and the set concludes with a single track from the Emotions’ final studio album for Motown, If Only I Knew (1985). Along the way there are a few B-sides and single versions of songs from these albums, including the disco classic “Boogie Wonderland” they performed with Earth, Wind & Fire.

This is a fine compilation, drawing attention not only to the soulful sisters from Chi-Town, but also to many great producers, especially Maurice White.  Though it would be nice if some of the Emotions’ early singles had been included, this two-disc set appears to be the best compilation released thus far, especially due to the exemplary liner notes and complete discographical details.  Highly Recommended.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss


View review July 1st, 2016

June 2016 Releases of Note

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

Blues, Folk, Country
Buddy Guy: Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1979 (Rockbeat)
James Blood Ulmer: Free Lancing (reissue) (Wounded Bird)
Nappy Brown: Down In The Alley – The Complete Singles As & Bs 1954-1962  (Jasmine)
Omar Coleman: Live (Delmark)
Various: Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection (Alligator)
Various: Mississippi Juke Joint Blues – 9th September, 1941 (RHYTHM & BLUES)

André Watts: The Complete Columbia Album Collection (Box set) (Sony Classical)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Corey Henry: Lapeitah  (Louisiana Red Hot)
Fantastic Negrito: Last Days of Oakland  (Blackball Universe)
Fitz and The Tantrums: S/T (Elektra/WEA)
Funky Knuckles: New Birth (GroundUp)
Grace Jones: Warm Leatherette: Deluxe Edition (Island)
Laura Mvula: The Dreaming Room (RCA)
Leapling: Suspended Animation (Exploding in Sound)
Melody Angel: In This America (digital) (One Melody)
Michael Franti & Spearhead: SoulRocker (Concord)
Seven Davis, Jr.: Future Society (R2)
Unlocking the Truth: Chaos

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Charles Butler & Trinity:  Make It (eOne)
Denise Josiah: Songs for the Heart (digital) (joDah, LLC)
Deon Kipping: Something To Talk About (RCA Inspiration)
Half Mile Home: Don’t Judge Me
Shirley Caesar: Fill This House (eOne)
Various: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take (Motown Gospel)
Various: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take (Motown Gospel)
William Murphy: Demonstrate (CD + DVD) (RCA Inspiration)

Allen Toussaint: American Tunes (Nonesuch)
Bennie Moten: The Bennie Moten Collection, 1923-32 (Fabulous)
Branford Marsalis Quartet: Upward Spiral (Marsalis Music/Okeh)
Crusaders: Live – New Orleans 1977 (Hi Hat)
Etienne Charles: San Jose Suite (Culture Shock Music)
Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (High Note)
Incognito: In Search of Better Days (Shanachie)
Ivo Perelman – Matthew Shipp:  Soul
Jeff Parker: Breed (International Anthem)
Kandace Springs: Soul Eyes (Blue Note)
Kenny Garrett: Do Your Dance! (Mack Ave.)
Kim Waters: Rhythm and Romance (Shanchie)
Marquis Hill: The Way We Play (Concord)
Michael Blum Quartet: Chasin’ Oscar: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson
Pedrito Martinez Group: Habana Dreams (Motema Music)
Tyshawn Sorey: The Inner Spectrum of Variables  (PI Recordings)
Warren Wolf: Convergence (Mack Ave.)

R&B, Soul
Andre Williams: I Wanna Go Back to Detroit City. (Bloodshot)
Chrisette Michele: Milestone (Rich Hipster)
Electric Flag: Live 1968 at the Carousel Ballroom (Rockbeat)
Fantasia: The Definition of… (RCA)
Harleighblu: Futurespective EP (Tru Thoughts)
Johnny Otis Show: Cuttin’ Up (Wounded Bird)
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne: Jumpin’ & Boppin’ (Stony Plain)
Marvin Gaye:  Volume Three: 1971-1981 (Box set) (Motown)
Pheeyownah: zero9zero9 EP (Labrador)
Rebbie Jackson: Centipede (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Sabrina Starke: Sabrina Starke (Zip)
The Pheels: likeWise EP (digital) (Above All Else)
Various: Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park (Numero)
William Bell: This Is Where I Live (Stax)
Xenia Rubinos: Black Terry Cat (Anti)

Rap, Hip Hop
Apathy: Handshakes With Snakes (Dirty Version)
Birdman: Ms. Gladys
Chazmere: Chazmere
Chinx: Legends Never Die (eOne)
Craig G: I Rap and I Go Home (digital) (Soulspazm)
D.O.C.: Nobody Can Do It Better (expanded ed.) (Real Gone)
Demrick: Collect Call (digital) (10 Strip Inc.)
DJ Shadow: The Mountain Will Fall (Mass Appeal)
Flowdan: Horror Show Style (Tru Thoughts)
Key Nyata: Dad of the Year (digital) (Goodrich & Gold)
Larry June: Larry EP (Warner Bros.)
Lessondary: Ahead of Schedule (HiPNOTT)
Mekanix: Under the Hood (Zoo Ent)
Mezonic: Inspire 2 – Redemption of The Ghettos Worldwide (Mezonic)
Mindless Behavior: #OfficialMBmusic  (Conjunction)
Oddisee: Alwasta EP (Mello Music)
Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Got a Mind to Give Up Living, Live 1966 (Real Gone)
Pawz One: F.U.C.K. (Below System)
Quelle Chris: Lullabies For The Broken Brain (LP) (Mello Music)
Rapper Shane: Too Busy To Be This Broke EP
Rome Fortune: Jerome Raheem Fortune (Fool’s Gold)
Soulja Boy: Better Late Than Never (SODMG)
Tha Don: Arrival of Tha Don (Music Access Inc.)
The Game: Streets of Compton (eOne)
Ugly Heroes: Everything In between (Mello Music)
Various: Trill Family Compilation (Trill Ent)
Vic Mensa: There’s Alot Going On (digital) (Roc Nation/Def Jam)
Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J: T.G.O.D Mafia: Rude Awakening (digital)
YG: Still Brazy (Def Jam)
Young Chop: King Chop (digital) (

 Reggae, Dancehall
Horace Andy / Winston Jarrett / The Wailers: The Kingston Rock (reissue) (Dubstore)
Alborosie: Freedom & Fyah (VP)
Bunny Lee & Friends: Tape Rolling (Pressure Sounds)
Flowering Inferno: 1000 Watts (Tru Thoughts)
Sly & Robbie: Dub Sessions 1978-1985 (Jamaican Recordings)
The Aggrovators: Dubbing At King Tubby’s (VP)

Hailu Mergia and Dahlak Band: Wede Harer Guzo (Awesome Tapes from Africa)
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno: 1000 Watts (Tru Thoughts)
Siama Matuzungidi: Rivers: From The Congo To The Mississippi
Sunburst: Ave Africa, The Complete Recordings 1973-1976  (Strut)
Various: Tanbou Toujou Lou (Ostinato)

View review July 1st, 2016

Welcome to the June Black Music Month issue

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

This month we’re traveling back in time to celebrate three of the most important African American composers of the early 20th century. First, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake perform original songs from their groundbreaking 1921 Broadway musical on Sissle & Blake Sing Shuffle Along. The works of R. Nathaniel Dett are featured on two recent projects: My Cup Runneth Over: The Complete Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett performed by Clipper Erickson, and the oratorio The Ordering of Moses in a live performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus under James Conlon.

Our featured DVD this month, Stretch & Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, highlights one of the greatest hip hop radio shows of all time. Also under the hip hop category is the genre-bending album Gone With the Trends by the St. Louis-based act illPHONiCS.

Under jazz, we’re featuring Robert Glasper’s Miles Davis tribute Everything’s Beautiful, Marcus Strickland’s Nihil Novi, and Bill Evans’s Some Other Time: the Lost Session from the Black Forest.

Folk and gospel music releases include the Walker Family Singers’ Panola County Spirit, Leyla McCalla’s A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, and the reissue of two early Staple Singers’ albums Amen! and Why.

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

View review June 1st, 2016

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra & May Festival Chorus; James Conlon, conductor – R. Nathaniel Dett: The Ordering of Moses — Live From Carnegie Hall

the ordering of moses

Title: The Ordering of Moses – Live From Carnegie Hall

Composer: R. Nathaniel Dett

Artists: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra & May Festival Chorus; James Conlon, conductor

Label:  Bridge

Formats: CD

Release date: May 10, 2016


R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was one of the most important and highly regarded Black composers of the early twentieth century. Educated at Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory (B. Mus, 1908), he began his career as a composer and pianist, but also regularly served as a choral conductor—first, at his local church, later as director of the choirs at the Hampton Institute in Virginia and Bennett College in Greensboro, NC.

In 1932 Dett composed his first large choral work, The Ordering of Moses (subtitled Biblical Folk Scene for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra), as his master’s thesis for the Eastman School of Music, but it wasn’t published until 1937. That same year it was premiered at the Cincinnati May Festival under Eugene Goossens. Begun in 1873 and initially directed by Theodore Thomas (who later led the New York Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra), the May Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious choral festivals in the U.S., with a long history of championing and premiering new works. The programming of Dett’s oratorio was a major coup for the composer, especially since it was broadcast live nationwide over NBC radio (apparently three-quarters of the concert still exists on lacquer disc airchecks).[i] The work was subsequently performed in other major cities and revived by the May Festival in 1956 with Leontyne Price as a featured soloist, but has seldom been heard since.

Nearly 80 years later, James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra decided to premiere The Ordering of Moses in New York at Carnegie Hall as part of their Spring For Music initiative, reflecting concerted efforts to bring the community together through diversified programming. The concert captured in this recording was performed live on May 9, 2014 and features the May Festival Chorus led by Robert Porco (who taught choral conducting for 20 years at the IU Jacobs School of Music). The soloists, who all give exceptional performances, include soprano Latonia Moore as Miriam, tenor Rodrick Dixon as Moses, mezzo-soprano Ronnita Nicole Miller as the voice of Israel, and baritone Donnie Ray Albert as the voice of God/the Word.

The oratorio uses “text based on scripture and folklore” and draws from the books of Exodus and Lamentations, but also weaves in the words of spirituals, with strains of “Go Down Moses” serving as a leitmotif throughout. It’s apparent from the introduction that this is a monumental work of the highest order, shedding new light on Dett’s ability to write for a full orchestra. On the opening choruses, string and harp solos combine with the rattling of chains to depict the lament of “All Israel’s Children” and “O Lord, Behold My Affliction.” The track “Who Hath Made a Man Dumb” concludes with a full chorus arrangement of “Go Down Moses” which segues into an orchestral interlude. Other highlights include the operatic “When Moses Smote the Water” followed by the thrilling and very cinematic interlude “The Egyptians Pursue.” The oratorio concludes on a hopeful note with the chorus “He Is the King of Kings” as the freed Israelites rejoice.

The Ordering of Moses stands the test of time, as relevant today as in 1937, and in no way feels dated or self-conscious. Thanks to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra we now have an excellent modern recording of Dett’s oratorio, performed to very high standards, that truly honors the genius of R. Nathaniel Dett.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

[i]The world premiere performance from 1937 was released on LP in 1972 by Unique Opera Records (UORC 113); a performance recorded by the Mobile Symphony Orchestra at the Centennial Arts Festival at Talladega College was released on LP in 1968 by Silver Crest (TAL 42868 S.).

View review June 1st, 2016

illPHONiCS – Gone with the Trends

illphonics gone with the trends

Title: “Gone with the Trends”

Artist: illPHONiCS

Label: The Record Machine

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: April 1, 2016



St. Louis-based hip hop act illPHONiCS draws from a variety of musical influences, including rock, funk, and soul in its genre-bending blend of rap music with a live backing band.  In the vein of fellow musical polymaths The Roots, it might be possible to describe the group’s effective musical fusion in the words of Fallout Morris, the group’s MC: “musicality bliss from beginning to finish.” In my opinion, live bands may provide some of the most fertile territory for the ever-diversifying future of rap music, as many top name acts such as Kendrick Lamar are blending a live approach with electronic sounds and sampling. illPHONiCS are certainly on the cutting edge of this movement.

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illPHONiCS’s core group looks (and often sounds) more like a rock band than a rap group.  Morris is joined by Keith Moore a.k.a. William Gray on keyboards, Kevin Koehler on guitar, Simon “Spank” Chervitz on bass, and Chaz “CB” Brew on drums, organ, and vocals.  illPHONiCS is a group full of musical shapeshifters who play the funky “Liquid Spaceships” as convincingly as they play the ’90s alt-rock tinged (think Radiohead’s heavier moments) “Sweet Missouri (’miz(a)rē).”

The band’s music is propelled by Morris’s lyrics. The group’s MC eschews commercial rap cliches in favor of nuanced storytelling that smacks of rap’s poetic underground, as in “96 to 99,” a love letter to the classic rap groups that ruled the airwaves during that era.  ilPHONiCS also jump on current events (a trend that has been popular with artists in 2015 and 2016) on “The Brown Frequency,” a cut about Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police and the protests in Ferguson, Missouri that followed.  Unlike many other artists who treat this subject from a distance, alluding to social unrest indirectly or expressing some kind of vague solidarity, illPHONiCS speak to the subject with a more authoritative voice.  Not only is the group from the St. Louis area, but the lyrics to “The Brown Frequency” demonstrate specificity both of cause and of remedy that are unfortunately lacking from many other so-called “protest” records in 2016. The group takes a more introspective turn on “Gone with the Trends,” an anthem about personal authenticity.  However, illPHONiCS aren’t above including more standard fare such as “Love’s Not Far,” a number about unrequited love, and the smooth-funk party anthem, “Everything (Jammin For You).”

The diversity on Gone with the Trends” is matched only by the band’s tight musicianship and Fallout Morris’s silky-smooth rhymes.  Alternative hip hop fans will definitely want to give this release a few spins.

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

View review June 1st, 2016

Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life – Nihil Novi

marcus strickland_nihil Novi

Title: Nihil Novi

Artist: Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life

Label: Blue Note

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: April 15,2016



Jazz is the DNA of Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life’s album Nihil Novi, produced by well-known avant-garde soul singer and bassist, Meshell Ndegeocello. This release is a collection of experimental expressionist jazz, playing upon the listener’s expectations as a strategy to arouse an emotional response. Expressionism is an undercurrent in many of the most recent contemporary jazz releases, such as Kamasi Washington’s The Epic and Terrace Martin’s Velvet Portraits. Perhaps this wave of expressionistic jazz is brought to us by hip hop culture or African American social and political dissent, channeling the emotional component of critique and protest. Might it be part of a larger wave or even school of jazz that the history books might look back on as characteristic of the 2010s? What we know is that Nihil Novi is an album of incredible compositions that are some of the best produced in contemporary jazz. Its songs give a listener some sort of triumphant feeling of melancholy, or what writer Albert Murray would describe as a feeling that can “stomp the blues.”

Every musician delivers on Nihil Novi. Twi-Life is made up of trumpeter Keyon Harrold, bassist Kyle Miles, drummer Charles Haynes, organist Mitch Henry, and keyboardist Masayuki Hirano. Singer Jean Baylor, bassists Pino Palladino and Meshell Ndegeocello, keyboardist James Francies, drummer Chris Dave, guitarist Chris Bruce, and pianist Robert Glasper also contribute. The end product is an album of poignant nuance, thrilling through its multitude of precise sounds and gorgeous songs. If the pieces on Nihil Novi were paintings, they would all be colored in dark hues. All of its songs were expressly composed for this album and fulfill the ambition that much American music has to take a look at the underbelly of things, even though this desire seems to be less present in contemporary jazz than other genres. The record’s songs are poignant, often sounding as if they were deliberately produced to leave us feeling unhinged.

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“Talking Loud” features an excellent blend of saxophone, organ, singing and drumming. While the track’s subdued vocals (sung by Jean Baylor) take on a kind of emotionally numbing effect, the band’s playing is this cut’s most engaging feature. Baylor is also featured on “Alive,” which sounds like an R&B song accompanied by a jazz combo. On these two tracks, the vocalist takes turns with Marcus Strickland at being the center of attention, but ultimately the band’s leader delivers a more impressive performance.  “Sissoko’s Voyage” might be one of this year’s best jazz songs—its melody and rhythm exuding a spiritual, infectious optimism. “Cherish Family,” “Celestelude,” “Drive,” and “Mantra” are all expertly composed and played, while “Inevitable” smacks of soul jazz and is perhaps the one song in which Baylor’s vocals shine brightest. “Cycle” may be one of the very best compositions of the year. It speaks to eros and ethos: the pursuit of both laughter and seriousness through balanced living. This is jazz that plays to our notions of play and of contemplation, creating emotional balance through musical proportions. Some will also be reminded of Miles Davis’s experiments in jazz fusion in the later part of his career.

Nihil Novi is one of the best jazz releases so far this year, and is also one of the strongest efforts by a group in any genre. Each and every song is surprising, all the while being deeply rooted in the “stomping the blues” tradition that informs most excellent African American music, and informed by its own moment in American cultural history.


Reviewed by Adolf Alzuphar

View review June 1st, 2016

May 2016 Releases of Note

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

Blues, Folk, Country
Eric Bibb: Happiest Man In The World (Stony Plain)

Pumeza Matshikiza: Arias (Decca)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Mighty Clouds of Joy: Millennium Collection – 20th Century Masters Vol. 2 (MCA)
Tim Bowman Jr.: Listen (Lifestyle Music Group LLC)
Puntin: Gold (Puntanious Ent.)
Reverend C. Coleman: Rock Gospel Time (reissue)
LIVRE: Jericho: Tribe Of Joshua (Bellamy)
Blind Boys of Alabama: Spirit Of The Century (expanded ed.) (Omnivore)
Echoaires: Stronger Than Ever (Ecko)
Micah Stampley: To The King…Vertical Worship (eOne)
Latice Crawford: Diary of a Church Girl (ECHO PARK JDI)

Gregory Porter: Take Me To The Alley (Blue Note)
Black Milk and Not Turner: The Rebellion Sessions (Computer Ugly Records)
Miles Davis: Chicago Jazz Festival 1990: The Classic Broadcast (Go Faster)
Chrisette Michele: Milestone 1 – Minimalism (Universal)
Lafayette Harris Jr. : Hangin’ With The Big Boys (Airmen Records)
Phyllis Blanford: Edgewalker
Cannonball Adderley Quintet: The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free (Real Gone)
Cannonball Adderley Quintet: Music, You All (Real Gone)
Noah Preminger: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (
Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison: In Movement (ECM)
Davell Crawford : Piano in the Vaults, No. 1 (Basin Street)
Maxine Sullivan: Great Songs from the Cotton Club (reissue) (Harbinger)
Allen Toussaint: The Complete Warner Recordings (Rhino/Warner Bros.)
Rene Marie: Sound of Red (Motemo)
Chico Freeman 4-Tet: Spoken Into Existence (Jive)
Defunkt: Live at Channel Zero (ESP-DISK )
Allen Toussaint: The Complete Warner Recordings (re-release) (Rhino/Warner Bros.)
Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp: Soul (Leo)
Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp: Corpo (Leo)
René Marie: Sound of Red (Motema Music)
Cyrus Chestnut: Natural Essence (Highnote)
JD Allen: Americana – Musings on Jazz and Blues (Savant)
Luis Perdomo : Spirits and Warriors (Criss Cross)
Dayme Arocena: One Takes (Brownswood)

R&B, Soul
Trammps: The Legendary Zing Album (Fever Dreams)
Smiley Lewis: Collection: 1947-61 (Acrobat)
Nancy Wilson: The Early Years, 1956-62 (Acrobat)
Gloria Gaynor: Glorious: Expanded Ed. (BBR)
The Independents: Just As Long – The Complete Wand Recordings 1972-74 (Kent)
Billy Ocean: Here You Are: The Best of (Sony)
Esther Phillips: Capricorn Princess: Expanded Ed. (SoulMusic)
Kool & The Gang: Emergency (deluxe ed.) (BBR)
Beyoncé: Lemonade (Columbia)
George McCrae: Love (Popmi Music)
Corinne Bailey Rae: The Heart Speaks In Whispers (Virgin)
Slim: Re-Fueled (Shanachie)
Trammps: Trammps III (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Fifth Harmony: *7/27* (Syco Music/Epic)
Fly Moon Royalty: Delicious Trouble (Self issued)
Jermaine Jackson: Dynamite (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Tavares: Words & Music (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Audrey Wheeler: Let It Be Me (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
T.K. Soul: Legacy (Music Access Inc.)
Maxine Brown: Funny Kind of Feeling: Complete 1960-1962 Recordings (Jasmine Music)
Rich Medina: Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk (BBE)
Bernie Worrell: Retrospectives (Purple Woo)
Real Thing: Live At The Liverpool Philharmonic 2013 (Angel Air)
Ro James: Eldorado (RCA)

Rap, Hip Hop
Kaytranada: 99.9% (XL)
Elzhi: Lead Poison (Slum Village)
Slum Village: Fan-Tas-Tic (Box set)(Get on Down)
M1 (Dead Prez) & Bonnot: Between Me And The World (Krian Music Group)
Yawl: A pile to keep, a pile to burn (Anette)
Bryan Ford & Killah Priest: Future of Hip Hop (Revolutionary Music)
Homeboy Sandman: Kindness for Weakness (Stones Throw)
Jay Dee/J Dilla: Jay Love Japan (Vintage Vibes)
Ohbliv: Bakers Dozen (Fat Beats)
The Legendary Traxster: Black Saints (digital) (Legendary Traxster Inc.)
Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book mixtape (download)
Oddisee: The Odd Tape (Mello Music Group)
David Banner: The God Box (A Banner Vision)
Cymarshall Law & Mr. Joeker: Hip Hop In The Soul III (Freedom Ent.)
Havoc & Alchemist: Silent Partner (Babygrande Records)
Afroman: Happy To Be Alive (X-Ray)
Masta Ace: Falling Season (Showdown / Hhv.De)
J-Zone: Fish-N-Grits (Old Maid Ent.)
Unity Lewis (ft. George Clinton): 7th Dynasty (Unity Lewis Arts and Entertainment)
Zo!: Skybreak (Foreign Exchange)
Zodiac Mprint: Ride the Stars EP (Majik Ninja)
DJ Quik and Problem: Rosecrans  (Diamond Lane Music)
Various: Boombox: Early Independent Hip-Hop, Electro and Disco Rap 1979-82 (Soul Jazz)
Skepta: Konnichiwa (Better Boy Know)
DâM-Funk: DJ Kicks (K7)
Jigmastas: Resurgence (BBE)
Legalizers (Paul Wall & Baby Bash): Legalize or Die (Paul Wall Music)

Reggae, Dancehall
Gregory Isaacs: Warning (Dubstore)
Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes: Junjo Presents: Heavyweight Dub Champion(Greensleeves)
Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes: Junjo Presents: Evil Curse of the Vampire (Greensleeves)
Ernest Ranglin: Boss Reggae (Dubstore)
Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes: Junjo Presents: Big Showdown (Greensleeves)
Alboroise: Freedom & Fyah (VP)
Tippa Lee: Cultural Ambassador (VP)
Ziggy Marley: Ziggy Marley (VP)
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari: Man From Higher Heights (Soul Jazz)
The Sea: Red String Riddim EP (Tru Thoughts)
Raging Fyah: Everlasting (VP)
Wailers: Wailing Wailers (reissue) (Studio One)

Family Atlantica: Cosmic Unity (Soundway)
Elza Soares: woman at the end of the world (Mais Um Discos)
Debo Band: Ere Gobez (FPE)

View review June 1st, 2016

Welcome to the May 2016 Issue

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

Kicking off this month’s issue is jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson’s Frogtown, a blend of jazz and Americana that serves as a musical tribute to Wilson’s home neighborhood. Other jazz releases include the soundtrack for Don Cheadle’s impressionistic Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, trumpeter Theo Croker’s spaced-out Escape Velocity, and the smooth jazz of Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown’s BWB. We’re also featuring old jazz material that is now being released for the first time, including a recently unearthed Sarah Vaughan performance from 1978, Live at Rosy’s, and a set of recordings made by jazz organist Larry Young in 1964 and 1965, In Paris – The ORTF Recordings.

In hip hop, we have Kanye West’s latest effort Life of Pablo, Anderson.Paak’s Malibu, and Newark rapper Beneficence’s Basement Chemistry. BJ The Chicago Kid blends hip hop with soul on In My Mind.  We’re also featuring another genre-bending album, Santigold’s 99 Cents.

We have The Relatives’ Goodbye World, a new gospel funk release from a group that was not adequately appreciated in its time. This month’s book review is of sumdumhonky, a memoir by R&B pioneer Lloyd Price.

We’re featuring three fusion-oriented world music releases this month: Monistic Theory, an eclectic collaboration between producer Joe Driscoll and kora player Sekou Kouyate; Daby Touré’s diverse Amonafi; and the updated Haitian rara of Ram’s Ram 6: Manmman m se Ginen.

Wrapping up this month’s issue are two expanded Blind Boys of Alabama reissues, Spirit of the Century and Higher Ground, as well as our list of April 2016 Releases of Note.

View review May 2nd, 2016

April 2016 Releases of Note

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

Blues, Folk, Country
B.B. King: The King’s Blues Box (3 LP set) (Stardust)
Little Junior Parker: Next Time You See Me…Complete Singles 1952-1962 (Jasmine)
Keb’ Mo’: Live – That Hot Pink Blues Album
Sonny Mack: Get on Up! (Ecko)
Bobby Blue Bland: Further on Up the Road: The Duke Recordings (Southern Routes)
Sugar Blue: Voyage (M.C. Records)
Otis Rush and Buddy Guy: Live in Chicago ’88 (Klondike)
Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones: Little Windows
Professor Longhair: Live at the University of Chicago Folk Festival (Select-O-Hits)
Kwesi Forae : 27 EP

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Various: Sissle & Blake Sing Shuffle Along (Harbinger)
Cha Wa : Funk ‘n’ Feathers
The Relatives: Goodbye World (Luv N Haight Records)
DJ Rashad: Afterlife (Teklife)
The Heavy: Hurt & Merciless (Bad Son Recording Company)
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals: Call It What It Is (Stax)
Lilith Ai : Riot (EP Deluxe, digital) (Lo)
Snarky Puppy: Culcha Vulcha
Judith Hill (with Prince): Back in Time (NPG)
Prince:  HITNRUN Phase Two (NPG)
Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald: Present Borderland – Transport (Tresor)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Da’ T.r.u.t.h: It’s Complicated
Various: Hallelujah: The Journey of Larry Clark – O.S.T. (Larry Clark Gospel)
Chicago Mass Choir: We Give You Praise (New Haven )
Various: Feel Good! 40 Years Of Life Changing Music (Tyscot)

Various: Miles Ahead Original Soundtrack (Legacy)
Robert Glasper: EVERYTHING’S BEAUTIFUL: Recordings of Miles Davis Reimagined (Legacy)
Nick Colionne: The Journey
HenryThreadgill Double-Up Ensembl : Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi Recordings)
Anthony Braxton: 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011 (Firehouse 12)
George Coleman : A Master Speaks (Smoke Sessions)
Ralph Peterson: TriAngular III (Onyx Music/Truth Revolution)
Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life: Nihil Novi (Blue Note)
Anthony Wilson: Frogtown (Goat Hill Recordings)
Various: Jazz Dispensary: Cosmic Stash (Record Store Day special ed.) (Fantasy)
Shola Adisa-Farrar & Florian Pellissier Quintet: Lost Myself (Hot Casa)
James Tatum : Contemporary Jazz Mass (reissue) (Jazzman)
BWB (Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun ): BWB (Artistry Music )
Yellowjackets: Cohearence (Mack Ave.)
Bill Evans:  Some Other Time: the Lost Session from the Black Forest (Resonance)
Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/Hamid Drake: Live at Okuden (ESP Disk)
Albert Ayler: European Radio Studio Recordings 1964
Gail Thompson: Jadu (Enja)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Justice: Live in Amsterdam November 1959 (Dutch Jazz Archive)

R&B, Soul
Charles Bradley: Changes (Dunham / Daptone )
James Brown & The Famous Flames: The Roots Of Revolution (Southern Routes)
Various: One Track Mind! More Motown Guys (Kent)
Deep Street Soul: Come Alive! (Freestyle)
Charles Wright: Something to Make You Feel Good
Javier Colon: Gravity (Concord)
Musiq Soulchild: Life on Earth (eOne)
KeKe Wyatt: Rated Love (Aratek Ent.)
Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir: The Earth Wants YOU! (album + book)
Impressions: “The Best Of The Impressions: The Curtom Years” (Varese Sarabande)
Emotions: Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985  (Cherry Red)
Bo-Keys: Heartaches by the Number (Omnivore)
Boulevards : Groove! (Captured Tracks)

Rap, Hip Hop
Illphonics: Gone With the Trends (Record Machine)
Lil Keke: Slfmade (Hustletown)
Epidemic : 4 Dimensions On A Paper (Mic-Theory)
Krizz Kaliko: Go (Strange Music)
Phesto and Izrell: Guillotine Music (Hieroglyphics Imperium)
Euclid: Save yourself ( Backwoodz Studioz)
J Dilla: The Diary (Mass Appeal)
Mr. Lif:  Don’t Look Down (Mello Music)
Royce Da 5’9″:Layers (Bad Half Ent.)
Boosie Badazz & C-Murder:  Penitentiary Chances
Grand Puba: Black from the Future (Ihiphop Dist.)
Lord Finesse: The Remixes: A Midas Era Retrospective (Slice-of-Spice)
Chuuwee & Trizz: AmeriKKa’s Most Blunted 2 (Below System)
GAIKA: Security (Mixpak)
A$AP Ferg: Always Strive and Prosper (RCA)
Freeway: Free Will ( Babygrande)
Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers)
Horseshoe Gang: Anti Trap Music
Various: Empire: Original Soundtrack, Season 2  (Columbia)
Ty Dolla Sign: Coast 2 Coast 265 (Yikes)
Horseshoe Gang: Anti-Trap Music (Gracie)
Freeway: Free Will (Ihiphop )

Reggae, Dancehall
Richie Stephens and The Ska Nation Band : Internationally (Zojak World Wide)
Still Cool: Still Cool ( Uprising/Deeper Knowledge)
Alpha Blondy & the Solar System: Positive Energy (VP)
Phill Pratt : Star Wars Dub (Burning Sounds)
Linval Thompson: Linval Presents: Space Invaders (Greensleaves)

Lakou Mizik: Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha)
Various: Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali (K7)
Moken: Chapters of My Life (Bantu)
Fela Ransome Kuti & His Koola Lobitos : Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (Knitting Factory)
Alma Afrobeat Ensemble: It’s Time
Various: Every Song Has Its End (CD + DVD) (Glitterbeat/K7)
Nikhil P. Yerawadekar & Low Mentality: Everything Lasts Forever (3rd Generation Recordings)
Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock Vol. 1 (Now-Again)

View review May 2nd, 2016

Welcome to the April 2016 Issue

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

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and we have several featured jazz releases including Snarky Puppy’s newest DVD/CD combo Family Dinner Volume 2, drummer Zane Rudolfo’s debut EP Pathways, the “Cuban Cubism” of Aruán Oritz’s Hidden Voices, and Raphael Imbert’s transatlantic collaboration Music is My Home.   We’re also featuring a review of the documentary Killer B3: A Documentary about the Hammond Organ, which focuses on jazz musicians who pioneered the instrument’s use in the genre as well a new release by one of the artists interviewed in the documentary, Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Evolution.

This month’s issue also features Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s hybrid liturgical/jazz CD/DVD project The Abyssinian Mass, which celebrates the relationship between jazz and African American religious life. Other releases with spiritual themes include the Christian rapper Lecrae’s newest mixtape Church Clothes 3,  YouTube gospel sensation Bri’s debut album Keys to My Heart, and the anti-consumerist gospel of Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, on their special Earth Day release The Earth Wants You.

In blues, we have Guy Davis’s Kokomo Kid and Keb Mo’s slick playing and singing on That Hot Pink Blues Album. We have folk rockers Birds of Chicago’s Real Midnight, Mardi Gras rockers Cha Wa’s Funk n’ Feathers and Detroit DJ Moodyman returns with DJ-KicksAlso included are the Haitian folk-fusion group Lakou Mizik’s Wa Di Yo and Silk’s “grown-man sexy” release Quiet Storm.

Finally, this issue features two reissues, a limited edition vinyl of Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s Damn Right I Am Somebody and a CD release of funk group Anglo-Saxon Brown’s 1976 album Songs for Evolution.  Wrapping up this month’s issue is our list of March 2016 Releases of Note.

View review April 1st, 2016

Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s – Damn Right I Am Somebody

Fred wesley and the jbs_damn right i am somebody

Title: Damn Right I Am Somebody

Artist: Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s

Label: Get On Down/Universal Special Markets/People Records

Format: LP with bonus “Flexi Disc” single

Release Date: February 5, 2016


The first half of the 1970s was a very productive time for James Brown and the musicians in his orbit. Damn Right I Am Somebody, produced by Brown under the moniker of Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s, was released in 1974 on the heels of Brown’s highly successful double-LP The Payback. Many of the same musicians are heard on both albums—some parts were recorded by the same J.B.’s who toured with Brown, and other parts with a band of crack NYC studio musicians.

Fred Wesley, trombone player extraordinaire, was Brown’s bandleader in that era. The J.B.’s were in constant personnel flux in the 1970s, particularly with saxman Maceo Parker and bassist Bootsy Collins moving between Brown’s orbit and the George Clinton/Parliament world. As was the case on previous and future J.B.’s albums, the emphasis here is funky instrumentals, and longer explorations of riffs and hooks, rather than tight, radio-singles-oriented vocal-centric songs typical of Brown’s name-brand output (although, on his LP releases, Brown and his band always included stretched-out versions that featured instrumental solos and pyrotechnics).

At the time of this album, James Brown was in his peak Godfather of Soul period, and used his voice in the popular culture to espouse black liberation and empowerment. The album title is a reference to the poem “I Am – Somebody,” written in the 1950s by Rev. William Holmes Borders, Sr., the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Wheat Street Baptist Church. In the 1970s, Rev. Jesse Jackson often quoted the poem in his public speeches, perhaps most famously at the 1972 Wattstax music festival. A loop of Jackson quoting the poem underlies part of “Same Beat – Part 1,” the first cut on side B of this funky vinyl slab. A studio-chatter riff of Brown calling on various band members and asking, “are you somebody?” followed by the response “damn right, I am somebody!” starts off side A and the title track.

Another “message” song is the last cut on side A, “I’m Payin’ Taxes, What Am I Buyin’.” Given that it’s tax-paying season, perhaps a listen to this tune on Youtube will salve some of the sting.

Another significant cut on the album is “Blow Your Head.” In an interview with the Red Bull Music Academy, Wesley told the story of how a Moog synthesizer ended up on the track:

“We used a New York studio band sometimes and that was recorded with the studio band. So James came in and he wanted to hear it. I thought he was gonna put his voice on it. He saw this Moog synthesizer, and he said [mimicking James’ voice], “What’s that?” So we said, “Oh that’s a Moog synthesizer, Mr. Brown. We’re thinkin’ about using it on some of the tunes.” He said, “How’s it sound?” “Well, we went through some sounds with it.” He said, “Turn it on! Put it on the track!” We said, “What? No, we were gon’-” “Turn it on! Put it on the track!”

So he put it on the track. [imitates sound of synth intro] I said, “Oh lord, I hope he don’t leave this on, it’s messin’ up my track!” [laughs] So he put it on THE WHOLE TRACK. And we could not believe it. We were like, it’s just an experiment, this will stay in the studio forever, no one will ever hear this. And what do you know, it got out on the album and the next thing you know it’s a hit all over the world.” (full interview here)

Hip-hop fans will probably recognize parts of “Blow Your Head.” It’s been widely sampled by artists such as Public Enemy, Digable Planets and De La Soul. Included with this LP reissue is a 7-by-7-inch “flexi-disc” of the “2000 undubbed version,” which doesn’t include the Moog synthesizer. It is fertile sampling fodder, aside from being a super-tight funk instrumental.

This album flows from song-to-song without breaks. As each tune fades out or stops on a beat, a loose studio jam, replete with Brown shrieks and screams, fades out, rides for a few dozen seconds, and fades out, with the next tune immediately starting. This technique was later used as a “concept album” method by Brown and other funk and soul artists. The “faded in and out jam” serves as a musical connector and bedrock. Here, it give the album a feeling of an endless groove/jam, to the last 33⅓ rotations.

Also worth mentioning about this vinyl reissue are the heavy cardboard jacket, faithful reproduction of original graphics, and the column of repeated text on the back which relays the album’s core message: “Think that you are somebody, and you’ll be somebody. Positive Thinking, Positive Thinking, Positive Thinking.”

To get a flavor of James Brown and the J.B.s in the early 70’s, check out their appearances on the Soul Train TV show circa 1974 (“Damn Right I Am Somebody” and interview) and September 14, 1974 (medley of “Cold Sweat,” “Payback,” “Damn Right I Am Somebody”). Also, see the excellent documentary, Soul Power.


Reviewed by Tom Fine



View review April 1st, 2016

March 2016 Releases of Note

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

Blues, Folk, Country
Tasha Taylor: Honey for the Biscuit (Ruf)
Sam Frazier, Jr. : Take Me Back (Music Maker Foundation)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Million Dollar Ecstasy: Million Dollar Ecstasy (reissue) (Manufactured Recordings)
The Knocks: 55* (Atlantic/Big Beat)
Starchild & The New Romantic: Crucial EP (Ghostly)
Bonzai: Sleepy Hungry EP (digital)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Echoaires: Stronger Than Ever (Ecko)
Various: Gospel’s Best: Songs of Hope (Motown)
Deon Kipping: Something to Talk About (RCA)
Jonathan Nelson: Fearless (eOne)
Walker Family Singers: Panola County Spirit (Daptone)
Cory Henry: The Revival [CD/DVD Combo] (Ground Up)
Israel Tutson: Sand Castles (digital)
Propaganda: Selected Songs (Fair Trade Services)
Mr . Del: Love Noize (digital)

Kenny Barron : Book of Intuition (impulse!)
Arturo O’Farrill Sextet: Boss Level (Zoho)
Alfredo Rodriguez: Tocororo (Mack Avenue)
Zawinul Syndicate: Hollywood Bowl 1993 (Hi Hat)
Larry Young: In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance)
Jason Miles: To Grover With Love (Live in Japan) (Whaling City Sounds)
Freddy Cole: He Was the King (HighNote)
Russell Malone: All About Melody (HighNote)
Blue Mitchell & Sonny Red: Baltimore 1966 (Uptown Jazz)
Phillip Doc Martin: Pocket Love (Innervision)
Makaya McCraven: In the Moment (deluxe ed.) (International Anthem )
Danny Barker: New Orleans Jazz Man And Raconteur (GHB)
Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM)
The JT Project:  Moments of Change (MRI)
Quincy Jones and His Orchestra: Live in Ludwigshafen 1961 (SWR Jazzhaus)
Sarah Vaughan: Live at Rosy’s (Resonance)
Ella Fitzgerald:  Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set (Verve)
Axel Tosca Laugart: Axel Tosca  (MRI)
Machitos y Sus Afro Cubanas: Tanga: King of Afro Cuban Jazz  (Cherry Red)
Adam Hawley: Just the Beginning (Kalimba)

R&B, Soul
The Three Degrees: Strategy (Our Tribute To Philadelphia) (Cherry Red)
Howard Tate: I Learned It All the Hard Way (compilation) (Play Back)
O.V. Wright: Treasured Moments: Complete Backbeat/ABC Singles (Play Back)
Various: Harmony Of The Soul – Vocals Groups 1962-1977 (Kent)
Moods: Moods (reissue) (BBE)
Christon Gray:  The Glory Album (Fo Yo Soul/RCA )
9.9 9.9 (expanded ed.) (PTG)
Rosie Gaines : Caring (expanded ed.) (PTG)
King: We Are King (King Creative)
Luster Baker: They Call Me Mr. Juicy (Music Access Inc.)
Ernie K-Doe: Don’t Kill My Groove (Playback)
Frankie & The Spindles: Count to Ten (Playback)
Jaheim: Struggle Love (BMG)
Take 6:  Believe (Independent Label Services)
Michelle: More Issues Than Vogue (Atlantic Urban)
Various: Loma: A Soul Music Love Affair (LITA)
Anthony Hamilton: That I’m Feelin’ (RCA)

Rap, Hip Hop
Bentley & Parallel Thought : Street Knowledge
337 Mafia  Presents: L.A.D’s Ambition (eOne)
Bas: Too High To Riot (Interscope)
Nature: Target practice  (Vodka & Milk)
Malik B And Mr. Green: Unpredictable (Enemy Soil)
TOKiMONSTA: Fovere EP (Young Art )
Tarica June: Stream of Consciousness, Vol. 1.5 EP (download)
Kap G: El Southside  (Atlantic)
Flatbush Zombies: 3001: A Laced Odyssey (Glorious Dead)
Big Punisher: Bronx Legends Never Die (vinyl) (Vinyl Digital)
Ghostface Killah: More Fish –  10 Year Anniversary Edition (Def Jam)
Joell Ortiz: That’s Hip Hop (That’s Hip Hop Music)
DJ Illogik: beginningofsomethinG.old (Focus)
Young Dolph: King of Memphis (Paper Route Empire)
Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Blu & Ray West: Crenshaw Jezebel (vinyl EP) (Red Apples 45)
Dday One: Gathered Between (Content (L)abel)
Open Mike Eagle & Paul White: Hella Personal Film Festival (Mello Music Group)
2 Chainz & Lil Wayne: COLLEGROVE (Def Jam)
Father: I’m A Piece Of Shit (Awful)
Planet Asia & DJ Concept: Seventy Nine  (Coalmine Music)
Domo Genesis: Genesis  (Columbia)
Fababy : Ange Et Demon
Kano: Man in the Manor
Mr. Criminal: Street Unity (Hi Power Ent.)
N.E.R.D.: Live At The Babylon

Reggae, Dancehall
Noel Ellis: Noel Ellis (10th anniv. Edition) (Light in the Attic)
Various: Sharp and Ready (compilation) (Tru Thoughts)
Binary Sol (Madison McFerrin and Jarred Barnes)
Earlan “Alkaline” Bartley: New level Unlocked (Zojak World Wide)

Aziza Brahim: Abbar El Hamada  (Glitterbeat)
Ebo Taylor: My Love & Music (reissue) (Mr Bongo)
Jagger Botchway Group : Odze Odze (Cultures of Soul)
La Yegros : Magnetismo  (Soundway )
Wesli: Ayiti, Étoile Nouvelle
Various: Rough Guide To South African Jazz (World Music Network)

View review April 1st, 2016

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