Welcome to the August 2019 Issue

Welcome to the August 2019 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

Our featured projects this month include The Americus Brass Band’s Tribute to James Reese Europe’s Harlem Hell Fighters’ Band on the 100th Anniversary of the Pathé Recordings in which they recreate the music performed during the 1919 recording sessions, and Florence Beatrice Price’s Symphonies No. 1 and No. 4 performed by the Fort Smith Symphony under the direction of John Jeter.

Jazz releases include bassist Avery Sharpe’s 400: An African American Musical Portrait, bassist Charnett Moffett’s Bright New Day, the New Orleans-based Soul Brass Band’s Levels, and Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble’s Where Future Unfolds. Other cross-genre projects include Chicago poet-musician Avery R. Young’s Tubman and Ranky Tanky’s exploration of Gullah heritage on their sophomore album Good Time.  Blues releases include Zac Harmon’s Mississippi BarBQ and Mary Lane’s Travelin’ Woman.

Wrapping up this issue is Missing Chapters from the Atlanta-based Cameroonian-born artist Moken, and our list of July Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the July 2019 Issue

Welcome to the July 2019 Summer Rocks issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re featuring albums that represent the many permutations of rock, from the Black rock power trio Hundred Watt Heart (ft. “Captain” Kirk Douglas of The Roots) on Turbulent Times, to the three volume 20th Anniversary Mixtapes: Groiddest Schizznits from Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, to the roots of rock and roll on the Bear Family compilation Little Junior Parker Rocks, to the desert rock of Malian artist Oumar Konate on I Love You Inna, to the rocking zydeco of Dwayne Dopsie on Bon Ton. Also included in this line-up are a slew of debut albums from up and coming bands: Made In Pieces from the UK’s six piece collective Pieces of a Man; self-titled releases from Austin’s Black Pumas and New York rock and soul group John The Martyr; the solo side project Nothing to Say from Alan Evans (Soulive); Believe from self-proclaimed punk empress Cole Williams; Samsara from the Austin band Los Coast; and Cousin From Another Planet from Aaron Whitby featuring Martha Redbone, Lisa Fischer and Tamar Kali.

Jazz releases include the Wayne Wallace Latin Rhythm Jazz Quintet’s The Rhythm of Invention and tenor-saxophonist Jordon Dixon’s On! Our classical pick of the month is pianist-composer Stewart Goodyear’s Gershwin & Goodyear and our gospel pick is Kirk Franklin’s Long Live Love.

Wrapping up this issue is the timely Putumayo compilation World Peace and our list of June 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the June 2019 Issue

Welcome to the June 2019 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.  This month we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of African American Music Appreciation Month, originally designated Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. In our efforts to preserve and promote the legacy of Black music, we’re featuring new releases across multiple genres by artists both new and iconic.

Jazz releases include the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s 50th anniversary 5-CD set, Jazz Fest, Wynton Marsalis’s Bolden: Music from the Original Soundtrack, the latest Wes Montgomery compilation Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings from Resonance Records, trumpeter Theo Croker’s Star People Nation, jazz harpist Brandee Younger’s Soul Awakening, the Marcus Shelby Orchestra’s Transitions featuring the new suite “Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues,” saxophonist Elan Trotman’s Marvin Gaye tribute Dear Marvin, and Sam Newsome’s Chaos Theory: Song Cycles for Prepared Sax.

New releases from iconic artists include Mavis Staples’ We Get By, The Last Poets’ Transcending Toxic Times, and Dionne Warwick’s She’s Back. Other R&B/soul releases include Jamila Woods’ Legacy! Legacy! highlighting legendary Black artists, Rahsaan Patterson’s Heroes & Gods, and the 50th anniversary reissue of Stax Records’ Soul Explosion.

Also celebrating a 50th anniversary is the Gospel Music Workshop of America Detroit Chapter’s Bringing It Back Home. Other featured releases include Winged Creatures and Other Works for Flute, Clarinet and Orchestra performed by the talented brothers Anthony McGill and Demarre McGill, young blues prodigy Christone “Kingfish” Ingram’s debut Kingfish, Keb Mo’s Americana blues album Oklahoma, and L.A. rapper Choosey’s collab with producer Exile on Black Beans. Wrapping up this issue is our list of May 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the May 2019 Issue

Welcome to the May 2019 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. Our featured title this month is Rhiannon Giddens’ third solo album, there is no Other, which speaks to the practice of “othering people” for economic and political gain.

New R&B/soul music releases include albums from both veterans and rising stars: the O’Jays’ first studio album in 15 years, The Last Word; Durand Jones & The Indications sophomore album American Love Call; Memphis band Southern Avenue’s sophomore album Keep On; British singer/songwriter/cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s classical-infused Road Runner; and Canadian soul star Tanika Charles’ The Gumption.

Rolling Stones’ back-up singer Bernard Fowler presents Inside Out, featuring covers of classic and lesser known Stone’s songs in a spoken word style, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra offers the tribute album Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint.

Gospel music releases include Earl Bynum’s This Song’s For You, The Tommies Reunion (aka Thompson Community Singers) self-titled album, and Live on the East Coast from Florida sacred steel group The Lee Boys.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of April 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the April 2019 Issue


Welcome to the April 2019 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. Our featured title this month is Marvin Gaye’s previously unreleased Tamla/Motown album, You’re the Man. This new expanded edition coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Motown label and Marvin Gaye’s 80th birthday.

In celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month and International Guitar Month we’re featuring a wide variety of new releases: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Ancestral Recall, Branford Marsalis Quartet’s Secret Between the Shadow & the Soul, Kendrick Scott Oracle’s A Wall Becomes a Bridge, Brent Birckhead’s debut album Birckhead, the Eric Dolphy 3-disc compilation Musical Prophet, the compilation On the Corner Live! that reimagines of the music of Miles Davis, Anu “The Giant” Sun’s multi-genre solo debut Sanguine Regum, emerging jazz vocalist Quiana Lynell’s debut A Little Love, the compilation A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper that reimagines the Beatles’ most famous album, the urban jazz release Bob Baldwin Presents Abbey Road and the Beatles, rising Cuban star Eme Alfonso’s Afro-Cuban jazz fusion album Voy, noted 7-string guitarist Ron Jackson’s Standards and Other Songs, an expanded edition of The Lightmen Plus One’s 1972 masterpiece Energy Control Center, and Basin Street Records’ 20th anniversary celebration Live at Little Gem Saloon.

Also featured this month is Mississippi blues guitarist Leo “Bud” Welch’s posthumous release The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name, and previously unissued live tracks from blues singer and slide guitarist Johnny Shines on The Blues Came Falling Down – Live 1973.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of March 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the July 2018 Summer Rocks issue

July 2018 image 1
Welcome to the July 2018 Summer Rocks issue of Black Grooves. This month we’re looking at the many permutations of Black rock, from the psychedelic riffs on Dug Pinnick’s Tribute To Jimi (Often Imitated But Never Duplicated); to the socially conscious songs of Fantastic Negrito on Please Don’t Be Dead and Bettye Lavette’s Bob Dylan tribute Things Have Changed; to the British blues rock collaboration on Buddy Guy’s The Blues Is Alive and Well; to the multi-faceted fusions of the Stanley Clarke Band’s The Message, Shuggie Otis’s Inter-Fusion, and Serpentwithfeet’s Soil; to the folk rock of AHI’s In Our Time and the countrified soul of  Priscilla Renea’s Coloured; to the black metal of Zeal and Ardor’s Stranger Fruit; and last but not least, the foundational rock and roll on The Ballads of  Fats Domino.

Seminal jazz releases this month include Kamasi Washington’s two-disc Heaven and Earth and Dr. Michael White’s Tricentennial Rag honoring New Orlean’s 300th birthday. Yet another tribute album is Lurrie Bell & the Bell Dynasty’s Tribute to Carey Bell, featuring the four accomplished sons of the legendary Chicago blues harpist.

Also featured is gospel singer Javen’s latest album, Grace; the collaboration connecting Sengalese kora master Diali Cissokho and North Carolina band Kaira Ba on Routes; Lamont Dozier’s Reimagination of tracks previously written for other artists; and the Little Freddie King compilation Fried Rice & Chicken featuring his best tracks from the Orlean’s label. Wrapping up this issue is our list of June 2018 Releases of Note in all genres.

Little Richard – Here’s Little Richard

Little Richard

Title: Here’s Little Richard

Artist: Little Richard

Label: Craft Recordings

Formats: 2-CD Deluxe Edition

Release date: November 3, 2017

 

 

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Little Richard’s debut album, Here’s Little Richard, Craft Recordings has released a newly-expanded version of the iconic album. This 2-disc anniversary edition includes the original 12 tracks released in 1957 on the Specialty label, as well as previously unreleased alternate takes for all but one of the songs.

The high energy track “Tutti Frutti,” which was added to the National Recording Registry in 2010, kicks off the album just like in the 1957 version. The bonus tracks are also presented in the same sequence as the original album, making up a second disc of 22 demos, alternate versions, and unreleased takes. While some of the alternate takes on disc 2 sound similar to their original counterparts, others, like “Rip It Up” include commentary from Little Richard himself and are significantly different from the tracks that ultimately ended up on the 1957 release.

Here’s Little Richard offers an intimate glimpse into the development of the songs that helped Richard Penniman become one of the artists “who put the soul in rock and roll.” Little Richard, who will be celebrating his 85th birthday on December 5, has left an undeniable impact on rock ‘n’ roll and this 60th anniversary edition is a testament to his fame and significant contributions to music.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

Whitney Houston – I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard

Whitney Houston

Title: I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard

Artist: Whitney Houston

Label: Legacy Recordings

Formats: CD, LP, MP3

Release Date: November 17, 2017

 

In honor of the 25th anniversary of The Bodyguard, the film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, Legacy Recordings has released I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard. The compilation, released in cooperation with The Estate of Whitney E. Houston, brings together a variety of live and studio recordings, many of which are previously unreleased or unavailable.

Included in this collection are live recordings from Houston’s The Bodyguard World Tour (1993-1995), as well as alternate versions of tracks from The Bodyguard film. Highlights include the never-before-heard a capella version of “Jesus Loves Me” and a live recording of the rarely-performed “Run To You” from The Bodyguard World Tour. The iconic Houston hit song “I Will Always Love You,” one of the best-selling singles of all time, is represented in two versions: one from the original film soundtrack, and an extended rendition performed live on tour.

I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard not only celebrates the 25th anniversary of the film, but is also a fitting commemoration of Houston, who recorded the soundtrack at the pinnacle of her career. There’s a good reason The Bodyguard is the top-selling soundtrack album of all-time, and it’s apparent every time Ms. Houston stands in front of the mic. That voice! Though sadly she is no longer with us, this compilation album is a testament to the success of The Bodyguard and Whitney Houston’s lasting legacy, both on screen and on stage.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

 

Walter Trout – We’re All In This Together

Walter Trout
Title: We’re All In This Together

Artist: Walter Trout

Label: Mascot Label Group

Formats: CD, Vinyl, MP3

Release date: September 1, 2017

 

 

Walter Trout’s We’re All In This Together marks the newest addition in what has already been a prolific career as a recording artist. One could view this recording as a celebration of sorts since Trout underwent a liver transplant in 2014. While this isn’t his first release since the transplant, it certainly has a much more upbeat feel overall when compared to his 2015 release, Battle Scars, which dealt with his battle with liver disease.

Helping Trout celebrate on this recording are a number of notable guest artists. With each track featuring a collaboration with a different artist, this album stands out for its stylistic variety. The various formidable guitarists should interest any guitar aficionado, although not every guest artist is a guitarist. Charlie Musselwhite’s harmonica on “The Other Side of the Pillow” stands out as one of the best performances on the album. However, make no mistake about it: this is a guitar album!

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Trout’s history playing with major names in the blues world such as John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat, and John Mayall—just to name a few—must have contributed to his ability to lure so many great guest artists to this project. His ability to blend well with each of the guests and play complementary to their style was undoubtedly a factor. With 14 different guests, there is likely an artist to suit almost any taste. Trout is joined by his former bandleader John Mayall on “Blues for Jimmy T.” Other standouts include performances by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sonny Landreth, Robben Ford, Eric Gales, Joe Louis Walker, and Joe Bonamassa.

Bonamassa might be the most recognizable name in today’s guitar world, and his performance on the title track is a knockout. Nevertheless, it is the playing of Eric Gales, who recently released his Middle of the Road on the same label, that reminds the listener why Joe Bonamassa himself has described Gales as “one of the best, if not the best guitarists in the world.” “Somebody Goin’ Down,” which features Gales and begins with an intro reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, ultimately manifests itself as a medium-tempo rock track that becomes a vehicle for some brilliant improvising by both Trout and Gales, who end up trading guitar licks during the outro solo.

Another standout track is “Crash and Burn,” an upbeat blues with a Chicago feel featuring Joe Louis Walker on vocals and guitar. Like many tracks, this one also features guitar playing suitable for in-depth study, but Walker’s vocals are also worth mentioning. His voice would not be out of place on a Stax recording from its heyday, and at times it is akin to Albert King, who recorded at Stax in the late 1960s.

We’re All In This Together is a welcome addition to any blues fan’s collection. It is an even more welcome addition to the collection of someone who loves guitar playing. Walter Trout is at the top of his game on this record, and his selection of guests perhaps inspired him to new heights. Whether the catalyst for this performance was newfound inspiration from great players or a new lease on life, the final product is a solid recording that will hopefully introduce Walter Trout to a new generation of listeners.

Reviewed by Joel Roberts

Benjamin Booker – Witness

Benjamin Booker Witness
Title: Witness

Artist: Benjamin Booker

Label: ATO Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: June 2, 2017

 

 

Benjamin Booker’s appreciation for the historical social movements that helped shape the rock, gospel, and blues genres manifests in Witness, his second full album release following his self-titled debut in 2014. He calls attention to the modern day Black Lives Matter movement in his songwriting, connecting its relevance to the Civil Rights Movement.

Booker contemplates the possibility of death in his opening track “Right On,” an energetic soul rock song that feels like it could be played at an old-fashioned dance hall but with a heavier modern sound. Dramatically dropping in energy without losing its steady groove, “Motivation” juxtaposes the previous song, allowing listeners to focus their attention on reflections of a young Black man reasoning with his quotidian anxieties. From the sensuous aesthetic of “The Slow Drag Under” to the vintage blues pop of “Overtime,” Booker’s unmistakable vocal rasp takes center stage in a screaming whisper.

Perhaps the most meaningful feature that takes place on this album is Booker’s collaboration with the Civil Rights Movement’s musical icon Mavis Staples, who leads the gospel chorus on “Witness.” Booker wrote an artist statement about his attempt to escape the perpetual racism and violence he experienced at home and his process of writing this song during his retreat to Mexico:

I spent days in silence and eventually began to write again. I was almost entirely cut off from my home. Free from the news. Free from politics. Free from friends. What I felt was the temporary peace that can comes from looking away… It wasn’t until Trayvon Martin, a murder that took place about a hundred miles from where I went to college, and the subsequent increase in attention to black hate crimes over the next few years that I began to feel something else. Fear. Real fear. It was like every time I turned on the TV, there I was. DEAD ON THE NEWS… I knew then that there was no escape and I would have to confront the problem. This song, “Witness,” came out of this experience and the desire to do more than just watch.

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Opening with an intertwining of orchestral strings reminiscent of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Booker’s performance of “Believe” may be one of the more memorable tracks on this album. It plays as a gentle and hopeful rise out of his darker experiences and fears. His lyrics promote optimism in the face of opposition: “I’ve got dreams I can touch, I’d give them everything to keep from going under.”

Witness represents a continuation of the fight for racial equality in the United States and will surely be an important contribution to the music history of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Reviewed by Jennie Williams