Title: AfroFuturism Artist: Logan Richardson Label: Whirlwind Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: March 12, 2021
Kansas City-born saxophonist Logan
Richardson made his debut as a bandleader in 2007 with Cerebral Flow, an
album that reflects his time performing with jazz musicians such as Pat
Metheny, Joe Chambers, Billy Hart, Butch Morris, Stefon Harris and Jason Moran.
Since then, Richardson’s work has become increasingly eclectic, ranging from
performances with the urban jazz supergroup NEXT Collective to his 2018 release
Blues People, which busted through any boundaries limiting what jazz
fusion could aspire to. Now back in Kansas City and sheltering from the
pandemic in an apartment once inhabited by Charlie Parker, Richardson imagines
an even broader universe of sound on his latest project, AfroFuturism.
Title: Breathe Artist: Dr. Lonnie Smith Label: Blue Note Formats: CD, Digital Release date: March 26, 2021
The reigning master of the Hammond B-3 organ, Dr. Lonnie Smith has ruled the soul jazz scene from his keyboard for over five decades. Still a prolific recording artist, the musical icon has just released Breathe, his third album for Blue Note in the last five years, all produced by the label’s president, Don Was. The majority of the tracks were recorded live at the Jazz Standard in New York City in 2017 during Smith’s 75th birthday celebration, in the seemingly long-ago days when one could hang out at a crowded club on the weekends. Fans weary of social distancing can now vicariously join the celebration through album’s eight tracks.
Title: NOW Artist: Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble Label: International Anthem Formats: Digital (CD, LP available July 9, 2021) Release date: April 9, 2021
Following his auspicious 2019 debut, Where Future Unfolds,
Chicago-based multi-media artist/activist Damon Locks and his jazz-based Black Monument Ensemble return with
their latest release, NOW. Featuring six new tracks, this multi-generational
collective of Chicago artists continues their mission of presenting vibrant,
uplifting music and dance that draws “from all facets of the diverse
wellspring of Black artistic excellence.” The new project is also a response to
the group’s previous release: “the future has unfolded and taken a new
and dangerous shape… what happens NOW?’”
Title: Vessels of Wood and Earth Artist: Dan Wilson Label: Brother Mister Productions/Mack Avenue Formats: CD, Digital Release date: April 23, 2021
Grammy-nominated guitarist and composer Dan Wilson’s debut album, Vessels of Wood and Earth, exhibits a rich range of tones and textures. Joined by pianist Christian Sands, bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and guest vocalist Joy Brown, this incredibly talented band showcases a mastery of musical expression, revealing robust musical perspectives from each and every artist. Produced by bassist, composer, arranger, and Philadelphian jazz icon, Christian McBride, the project is a mix of both original compositions and arrangements of classic songs from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, assembled to illustrate Wilson’s foundation that is “rooted as much in tradition as it is in moving the music irresistibly forward into the modern world.” The album is the first release on Brother Mister Productions, McBride’s own record label under the Mack Avenue Music Group.
Title: They’re Calling Me Home Artist: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi Label: Nonesuch Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: April 9, 2021
Acclaimed African American folk musician Rhiannon Giddens and Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi offer their second collaboration, They’re Calling Me Home. Sheltering in Ireland during the pandemic, the two artists decided to draw from traditional folk music of three countries for this project. The album’s title not only speaks to those who are sheltering in place during the pandemic, but also to the metaphorical “call home” or “homegoing” of death, in tribute to those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
Title: Beautiful Scars Artist: Merry Clayton Label: Motown Gospel Formats: CD, Digital Release date: April 9, 2021
Vocal legend Merry Clayton embodies the true essence of the words resilience and fortitude. The Grammy Award-winning artist has made a return to her southern Baptist gospel roots with her new album, Beautiful Scars. Co-produced by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Lou Adler and Grammy Award-winning songwriter, vocalist and instrumentalist Terry Young, Beautiful Scars is a testimony of the hardship that Clayton has endured over her lifetime and in recent years. In 2014, she survived a tragic accident but unfortunately her doctors were forced to amputate both of her legs. In the eye of this storm, when doctors told Clayton she would have to lose her legs, she began to sing. Drawing form the strength of her ancestors and giving praise to God, she persevered despite the new challenges that she would face.
Title: Alien Stories Artist: String Noise Label: Infrequent Seams (Dist. Bandcamp) Formats: CD, Cassette, Digital Release date: April 2, 2021
The New York-based classical
avant-punk duo String Noise, featuring violinists Conrad
Harris and Pauline Kim Harris, is celebrated for their wide-ranging
performances of contemporary music. Since the duo’s founding in 2011, they have
added more than 50 new works to their repertoire. Their latest release, Alien
Stories, was influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, which also increased
attention on issues of racial equality with the musical realm. In support of
Black artists, the duo decided to co-commission, with Carnegie Hill Concerts,
new works from five young Black composer-performers based in New York City.
These five works are featured on Alien Stories.
Title: My People Artist: Cha Wa Label: Single Lock Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: April 2, 2021
Since the late 19th century, Mardi Gras Indians have
paraded the streets of New Orleans outside of the gaze of tourists that flock
to Bourbon Street. The Mardi Gras Indian community is a group of primarily
Black New Orleanians who pay respect to Native Americans through their wardrobe,
music, and dialect. The tradition of Mardi Gras Indian krewes is said to have originated
to pay tribute to the Native groups that sheltered Black New Orleanians fleeing
enslavement. Drawing on this rich heritage, Cha Wa’s
My People captures the sounds of Mardi Gras Indian street parades and
blends them with other New Orleans influences including the ‘70s era funk of
The Meters, brass band music, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and African-inspired rhythms.
Title: Na Kozonga Artist: Jupiter & Okwess Label: Everloving Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: April 23, 2021
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jupiter & Okwess makes
music that pulls together international musical influences in a stand against
global injustice. Their newest release, Na Kozonga, is an explosive and
energetic compilation of music featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band horn
section, pioneer of Brazilian rap Marcelo D2, and the vocals of American Maiya
Sykes and Chilean Ana Tijoux.