Welcome to the June 2020 Issue

Welcome to the June 2020 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. Please join us in our celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month, originally established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, as we pay tribute to the monumental achievements of Black artists across all genres.   

This month’s features include the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in a live recording of Duke Ellington’s masterpiece, Black, Brown & Beige; the original cast recording of A Strange Loop, a musical by Michael R. Jackson that was recently honored with a  Pulitzer Prize for Drama; and the Ohio-based funk and soul collective Mourning [A] BLKstar’s new double album, The Cycle, addressing the reality of living in a world that is all too frequently hostile to people of color. 

Additional jazz albums include composer/trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s on the tender spot of every calloused moment; the collaboration of Damu the Fudgemunk, Archie Shepp and Raw Poetic on Ocean Bridges; and composer/bassist Michael Olatuja’s Lagos Pepper Soup

Other new releases include Wendy Moten’s first country album, I’ve Got You Covered; R&B artist Kehlani’s It Was Good Until it Wasn’tMoses Sumney’s genre defying double album Grae; contemporary gospel artist Deitrick Haddon’s TIME (Truth Is My Energy); Goldman Thibodeaux & Lawtell Playboys’ La Danse à St. Ann’s that draws from a century of Creole and Cajun musical traditions; the New Orleans group Junko Beat’s sophomore album Satirifunk; and the collaboration between the Afro-Caribbean group Chouk Bwa and Brussels-based duo The Ångströmers on Vodou Alé

Two reissues are also highlighted: Camille Yarbrough’s 1975 release, The Iron Pot Cooker, based on the West African griot tradition; and Celebrated, 1895 -1896a compilation of very early, very rare recordings by the Unique Quartette, a pioneering African American vocal group.   

Wrapping up this issue is our compilation of May 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

May 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during May 2020 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.  

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Welcome to the May 2020 Issue

Welcome to the May 2020 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. 

This month we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the great horn-driven funk band Tower of Power with a review of their 30th album, Step Up

In the category of string music, we’re featuring African American fiddler Jake Blount’s first solo album, Spider Tales, and the album L.E.S. Douze Volume 2 from Le String Noise, a group featuring fiddler and vocalist Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers, violinists Pauline Kim and Conrad Harris of String Noise, and cellist and vocalist Leyla McCalla, of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters. 

Jazz releases include drummer Jonathan Barber’s sophomore album, Legacy Holder; tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III & guitarist Matthew Stevens follow-up project, In Common 2; the Spanish Harlem Orchestra’s Latin Jazz Project; the Ruthie Foster Big Band’s Live at the Paramount; and the Brooklyn-based jazz-world music ensemble AJOYO’s sophomore album War Chant.    

Blues releases include Reverend Shawn Amos & The Brotherhood’s Blue Sky, and a celebration of Chicago electric blues with Alex Dixon (son of Willie Dixon) on The Real McCoy.  

The reissue of the month is the new compilation from Archeophone Records, At the Minstrel Show: Minstrel Routines from the Studio, 1894-1926, that includes examples of three complete minstrel shows, some featuring songs by African American composers and performers, with authoritative liner notes by Tim Brooks. Wrapping up this issue is our list of April 2020 Black Music Releases of Note
  

Various Artists – At the Minstrel Show: Minstrel Routines from the Studio, 1894-1926

 

Title: At the Minstrel Show: Minstrel Routines from the Studio, 1894-1926 
Artist: Various 
Label: Archeophone 
Formats: CD, Digital 
Release date: March 13, 2020 

 

Those who have read Tim Brooks’ new book, The Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media: 20th Century Performances on Radio, Records, Film and Television, will no doubt be interested in this new release from Archeophone Records. The two disc set, At the Minstrel Showfeatures 51 selections recorded in the studio from 1894-1926 and represents the first compilation to deal authoritatively with the minstrel genre as a whole. While Brooks discussed most of these recordings at length in his book, he also penned an extensive essay and track-by-track liner notes in the 56-page illustrated booklet accompanying At the Minstrel ShowBefore delving further into the content, it should be noted that some of the performances on this set contain racially derogatory language. From a scholarly perspective, however, these recordings provide the earliest aural documentation for those studying the genre. 

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Welcome to the April 2020 Issue

Welcome to the April 2020 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. We believe it is more important than ever to support artists during this critical period as livelihoods are jeopardized due to the pandemic. Though our workflow has also been disrupted and we do not have access to some of the new releases we planned to feature, we hope the music included in this issue will lift spirits and provide entertainment while the majority of the country is sheltering at home.   

In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, we’re highlighting new releases from artists in the U.S. and abroad. Included in our selection is the fusion album It Is What It Is from electric bassist and singer/songwriter Thundercat, the Ella Fitzgerald tribute concert Ella 100: Live at the Apollo!, Alicia Crowe’s Tribute to Alberta Hunter Live!, New Orleans trumpeter Derrick Shezbie’s The Ghost of Buddy Bolden, Cuban-born pianist Aruán Ortiz’s Inside Rhythmic Falls, South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini’s Modes of Communication: Letters from Underworlds, and two politically-fueled projects—the Chicago Yestet’s Not There Yet and Collusion by the New Orleans quartet The Session.  

Other featured albums include folk musician Dom Flemons’ compilation Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus; pianist Lara Downes & Friends’ Some of These Days featuring spirituals and freedom songs, some based on works by Margaret Bonds and Florence Price; The Legendary Ingramettes’ gospel album Take a Look in the Book; R&B singer Jose James’ sequel album No Beginning No End 2; the godfather of UK soul, Omar Lye-Fook’s compilation, The Anthology; the London-based Ghanaian duo ONIPA’s debut We No Be Machine; and the Sam Cooke compilation The Complete Keen Years, 1957–1960.  Wrapping up this issue is our list of March 2020 Black Music Releases of Note.  

Welcome to the March 2020 Issue

Welcome to the March 2020 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting new releases from female artists across multiple genres and countries.

Virtuosic saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin offers a powerful tribute to Alice and John Coltrane on her newest release Pursuance: The Coltranes; singer/pianist and Prince protégé Kandace Springs honors some of the greatest female vocalists of all time on The Women Who Raised Me; Syleena Johnson offers a timely, soulful ode to womanhood on Woman; jazz vocalist Lulu Fall reflects upon her African heritage on Between Two Worlds; pianist Judith Olson introduces the classical compositions of a noted jazz musician on Urban Counterpoint: The Piano Music of Ed Bland; jazz vocalist La Tanya Hall explores a wide range of musical gems on Say Yes; and Haitian songstress Moonlight Benjamin offers her latest fusion of rock and Afro-Caribbean music on Simido.

New gospel releases include Isaac Carree’s No Risk No Reward and Rev. John Lee Hooker Jr.’s gospel-blues album Testify, while new jazz releases include Music From and Inspired by “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” Film and Brazilian legend Sérgio Mendes’ In the Key of Joy

Wrapping up this issue is a review of the new book by media historian Tim Brooks, The Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media: 20th Century Performances on Radio, Records, Film and Television and our list of February 2020 Black Music Releases of Note.

Tim Brooks – The Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media

Title: The Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media: 20th Century Performances on Radio, Records, Film and Television
Author: Tim Brooks
Publisher: McFarland
Formats: Book (softcover, 290 pages), Kindle Ed.
Release date: November 15, 2019

 

Tim Brooks, author of the award winning tome Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919 (2004), draws upon his decades of experience as a media researcher and recorded sound historian for his latest book, The Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media. Tracing the shift from staged minstrel performances in the 19th century to the silver screen, airwaves and turntables of the 20th century, Brooks explores the second fifty-plus years of this “strange American phenomenon.”

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Welcome to the February 2020 Issue

Welcome to the February 2020 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture. In honor of Black History Month, we’re featuring projects that explore the Black experience, from Emancipation to the Civil Rights Movement to the present.

Composer Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road is a powerful oratorio based on the writings of William Still (1821–1902), a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. Jazz musician/composer Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons is a tribute to Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Bound for the Promised Land: Songs and Words of Equality and Freedom captures a live performance from the Atlanta Music Festival. Will Boyd’s Freedom, Soul, Jazz commemorates Juneteenth emancipation celebrations. Ben Williams’ I AM A MAN was inspired by the 1968 Memphis sanitation worker’s strike. Jubilee Showcase features 36 performances from the ground breaking civil rights era gospel television series.

Additional classical recordings include London-based Chineke! Orchestra’s Spark Catchers featuring works by six of the UK’s leading Black and minority ethnic composers, and British cello sensation Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s new release, Elgar. Additional jazz recordings include Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’s tribute to The Music of Wayne Shorter, and John Bailey’s Can You Imagine?, commemorating Dizzy Gillespie’s 1964 campaign for president.

With Mardi Gras approaching, we’re highlighting two New Orleans related releases: Delfeayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orchestra’s Jazz Party and the new compilation The Meters: Gettin Funkier All The Time: Complete Josie/Reprise/Warner Recordings 1968-1977.

With a nod to Valentine’s Day and themes of love, there’s jazz trumpeter Jeremy Pelt’s The Art of Intimacy Vol. 1, gospel artist Renee Spearman’s I Love Him, and the classic soul compilation You’re Not Gonna Hurt Me (A Valentine’s Day Kiss Off). Other featured albums include Fight the Fight from Jamaican reggae artist Mortimer and Amazones Power from the pan-African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique. Wrapping up this issue is our list of January 2020 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the January 2020 Issue

Welcome to the January 2020 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

For our annual “winter blues” observance we’re highlighting seven blues-based albums released over the past six months: Bobby Rush’s Sitting on Top of the Blues, the Milwaukee-based Altered Five Blues Band’s Ten Thousand Watts, blues harpist Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues tribute album Roots & Branches: Songs of Little Walter, Mississippi bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ Cypress Grove, Chicago blues singer/guitarist Vince Agwada’s Light of Day, field recordings of the late Delta blues musician Jessie Mae Hemphill on Run Get My Shotgun, and the anthology 50 Years of Como MS Blues.

Classical releases include soprano Katherine Jolly’s Preach Sister Preach featuring the works of three young American composers, and the Washington, DC based ensemble The String Queens with their self-titled debut EP. Jazz releases include two tribute albums: saxophonists Vincent Herring, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz on Bird at 100 celebrating the centennial of Charlie Bird Parker, and trumpeter Kenyatta Beasley’s Frank Foster Songbook celebrating the late saxophonist and composer.

Other new releases include Nashville-based singer-songwriter Devon Gilfillian’s debut album Black Hole Rainbow, New Orleans-based brass/jazz/hip hop band The Soul Rebels’ Poetry in Motion, Sly Stone’s early doo-wop recordings on the compilation The Viscaynes & Friends, and the soundtrack album to the new documentary 16 Bars featuring performances by inmates mentored by hip hop artist Speech Thomas of Arrested Development. Wrapping up this issue is our list of December 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the December 2019 Holiday Issue

Welcome to the December 2019 Holiday Edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

In keeping with the season, we’re starting off with our list of the Best New Holiday Albums, featuring releases from Keb’ Mo’, Ne-Yo, Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The McCrary Sisters, Elijah Blake, Jonathan Butler, and Mariah Carey.

.Special editions and box sets include Classic Blues Artwork from the 1920’s, vol. 17 (2020 calendar + CD), Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsys’ Songs for Groovy Children: Fillmore East Concerts, Nat King Cole’s Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943), Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection featuring Chicago blues and gospel, LAMP Records: It Glowed Like the Sun: The Story of Naptown’s Motown featuring Indianapolis artists, the anniversary compilation Down in Jamaica: 40 Years of VP Records, a celebration of the Fred Hersch Trio’s 10 Years / 6 Discs, the Super Deluxe Edition of Prince’s 1999, Mary J. Blige’s HERstory Vol. 1, the 10th Anniversary limited edition of Michael Jackson’s This Is It, and a vinyl box set of the Miles Davis Quintet’s Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions.

If you’re looking for books to gift, we’re featuring Booker T. Jones’s new autobiography, Time is Tight: My Life Note By Note plus the companion CD, Note by Note; Aaron Cohen’s Move on Up: Chicago’s Soul Music and Black Cultural Power; Prince’s memoir The Beautiful Ones, and Rip It Up: The Specialty Records Story by Billy Vera.

New releases include the world premiere recording of Margaret Bond’s Christmas cantata Ballad of the Brown King, the compilation Black Voices Rise: African American Artists at the Met 1955-1985, James Brown’s 1969 homecoming concert in Augusta, Georgia’s released for the first time on Live At Home With His Bad Self, jazz drummer Jerome Jennings’s Solidarity which focuses on the experiences of African American women, and the London Afrobeat Collective’s Humans.

For the new parents on your holiday shopping list there’s Lullaby Renditions of Snoop Dogg from Rockabye Baby. Wrapping up this issue is our list of November 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

November 2019 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during November 2019 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves. Continue reading

Welcome to the November 2019 Issue

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

This month we’re featuring three classical music releases: composer Gabriel Prokofiev’s Saxophone Concerto & Bass Drum Concerto (ft. Branford Marsalis and Joby Burgess), Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) & Third Coast Percussion’s collaboration on Fields, and Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite (ft. Nicola Benedetti).

New jazz releases include Kirk Whalum’s collaboration with artists from around the globe on Humanité, Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca’s Yesu, Richie Goods’ My Left Hand Man: A Tribute to Mulgrew Miller, and The Frankie Newton Collection 1929-46, a three disc set honoring the late, great trumpet player.

Three new gospel music releases capture sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s: He’s On Time from the quartet revival group Harlem Gospel Travelers, Nobody’s Fault But My Own from the Sensational Barnes Brothers, and the reissue of Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls’ D-Vine Spirituals Recordings.

Under the category of R&B, soul, rock and funk there’s Rissi Palmer’s uplifting Revival, Calvin Richardson’s smooth R&B vocals on Gold Dust, Living Colour vocalist Cory Glover’s collaboration with Stevie D Torn from the Pages, and the New York funk group Hornē Electric Band’s self-titled debut.

International releases include the compilations Brutal Africa: Heavy Metal Cowboys of Botswana and Warrior Women of Afro-Peruvian Music, the Haitian roots revival collective Lakou Mizik’s collaboration with New Orleans’ artists on HaitiaNola, and a reissue of  the 1977 album Ewondo Rythm by Ondigui and Bata Tabansi International.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Homeless Oakland Heart, released to coincide with World Homeless Day, offers a collection of songs and stories recorded live on the streets of Oakland with all proceeds going to the Coalition for the Homeless. Wrapping up this issue is our comprehensive list of October 2019 Black Music Releases of Note.

October 2019 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during October 2019 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves. Continue reading

Welcome to the October 2019 Issue

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

Our featured project this month is the new three disc compilation, Protobilly: Minstrel & Tin Pan Alley DNA of Country Music 1892-2017, produced and/or annotated by Dom Flemons, Dick Spottswood, Henry Sapoznik, and David Giovannoni.

Also highlighted are two classical recordings: Richard Thompson’s The Mask in the Mirror – A Chamber Opera and Jamaican-born composer Eleanor Alberga’s String Quartets Nos. 1-3, performed by Ensemble Arcadiana.

This month’s jazz selections include Ramsey Lewis & the Urban Knights seventh album VII, the Chick Corea Trio’s Trilogy 2, and the Louisiana-based Lilli Lewis Project’s multi-genre album We Belong. Gospel releases include John P. Kee’s I Made It Out and a new compilation, Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels in the Band, featuring a 1950s gospel girl group that included a teenage Candi Staton.

Other new releases include rising Chicago blues musician Toronzo Cannon’s The Preacher, The Politician or The Pimp, spoken word artist/poet Tenesha The Wordsmith’s Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts, the Brooklyn Funk Essentials’s Stay Good, and Vaneese Thomas’s Down Yonder. Wrapping up this issue is our list of September Black Music Releases of Note.

September 2019 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during September 2019 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.  Continue reading

Welcome to the September 2019 Issue

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

Our featured projects this month are Black Swans, a compilation featuring some of the rarest recordings of African American concert artists from the early 20th century, and My Mind Set Me Free: The House Guests Meet the Complete Strangers featuring early 1970s recordings by Bootsy and  Phelps “Catfish” Collins along with other members of the rhythm section that famously backed James Brown (The J.B.’s), George Clinton (Funkadelic), and Bootsy Collins (Bootsy’s Rubber Band).

Featured jazz releases include Jazzmeia Horn’s sophomore album Love and Liberation, Wynton Marsalis’s Swing Symphony performed by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the James Carter Organ Trio’s Live From Newport Jazz, pianist Jon Batiste’s Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard, and the new Louis Armstrong compilation Live in Europe.  

Other new releases include slam poet/rapper Saul Williams’ Encrypted and Vulnerable, Raphael Saadiq’s poignant Jimmy Lee, and Battle of the Blues: Chicago vs Oakland, Twist Turner’s tribute to underappreciated blues men and women from both cities. Wrapping up this issue is our list of August Black Music Releases of Note.

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.

Craft Celebrates 50th anniversary of Stax Records’ “Soul Explosion”

In 1969, the iconic Stax Records’ intense undertaking to rebuild its brand as an independent label culminated in the release of 27 albums and 30 singles in just a handful of months. This period in the Memphis label’s history is known as the “Soul Explosion.” During Black Music Month, Craft Records will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of this achievement with a “Made in Memphis” reissue campaign, including the original Soul Explosion compilation album, back on vinyl for the first time since 1969. The two-disc set features a number of rare bonus tracks from the Bar-Kays, Eddie Floyd, and the lesser known Ollie & The Nightingales. Continue reading

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.