Welcome to the April 2021 Issue

Welcome to the April 2021 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, we’re highlighting new releases from a wide variety of artists. Included in our selection is the late pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali’s previously unreleased 1965 session Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album;  Chicago trumpet player Marques Carroll’s The Ancestors’ Call; New Orleans-born pianist Jon Batiste’s multi-genre, multi-generational We Are; Kansas City-born saxophonist Logan Richardson’s AfroFuturism; jazz-soul organist Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Breathe; Chicago visionary Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble’s NOW; and guitarist Dan Wilson’s Vessels of Wood and Earth.

Other selections include African American folk musician Rhiannon Giddens’ They’re Calling Me Home; vocal legend Merry Clayton’s return to her gospel roots on Beautiful Scars; classical avant-punk duo String Noise’s Alien Stories featuring newly commissioned works from five young Black composers; New Orleans’ group Cha Wa’s tribute to Mardi Gras Indians on My People; and Democratic Republic of Congo group Jupiter & Okwess’s Na Kozonga featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band horn section.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of March 2021 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the March 2021 Issue

Welcome to the March 2021 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

In celebration of Women’s History Month we’re featuring new releases from female artists including singer-songwriter Valerie June’s eclectic The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers; Prince protégé Judith Hill’s Baby I’m Hollywood; L.A. singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Sunny War’s Simple Syrup; blues-rock singer Skylar Rogers’s Firebreather; and scholar Maureen Mahon’s book, Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll.

Classical releases include the Catalyst Quartet’s Uncovered Vol. 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor featuring acclaimed clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Stewart Goodyear; and the woodwind quintet Imani Winds’ Bruits featuring guest appearances by soprano Janai Brugger and narrator John Whittington Franklin.

Also featured is composer Adrian Younge’s unapologetic critique of systemic racism on The American Negro, pianist-composer Cameron Graves’ thrash-jazz fusion release Seven, and the London-based fusion group Nubiyan Twist’s Freedom Fables.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of February 2021 Black Music Releases of Note.

Welcome to the January and February 2021 Issue

Welcome to the January-February 2021 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 across multiple musical genres.

Baritone Will Liverman presents music from Black composers on Dreams of a New Day, composer Joseph C. Phillips Jr. explores racial injustice in his new opera The Grey Land, and jazz legend Archie Shepp collaborates with Jason Moran on Let My People Go.

Other jazz selections include soprano Janinah Burnett’s Love the Color of Your Butterfly, Robert Glasper’s R+R=NOW ensemble Live, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet’s timely The Democracy! Suite; Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet’s Social Distancing, and the vocalist/trumpet duo Sounds of A&R on Questions Left Unanswered.

Other new releases include composer-musicians Terence Blanchard and Leslie Odom Jr. on One Night in Miami Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; Canadian artist Dominique Fils-Aimé’s Three Little Words; blues artist Selwyn Birchwood’s Living in a Burning House and Alabama Slim’s The Parlor; genre-blending country artist Willie Jones’ Right Now; and Louisiana Creole artist Corey Ledet’s Zydeco.

Wrapping up this issue are the compilations The Ska from Jamaica and A Capella Black Gospel: Look How the World Has Made a Change, 1940-1969, plus our list of December 2020-January 2021 Black Music Releases of Note.

December 2020 – January 2021 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released December 2020 and January 2021 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

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Welcome to the December 2020 Holiday Issue

Welcome to the December 2020 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 Warren Wolf, Lynda Randle, Amber Weekes, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, and the Hadestown cast, plus honorable mentions.

Special editions and box sets include Classic Blues Artwork from the 1920’s, vol. 18 ( 2021 calendar + CD); Bob Marley 75th Anniversary releases (books and box sets); Jimi Hendrix Experience Live In Maui from 1970 (2-CD + DVD); Prince’s Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition (8CD+DVD or 13LP+DVD); the new documentary Chuck Berry: The Original King Of Rock; Little Richard’s 1970s Reprise albums in expanded editions; new releases celebrating Chubby Checker and the 60th anniversary of “The Twist”; the compilation from Stax’s 1970s-era gospel subsidiary Gospel Truth: The Complete Singles Collection; the CD release of the Staple Singers’ box set Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection (7-CDs); Evelyn “Champagne” King: RCA Albums 1977-1985 (8-CD box set); the funk group Con Funk Shun compilation Confunkshunizeya: The Mercury Anthology (2 CDs); the Sade box set This Far (6-LP vinyl); Beyonce’s groundbreaking 2018 Coachella festival performance packaged as Homecoming: The Live Album (4-LP set); and London’s young Kanneh-Mason family performing a new version of Carnival of the Animals (deluxe ed. book + CD).

Other new releases include Ella Fitzgerald: The Lost Berlin Tapes; George Benson’s Weekend in London; and the book Heart Full of Rhythm: Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of November 2020 Black Music Releases of Note.

November 2020 Black Grooves

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

Our top features this month are The Power Of The One from funk legend Bootsy Collins with appearances from Christian McBride, Branford Marsalis, Victor Wooten, Snoop Dog, and members of the IU Soul Revue; and Uncivil War from blues queen Shemekia Copeland that probes deeply into the divided state of our nation.

Jazz releases include Benjamin Boone’s The Poets Are Gathering featuring eleven acclaimed poets narrating their works set to jazz; Chicago musician and composer Kahil El’Zabar’s America the Beautiful that reflects upon what America has become; trumpeter Alonzo Demetrius’s Live from Prison Nation that addresses the prison industrial complex; Venezuelan-born pianist and composer Edward Simon’s two-disc Latin jazz compilation 25 Years; Baltimore-based pianist Lafayette Gilchrist’s double album Now; and Aaron Burnett & The Big Machine’s genre-spanning Jupiter Conjunct.

New R&B/soul releases include Cory Henry’s socially conscious project Something to Say and Aloe Blacc’s All Love Everything. Also featured is the debut album All of This from Oakland reggae-rap fusion group Roots And Tings; Optimisme from the Malian supergroup Songhoy Blues; the self-titled debut from the Benin girl group Star Feminine Band; and the compilation Your Man of Faith featuring recordings from 1937-1956 by singing evangelist Elder Charles Beck.

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

Welcome to the October 2020 Issue

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

Our featured release this month is bassist/composer Gregg August’s Dialogues on Race, an extended suite for large jazz ensemble, vocalists, and strings that draws upon poems by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Marilyn Nelson and other notable American poets. Other jazz releases include Teodross Avery’s tribute album Harlem Stories: The Music of Thelonious Monk; alto saxophonist/composer Charles McPherson’s Jazz Dance Suites; jazz-rock fusion drummer/vocalist Cindy Blackman Santana’s Give the Drummer Some featuring guitarists Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Kirk Hammett, and Vernon Reid; and the never-before-released album Just Coolin’ by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers.

Rap and hip hop selections include Sa-Roc’s debut album, The Sharecropper’s Daughter; new socially conscious projects from two of the most politically charged rappers of the ‘80s and ‘90s—Paris’ Safe Space Invader and Public Enemy’s What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down—and the Free Radicals compilation White Power Outage Volume 1.

Gospel music selections include the Chicago Mass Choir’s My Soul Says Yes and The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story Volume 1, a compilation of Memphis area gospel recordings from the 1970s.

Also featured is Hearts Town from the R&B duo The War And Treaty; Frederick “Toots” Hibbert’s final album with the Maytals, Got To Be Tough; Philly R&B singer Valvin “V” Roane’s Image a Nation; Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne’s Go, Just Do It!; an expanded reissue of the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack Let’s Do It Again featuring the Staple Singers; and a remastered vinyl edition of Classified by New Orleans keyboardist James Booker.

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

Welcome to the September 2020 Issue

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

We’re back from a summer hiatus to celebrate Classical Music Month with a review of the new biography on composer Florence B. Price, The Heart of a Woman, by Rae Linda Brown. Classical music recordings include Duo Dolce’s Summerland: Music for Cello and Piano by Composers of African Descent; and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony performing William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony and Ulysses Kay’s Fantasy Variations and Umbrian Scene.

Jazz releases this month include flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell and soprano Lisa E. Harris’s EarthSeed, based on the Afrofuturistic novels of Octavia E. Butler; Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground by the Regina Carter Freedom Band; trombonist Javier Nero’s debut album Freedom; bassist/composer Derrick Hodge’s concept album Color of Noize; trumpeter Derrick Gardner’s Still I Rise with the Big dig! Band; saxophone legend Maceo Parker’s Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo; saxophonist/keyboardist Mike Burton’s cross-genre project Walk With Me; and Sun Piano by ambient music icon Laraaji.

Popular music releases include soul-rock musician Fantastic Negrito’s Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?; London artist L.A. Salami’s The Cause of Doubt & A Reason to Have Faith; the collective Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice’s call for social justice on No More Silence Vol. 2; Billy Ocean’s 70th birthday celebration One World; R&B diva Brandy’s b7; French-Caribbean bassist, singer and producer Adeline’s Intérimes; R&B superstar Teyana Taylor’s The Album; the late blues musician Frank Bey’s final release All My Dues Are Paid; and Chris Jasper’s For the Love of You which revisits some of The Isley Brothers’ hits.

World music releases include Mutation from the Parisian Afrobeat group Les Frères Smith, and the eponymous release from the Afro-Colombian group Ghetto Kumbé.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of Summer 2020 Black Music Releases of Note covering additional releases from June, July and August.

Summer 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during June, July and August 2020 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

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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.