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.