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.