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.