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Four Women

May 27, 2016

Ladies, meet music lovers. Music lovers, meet four talented musicians.

These four records are excellent and deserve a widest audience. So after some heavy rotation on both headphones and speakers, it is time for a quartet of recommendations. Oh and that title? Nina.

khadja bonet – the visitor (from “the visitor EP“, 2016)
maki asakawa – boro tu furutetsu (from “maki asakawa“, 2016)
kamaiyah – i’m on (from “a good night in the ghetto“, 2016)
joanna brouk – majesty suites: entrance of the queen of winter dawn (from “hearing music“, 2016)

Khadja Bonet is an LA-based singer and musician operating on a different astral plane. Listening to “The Visitor” is removing yourself from the rational 24hr news cycle and connected way of life. That hurried mindspace is reclaimed by awe and wonder about love and life. Musically, Bonet is slippery but reference points are early Jill Scott, Minnie Ripperton and the Ladies from the Canyon.

Maki Asakawa has long been a cult figure, but the hard to find work of the Japanese singer has only now been compiled for Western ears. Thank you, Honest Jon’s! Their eponymous collection is an adventurous listen, taking in blues, ballads, exorcism, buddhist chants and the modal jazz vibe of the track featured here.

Kamaiyah is on course to have a great and profile-boosting 2016, but in case you missed it: “a good night in the ghetto” is the perfect summer rap tape, and the fact that the MC at the helm is a 21-year old female from Oakland only adds to that.

Rounding out the musical quartet is Joanna Brouk – an original composer, poet and aural designer. Brouk has turned out to be one of the originators of what would become the New Age genre. “Hearing Music” collects highlights of a cassette-based discography (and adds some unreleased bits). Don’t expect flutes, bells, whistles and chants: this is stark and elegant music that does a very good job of approaching a (or the) core. Check out this 1972 interview if the track above makes you curious.

 

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[mix] workin’ 95

April 22, 2016

va – workin’ 95, a mix by cortez / mixcloud stream

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Putting the “we” in Italian Library

April 18, 2016

various artists – rare music from the cometa library vaults (pheon records 2016) album

Excuse the punnage in the title of this post – it is hard to write about Italian library music in a serious way. Here’s why.

Library or Production Music is made for potential use in movies, television, etc. Its intended use or function was purely hypothetical.While “normal” library music is already pretty weird, Italian libraries do it even better.

The artists involved (almost) never used their real names, instead choosing to rely on endless pseudonyms like Alessandro Allesandroni and Stefano Torossi. The records that embodied the physical product were not intended for sale and (therefore) produced in minute quantities. They are rare. And feature some wild designs. It will be no surprise that fans of the genre are often male and geeky😉

All this wouldn’t be of interested if the music in question was some boring theme-songs-for-dummies affair. It’s not. The record above was released earlier this year and is now out of print. Since no digital companion was available I am now facilitating one… as a tip of the iceberg.

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Beware the She-Wolf

March 29, 2016

jessie mae hemphill – she-wolf (vogue, 1981) album

The She-Wolf is a rare creature. Born and bred near Como, Mississippi, granddaughter to Sid Hemphill and part of a unique musical tradition. Jessie Mae Hemphill grew up listening to, and later playing, music. She was a skilled drummer, guitar player, singer and composer. This is her debut album. Her looking upbeat and friendly on the cover is an excellent visual entree to her spellbinding sound. Dig in!

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Bad Benson

March 22, 2016

george benson and the jack mcduff quartet – shadow dancers (from “the new boss guitar“, 1964)

A bonafide jazz-dance classic from George Benson? I was not aware of his earliest output, but the owner of my local haunt alerted me its existence. No fusion leanings or vocal garnish, just riding a cool bassline / drums combo. Having Montego Joe on the latter doesn’t hurt.

Oh, it helps to play this over proper speakers.

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Haitian Voodoo Jazz

March 12, 2016

the haitian bells – st (1973 lp) album

This is a special one. After hearing about this record for a few years and never having the opportunity to listen to it, I jumped on the chance of acquiring a copy. Glad I did!  This large group (15+ people) of vocalists and instrumentalists conjures up an original sound on their only release.

Part dramatic vocals, part moody jazz, the eight tracks manage to sound like a mix between a tense private ceremony and a triumphant public performance…weird. Add a healthy dose of drums / percussion and some scorching spiritual saxophone, and the result is a record that is very much unique.

Check it out by clicking the link above.

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Be like Abbey

March 6, 2016

max roach & abbey lincoln – garvey’s ghost (from “percussion bitter sweet“, 1961)

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Stand up straight. Know what you are, and you know what you aren’t. Speak from your heart with your feet firmly planted.

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Bass – Art Davis, Congas – Carlos “Patato” Valeler, Cowbell – Carlos “Totico” Eugenio, Drums – Max Roach, Flute, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Eric Dolphy, Liner Notes – Margo Guryan, Piano – Mal Waldron, Tenor Saxophone – Clifford Jordan, Trombone – Julian Priester, Trumpet – Booker Little, Vocals – Abbey Lincoln.

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While going through emotional and musical cycles, this song has its own momentum – strains of rhythm and history circling each other, anchored by Abbey’s wail.

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