Monday, October 30, 2006

Marion Brown: In Sommerhausen

Marion Brown - In Sommerhausen

Side A:

1. Dance No. 1 [10:47]
2. Exhibit B [3:35]
3. The Sound of a Song [8:16]

Side B:

1. Malipieros Midnight Theatre [8:10]
2. Il ne chant pas [6:00]
3. Dance No. 2 [8:50]

Marion Brown - alto sax
Jeanne Lee - voice, percussion
Gunter Hampel - vibraphone, bass clrinet, percussion
Ambrose Jackson - trumpet, percussion
Daniel Laloux - bass, percussion
Steve McCall - drums, percussion

recorded live at Bayerisches Staatskonservatorium Musik, Wurzburg, Germany, May 17, 1969

Calig CAL 30605

Thurston Moore sez:
"In Sommerhausen" is Marion in late 60's exploratory fashion and is quite freaky with the vocal whoops of Jeanne Lee.
The first track (Dance No. 1) starts out with percussion before the rest of the group joins in, followed by numerous combinations of percussion/drums and sax or trumpet or vibes. The next tune is "Exhibit B" which features Brown on sax - often breathing and moaning through the instrument giving the piece a cathartic quality. "The Sound of a Song" has an almost tranquil feel by comparison as the group improvises together. Jeanne Lee makes a vocal appearance on this one (no words, very soothing). Vibes are featured very prominently. "Malipieros Midnight Theatre" immediately shakes things up with a chaotic group effort employing a lot of what would be called "little instruments" (e.g., whistles) as AEC would call them, as Jeanne Lee recites a spoken word piece (sometimes mumbled, sometimes clearly) that has a rather paranoid quality to it, and later in the piece goes into those vocal whoops that Moore describes. "Il Ne Chant Pas" begins with a charge on trumpet & drums, and male vocals in French sounding very shrill & excited (more vocal whoops). "Dance No. 2" rounds out the gig as a reprise of the beginning theme, even more percussive this time around.

This is a hard album to track down. Many thanks to whoever ripped this one from vinyl. One of my favorites.

Download In Sommerhausen

Marion Brown: Gesprächsfetzen

Calig CAL 30601 (D)

September 20, 1968
Modernes Theater München, Munich, Germany

Side A:
1. Gesprächsfetzen [15:00] (Marion Brown)
2. Exhibit A [2:55] (Marion Brown)

Side B:
1. Babudah [7:30] (Steve McCall)
2. Tomorrow Is The Beginning Of The End Of Yesterday [3:20] (Gunter Hampel)
3. Aba [6:30] (Marion Brown)

Marion Brown (as)
Gunter Hampel (vb, b-cl)
Ambrose Jackson (tp)
Buschi Niebergall (b)
Steve McCall (dr)

As Thurston Moore once put it, this one "really lays down the scorch." Side A begins with the title track, which builds in intensity until climaxing about 5 or so minutes into the proceedings - at which point the musicians seem to work mainly in solos & duets through the remainder of the tune. "Exhibit A" is a solo piece for sax that is an intense ride from start to finish. Side B starts out with "Babudah" - again beginning with a relatively quiet solo (this one featuring the bass) before turning into a group effort - given that drummer Steve McCall is credited as the tune's author, it isn't too surprising that the rhythm section is featured prominently - especially drums and vibes (not to worry, everyone gets a piece of the action). The tune has a pretty nice rhythm that's pretty easy to groove to. "Tomorrow..." begins with plenty of sax squeeks and skronks (backed with vibes and drums), then gets down to business - here more noirish - with quiet periods (vibes & drums) slowly giving way to chaotic climaxes. The final tune "Aba" has a slow loping beat and a 'late night at the bar' feel to it, again kind of noirish.

The album is hard as hell to find. Many thanks to whoever ripped this bad boy from vinyl. Expect the usual snap-crackle-pop sound, and also keep in mind that it's a live gig so the sound quality isn't always the best (the bassist, for instance, often gets lost in the mix). A cool document of one of the jazz world's unsung heroes.

Download Gesprächsfetzen

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Joseph Jarman: As If It Were The Seasons

Muhal Richard Abrams - Piano, Oboe
Fred Anderson - Sax (Tenor)
Thurman Barker - Percussion, Drums
Joel Brandon - Flute
Charles Clark - Bass, Cello, Koto
John Jackson - Trumpet
Joseph Jarman - Bassoon, Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Robert G. Koester - Associate Producer, Album Supervision
Lester Lashley - Flute, Trombone
Sharon Scott - Vocals
Paul Serrano - Engineer, Mixing
John Stubblefield - Sax (Tenor)
A review via
This set is one of the legendary early AACM releases. Joseph Jarman (heard on alto, bassoon and soprano in addition to fife and recorder) is featured shortly before he became a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Some of his sidemen would become well-known (pianist Richard Abrams, tenors Fred Anderson and John Stubblefield), while others remained obscure or short-lived (bassist Charles Clark, drummer Thurman Barker, flutist Joel Brandon, trumpeter John Jackson and trombonist Lester Lashley). The two lengthy group improvisations (Sherri Scott adds her voice to "Song for Christopher") contrast sound and silence, noise with more conventional sounds, "little instruments" with powerful saxophones. Certainly not for everyone's taste, the truly open-eared will find the innovative results quite intriguing.
Recorded June 19 & July 17 1968. Last reissued on Delmark, 1996.

You might have to do a little digging, but it hasn't gone entirely out of circulation just yet. Beautiful work that fits in very nicely with Roscoe Mitchell's Sound and early Art Ensemble of Chicago recordings.

Download As If It Were The Seasons

Joseph Jarman: Sunbound

Side A
1. Sunbound
2. Movement for Piano Players on a Break at 1:30 A.M. Saturday Night in a Big City

Side B
1. Spirit of Eric
2. Universal Mind Force
3. Spirit of Trane

Joseph Jarman - Flute, Percussion, Clarinet (Bass), Sax (Alto), Sopranino, Vibraphone, Sax (Sopranino)

Sunbound is a live solo performance by then Art Ensemble of Chicago member Joseph Jarman, and one of a handful of recordings issued by the band's own label. The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) of Chicago had long required a solo concert as a kind of "final exam." Regardless of one's instrument, a graduate of this school was expected to be able to construct a cohesive performance alone, without benefit of supporting musicians. Thus, concerts like this one were hardly uncommon at the time, though to the wider public the idea of a saxophonist by himself on stage was still somewhat bizarre. Jarman has a significantly different approach to improvisation than his erstwhile reeds partner in the Art Ensemble, Roscoe Mitchell. The latter had an extremely structural view of improvisation, using often arcane conceptual ideas as the basis for his flights. Jarman is a more intuitive player, allowing ideas to flow in natural, lyrical fashion, even when blisteringly intense. Typically, he utilizes a wide variety of reeds and percussion, sometimes simultaneously, though the finest work here is on alto ("Universal Mind Force"). His abandonment of structure allows for some degree of meandering, and there are sections which could have stood a bit of editing, but that "excess" was part of the deal in performances such as this at the time and, in retrospect, are even part of their charm. Still, one misses a foil such as Mitchell to bounce ideas off, and the album, while generally enjoyable, lacks some of the depth and passion associated with the best Art Ensemble recordings. Recommended for AACM completists.
This is one I just sort of stumbled on and thought was worth passing along. Jarman does sound like a one-man-band through much of the album, and seems to my admittedly non-expert ears to do quite well at pulling the performance off within the parameters of a solo performance. I tend to like this sort of thing. If you like AEC and/or solo improv performances you may well like this one as well. It's never been reissued on cd as far as I am aware.

Recorded December 4, 1976 and subsequently released on AECO (cat # 002).

Download Sunbound

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quick update

I should have some fresh sounds up sometime over the next few days - stay tuned.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Noah Howard: The Black Arc

1. Domiabra (10:29)
2. Ole Negro (8:47)
3. Mount Fuji (15:29)
4. Queen Anne (5:43)

Noah Howard - Alto Sax
Arthur Doyle - Tenor Sax
Earl Cross - Trumpet
Leslie Waldron - Piano
Norris Jones (aka Sirone) - Bass
Mohammed Ali - Drums
Juma Sultan - Congas

A review (via
While The Black Ark [sp] is not altogether different than his other records from this period, it presents Howard in a new setting with a number of interesting avant-garde players. On hand for this session are reedman Arthur Doyle, trumpeter Earl Cross, Leslie Waldron on piano, Sirone on bass, Muhammad Ali on drums, and Juma Sultan on conga. There is some mild variation in style among each of these songs' respective heads (from post-Coltrane to hard bop noir), but in all cases they are abandoned rather quickly anyway, so to dwell on such things, it seems, would be a rather moot point. Instead, the widely varying styles of the players themselves are of particular interest. Both Cross and Waldron, not exactly household names, reveal themselves to be quite competent players and tend to be the anchors of the group, in that their solos are often the most grounded of the non-percussion instruments. Doyle, on the other hand, is expectedly outrageous. His solos on this (or any) record never fail to increase a song's intensity level. Otherwise, Sirone and the percussionists are afforded some solo and duet time on the second side, which really accentuates the delay used on Sultan's conga. As a result, when he and Ali are left to themselves, the listener is presented with a very Sun Ra-esque Afro-space sound reminiscent perhaps of the echoed percussion heard on Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy. Easily recommended for fans of the 1969 BYG/ESP free jazz scene.
Another partial review by Richard Williams of Melody Maker via the liner notes to The Blue Humans' Live - N.Y. 1980 cd:
If it did nothing else, this album would at least introduce to us a couple of extraordinary musicians: trumpeter Earl Cross and tenorist Arthur Doyle.

Cross is post-Norman Howard, the new lyricism with a grainy, throaty tone...(etc.).

Doyle is another matter. This man is dangerous - he never plays anything you could recognize, just furious blasts of rage. His solo on "Domiabra" couldn't be written down, or even sorted out. It sounds more like raw energy than anything I've ever heard. He's nasty, man.
The record as I understand it was first issued on Polydor in 1969 and then later reissued on cd in Japan on the Freedom label. As far as I know it is currently out of print. That Japanese reissue will fetch a pretty penny, to say the least - I rarely see this album at all on ebay, and then never for less than $50.

This record lives up to its reputation. The review pretty well captures the essence as well as any review could. There are plenty of fiery moments to be found, as well as plenty of moments of relative calm (see especially "Ole Negro", where the reeds and trumpet lay out for much of the tune, and let the rhythm section have at it). One of the relatively mellower pieces, "Queen Anne" sounds like something that would fit in on one of Frank Wright's early 1970s albums (not surprising given that the Howard & Wright would gig together quite a bit during first few years during the 1970s). "Mount Fuji" is just wild, from the opening until the finish - even when the horns lay out, the rhythm section maintains the fiery pace. It's an album that should be heard to be fully appreciated. Words cannot do it justice.

The title on the cd I have is The Black Arc - I often see it misspelled "Ark" due to the graphics used on the front cover.

The musicians were mostly unknowns at the time, many of whom remained in obscurity. I honestly don't know what else Earl Cross & Leslie Waldron did either prior to or after this particular recording. Too bad, as both seemed to hold their own nicely throughout the session. Drummer Mohammed Ali was Rashied Ali's lesser-known brother, and appeared on several records with Frank Wright, Bobby Few, Archie Shepp, Alan Shorter, and Albert Ayler during the late 1960s and early 1970s before he dropped out of sight. Where is he now? Percussionist Juma Sultan appeared subsequently on one Archie Shepp album and on several posthumous Jimi Hendrix albums (the ones appearing after the Hendrix estate gained control of his recorded output). Sirone may not exactly be a household name, but is certainly one of the better known of this session's musicians - perhaps best known for his work with the Revolutionary Ensemble as well as leading his own sessions. Sax (and these days multi-instrumentalist) Arthur Doyle managed to gig around, very occasionally appear as a sideman on recording sessions (e.g., Milford Graves' Babi, and as a member of The Blue Humans), and recorded a date as a leader (Alabama Feeling) during the 1970s and early 1980s. Doyle then dropped out of sight and re-emerged seemingly out of nowhere in the mid-1990s (and has since been on a veritable recording and gigging spree).

The tune "Mount Fuji" provided the inspiration for what I suppose could be called an Arthur Doyle standard, "Noah Howard Black Ark" that has appeared on several recent Doyle releases (e.g., Live at the Cooler, and The Basement Tapes).

Wanna find out more of what Noah Howard has been up to? Here's his official website.

Download The Black Arc

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Some Housekeeping:

Updated and bumped.

I noticed that rapidshare has their new setup going (, and am giving it a bit of a test-drive. So far, so good. One thing that I've done is uploaded my jazz offerings on a new account there, and updated all of the relevant blog entries with fresh links. These should last a good long while relatively speaking. The only links I haven't refreshed yet are for the KMD album and the two Last Poets singles (I probably won't as there seemed to be little or no demand for them to begin with - though if asked frequently enough I might be persuaded to change my mind).

Expect some fresh material over the next few days.

Black Artists Group: In Paris, Aries 1973

Mtume Umoja Ensemble: Alkebu-Lan - Land of the Blacks, Album 1 (sides A & B) and Album 2 (Sides C & D)

Mtume: Rebirth Cycle

Miles Davis: Lost Mid 70s Sessions, Album 1 and Album 2

These links will likely go dead pretty soon, so nab 'em while you can. I'm thinking of trying out to see if that works a bit better for my purposes of keeping music links alive longer.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Frank Wright: Shouting the Blues

This one's definitely a rarity! Some info:
Frank Wright, Shouting The Blues
Recorded Paris, France Dec. 12 1977
Sun Records

Frank Wright, Tenor Sax, Clarinette
Georges Arvanitas, Piano
Jacky Samson, Contrabass
Charles Saudrais, Drums

Side 1:
Up against the wall 5'07
Two birds with one stone 6'07
Long way from home 3'20
Church number Ten 4'15

Side 2:
Right On 3'47
Reverend Blues 4'27
Jerry 5'23
Incantation 7'40

Ripped From Vinyl, Very Rare Recording from Sun Records France
The sound quality is decent. Expect the usual snap/crackle/pop sounds that go along with listening to a record that's been played a few times. The files are labeled "Side 1" and "Side 2" with the tunes appearing in precisely the order in which they're listed above.

As the title suggests, there's a strong blues vibe to this particular recording. Frank Wright handles some vocal chores on this date - his vocal style isn't pretty, but then again, you don't want your blues singers to sound like potential American Idol contestants. In other words, the voice fits the musical background. "Up Against the Wall" is a standard blues tune. "Two Birds With One Stone" is a free-jazz tune that would fit in very well with Frank's earlier work. "Long Way From Home" heads back into blues territory. "Church Number Ten" picks up where an earlier Frank Wright tune ("Church Number Nine") leaves off. Think of a free jazz hymnal, and you'll pretty much get the idea.

On the second side, "Right On" layers an incendiary Frank Wright sax instrumental outing over a latin jazz background. "Reverend Blues" is a slower hymnal-style blues that opens with an Ayler-style sax solo and then Frank Wright lays into his troubles with that husky, smoky vocal style. "Jerry" follows up with some uptempo free-form jamming. Although these cats kick out the jams, the sound is always pleasant. "Incantation" ends the album with a gorgeous, meditative jam that again might fit in with some of Frank Wright's earlier work or perhaps some of Pharoah Sanders' gentler pieces from his Impulse! days.

I'll let the musical experts argue over whether this is an essential Frank Wright recording. It's certainly a unique addition to his canon in that the man actually sings. All I know is that it works for me, and that if you're a Frank Wright fan already, this one will treat you right. If you're new to the music of Frank Wright and find yourself really liking the instrumental tracks, make sure to look into his other recordings - I know that both his ESP-Disk recordings were recently reissued (as a 2-cd set), as was the early 1970s classic Uhuru Na Umoja.

Download Shouting the Blues.

Also of interest: I've bookmarked a couple Frank Wright discographies - one maintained by George Scala and one over at Center of the World. More bio info on Frank Wright may be found at

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gnawa trance music: Maleem Mahmoud Ghania

I noticed that Orang Aural had posted the album The Trance of Seven Colors, credited to Maleem Mahmoud Ghania & Pharoah Sanders recently. What I've had the privilege to hear of the Gnawa has blown me away, so I was happy to see that someone else had uploaded this particular out-of-print session. Some details of the album:
"To call this outing 'authentic' would be an understatement, given that Bill Laswell and Pharoah Sanders took only some digital recording equipment and Sanders' saxophone to Morocco to record it. The CD sleeve photos show the informal nature of the proceedings, revealing that the recording took place in someone's home with a large cast of musicians, many of whom are Ghania's family members.

The recording did not suffer at all from the mobile equipment, and The Trance of Seven Colors lives up to its title, giving the listener first-hand access to Gnawa healing ceremonial music. Ghania's Guimbri (an African instrument) unravels masterful, off-kilter, bass-like lines over chanting and various percussion instruments. Pharoah Sanders sounds inspired in the setting also, making this a worthwhile recording for Sanders fans who heard intimations of world music in his '60s dates."

Wilson McCloy, All Music Guide

Maleem Mahmoud Ghania: guimbri, lead vocal, tbel
Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone
Maleem Boubker Ghania: second guimbri (6)
Maleem Mahmoud Ahkaraz: tbel (8)
Maleem Abdellah Ghania, Abdellah Ahkaraz, El Moktar Ghania, Mohhamed Abdellaoui, Mohamed Outanine, Abdellatif Abdellaoui, Hassan Machoure, Mohamed Boujmia: krkaba, vocal chorus, handclaps
Abdellah Lamsouger: handclaps
Maleem Addabachi Abdelkabir: lead ghaita (3)
Adelmalak Ben Hamou: ghaita (3)
Abderrahman Nimini: tbel (3)
Adelmoula Hnikkich & Mustapha Bousan: harraz (3)
FEMALE VOCAL CHORUS: Zaida Ghania (leader), Mina Ahkaraz,Saida Battach, Fatna Ifis, Fatima Labied, Hafida Ghania, J'mia Ghania, Kadija Ghania, Malika Ghania.

1. La Allah Dayim Moulenah (11:10) by P. Sanders / M. Ghania
2. Bela Moussaka (3:54)
3. Hamdouchi (9:07) arr. by Maleem Addabachi Abdelkabir
4. Peace In Essaouira (for Sonny Sharrock) (7:23) by P. Sanders
5. Boulandi Samawi (13:56)
6. Moussa Berkiyo/Koubaliy Beriah La'Foh (4:34)
7. Salat Anbi (8:17)
8. Casa Casa Atougra (5:05)
9. Mahraba (7:48)

All songs traditional and arranged by Maleem Mahmoud Ghania except where noted
Produced by Bill Laswell
Co-production and organization in Morocco: Eric Rosenzweig
Recorded by Robert Musso in the House of the Caid Khoubane in the Medina of Essaouira, District Chbanat, Morocco on June 1,2 & 3, 1994
Released by Axiom/Island in 1994
You can download The Trance of Seven Colors here, courtesy of Orang Aural.

Apparently Orang Aural is quite a fan of Gnawa healing music, and has also uploaded mp3s from three cassettes by the same artist (under the name Mahmoud Guinia). I'm listening to one of them now as I am blogging. Additionally, in August Orang Aural posted The Splendid Master Gnawa Musicians of Morocco (jointly credited to jazz pianist Randy Weston). I've had that album for a while - something I snagged on ebay once upon a time - and highly recommend tracking it down. Weston plays some Gnawa-inspired piano on one track, but otherwise this is strictly a Gnawa recording. The music definitely hits on some sort of emotional level that defies words - I became an instant fan of Mahmoud Ghania when I first heard a track off of The Trance of Seven Colors. As Orang puts it:
I can't describe Gnawa music here, and just to call it Moroccan Blues is way too simple - I'll give the interested listener a list of site and text links, where you can read and learn about the music and its context in Moroccan culture:
and two more "fancy" Gnaoua websites:
Mad props to Orang Aural for upping some of those cassettes - I hope this blogger will upload some more. Gnawa music is quite addictive. I also hear Gnawa musical influences in some of the coolest contexts (not only jazz) - e.g., the song "Who's to Blame" by Ozomatli is a Gnawa-tinged rap tune.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Marcus Belgrave: Gemini II

This was one I was thinking of uploading, but looks like someone has already put forth the effort:

Marcus Belgrave - Gemini II (1974)

A lost classic of the spiritual soulful Detroit/Tribe jazz scene! Initially issued on the Gem Eye label in 1974, in a pressing of only 1000, the record's done nothing but increase in legend since. The sound picks up in the same domain as the better Art Ensemble Of Chicago records of the late 60s and early 70s -- with the rubbery funk electric bass lines and celestial groove. The record includes Belgrave's beautiful epic "Space Odyssey", which has a long flowing cosmic groove, nice electronics, and haunting trumpet solos. A focused, but still wonderfully loose set of spacey 70s soul jazz!


1. Space Odyssey
2. Glue Fingers (Part I)
3. Glue Fingers (Part II)
4. Gemini II
5. Marcia's Opal
6. Odoms Cave

Label: Gem Eye
Style: Free Jazz
Bitrate: 224
Links: iFolder
Props to Markey Funk of the Russian-language LJ community blog Black Man Land. It's a great album, most recently reissued on cd on Soul Jazz Records' Universal Sound imprint. Needless to say, this classic is currently in print and available at various record stores and online outlets - so, if you like this one, ante up some spare change and buy the album.

Human Arts Ensemble: Under the Sun

A commenter asked about this one a week or two ago, so here it is. Some info:
Human Arts Ensemble
Under the Sun


1. Lover's Desire
2. Hazrat, the Sufi

Lester Bowie - Trumpet
Marty Ehrlich - Sax (Alto), Multi Instruments, Tin Flute
Oliver Lake - Flute, Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Carol Marshall - Vocals, Multi Instruments
James Marshall - Sax (Alto), Multi Instruments, Wood Flute, Pungi
J.D. Parran - Flute, Harmonica, Clarinet (Bass), Piccolo, Sax (Soprano), Multi Instruments
Victor Reef - Trombone
Charles Bobo Shaw - Drums
Butch Smith - Bass

Recorded July 1973

Label: Committee for Universal Justice

Later issued on Arista/Freedom (1975)
A review:
The Human Arts Ensemble, led by drummer Charles Bobo Shaw, was one of the central performing groups to emerge from the Black Artist Group (BAG), a musician's organization founded in St. Louis in the early '70s. In addition to Shaw, this recording features two other fine musicians who would make their mark, Marty Ehrlich and J.D. Parran, as well as guest appearances by trumpeter Lester Bowie and altoist Oliver Lake. The two side-long pieces follow roughly the same model. "A Lover's Desire" uses a theme based on an Afghanistani folk melody with an added very funky bassline to serve as a platform for uninhibited improvisation. The improv is more collective than individual with voices surfacing unpredictably and the beguiling melodic riff coming forward from time to time to act as glue lest things get too far out of hand. Parran's bass clarinet work is especially luscious on this piece. The other composition, James Marshall's "Hazrat, the Sufi," also has a Middle Eastern tinge, but here the rhythmic drive fragments into a series of stop and start improvisations more akin to some of the spacier Art Ensemble of Chicago explorations and almost as impressive. Under the Sun is an enjoyable, wildly free, and loose session, and one that should appeal to any fan of the AACM and its descendents.
Apparently this album would be issued again in 1975 under Arista's Freedom imprint and would actually generate some buzz and some good sales for an avant'garde jazz recording. The makeup of this recording date is a bit different from the previous album: Oliver Lake, Bobo Shaw, James Marshall, and J.D. Parran are the holdovers, joined this time around by Lester Bowie (of AEC fame), Marty Erlich, Victor Reef, Butch Smith, & Carol Marshall. The slightly larger ensemble adds some electric bass and some vocals to the mix, and in the process creates an album that is distinctively funkier than its predecessor and no less compromising. The first side ("Lover's Desire") practically dares the listener to put on some dancin' shoes. A dj looking for some fresh beats could have some fun with much of the tune - and in fact some of the instrumentation about 2/3 of the way through is reminiscent of a dj scratchin' at a hip-hop gig. The female vocals are very beautifully done and add to the experience - Carol Marshall makes the tune even more warm and inviting than it would have been already. The second side ("Hazrat, the Sufi") has a more Middle-Eastern flavor, a more free feel to it, and a noticeable blues-soaked edge to it (must be the harmonica as the tune progresses). The music takes chances, and yet remains beautiful, spiritual, and sensual.

The music definitely fits in well with the period, and holds up well after three decades. Too bad this album hasn't seen a proper cd reissue.

Since this was ripped from vinyl, expect the usual pops and scratches. Mp3s are 320 256 kbps. In other words, this will sound good.

Download Under the Sun.

Updated 10/20/2006

Download Under the Sun.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Human Arts Ensemble: Whisper of Dharma

Some info:
Artist: Human Arts Ensemble
Whisper of Dharma

1. Whisper of Dharma
2. A World New

Charles Bobo Shaw - drums, small instruments
Joseph Bowie - trombone, congas, small instruments
Oliver Lake - tenor sax, radong, flute, small instruments
James Marshall - alto sax, radong, wooden flutes
J.D. Parran - tenor and sopranos saxes, bass clarinet, small instruments
Floyd Leflore - trumpet, small instruments
Gene Lake - drums, small instruments
Baikida E.J. Carroll - gong, small instruments

Recorded on October 6, 1972 in St. Louis, MO

Label: Committee for Universal Justice
The crew on this record include the same cats who appeared on the Black Artist Group record I uploaded earlier this month (BAG: In Paris, Aries 1973), augmenting that quintet with additional musicians. Just a bit about the group:
The Human Arts Ensemble was a musical and theatrical cooperative founded in St. Louis, MO, in 1971 by free jazz musicians who had been associated AACM and BAG (Black Artist's Group). Around 1970, public funding began to dry up for arts organizations that were suspected of having ties to radical political groups, and drummer Charles Bobo Shaw had the idea of creating a new artistic co-operative that was open to any person without regard to race. The resulting Human Arts Ensemble was thus able to proceed within a radical political agenda and pursue its unique brand of guerilla theater, yet get the public support it needed to do so.
The first track ("Whisper of Dharma") starts out with the sound of a gong and horns that sound like something out of a Tibetan monastery. Although definitely on a free improv tip, the music is very meditative leaving plenty of open space and utilizing a lot of "small instruments" - you're more likely to hear the sound of a bird chirping than a rollicking jam session. Fits in very well with what Art Ensemble of Chicago and Marion Brown were doing circa 1970. Whereas the first track whispers, the second track screams. The second track ("A World New") is where these cats kick out the jams. The music is LOUD - the birds are still chirping, but over the sounds of hollers, drums, saxes and brass instruments leaving the listener to realize the revolution won't be televised: it's coming right out of the speakers! AEC's "Baptizm" might be a fair reference point for this one.

Personally, this is turning into one of my favorites since I first stumbled onto it a few months ago.

The sound should be good - ripped from vinyl (in very good condition - not many crackles or pops), 192 kbps mp3.

As far as I know, this particular album has never seen a proper cd reissue. Maybe someday.

Download Whisper of Dharma.

Updated 10/20/2006

Download Whisper of Dharma.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mtume: Kawaida

Kawaida is an interesting and problematic recording. The problematic element is whom to credit as band leader. At various points it's been credited to Albert Heath (or at the time Kuumba Toudie Heath - see album art above) and Herbie Hancock (on one of the CD reissues from the 1990s). Over at the Kozmigroov connection and at Jazz Supreme it's been suggested that the album really should be credited to Albert Heath's nephew, James Mtume.

According to The Kozmigroov Connection, the album was first issued on a label called O'Be in 1970. The album was also issued by a label called Trip Records. According to, in 1976 the album was issued under Herbie Hancock's name on a label called GB (catalog # 22008). Twenty years later, the album was issued on cd, again under Herbie Hancock's name (simply titled The Jazz Masters) on an Italian label called the Folio Collection. To my knowledge, it's currently out of print. Every once in a while the album shows up on ebay - usually fetching around $30-$35 (I obtained my copy for about $5 from some merchant who had no idea that this was some sort of Holy Grail recording among underground jazzheads).

Confused? Maybe one day we'll get the lowdown. I won't hold my breath.

There's no doubt that the album was a Heath family joint, with Albert (Mtume's uncle) handling the drum set, Jimmy (Mtume's dad) handling the sax chores, and Mtume contributing the fine conga playing and spoken word. Mtume wrote four of the five tunes (Baraka, Kamili, Maulana, and Kawaida), with Albert contributing the other tune (Dunia). The list of musicians is certainly impressive, and includes a number of heavyweights outside the Heath family, such as Ed Blackwell, Herbie Hancock, & Don Cherry.

The music speaks for itself, and can be characterized as having a distinct modal, percussive, cosmic feel to it. The first two tracks, the mid-tempo "Baraka" & and the slower "Kamili" are pleasant modal, soulful jams that fit in quite well with what was going on in the immediate post-Coltrane era. Herbie Hancock get's featured front and center on both tracks and sounds right at home with the music - it fits in (minus the electronics) with Hancock's Sextant recordings of the late 1960s & early 1970s (you could also easily play these tunes alongside of just about anything from McCoy Tyner's excellent album Asante). Just check out the opening of "Baraka" - Herbie gives the session a profound and haunting beginning. "Dunia" (Albert Heath's tune) is the closest the album comes to free jazz - that track features Don Cherry's trumpet very prominently, and the whole crew kicks out the jams and sets the studio on fire. If the first two tracks put you into a meditative trance, "Dunia" will wake you right back up. The final two numbers, "Maulana" and "Kawaida" are where we hear the roadmap for Mtume's subsequent jazz explorations - both numbers are contemplative, percussion-laden, and include spoken-word statements with a distinctly Black Nationalist message (especially on the final track, "Kawaida"). The vibe is very positive, spiritual, and nothing short of revolutionary. The mix of musicians is just right (these cats were all on the same wavelength for this session) - there isn't a weak moment on this record. If you've been digging on the other stuff I've shared so far, don't miss this one!

As Ian Scott Horst of Jazz Supreme sez:
Capsule Info: Not wanting to fork out $40 for a used copy I've settled for a taped dupe. This is more properly, I'm told, Albert's son [editor's note: Mtume is Jimmy Heath's son; Albert Heath is Mtume's uncle] Mtume's first album, and certainly it bears his percussive, and declaratively African nationalist stamp all over it: it's the prequel to Mtume's own ALKEBU-LAN, LAND OF THE BLACKS. It's a great album, with Herbie Hancock at the height of his jazz playing, swahili invocations, lots of percussion, and a deep spiritual vibe throughout.

1. Baraka (13:12)
2. Kamili (5:48)
3. Dunia (8:29)
4. Maulana (9:45)
5. Kawaida (7:39)

Note that the track listing here is from the CD version: the order on the original LP version appears to have been different.


Ed Blackwell - Bells & Percussion
Billy Bonner (Fundi) - Flute, Percussion (track 5 only)
Don Cherry (Msafari) - Trumpet
Herbie Hancock (Mwandishi) - Piano
Albert "Toudie" Heath (Kuumba)- Drums & Percussion
Jimmy Heath (Tayari) - Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
Mtume - Conga, Voice
Buster Williams (Mchezaji) - Bass

Recorded December 11, 1969. Produced by O'Be Productions. Recorded at The Universe, and Mastered at Town Sound Studios. Released 1970 on O'Be Records, catalogue number OB-301. Trip Records release is catalogue number TLP-5032. Liner notes on the O'Be Records edition written by Amiri Baraka.

Ripped from cd, 192 kbps.

Download it here.

Updated 10/20/2006 and 11/28/2008

Download it here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A partial wish list

Since Rainbow Demon asked in the comments, I thought I'd share with y'all some of the recordings I've been trying to track down. If someone here has already got one of these on upload or is willing to shoot some files my way, I'd be tremendously grateful.

Arthur Doyle/Hamid Drake - Your Spirit is Calling (2004, Qbico)
Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble - National Conspiracy (2004, Carbon [part of Carbon's CDR series & now OOP] - a remix album of tunes from Conspiracy Nation, etc.)
Rick Colbeck Quartet - The Sun is Coming Up (1970, Fontana)
The Marzette Watts Ensemble - The Marzette Watts Ensemble (1967, Savoy)
Black Artists Group - In Paris, Aries 1973 (1973, BAG)
Frank Wright - Shouting the Blues (1977, Sun Records)
Frank Wright - Kevin My Dear Son (1978, Sun Records)
The Last Poets - At Last (1976, Blue Thumb)
Sam Rivers - Black Africa! Villalago (1977, Horo)
Sam Rivers - Black Africa! Perugia (1977, Horo)
Sam Rivers - Paragon (1977, Fluid)
Albert Heath - Kwanza [The First] (1974, Muse)
Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) - African Space Program (1973, Enja)

EDITED AND BUMPED! (10/6/2006)

And once more (10/11/2006). It's kind of cool to be able to mark some of these as found. I thought I'd managed to get a hold of Frank Wright's Kevin My Dear Son, but the mp3s that I see circulating are mangled - it's a bit jarring to be grooving on the title track only to hear the AOL "You've Got Mail!" message interrupt the proceedings. So, I'm still on a quest for that album, and it's personal with me (my first-born's name is Kevin, nuff said).

Monday, October 9, 2006

Re-upping a few albums

By request, I am re-upping some albums on rapidshare. Let's face it: rapidshare is not exactly an ideal solution, if for no other reason than that links go bad very quickly, it's not terribly foregiving to those downloading via dialup, and even with a decent connection, getting files uploaded is fairly time-consuming. For now, until I stumble upon something better we'll just make do. My suggestion is that if you've stumbled onto this blog and you find something you like throw caution to the wind and download asap. I don't mind re-upping though keep in mind that I may need a few days to do so depending on how heavy my schedule is.

The Positive Force w/Ade Olatunji: Oracy (new download link for Oracy)

Miles Davis: Lost Mid 70s Sessions (new download links for album 1 and album 2)

Dewey Redman: Coincide (new download link for Coincide)

Mtume: Rebirth Cycle


Third Street Records, TSJ 100. Recorded at Minot Sound, February 1974; Released 1977. Produced by James Mtume. All tracks written and arranged by James Mtume.

Track list
1. Sais
2. Yebo
3. Cabral
4. Body Sounds
5. Umoja

Mtume, congas (track 4), piano (track 2)
Jean Carn, vocals (tracks 1 & 5)
Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocals (track 1)
Tawatha (Agee), vocals (tracks 2 & 5)
Onika, vocals (track 5)
Carol Robinson, vocals (track 5)
Shirley Jenkins, vocals (track 5)
Muktar Mustapha, poet, narration (track 1)
Jimmy Heath, reeds (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Azar Lawrence, reeds (tracks 1, 3, 5)
John Stubblefield, reeds (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Stanley Cowell, piano (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Bayeté, electric piano (track 2)
Reggie Lucas, guitar (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Pete Cosey, guitar (track 2)
Buster Williams, bass (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Cecil McBee, bass (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Michael Henderson, bass (track 2)
Leroy Jenkins, violin (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Dierdre Johnson, cello (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Billy Hart, drums (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Andrei Strobert, drums (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Al Foster, drums (track 2)

Some reviews:
With credits that read like a who's who of early 1970s jazz, Mtume, then with Miles Davis, produced his third solo album, including one cut with the Miles Davis band sans Miles. This album is full of spirituality, Africanisms, and real jazz. "Umoja" even includes invocations to Obatala, Yemaya, and the other deities of the Yoruba religion/Santeria. Fascinatingly, Mtume and Lucas went on to produce funk, and then disco, and then Madonna, all with a trademark conga plus electric guitar sound. There, I always wanted to include Madonna in this website. (Ian Scott Horst)

Rebirth Cycle is an amazing lineup (see Ian's discog listing at for details) whose African roots are clearly breaking the surface. "Sais" is a sidelong cut initiated by a bass clarinet ostinato and textured with dense percussion and multiple voices (Jean Carn, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Tawatha Agee, damn!) and some absolutely penetrating narration. Also included is "Yebo", an electric cut with the Miles '74 players (Cosey, Foster and Henderson) that's more soul-jazz than what the players might suggest, and this weirdo percussion piece called "Body Sounds". [DW -]

Rebirth Cycle, though released in 1977, was actually made in 1974, and the album’s personnel list reads like a veritable who’s-who of the musicians who where working in the more independent jazz scene of the early seventies. Working on this album, you had Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jean Carne on vocals. Strata East players like Cecil McBee and Buster Williams on bass, Stanley Cowell on piano and Jimmy Heath on reeds. This album is also the first introduction to the mighty voice of Tawatha Agee who would remain the co vocalist with the Mtume band right through to the mid eighties.

Musically, Rebirth Cycle is a fusion of afro-centric deep jazz and psychedelic spacey funk. The main piece on here, and the album’s high point, is the side long “Sais” (sigh-us). This 20 plus minute tune starts with the spoken introduction by Senegalese poet Mustapha, explaining the story of “Mystery System of Sais, the Egyptian school of higher learning from which Greek and Western philosophy was developed”. Once the introduction is over one of the most magical and hypnotic musical 20 minutes you could sit through begins. From the slow and haunting bass clarinet solo through crashing waves of vocal chaos plus one almighty guitar solo by Reggie Lucas, all backed by a solid groove that is cut so deep it would be impossible to climb out of, even if you wanted to. There are moments in this piece where the cacophony is such that it feels like you’re consumed in a hypnotic aural cloud, and you find yourself not wanting to come out of it, or at least for the tune not to come to an end. Then the chaos ebbs away, the bass clarinet solo slowly unearths itself from the onslaught of the other instruments and the poetry returns. You then find yourself coming to from this 20 minute musical roller coaster ride, and you cannot help but feel total exhilaration. On Side two of this album the tracks are shorter in length and are much more afro-centric funk in style. The vocal work on this side of the album is truly sublime, whether it is “Yebo” the Oneness Of Juju style groover with magical vocals by Tawatha Agee, the haunting beauty of Jean Carn’s performance on Cabral, or the traditional African nasal style on the closing track “Umoja”. Rebirth Cycle does not contain a weak moment anywhere on the entire recording, and is really worth seeking out a copy.

Download it here.

Like a lot of great underground jazz recordings of the period, this one has never seen a proper release. James Mtume's primary contributions to this album were primarily in the form of production, songwriting and arranging, although he does play on a couple of the tracks. The lyrics are less strident than the previous two albums (Kawaida, and Alkebu-Lan), but still positive and aware. "Sais" is probably the track that most seek out, and at 20 minutes sounds and feels like something straight out of Alkebu-Lan. The remaining tracks are shorter, and vary in sound and texture. "Umoja" and "Cabral" are both lovely, delicate ballads - the first overtly Afrocentric, the second a soul-jazz tune featuring Jean Carn on vocals. "Body Sounds" is a percussion piece that begins with some hand clapping & what sounds like chests being slapped - the echo becomes noticeable as the tune progresses and gives "Body Sounds" an almost psychedelic feel (it's my favorite track from side two). "Yebo" is a more uptempo funk tune that could almost fit in with Miles Davis or The Headhunters (or for that matter Oneness of Juju), and can be viewed as a harbinger of where James Mtume was heading for the remainder of the 1970s.

Updated 10/20/2006 and updated again 11/27/2008.

Download it here.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Mtume Umoja Ensemble: Alkebu-Lan - Land of the Blacks

The cover art (above): Front cover, Inside cover, Back cover. Click the pix to see them full-sized.

The information:

Mtume Umoja Ensemble

Alkebu-Lan: Land of the Blacks

1972 Strata-East (catalog # SES 19724)

Recorded August 29, 1971 at The East, Brooklyn, NY.


A1: Invocation (4:08)
A2: Baba Hengates (17:28)

B1: Utamu (9:58)
B2: Saud (10:32)

C1: Alkebu Lan (16:29)
C2: No Words (8:32)

D1: Separate Not Equal (7:26)
D2: The Prayer (Sifa Zote)...Outro (15:56)


James Mtume - Conga, Tonette Horn
Carlos Garnett - Tenor Sax, Flute
Leroy Jenkins - Violin
Ndugu - Drums
Gary Bartz - Alto Sax, Soprano Sax
Stanley Cowell - Piano
Buster Williams - Bass
Andy Bey - Vocals
Joe Lee Wilson - Vocals
Billy Hart - Drums
Eddie Micheaux - Vocals
Yusuf Iman & Weusi Kuumba - Poetry


James Mtume - Producer
Endesha O'Brien - Engineer
Ray Gibson - Liner Photos
JE - Back Photo
Wabembi - Album Cover Art & Design

Capsule Info: Recorded August 29, 1971 at The East, New York. According to Jim Flannery of the Kozmigroove Mailing List, it's "Pretty damn wild...AACM goes to Africa... but I guess I'd have to add 'Pharoahs go to Saturn' to get the picture complete. Starts out with a four-minute speech describing the role of 'these jams' in the service of Black Nationalism... and then backs it up. Cover is black with white line-drawing of a sorta Egyptian-meets-subSaharan figure (Pharoanic beard, pyramids for eyes, goat amulet), back side has an eye-in-pyramid drawing with photo of Mtume leaning against it." Having finally heard this record finally, I love it. While it's certainly dated, it's a fascinating glimpse of the marriage of early 1970s Afro-centric music, politics and spirituality, plus it really grooves. To me reminiscent of Bartz' Ntu Group work, it's more energetic and colorful than those records. A treasure: Strata-East was an extraordinary label. (Ian Scott Horst: Jazz Supreme)
James Mtume was born James Foreman, and is the son of sax player Jimmy Heath. He's probably best known for his funk/r&b combo Mtume which scored a hit with "Juicy Fruit" back in 1983. He also has done some production work (e.g., The Bar Kays album Animal) and composed the music & theme song for New York Undercover (a cops & robbers drama from the early 1990s). If I recall correctly he's been director of a New York theatre and a community activist in his adopted city of NYC.

Before all that, he was a jazz percussionist (given the influence of his dad & uncles - i.e., The Heath Brothers no huge surprise) who was a regular member of Miles Davis' touring & recording group from 1971 through 1975 and an occasional band leader in his own right. Alkebu-Lan is the first album to appear under his own name although there is some speculation that Kawaida (a late 1960s kozmigroov classic) is truly his first as a leader (see Ian Scott Horst's site for more detail - sometimes it's credited to Albert Heath, sometimes to Herbie Hancock). His last album in the jazz idiom would be Rebirth Cycle, recorded in 1974, but not released until 1977.

The files are 192 kbps mp3s, ripped from vinyl. Expect to hear some pops, etc., though thankfully the vinyl recordings seem as if they had been well-cared for.

The music itself fits in very nicely with the music from The Black Artists Group (see previous blog entry), as well as cats such as Human Arts Ensemble, early 1970s Art Ensemble of Chicago, and early Juju (Plunky Branch's great band that also recorded on Strata-East). The album opens with a four minute speech outlining the album's purpose and then kicks out the jams. Since this is a live album, there is plenty of speaking in between tunes. The tunes themselves have a very free feel to them, with plenty of percussion, chanting, spoken word, and intense jamming throughout. The music holds up well nearly three and a half decades later, and just reading the credits it's easy to understand why - these cats were for the most part well-known and well-respected performers. The extent to which the spoken sentiments are "dated" I suspect will depend on who you're talking to.

Don't miss out. The album went out of print and as far as I know was never reissued on cd - a fate shared by many other wonderful Strata-East records from the era. For those of us who dig this particular form of improvised music, Alkebu-Lan is something of a Holy Grail & the vinyl (if you can find it) will fetch a premium.

This excellent recording is split into two parts: Album 1 (sides A & B) and Album 2 (Sides C & D).

Updated 10/20/2006

This excellent recording is split into two parts: Album 1 (sides A & B) and Album 2 (Sides C & D).

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Black Artists Group: In Paris, Aries 1973

You can download the album here. This particular album was found via the miracle of p2p. From the notes that came with the downloaded files (which by the way sound quite good - 320 kbps mp3s from vinyl):
Band : Black Artists Group
Album : In Paris, aries 1973
Year : 1973
Label : BAG
Cat # : BAG 324 000

# Title Aritst

Program 1
A1 . Echos (Bowie, Lake, Shaw, Le Flore, Carroll)
A2 . Something To Play On (Shaw)

Program 2
B1 . Re-Cre-A-Tion (Lake)
B2 . OLCSJBFLBC (Bowie, Lake, Shaw, Le Flore, Carroll)

Joseph Bowie : Trombone, Conga, Miscellaneous Instruments.

Baikida E.J. Carroll : Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Bass, Log Drum, Cowbells, Miscellaneous Instruments.

Charles W. Shaw, JR "Bobo" : Drums, Woodblocks, Gong, Miscellaneous Instruments, Stylophone. Under The Sun

Floyd Le Flore :Trumpet, Miscellaneous Instruments, Voice.

Oliver Lake : Saxophones, Flûte, Marimbas, Mud Drums, Miscellaneous Instruments.

This Music Recorded Live in memory of Kada KAHAN

A short review taken from "TOP TEN FROM THE FREE JAZZ UNDERGROUND" by Thurston Moore

The Black Artists Group was an unit not unlike that of The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Except they only recorded this one document and it only came out in France on a label named after the group. This is squeaky, spindly stuff and very OPEN and a good indication of what was happening in the early 70's with members Oliver Lake (later of the infamous World Saxophone Quartet) and Joseph Bowie (Art Ensemble's Lester Bowie's bro, later to start Defunkt).
If you like Art Ensemble of Chicago (circa the 1970s) and the Human Arts Ensemble, you'll like this recording. Needless to say, this music is hard as hell to come by.

See also: Poets of Action: The Saint Louis Black Artists' Group, 1968-1972 (Part 1-4) by Benjamin Looker to learn more about the group.

Updated 10/20/2006

DownloadIn Paris, Aries 1973.

Friday, October 6, 2006

KMD - Bl_ck B_st_rds

If your idea of rap is Vanilla Ice or Mr. Britney Spears, then back away now - slowly, turn around and walk away. Whatever you do, don't look back. Do not download this recording, and whatever you do, if you find the cd in some used record store, run. Fail to heed my advice at your own peril.

Otherwise, tune in, turn on, and drop some intense Gylan Kain & Last Poets inspired hip-hop.

The info:

Black Bastards


1 Garbage Day #3 (2:14)
Producer - Subroc
2 Get-U-Now (2:27)
Producer - Subroc
3 What A Nigga Know? (3:26)
4 Sweet Premium Wine (3:09)
Producer - Subroc
5 Plumskinzz. (Loose Hoe, God & Cupid)(1:43)
6 Smokin' That S*#% (4:40)
Featuring - Earth Quake , Kurious , Lord Sear
Producer - Subroc
7 Contact Blitt (2:42)
Producer - Zev Love X
8 Gimme (3:50)
9 Black Bastards! (4:00)
10 It Sounded Like A Roc (4:34)
Producer - Subroc
11 Plumskinzz. (Oh No I Don't Believe It!) (1:41)
12 Constipated Monkey (2:47)
Bass Guitar - B. Thompson
Co-producer - Q4
13 F*@# Wit' Ya Head (4:35)
Featuring - CMOB , H2O (5)
14 Suspended Animation (2:23)
15. What A Nigga Know? (Remix) (3:36)
Featuring - MF Grimm
16. [untitled] (1:10)
All songs written and produced by D. Dumile & D. Dumile (KMD) for Lord Dihoo Music ASCAP.
Executive Producers: Sub, DOOM, Cas, Jay-G, Yuri.

Released 2001 on Sub Verse
Originally scheduled for release back in 1994 but scrapped due to controversial cover art, K.M.D.'s follow-up to their debut Mr. Hood was considered to be one of the Holy Grail records in the annals of hip-hop history. The death of group member Sub-Roc in a car accident squashed the future of K.M.D. shortly after it was recorded. Employing ideals and samples from the album The Blue Guerilla by Kain of the Last Poets, the tone of this record was to be dramatically different than their first, which was lighthearted and playful while still spreading a message about racial stereotypes. Volatile yet poignant tracks like "What a Nigga Know" and "Black Bastards!" are hip-hop fireballs. Subjects like alcoholism ("Sweet Premium Wine"), drug use ("Smokin' That S*#%"), and women ("Plumskinzz") were all touched upon with incendiary tones. The sound of the record is very raw and sounds unfinished due to Elektra shelving the project, but it doesn't take away from the magic that would have made this a suitable follow-up.
KMD not only drops Kain's Blue Guerrilla samples and references all over the place, but also has the good taste to sample from Pharoah Sanders' classic album Thembi on one cut ("It Sounded Like A Roc").

Another review via, just to whet your appetite on this out-of-print cd:
I'm pretty sure most of you know the story behind the album. If not, let me fill you in. KMD consisting of Zev Love X (now known as MF Doom) and his brother Subroc. Somewhere in 1993, Subroc was hit by a car and died on impact, leaving Zev Love X to finish the album by himself. When the album was done in 1994, Electra Records shelved the album because of its lyrics and the cover art showing a sambo character being hung. Electra would soon cut KMD from their roster, leaving Zev in obscurity. But the album officially sees the light of day in 2000, when MF Doom released it independently.

One thing I have to commend is the great movie samples that are on this CD. Starting with the intro "Garbage Day #3" which is made up of them. "Sweet Prenium Wine" is a song about knocking back a few drinks while the samples play as the hook. Most of the songs here on this CD are about smoking, as heard on the song "Smoking That S**t" which features vocals from Earthquake, Lord Sear, and Kurious. "Contact Blitt" (could be titled "Contact Blitz" or "Contact Blunt") is a song about Zev ride a bus to Los Angles with an arrogant bus driver, while smoking. "F Wit Ya Head" featuring vocals from H20 and CMOB and the song "Suspended Animation" are more songs dedicated to weed, all more to offend the higher-ups of Electra Records. One great track is "What A Niggy Know" (could be titled "What A Nigga Know") is Zev and Subroc comming correct with a serious attitude that will make your head nod. The 12 inch single was the only item released by Electra Records, but since the album was shelved, the single was pulled also. MF Grimm would drop in to help Zev do the remix. Subroc would get in a few solos also. He shows he had the lyrics on the song "Gimmie" (could be titled "Give It Here") as he says "Give me a choo choo train for my [...] tracks..." He would also do his thing on the song "It Sounded Like A Roc."

One thing I have to knock is what many people have been saying in other reviews, the sound quality. Some songs sound like they have been worn out over the years so it sounds like a bootleg of a bootleg, making the vocals sound like they're held back by a sound barrier. A great example is the Zev Love X anger expressed song "Get-U-Now" and "Smoking That Sh**". Also I'm sure some of this album was recorded off a record. How did I come to this conclusion? The song "Plumskinzz" is exactly what I'm saying. The song has a nice piano sound and is going good as Zev spits his verse. As soon as it gets halfway through the hook, it sounds like the vocals were taken away and the beat freezes up. Then all of a sudden you hear MF Dooms [recent] voice come in and say "Loose Hoe God&Cupid" or as many listeners have interpeted "You're so GODDAMN stupid!" I don't EVER want to hear that again! Obviously he used a 12" single and someone hit the needle causing it to skip loudly to the instramental. The song would resume later on in the CD when a woman would come in and say "Oh Now I Don't Believe It!" as Subroc would continue his verse. Whats ironic about this whole song is that this song was recorded in 1991, and a former KMD member named Onyx the Birthstone Kid (many people who are familiar with late MF Doom albums know him as Rodan) had a verse on that song between Zev's and Subroc's (and believe it or not, Onyx had the best verse out of the three). So there is no actual musical vibe because those interludes causes a big chunk of the song to be missing. (How about recording the song correctly Mr. Dumille?) If you want to hear the uncut clear version of it, just find a "Nitty Gritty" 12 inch single because its the flipside of that, or you can locate a 1994 bootleg of the album.

Overall I'm happy that this album was finally released, since it was one of the biggest albums in 1994 that was shelved. But the way that this album was put together soundwise, that title could have been easily taken away. I [recommend] this album to those who want to hear more examples of Doom's early 90's production, the way MF Doom sounded in 1993/1994, or just curious of the lost album. Otherwise, you're better off buying "The Best Of KMD Album" which is a combination of this and the Mr. Hood album, or wait until Mr. Dumille decides to remaster the album and reissue it.
Not easy listening, by any means. This shit will taunt you, bend your mind, twist it around, and leave you in some urban Escher painting filtered through Munch's "The Scream" and will have you on the lookout for The Blue Guerrilla on the corner of every street. If you got this far, though, you know you wanna hear it.

Last Poets - 21st Century Griots

First, some business. It's been a busy week, and next couple weeks promise to be just as busy, so uploads will be sporadic.

Now for the goods: I've got a couple singles - one from 2004, and one from last year - featuring The Last Poets (in this case Abiodun Oyewole & Umar bin Hassan). The shelf-life of singles tends to be on the short side, so you might have to do a bit of digging to find these on the market.

The same cats who can be credited as being among the first rappers have gone from revolutionary firebrands to griots who continue to carry the revolutionary torch - in the process inspiring a current crop of underground hip-hop artists including cats like Common & Dead Prez (just to name a couple). These cats have a story to tell, and it ain't just reminiscing - it's about inspiring today's youth.

First single is "Panthers" (Last Poets, featuring Dead Prez & Common):

Label: Counterflow Recordings
Catalog#: CF051-1
Format: 12"
Country: US
Released: 2004

1 Panthers (Clean) 3:53
2 Panthers (Instrumental) 3:52
3 Panthers (Tony Galvin Remix) 4:10
4 Panthers (Tony Galvin Remix Instrumental) 4:10
5 Panthers (Illmind Remix) 3:43
6 Panthers (Manuvers Mix) 3:43
7 Panthers (Illmind Remix Instrumental) 3:41
8 Panthers (Manuvers Remix Instrumental) 3:39
9 Panthers (Acapella) 3:39

Will Roberson, producer

Sound quality on this one is excellent: 320 kbps.

Our second single is "The Corner" (Common, Featuring the Last Poets):

Released 2005, Geffen


1. The Corner Instrumental 3:44
2. Last Poetry Reprise 3:45
3. The Corner Dirty Acapella 3:32
4. The Corner Dirty 3:44
5. The Corner Radio Acapella 3:35
6. The Corner Radio 3:44

Produced by Kanye West

Sound quality on this one is good: 192 kbps.

Both are well worth hearing, and for those of you who like to spin hip-hop over the airwaves, both have radio-friendly edits. Both singles were found via p2p.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Miles Davis: Lost Mid 1970s Sessions

I stumbled onto this particular set of recordings last year via the miracle of Soulseek (a great p2p network). Needless to say, the files merely came "as is" with no titles to even remotely hint at what I was listening to. About the only thing that I could conclude with any certainty was that these were from studio sessions from the mid-1970s.

The sound quality of the mp3 files is excellent (at 320 kbps it should be), and the music is about what one would expect of Miles and his crew from around the mid 1970s, just before he took an extended break from recording and touring. Miles plays trumpet exclusively on a few tracks, splits time between trumpet and organ on a few tracks, and plays organ exclusively on a few tracks - nothing out of the ordinary. Since Miles was fond of doing extensive post-production work it's hard to know just what the final mixes might have sounded like had he continued to pursue the ideas that he and his crew were working out right before retirement. My guess is that the final product would have been a follow-up to the excellent Get Up With It.

I did some detective work, and while checking out the discography at Miles Ahead, have gathered that the tunes that I was grooving on came originally from a couple bootlegs: Unknown Sessions Vol. 1 and Unknown Sessions Vol. 2.

The first disc consists of tunes recorded between the end of February, 1975 and the end of December, 1976. The second disc consists of two sessions separated by three and a half years. The earlier material is clearly more on the psychedelic tip, with all the Indian instrumentation and wah-wah pedals. The later material turns up the funk quotient, while Miles seems to veer ever into Sun Ra territory. Since these are compilations of recording sessions, expect there to be tracks that just seem to cut off in the middle, as well as occasional studio chatter at the start of some tracks (if you're a collector of the various complete sessions for Bitches Brew, etc., this won't surprise you in the least).

The information for the recordings follows below:

Disc 1

Track 1: TDK Funk recorded Dec 27, 1976 (5:01)
Track 2: Turn of the Century Feb 27, 1975 (15:34)
Track 3: Latin take 7 recorded May 5, 1975 (3:56)
Track 4: Latin take 6 recorded May 5, 1975 (4:41)
Track 5: Latin takes 3 & 4 recorded May 5, 1975 (4:47)
Track 6: Latin take 6 different mix recorded May 5, 1975 (4:15)
Track 7: untitled original 750505 take 2 recorded May 5, 1975 (6:15)
Track 8: untitled original 760330a take 3 recorded Mar 30, 1976 (4:50)
Track 9: untitled original 760330a take 5 recorded Mar 30, 1976) (5:27)


Track 1: Miles Davis (org); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d)
Track 2: Miles Davis (tpt, org); Sonny Fortune (ss, ts, fl); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Reggie Lucas (g); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d); James Mtume Forman (cga, perc)
Tracks 3 - 7: Miles Davis (tpt, org); Sam Morrison (ts); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Reggie Lucas (g); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d); James Mtume Forman (cga, perc)
Tracks 8 - 9: Miles Davis (org); Sam Morrison (ss, as, fl); Mark Johnson (el-p); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d)

Disc 2

Track 1: Agharta Prelude pt. 2 take 14 recorded Nov. 30, 1972 (17:46)
Track 2: Agharta Prelude pt. 2 take 15 recorded Nov. 30, 1972 (9:36)
Track 3: Song of Landa take 2 recorded Mar. 30, 1976 (4:05)
Track 4: Song of Landa take 6 recorded Mar. 30, 1976 (4:48)


Tracks 1 & 2: Miles Davis (tpt); Carlos Garnett (ss); Cedric Lawson (keyb); Reggie Lucas (g); Khalil Balakrishna (sitar); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d); James Mtume Forman (cga, perc); Badal Roy (tabla)
Tracks 3 & 4: Miles Davis (org); Sam Morrison (ss, as, fl); Mark Johnson (el-p); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d)


Disc 1 appears to be excerpted from the album UNKNOWN SESSIONS 1973-1976 VOL. 1, released on the Kind of Blue label (KOB 002)

Disc 2 appears to be the contents of the album UNKNOWN SESSIONS 1974-1976 VOL. 2, released under the Kind of Blue label (KOB 003)

Curious? Download the Lost Mid 1970s Sessions and hear for yourself.

I do have a number of mp3s of Miles Davis' live gigs from the early and mid 1970s that I will probably be sharing in the near future. Stay tuned.

Updated 10/20/2006

Download Lost Mid 1970s Sessions Album 1 and Album 2.