Just before she really announced herself with Afro-Harping, Atlantic put out Dorothy Ashby’s 1965 mono LP The Fantastic Jazz Harp of…
Anthony Newley co-wrote it; Nina Simone ushered it into the world; Ashby gave ‘Feeling’ Good‘ a little more magic.
Just posted https://soundcloud.com/user-831374095/paginate
It is of course based on ‘Heather‘, the work of drummer par excellence Billy Cobham. I should have chopped the original – Dilla’d it – but was too impatient (and too rookie of me).
Self-referral on Gang Starr
As a lyricist and frontman, Guru was always very ‘listenable’: easy on the ear in terms of delivery; sounding assured and correct at all times; a laid-back artist whose committed style perfectly dovetailed with DJ Premier’s driven and perennially-catchy productions.
Guru could thug it or be conscious in his rhyming – a liquid cipher.
If, allegedly, all of John Lennon’s songs were written with the same three chords then Premo managed to do something similar in carving out a niche for himself in hip hop history.
Bap beats and great basslines always featured once they moved on from appearing on Wild Pitch and started to hit their mark with tracks like ‘Dwyck‘. I quickly recognised four bars of a looped piano was a regular motif for Premier coupled with melodic, self-referential scratching.
But before ‘Just To Get A Rep‘, ‘Full Clip‘ and the rest, there was ‘Jazz Thing‘.
I’m not sure if any of their later work – and would certainly say this for Guru’s star collabs on the Jazzmattaz series of albums – quite affected me in the way this track did. Stopped me at that time in a sense.
This is an odd thing to think as it’s nowhere near as memorable an ear worm as the offerings on ‘Daily Operation’ or ‘Step Into The Arena.’ The drums weren’t Bonham’s – least I don’t think – but they had a thunder and fury which matched that of the Kashmir sticksman. With a live feel that gave the impression the guy on the stool could go off at any time on a Cobham or Tony Williams workout, I mentally signed up and bought into the trance state offered.
Lyrically and melodically with special mention to the brass and horns that feature, it all paid homage to the past whilst marking these cats out as conscious enough to put down a marker as to their intent. More serious than Tribe, urban not suburban like De La, less didactic than PE and far more reliable than so many other crews who delivered a killer twelve but then failed to give an equally good follow-up and/or vanished from sight.
[The painting above was painted with gouache on cartridge paper whilst listening to ‘Too Deep‘ repeatedly (I’d sold the tune on a 7″ to a guy in Japan but recorded it before sending). Is this an ‘action’ painting?
I don’t have a clue. I wasn’t able to stretch the paper at that time either…]
Happy Birthday James!
I made this as I admired Al Sharpton’s oration at Mr. Brown’s funeral. To say the Godfather of Soul is a hero of mine is an understatement of epic proportions. He would have been 85 years old today, but he did too much livin’….
In C, F and A Minor?
Contemplative to the point where it aids and abets your own reflection, and you almost recoil not realising you needed to down tune, this is a surprisingly sonorous album by Gyan Riley, son of Terry (him of ‘In C‘ fame).
One can imagine that you’ll hear hints of his dad and there are very occasional rhythmic repetitions which bring minimalist joy to mind but this is instead a melodic collection aimed at the heart.
With a rustic feel, the music contained here calls Europe to mind – on some of the more wistful pieces – as well as the Appalachians. It segues from one chord pattern to the next so that the listener steps out of a Virginian forest and onto a Valencian cobbled street.
As with all good contemporary music, you can imagine reaching for this again and again.