Music News 5/2/24




MY BLACK COUNTRY: The Songs of Alice Randall (Oh Boy, $14.98) – Alice Randall, one of the few African American songwriters on Nashville’s Music Row, has written many hits over the decades, sung by folks like Trisha Yearwood, Moe Bandy, and Glen Campbell.


Ms. Randall has released a new memoir, My Black Country (Atria, $28.99).

In conjunction with her memoir, My Black Country: The Songs of Alice Randall, features new interpretations of her songs by some of the strongest Black female voices in modern country, roots and folk music including Rhiannon Giddens, Valerie June, Miko Marks, Leyla McCalla, , Allison Russell, Sistastrings, Adia Victoria, Sunny War, and Alice’s daughter, Caroline Randall Williams.





There are two new Sonny Rollins albums out—one a never-before-released, one is an expanded reissue—and a new book.


Last week, I wrote about FREEDOM WEAVER: The 1959 European Tour Recordings (Resonance, 3 CDs, $33.98). These are stratospheric Rollins performances, recorded in Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, and France. Mr. Rollins sanctioned the official release of these trio recordings, with bassist Henry Grimes, and (depending on the dates) drummers Pete La Roca, Kenny Clarke, and Joe Harris.


An iconic album has also been reissued:

 A NIGHT AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD: The Complete Masters (Blue Note, 2 CDs, $31.98), one of the classic albums in the Sonny Rollins discography—as well as in jazz history—was recorded during two sets on November 3, 1957. Most of the tracks came from the evening set with Wilbur Ware on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Two songs from the afternoon set also appear with Donald Bailey on bass and Pete La Roca.  


THE NOTEBOOKS OF SONNY ROLLINS (New York Review Books, $17.95), edited by Sam V.H. Reese, has entries stretching over fifty years, divided into four chronological chapters: “1959 – 1961: The Bridge Years,” “1961 – 1963: Fantastic Saxophone,” “1963 – 1973: What I Am,” and “1979 – 2010: Legacy.”


NOTE: Kevin Whitehead reviewed Freedom Weaver and The Notebooks this week on NPR’s Fresh Air.






Dave Douglas Quartet, GIFTS (Greenleaf, $16.99) – Trumpeter Dave Douglas has assembled a new quartet with James Brandon Lewis on tenor saxophone, and two members of the group Son Lux, Rafiq Bhatia on guitar, and Ian Chang on drums.

Along with six original tunes, the group takes on very fresh arrangements of four Billy Strayhorn compositions: “Rain Check,” “Blood Count,” “Day Dream” and a swinging syncopated version of “Take the A Train.”



Kamasi Washington, FEARLESS MOVEMENT (Young, 2 CDs, $21.99) – Tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington is known for writing ambitious compositions, and assembling ensembles with a multitude of collaborators. On Fearless Movement, he turns to dance music and showcases guest rappers.

NOTE: Mr. Washington will bring his group to the Birchmere on July 31.





Sister Rosetta Tharpe, LIVE IN FRANCE: The 1966 Concert in Limoges (Elemental/INA//Deep Digs, $17.98) – Singing with a powerful voice and playing a blazing electric guitar, Rosetta Tharpe can certainly be considered “The Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” She was recorded on November 11, 1966, in a rocking solo performance. The extensive booklet has rare photos and essays by two Rosetta scholars: Gayle Wald (Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe) and Jean Buzelin (Sister Rosetta Tharpe: La femme qui inventa le Rock ‘n’ Roll).


(this CD will arrive early next week)


Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon, IN PERFECT HARMONY: The Lost Album (Jazz Detective/Deep Digs/Elemental, $18.98) – Two West Coast trumpeters recorded in California in 1972 with pianist Dave Frishberg, guitarist Jack Marshall, bassist Joe Mondragon, and drummer Nick Ceroli.