Music News 8/20/2020


BLACK FIRE: SOUL LOVE NOW: The Black Fire Records Story 1975 – 1993 (Strut, $14.99) – If you remember DJ Jimmy Gray’s shows on WHUR and WPFW, you’ll remember an eclectic mix of “black music, ancient to the future” (to borrow the Art Ensemble’s tag line), and his periodic, reverb-laden voice chanting “Black Fire.” Jimmy Gray also started his own record label, along with James Branch (aka Plunky from the label’s feature group, Oneness of Juju). The Black Fire label featured the sounds of “spiritual jazz and soul” with artists such as Oneness of Juju, Southern Energy Ensemble, saxophonist Byard Lancaster, and the earliest incarnation off future go-go stars Experience Unlimited.

Last week, DC’s own Giovanni Russenello had an in-depth story of the record label in the New York Times.

Adam Nussbaum, LEAD BELLY REIMAGINED (Sunnyside, $16.98) – One of my favorite recordings from 2018 was The Lead Belly Project, on which Lead Belly tunes were recast as instrumentals in a fresh combination of two electric guitars (Steve Cardenas and Nate Radley), saxophone (Ohad Talmor), and drums (the leader, Adam Nussbaum). The two electric guitars gracefully filled the role of Lead Belly’s phenomenal 12-string guitar, and the saxophone carried the melody. The mix of jazz and folk was inspired.

Now, on Lead Belly Reimagined, Nussbaum has re-convened his band for versions of great tunes: “Rock Island Line,” “Shorty George,” “When I Was a Cowboy,” and “Laura,” among others.

Nubya Garcia, SOURCE (Concord, $14.98) – Nubya Garcia is a young saxophonist, at the forefront of the hot London jazz scene. She’s been featured on Makaya McCraven’s Universal Being, and other collaborations, but Source is her first solo project. Read the profile by Marcus J. Moore in the New York Times.

Shirley Collins, HEART’S EASE (Domino Records, $14.99) – Shirley Collins is one of the pioneers of the British Folk Revival, still going strong at age 85. Starting with her first two albums, Sweet England (1959) and False True Lovers (1960), she released many solo albums, as well as collaborating with the Albion Band, as on Morris On (1972). After a decades-long break, she returned to recording in 2016 with Lodestar, and now has a new album, Heart’s Ease. Ms. Collins sings songs old and new, as revisiting some of her earliest repertoire. Listen to a true legend.