Archive for May, 2010

Goodbye Laura V!

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Sorry I haven’t updated, I have been having some difficulty pulling together a new post, but trust me a lot of good stuff is coming.

Just wanted to let everyone know I’m going to be djing Laura V’s going-away party at Ashley’s Bar in Long Beach this Friday night. Come buy Laura a pitcher. No cover, and I’m spinning until they tell me to stop.

Categories: Uncategorized

People & Love

May 15, 2010 1 comment

Johnny Lytle – People & Love (Milestone, 1972)

Johnny Lytle was a straight up baaaad vibes player, this guy was able to really groove and get a lot of energy from an instrument that usually often sounds stuck in the land of bad 60’s feel-good soundtracks. He was a player who often eluded fame, but not because of his lack of talent and this record really showcases his full abilities as both musician and songwriter. The record is from 1972 and electric instruments were beginning to show up in jazz bands – fusion was still in its baby steps, but this is is less a fusion record than a funky jazz record that makes wide use of its acoustic instruments with the added power of the keyboard and electric bass.

If you checked out my first mix Live at the Velvet Lounge you are already familiar with the funk that Lytle brings on the track “Tawhid,” but the record also conveys a more mellow sentiment on his own “Family” as well as a cover of the Stylistics song “People Make the World Go ‘Round.” The group he has is awesome, no big names, but each player is on point and the overall recording is very warm. Listen to Lytle’s playing on the track “Libra” the dexterity and speed of the man is spell-binding, and he does a type of hard-slide along the bars with the mallet that sounds like a magical UFO landing or something – really the way he controls the way the sound resonates is awesome. Also, listen to the drumming on “People Make the World Go Round,” Jozell Carter plays a tight kit, but with the energy of a rock drummer.

Overall this is an awesome record, definitely something you want to listen to when you are staying in for the evening and need something to keep the mood groovy. I definitely give this one a lot of play. And check out the writing all over my record cover, this Ed Randall fellow was making sure no one was stealing his jazz records. Love the “Power! to Blacks” tag next to the great shot of Johnny Lytle on the back cover.

Johnny Lytle: Vibraphone
Marvin Cabell: Flute, Alto flute, Tenor sax
Daahoud Hadi (aka Butch Cornell): Electric piano and organ
Bob Cranshaw: Electric bass
Jozell Carter: Drums
Arthur Jenkins: Conga drums and percussion
Betty Glamann: Harp

1. Where is the Love?
2. Libra
3. Family
4. Tawhid
5. People Make the World Go ‘Round

320-rip in the comments. Album photos by Eydie McConnell

Categories: 1972, jazz, US

Bridge into the New Age

May 13, 2010 1 comment

Azar Lawrence – Bridge into the New Age (Prestige, 1974)

As you can tell by the cover, this is not your typical coffee shop jazz record. Azar Lawrence is best known for his work with McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis, but his records as a leader were just as powerful and innovative. Bridge into the New Age is the first of three records the sax player recorded for Prestige and I feel it’s his most dynamic and interesting to listen to as a whole. His other records get more recognition because of their inclination towards a jazz-dance feel, but this record shows a young player (he was 21 when this record was recorded) taking in the history of jazz and updating it into a time period focused on Afro-centrism, peace and love.

The first thing that I have to say about this record is that for the time period, it’s astounding to hear this much experimentation and musical abstraction without the use of ANY electric instruments, it is a completely organic acoustic jazz experience. Not to say this is a free jazz record, because it definitely is not – it’s a new-jazz record, a sound just as challenging and interesting at a time when people like Miles and Herbie began making jazz marketable by adding synthesizers and electric guitars. Instead of going electric, he looks towards his contemporaries Keith Jarrett (he was also in Miles’ band) and Carlos Garnett to achieve a sound which was rich and experimental but still acoustic.

There are a lot of great players on this record, firstly the amazing Jean Carn who is known for her immense breadth of work including records with Earth, Wind and Fire, Doug Carn, Dizzy Gillespie, and Norman Connors as well as her solo work on Philly International and Motown. Other stand-out musicians include Woody Shaw, Billy Hart, Ndugu and the legendary Mtume. An interesting note here is that Eddie Harris engineered these recording sessions which is pretty wild.

The sound on here is “new jazz” but the use of multiple percussionists keep the music earthy, and Azar’s solos are never too far-out, just wild enough to show you he’s playing from his heart. “Bridge,” “Warriors,” and “Forces” are all faster numbers that truly take you into a new age of jazz, while “Fatisha” and “Beautiful” are more contemplative spiritual jazz tracks. Overall a fantastic listen. For those interested, Azar is still playing and in fact released a new record last week with the late Rashied Ali on drums. I haven’t heard it yet, but  2009’s Prayer For My Ancestors was great and I’m sure the latest one wont disappoint.

Link is in the comments! Album photos by Eydie McConnell

Categories: 1974, jazz, US

En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado

May 11, 2010 5 comments

Grooves Grooves No. 2: En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado

Latin America is united in its struggle against oppression, whether it is inflicted by foreign powers or from a minority military regime. In the US we are taught as school children that the slaves sang gospels and spirituals and that is where the Blues come from. For most of the Americas the musical influence brought over from Africa (another location of mass oppression) was more grounded in percussion, the cajón being a popular instrument in Cuba and Peru as when under suspicion the instrument returned to its original function as a crate. Hand claps, makeshift drums and group singing have led countless generations to stomp their feet and dance, for a brief moment forgetting the unmentionable daily struggle. Through the dialogue of music and dance, a deeply spiritual experience, groups unified and broke their chains, built their own schools, and taught their own history. Imagine the atmosphere in the back room of a Haitian slave house the night before the revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture droppin knowledge, sharing strength and love.

This mix is a direct response to the current passing of Arizona Immigration Law SB1070. This is an issue that affects me personally for a multitude of reasons. Both of my parents immigrated here illegally when they were young. My father crossed back and forth a number of times, sometimes in the dashboard of a car, between two other people in a trunk, or on foot through the desert. My parents obtained their citizenship soon after I was born. My dad lost his factory job after 20+ years in 2007 and they moved out to Phoenix because real estate was affordable and he wanted to start his own business. My dad stocks vending machines in big, white-collar buildings and he drives a big white van filled with sodas and snacks to work every day. Three years ago, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began arresting and detaining all illegal immigrants they came in counter with.

Now, my parents moved to Maricopa county three years ago. My dad drives a big white truck, and he’s a middle-aged man who looks more than his fair share of Mexican, throw in his imperfect English and we’re talking my dad getting pulled over for the most arbitrary reasons. Luckily he is a citizen, but there are about 500,000 illegal immigrants in the state of Arizona alone. Some of these people may have been here for thirty years and have kids. My grandma waited for five years before giving up on the endless bureaucratic red tape known as the naturalization process. Is it right for families to be broken up for the simple fact that a family member is here illegally? When there are mouths to feed, is it okay to send a father who was working as a landscaper to a prison with a number of MS13 and other gang networks?

Yes, there are illegal immigrants who do need to be arrested and those are with affiliations, with positions in the drug cartels of Latin America. The reason that Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of America is precisely due to the level of cartel influence in the state. These cartels are routinely killing people, cops, government officials in Mexico and their reign of terror is spreading into the US. However, SB1070 negatively affects the situation for two huge reasons:

1) It misappropriates manpower, facilities and resources to the menial task of busting non-threatening illegal immigrants. I heard Joe Arpaio speak on a San Diego conservative radio program recently where he bragged about picking up 30 illegals at McDonalds – wouldn’t the money it cost to transport, book, do paperwork, house and feed (not to mention the wages for the law enforcement used) these harmless illegals gone to better use trying to bust the US connections of drug cartels?

2) This law will necessitate the gun-toting cartel to act violently whenever encountering a situation where law enforcement are in the mix. Maybe in the past it would have been possible for cartel members to be pulled over while transporting guns, drugs or people and simply be excused by the police, but now in a situation where they risk everything they may react aggressively.

The biggest criticism of the law I have is the fact that it is inspiring prejudice, it is inspiring hate. The law itself is not racist, but it is making it acceptable to look at one person and accuse them of being a criminal. There are ad campaigns on Arizona TV that blame illegals for taking American jobs (I don’t see too many citizens working the jobs illegals have) and spreading the idea that an illegal immigrant is the same thing as a violent criminal. Those who claim that I’m paranoid and full of liberal propaganda need only acknowledge that states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota are attempting to enact laws inspired by SB1070. How much violent crime do illegals cause in those states? Are they getting a lot of angry Canadians?

To be serious, though, Arizona gun laws (signed into legislation by Governor Jan Brewer, who also signed SB1070) allow a person over 21 years old to carry a concealed firearm. Without a background check. Only two other states have that law and they are Alaska and Vermont, two states where if you’re wondering around outside you probably need a gun to protect your ass from a wolf or bear. Are Arizonians trying to protect themselves from illegals? This is a bomb just waiting to go off.

The mix is reflective of the situation, but reflective of the Latin American identity as a whole. Salsa, cumbia, son, samba and other styles are represented, but ultimately the focus is on the beautiful artistic expression as much as it is in the spiritual communion of dance.

Categories: mix

La Mara Tomaza

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment
So, I have this thing that when I find new music, I HAVE to do hours of re search and find out everything I can about it. This translates to a new blog entry! Thinking about my workload tomorrow, I should definitely be asleep, but why should I sleep when I could be listening to El Hijo De La Cumbia?

El Hijo De La Cumbia is a young Argentine producer/DJ who commands prolific knowledge over the vast extent of cumbia regardless of time or geography (cumbia sounds different in every region and have obviously evolved over time). He is dubbed the “Son of Cumbia,” and this moniker suits him well as he is the product of hundreds of generations of cumbia before him, but his take on modern cumbia will make him the Father of nueva cumbia, or cumbia new roots. Cumbia has a deep regional characteristic, for example in Colombia the style is strictly percussion and vocals and sometimes accordion, and in his present day Argentina cumbia is of the light-hearted and somewhat goofy villera style. He is able to break away from the norms of cumbia and incorporates elements of instrumental hiphop, dub and dancehall, with a heavy amount of cumbia samples. The end product is nueva-cumbia, a high energy, psychedelic dance groove with lots of spaced-out accordion and obligatory cuts of cumbieros of yesteryear shouting in glee.

He has out a mix-tape and a few appearances on modern cumbia/dance compilations as well as his first full length, Freestyle De Ritmos which was released by the Spanish label, Soot Records, in 2008. This video is from the Freestyle album, but was released in February so I’m not sure if it’s indicative of something new to come? Either way, I love this video for being everything that a typical indie-hiphop video is: tour of the hood (in Mexico City) with lots of local color, a trip to the record store and the necessary shot of gems, and then DJing the party. Great sound, hope to hear a lot more from him in the future. Hit up his myspace page and check out “Soy El Control,” and tell me that track wont be making your trunk rattle for the next week. Also, check out the second video which has a live in the studio version of “Soy El Control” with his “band.” CUUUUUUUUMBIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAA!

Categories: 2010, argentina, cumbia, video

Independance Cha-Cha

May 1, 2010 Leave a comment in a recent podcast mix focusing on contemporary African music, state that “Africa is the future” and while I believe this is an undeniable truth, the future wont sound like a Fela Kuti record released in 1975, but rather closer to the music that artsists like Baloji are making today. Unlike many of the artists included in the ParisDJs mix, Baloji is not using the same formula of blaring horn sections, thundering congas and chicken-scratch guitars as his vehicle, but rather using the influence of African music of the last 60+ years to guide his politically charged rapping into the future where Africa is king.

Using only local musicians for his backing band, Baloji incorporates all elements of the West African musical tradition in his quest for a spiritual unity amongst not just those people in his native Congo, but to anyone who has the capacity to feel music. As many hoping to escape the degradation and civil war that imperialism left across the continent of Africa, Baloji moved to Belgium as a child. He spent time in the hip hop group Starflam, before parting ways and recording his first solo release, Hotel Impala in 2007. The record has an African vibe as far as hip hop records go, but with his latest release Kunshasa Succularse he abandons the drum machines, samples and electronic effects, in favor for a completely organic sound while adapting many of the songs off the Hotel Impala record. There are a few totally new numbers on here, specifically the latest single “Le Jour d’Après – Siku Ya Baadaye (Indépendance Cha-Cha)” which is a cover of a song written in celebration of Congolese independence in 1960. 2010 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the ousting of Belgian control of the Congo and Baloji is at the helm of a pivotal movement to help stabilize a nation that has struggled with poverty and civil war for most of its European cartographical existence. For a country who only dropped dictatorial rule in 1997, who democratically elected their first president in 2001, who saw their leader assassinated in 2003 and who had to elect a new president (the prior’s son) in 2006, 2010 marks a pivotal year as country-wide elections are due to take place again.

Baloji spent 2009 recording with various musicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo adapting his previous work with inspired jam sessions molding a style of pan-African music with rapping in French (the official language of the DRC) and Swahili (the official language of the Congolese) with touches of English (the official language of capitalism). The result is absolutely beautiful, an organic product that could not have been created anywhere else other than the dirt streets of Congo’s captial Kinshasa. This is the sound of future-Africa, an internalization of roots that are as old as the human race itself, with the conscious knowledge of the past, present and future.

When I first heard Kunshasa Succularse it was released as a free download backed by Baloji himself, a product geared towards a now online Africa. I had been gearing up to post the album here, but while doing my research this week I found the old links taken down and according to his Myspace page, Kunshasa will be officially released by French label Kraked in September of this year. The move is understandable, Kraked is responsible for the influential blog as well as playing a role in the biggest distribution networks in Europe. I will respect both Baloji and his record label by not posting the album, but I will instead post the videos he has made.

Baloji will be a name to watch in the future of not just African music, not just hip hop, but all conscious music of the future. (fantastic blog! all things africa, art, hip hop)

Categories: 2010, Ghana, hip hop, video