Category Archives: African American culture

RIP Cecil Taylor (1929 – 2018)

Cecil Taylor was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as “eighty-eight tuned drums” (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as “like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings”.

His composition Indent (1973) is on Thurston Moore’s Top Ten Free Jazz Underground (1995).

RIP Dennis Edwards (1943 – 2018)

Dennis Edwards was an American singer, notably a lead singer in The Temptations.

He scored a solo hit in 1984 with “Don’t Look Any Further” (day-o day-o, mombajee ai-o!), the video of which [above] is in the top ten of worst videos ever. Just watching it fills you with vicarious shame.

For the jaded and tired among us, it’s a good thing to listen to “City Lights” by William Pitt [above], which rips the bassline and chord structure.

The first well-known sample of the song’s distinctive bassline is in Eric B. & Rakim’s 1987 single “Paid in Full” [above].

RIP Sunny Murray (1936 – 2017)

Sunny Murray was an American musician, one of the pioneers of the free jazz style of drumming.

His album Sonny’s Time Now (1965) is in the Top Ten Free Jazz Underground.

On that record Amiri Baraka reads his controversial 1965 poem “Black Art” (above) which features the line “we want poems that kill”, an instance of the aestheticization of violence.

RIP Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009)

Thriller (1982) – Michael Jackson [Amazon.com]

I’ve mentioned Michael Jackson twice[1][2] on this blog, once when I was amazed by his choice of footage in “They Don’t Care About Us[3], and once when I did the obituary of James Brown when I mentioned that Brown’s “rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson”.

Jackson was the embodiment of things gone awry as the result of mediated fame in the 20th century, when he was catapulted from child prodigy[4] to natural freak[5].

With more than 100 million albums sold, Thriller (1982) is the bestselling album of all time and is iconic in the history of 20th century popular music, where he is the natural heir to Elvis Presley. Beyond both dying from an abuse of prescription drugs, parallels beween Presley and Jackson are numerous (Graceland/Neverland). Lisa Marie Presley, for a short time married to Jackson in the nineties wrote at the time of Jackson’s death that he knew “exactly how his fate would be played out” and feared his death would echo that of Elvis Presley.

Jackson dies, long live Jackson.

Shinehead‘s reggae version of “Billie Jean.”

Here he is reincarnated in Shinehead‘s reggae version[6] of “Billie Jean.”[7]. But one of the earliest samples of “Billie Jean” was in 1983, when Italian studio project Clubhouse mixed Steely Dan‘s “Do It Again” (1981) with “Billie Jean” as the “Do It Again Medley with Billie Jean[8] .
*Daryl Hall has claimed that Michael Jackson admitted to copying the bassline from “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)[9] in his song “Billie Jean“.

PS. For those of you who miss the Jahsonic old style of haphazard blogging about anything he finds, please check Jahsonic’s microblog[10] at Tumblr.

RIP Huey Long (1904 – 2009)

RIP Huey Long

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvwfLe6sLis]

Huey Long (April 25, 1904June 10, 2009) was an African American singer and musician and the last living member of the Ink Spots.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SZHMySBX_A]

The Ink Spots were a popular African American vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. They and the Mills Brothers, another black vocal group of the 1930s and 1940s, gained much acceptance in the white community. They are known for such songs as “If I Didn’t Care[1] and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore[2].

Bernard Purdie @70

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kx6-raGX6U]

Funky Donkey

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi_z7rvASQg]

From Lialeh.

Bernard Purdie turns 70 today. He is best-known in rare groove circles for his “Funky Donkey[1],” collected on Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999), played on Gabor Szabo‘s “Jazz Raga” and did the soundtrack for the blaxploitation flick Lialeh[2].

Pam Grier@60

via here.

Pamela Suzette Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an iconic American actress. She came to fame in the early 1970s, after starring in a string of moderately successful women-in-prison and blaxploitation films, and has generally remained in the public eye, starring in B-movies such as 1974’s Foxy Brown, and in mainstream films such as Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film, Jackie Brown.

Introducing Joel Brodsky (1939 – 2007)

via www.wfnk.com Joel Brodsky Joel Brodsky, American photographer, noted for Ohio Players album cover photography.

Pleasure

Joel Brodsky (7 October 1939 – 1 March 2007) , American photographer, best-known for his risqué Ohio Players album cover photography. His photographs are also featured on the covers of The DoorsStrange Days[1], The Stooges debut album[2], Herbie Mann’s Memphis Underground[3] and the Ohio Players’ Ecstasy[4] and Pleasure[5].

His best-known picture, according to a Washington Post story, was used as the cover of the 1985 The Best of The Doors[6] album. It made in late 1966 and shows a bare-chested Jim Morrison of the Doors, with his arms outstretched.

Brodsky’s photographs appeared on over 400 album covers.

Marvin Gaye @70

Marvin Gaye @70

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVTN5o9Kgu8]

Sexual Healing

Marvin Gaye (April 2 1939April 1 1984) was an African-American singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer who gained international fame as an artist on the Motown record label in the 1960s and 1970s. He is best-known for “Sexual Healing,” a 1982 song and the first hit record to use the Roland TR-8081 for bass.

The lyrics of ‘Sexual Healing” song discussed a man’s aching for finding sexual healing with his woman – hence the title “Sexual Healing“. According to David Ritz, when he interviewed Gaye for an autobiography, he noticed comic book pornography in Marvin’s room and mentioned to the singer that he “needed sexual healing” causing Gaye and Ritz to write the lyrics.

1 The famous Roland TR-808 was launched in 1980. At the time it was regarded with little fanfare, as it did not have digitally sampled sounds; drum machines using digital samples were much more popular. In time though, the TR-808, along with its successor, TR-909 (released in 1983), would soon become a fixture of the burgeoning underground dance, techno, and hip hop genres, mainly because of its low cost (relative to that of the Linn machines), and the unique character of its analogue-generated sounds. The TR-808’s sound only became truly desirable in the late 1980s, about five years after the model was discontinued and had become cheaply available on the second hand market.