Jazz Matters Digs Black Jazz Records - Selection 2

Welcome along to my second Black Jazz record label and music inspired by the Black Jazz Records music selection – although the music dates back to when the label was founded in Oakland, California by pianist Gene Russell and percussionist Dick Schory in 1969The label was created to promote the talents of young African American jazz musicians and singers and released twenty albums between 1971 and 1975. I still listen and often get lost by the sheer magic created by this extraordinary collection of musicians and their music 

when I started a jazz music radio show three years ago, for me there could only be one name NuDirections, named after the first album on Black Jazz Record by Gene Russell, New Direction


The Awakening - Kera's Dance (Hear, Sense and Feel)

Gene Russell - Get Down

Kellee Patterson - Maiden Voyage

Doug Carn – Moon Child

Message From the Tribe - Space Odyssey

Message From the Tribe - Beneficent

Rudolph Johnson - The Highest Pleasure

Walter Bishop Jr. - Soul Village

Doug Carn – Acknowledgment

Chester Thompson - Power House

Calvin Kets - Aunt Lovey

The Awakening - Kera's Dance (Hear, Sense and Feel)The Awakening truly stands out as the pinnacle of heaviness among all the groups that graced Black Jazz Records. This album is nothing short of a spiritual jazz classic – each track radiates pure excellence. What adds to its allure is its rarity; this gem is one of the scarcest finds among all Black Jazz albums. It holds the distinction of never being reissued, diving into the realms of super-depth. A true must-have for any collector out there.

This masterpiece from The Awakening showcases the band's adventurous foray into the realms of free jazz, a natural progression for pianist Ken Chaney and saxophonist-flautist Ari Brown, both deeply involved with the Afro-centric AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Music).
Gene Russell - Get DownThe debut album from the most sought-after label in the jazz collector's realm is an absolute treasure! Spearheaded by keyboardist Gene Russell, who played a pivotal role in shaping the artistic direction of Black Jazz, it's no surprise that the label's first release featured Russell himself under the fitting title "New Direction." This album, often bootlegged and commanding princely sums for original copies, is a cornerstone in the label's history.
"New Direction," though a relatively straightforward piano trio venture, lays the foundation for the entire Black Jazz catalogue. With its modal and soul jazz touches, the album boasts the talents of sidemen like double bassist Henry 'The Skipper' Franklin and drummer Steve Clover. Real Gone's reissue not only brings back the distinctive original Black Jazz album art but also includes new liner notes by Pat Thomas, the esteemed author of "Listen Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975." Remastered by Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision, this reissue breathes new life into a lost jazz classic, making it sound better than ever!

Kellee Patterson - Maiden Voyage, This incredible album, originally dropped in 1974 on the Black Jazz label, is a gem worth noting. 

Helmed by producer Gene Russell and complemented by the lively flute of George Harper and a mellow rhythm section, it showcases the delightful and pitch-perfect voice of the talented Patterson. Her rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" is a standout, featuring specially crafted lyrics that seamlessly merge with the soulful vibes of the original instrumental. Patterson's vocal prowess shines not only in the love ballad "Magic Wand of Love" but also in the groovy boogaloo track "Soul Daddy." It's a musical journey where every note and lyric align perfectly, making this album a true standout in the Black Jazz collection.

Doug Carn – Moon Child, When Infant Eyes was released in 1971, it was Doug Carn’s debut solo album. Despite that, it was the most successful album that Black Jazz Records released that year. So was the follow-up Spirit Of The New Land when it was released in 1972, 1973s Revelation and 1974s Adam’s Apple. Although the four albums didn’t sell tens of thousands of copies they were successful for a small independent label like Black Jazz Records was. It was also a label that had a vision.

Black Jazz Records wanted “to promote the talents of young African American jazz musicians and singers.” Doug Carn was only twenty-four when he released Spirit Of The New Land and his was Jean Carn was twenty-five. They had created an album that was an alternative to what Gene Russell and Dick Schory referred to as old school jazz.
Infant Eyes was very different to old school jazz and was new type of jazz album. It featured everything from avant-garde and even elements of free jazz, funk, fusion, soul, soul-jazz and spiritual jazz. These genres were combined by Doug Carn and Jean Carn who unleashed her five octave vocal on Infant Eyes which introduced the pair to the record buying public across America. This was just the first chapter in the Doug and Jean Carn story.
Infant Eyes was the first of four critically acclaimed albums that Doug Carn released between 1971 and 1974. These albums are now regarded as cult classics, and amongst the best that Black Jazz Records released during the five years it was in business

Message From the Tribe - Space Odyssey

Message From the Tribe - Beneficent

Revisiting Detroit's Jazz Revolution: The Legacy of Tribe in 1972

 Although these 2 pieces of music are not from Black Jazz Records, as far as I'm concerned I can draw a direct line from a message to the Tribe to Black Jazz Record
In the wake of one of the most turbulent moments in American history, Detroit found solace and Although these 2 pieces of music are not from Black Jazz Records, expression in the birth of Tribe, a ground-breaking jazz collective founded by Wendell Harrison and Phil Ranelin. Their journey, chronicled through the seminal release "A Message From The Tribe," offers a captivating glimpse into the cultural landscape of the time.
Tribe's debut in 1972 marked the beginning of a musical odyssey, with subsequent editions released over the following years. Each edition, adorned with distinctive imagery, reflects the evolution of Tribe's sound and vision.

3rd Edition: Faces - A Remastered Revelation
The final edition, presented as a double LP on heavyweight vinyl, undergoes a transformative remix and remastering process. With vibrant illustrations of Tribe's founders gracing the cover, the third edition breathes new life into classic tracks. From the infectious groove of "What We Need" to the hip-hop-inspired beats of "Beneficent," each composition pulsates with renewed vigour, ensuring a transcendent listening experience.

TRIBE MAGAZINE: A Chronicle of African American Reality
Accompanying the music is Tribe Magazine, a bimonthly publication spearheaded by Wendell Harrison. Evolving from a simple ad flyer to a cultural cornerstone, the magazine explores the realities of African Americans in 1970s Detroit. Through interviews, articles, and news pieces, Tribe Magazine becomes a vital platform for black self-awareness and empowerment.

Born and bred in Detroit, Wendell Harrison's journey intertwines with the rise of Tribe. From his early jazz education to the founding of Tribe and beyond, Harrison's influence resonates through the annals of music history. His commitment to education and artistic expression continues to inspire generations, cementing his legacy as a true jazz luminary.
As we revisit the sounds and stories of Tribe in 1972, we honor not just a musical movement, but a testament to resilience, creativity, and the power of community.

Rudolph Johnson - The Highest Pleasure

Rudolph Johnson's second album for the Black Jazz label, appropriately titled "The Second Coming"! Originally released in 1973, this vinyl reissue brings back a gem that's been long overdue.
But beyond just the title, the music within transcends mere coincidence. Johnson's artistry, often compared to the legendary John Coltrane, showcases his mastery of improvisation. Despite not reaching the commercial heights of some peers, Johnson's devotees hail him as Coltrane's rightful heir.

Joined by keyboardist Kirk Lightsey, known for his work on Johnson's earlier release "Spring Rain," this album promises an electrifying experience from the get-go. The opening track, "The Traveler," channels the spirit of Coltrane's classic quartet, whisking listeners back to the early '60s.
In contrast to the prevailing fusion and soul jazz of its time, "The Second Coming" stands out for its commitment to expressive, free improvisation. Producer Gene Russell's meticulous recording captures the essence of Johnson's performance, making it a must-listen for jazz aficionados.

Walter Bishop Jr. - Soul Village

enowned in collectors' circles for his acclaimed albums like "Soul Village" and "Coral Keys," pianist Walter Bishop Jr. embodied tasteful elegance, grounded in the traditions of hard bop and modal jazz. As the late 1960s ushered in the era of funk and fusion, Bishop adeptly embraced these new sounds, leaving a lasting impact on the music scene.

However, the brilliance of Bishop's sextet extends beyond contemporary trends, paying homage to the profound influences of jazz luminaries like John Coltrane. Tracks such as "N'dugu's Prayer" resonate with Tyner-esque chord progressions and dynamic percussion, serving as a powerful testament to Bishop's mastery of both serious and spiritual musical expression.

His mastery of the electric piano captured the imagination of crate diggers and hip-hop producers alike, and once again, he shines on this instrument. With soul-stirring warmth, Bishop breathes new life into original compositions like an alternate rendition of "Soul Village," a captivatingly ethereal melody featuring the budding talents of saxophonist Ronnie Laws, who would go on to achieve stardom in the 1970s.

This reissue stands as a testament to Bishop's artistry, offering a rare gem that deserves broader recognition. It's a welcome addition to any jazz aficionado's collection, inviting listeners to rediscover the timeless brilliance of Walter Bishop Jr.

Doug Carn – Acknowledgment

Chester Thompson - Power House

Calvin Kets - Aunt Lovey

List of Albums from Black Jazz Records and the year of release

1     Gene Russell     New Direction     1971

2     Walter Bishop Jr.     Coral Keys     1971

3     Doug Carn     Infant Eyes     1971

4     Rudolph Johnson     Spring Rain     1971

5     Calvin Keys     Shawn-Neeq     1971

6     Chester Thompson     Powerhouse     1971

7     Henry Franklin     The Skipper     1972

8     Doug Carn     Spirit of the New Land     1972

9     The Awakening     Hear, Sense and Feel     1972

10     Gene Russell     Talk To My Lady     1973

11     Rudolph Johnson     The Second Coming     1973

12     Kellee Patterson     Maiden Voyage     1973

14     Walter Bishop, Jr.     Keeper of My Soul     1973

15     The Awakening     Mirage     1973

16     Doug Carn     Revelation     1973

17     Henry Franklin     The Skipper At Home     1974

18     Calvin Keys     Proceed With Caution!     1974

19     Roland Haynes     The Second Wave     1975

20     Cleveland Eaton     Plenty Good Eaton     1975

21     Doug Carn     Adam's Apple     1974

22     Doug Carn     New Incentive: Firm Roots     2001