Category Archives: Jazz

Throwback: Grover Washington Jr.-Hydra

Grover Washington Jr.’s “Hydra” epitomized a high point of instrumental soul-jazz. The saxophonist and songwriter started his recording career in 1972 with his sound comprised of both genres. Feels So Good was his fifth album and like Mister Magic that was also released in 1975 they both did well commercially and conveyed Washington’s mastery of the groove.  Purists were critical of Washington because they knew he was nurtured on jazz pioneers like Fletcher Henderson but “Hydra” reflected James Brown’s influence on music after the ’60s. Louis Johnson’s bass and Ralph McDonald’s drums from “Hydra” would later infuse hundreds of hip-hop songs. Grover Washington Jr. is credited by the music industry as a pioneer of smooth jazz but his music was really a modern progression towards the act of making people move with the roots of improvisation and the comfort of repetition.


Courtney Pine Links With Omar For Rules

“Rules” is one of two collaborations Courtney Pine has with Omar on his new album Black Notes From The Deep. Pine uses Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” to build on and the carefree piece gives way to Pine’s tenor sax blasting off at the end. Pine’s horn has been around since the ’80s and he has consistently created his own lane of soulful jazz. His reputation is built on his saxophone but he is multi-instrumentalist who also plays the bass clarinet, flute, keyboards and clarinet. Black Notes From The Deep is his 19th album and you can pre-order it now before the October 27th release date.


Esperanza Spalding Shares EXPOSURE Studio Segment With Lalah Hathaway

Esperanza Spalding’s EXPOSURE album is centered around improvisation and capturing the musical moment in one take. She brainstormed the project live on Facebook last week and Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway were two of her guests. Watch her and Lalah Hathaway in the above clip as they creatively decide on where jazz and R&B meet. EXPOSURE will only have 7,777 copies available.


Andra Day Covers Strange Fruit For The Equal Justice Initiative

Andra Day has covered “Strange Fruit” for the Equal Justice Initiative with support from Google. Billie Holiday made “Strange Fruit” famous when she recorded it in 1939. The recording is available on the Lynching In America site and Andra Day’s Youtube channel. She will perform the song at the Global Citizen’s Festival in New York on September 23rd.

Lynching In America seeks to start a national conversation about the connections between racial violence of the past and contemporary racial inequalities like police brutality and disproportionate sentencing. Google has given more than two million dollars in grants to the Equal Justice Initiative as part of their focus on inclusion. Their volunteers are digitizing the Lynching In America research that investigated the more than 4,000 reported lynchings that took place between Reconstruction and World War II.

Andra Day premiered her cover of “Strange Fruit” on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah three weeks ago. Bryan Stevenson, who is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative joined Andra Day on the show for a segment about white supremacy. Stevenson says,

“In this collaboration between Andra Day, EJI, and Google, we use music to express a painful and difficult truth about our nation’s history of racial inequality. Inspired music has the power to expose and confront injustice differently than research, data and words alone.  It can heal and uplift us, it’s critical for human rights. Justice work needs a soundtrack that inspires the struggle, it’s energizing that talented artists like Andra rise to the challenge.”


BADBADNOTGOOD Share Confessions Pt III Featuring Colin Stetson

BADBADNOTGOOD’s “Confessions Part III” featuring Colin Stetson is their new single driven by a meandering tenor saxophone. The band is getting ready for a tour of North American and Europe. BADBADNOTGOOD’s IV album came out last year.