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« BUSINESS OF DREAMS - Ripe For Anarchy | Main | OXFORD AMERICAN 2018 Music Issue »
Saturday
Feb022019

VARIOUS - Soul Of A Nation 2: Jazz Is The Teacher, Funk Is The Preacher

"Soul Jazz Records’ new release ‘Soul of A Nation: Jazz is the Teacher, Funk is the Preacher’ is a powerful new collection of radical jazz, street funk and proto-rap made in the era of Black Power (1969-75).

This new album features a number of important and ground-breaking African-American artists – The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry, Funkadelic, Gil Scott-Heron and more – alongside a host of lesser-known artists all of whom in the early 1970s were exploring new Afrocentric poly-rhythmical styles of music – radical jazz, street funk and proto-rap – while at the same time exploring the Black Power and civil-rights inspired notions of self-definition, self-respect and self-empowerment in their own lives.

During this era African-American jazz musicians ripped up traditional definitions – rejecting the term ‘entertainer’ to redefine themselves instead as ‘artists’. They worked outside of the mainstream music industry perceiving this artistic relationship to be fundamentally exploitative and politically flawed. Artists instead formed their own pan-arts community-centric collectives, set up their own record labels, ran concerts in alternative performance spaces – art galleries, parks, lofts, community centres – all as a way of taking control of their own creative destinies...Their music developed into a radical and intense Afrocentric mix of jazz, funk, soul and street poetry, all in search of a new musical language that could better represent artistic African-American cultural expression.

All of the featured artists here were involved in this search in different ways; A shared sense of Afrocentric collectivism joined the dots between the deep avant-garde experimentalism of The Art Ensemble of Chicago (here featuring soul singer Fontella Bass singing the powerful ‘Theme de Yoyo’) to the hyper funk psychedelia of George Clinton’s Funkadelic.

The poetry of Gil Scott-Heron and Sarah Webster Fabio performed with a backdrop of street funk and heavyweight percussion laid down the template for the birth of rap. The Har-You Percussion Group, a group of young Harlem teenagers, showed how government-sponsored social initiatives helped create great art and music. Gary Bartz and The Oneness of Juju offer spirituality and cosmology. Collectives like The Pharaohs and Detroit’s Tribe add deep jazz and street funk in equal measures. And so on.

Influenced and radicalised by Black Power and civil rights, all these artists were involved in creating – in the words of the Art Ensemble of Chicago – ‘Great Black Music: Ancient to Future.’" -Soul Jazz Records

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