r&b Archive

Captivate and Provoke: The modern black roots music of Fantastic Negrito

Note: this is the second of two features I’ve written recently about Fantastic Negrito (here’s the first one). Expect more; this guy is one to watch. — bk Fantastic Negrito is the musical persona of Xavier Dphrepaulezz. Raised in a strict Muslim family, he ran away from home at 12 and never returned. He would

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 1 of 10

Time to clear out the backlog before the year’s end. Here’s the first installment; lots of great titles here. Consider doing your holiday shopping, and note that I’ve provided purchasing links (when available) to Amazon. As it happens, these five are all from Real Gone Music, one of my favorite reissue/archival labels. Fanny – Mother’s

Esperanza Spalding’s Musical Evolution (or D+Evolution?), Part Two

Continued from Part One… Working with Tony Visconti In the music business, Tony Visconti is something of a household name. Since his start in 1968, Visconti has produced more than 120 albums for a wide variety of artists, including more than a dozen for David Bowie. He’s worked in a variety of musical genres, but

Esperanza Spalding’s Musical Evolution (or D+Evolution?), Part One

Note: portions of this feature appeared previously (and in different form) in altweeklies in Asheville NC, Chicago and Salt Lake City. — bk Cross-genre sensation Esperanza Spalding is something of an anomaly – albeit a welcome one – on today’s pop music landscape. A fine singer with an impressive range, she’s also a supremely accomplished

Fantastic Negrito: Fantastic Reinvention

The story of Fantastic Negrito is the stuff of Hollywood legends. But it has the distinction of being true: the man born Xavier Dphrepaulezz taught himself to play a multitude of instruments, scored a record deal, made a good album that stiffed, had a car wreck and nearly died, worked his way back to health,

Album Mini-review: Mayer Hawthorne — Man About Town

File next to: Marvin Gaye, The Dramatics, Fitz and the Tantrums On his 2009 debut, Detroiter Mayer Hawthorne showed just how developed an artist he was; that album – wholly realized on a laptop – was an effective pastiche of classic soul and r&b. The highlight of Hawthorne’s résumé up to that point was his

Album Review: Love — Reel to Real

In the community of pop music critics and historians, it’s common to find Love‘s Forever Changes cited as one of the great lost albums of the 1960s. Under-recognized at the time of its release, Forever Changes has in recent years taken its rightful place among musical treasures of its era. There it joins The Beach

Album Mini-review: Bobby Rush — Chicken Heads: A 50 Year History of Bobby Rush

File next to: James Brown, Buddy Guy, Otis Redding Bobby Rush‘s musical career has spanned fifty years, at least twenty record labels, and most American popular music genres. He’s tough to pigeonhole: Rush’s music encompasses soul, r&b, funk, blues, and more. He’s earned several awards and scored chart singles. Compiling a career-spanning survey of his

Album Reviews: Five from Fantastic Voyage

The hits just keep on coming. Fantastic Voyage is a London-based label that specializes in thematically-oriented archival reissue collections. In the last few months, they seem to have significantly stepped up their release schedule. And all of the latest titles rise to the high standard of previous FV sets. I don’t know the specifics of

Box Set Review: George Duke — The Era Will Prevail (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… Vol. 3: Feel Released in October 1974, Feel again featured bassist John Heard and drummer Ndugu alongside George Duke, but his guest artists lent a decidedly adventurous air to the disc: husband and wife Airto Moreira (the Brazilian percussionist Duke knew well through his association with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley) and Flora