New Arrivals, Restocks, & Reduced - winter 2015

** A feature on north Mississippi fife and drum musician Willie Hurt is new to the Articles section, and includes an interview, audio, video, etc.




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75 Dollar Bill
Wooden Bag
Other Music Recording Co.
LP
$13

"75 Dollar Bill formed in New York City in 2012; the singular music of this instrumental duo draws various sources from around the world and across disciplines, everything from Mauritanian guitar to raw minimalism and blown-out urban blues, yet sounds unlike anything we’ve heard before. Wooden Bag is their debut vinyl release (after various cassette and digital EPs) and first for Other Music Recording Co., packaged in a limited-edition (500 copies) hand-stamped sleeve, download included." - Other Music. https://soundcloud.com/other-music-recording-co/75-dollar-bill-cuttin-out-1

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RL Boyce
Ain't the Man's Alright
Sutro Park
LP
$18

Restocked yet again! RL Boyce was born on August 15, 1955, in Como, Mississippi, where he still resides. It is a community with enduring blues, fife-and-drum, and gospel traditions.  Boyce picked up music as a teenager, starting out singing in the church choir and playing percussion in fife-and-drum bands. Regarding his evolution on the drums, he says, “I learned from a foot tub.  Back then we didn’t have a bathtub – a foot tub is what you bathed in, what you had your water in.” His earliest issued recording [“Late at Midnight, Just a Little Before Day,” on Traveling Through the Jungle: Negro Fife and Drum Band Music from the Deep South] was made on his 15th birthday, accompanying his uncle Otha Turner. Boyce later adjusted that percussion style to a blues context on a more expanded drum kit, as heard on Jessie Mae Hemphill’s classic Feelin’ Good album. His singular, bursting-at-the-seams drumming on the first side of that record is a benchmark of loose-limbed groove.  

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that such a vibrant musician would want to branch out from solely being a sideman to establish himself as a solo artist and leader of his own groups. Inspired by his neighbors Mississippi Fred McDowell and RL Burnside, he took up the guitar: “Oh man, I loved it. I always wanted to do what they did, so I got along with it.” He was coached by a couple local musicians including Joe Townsend (whose sole 45 for Designer Records is spellbinding, live-in-the-church gospel blues) and over time he developed an individual style that draws upon songs from the local repertoire and interprets them with considerable enthusiasm and spontaneity.

This record, Boyce’s long-awaited full-length debut, includes a rotating cast of collaborators who are accustomed to operating in this framework while also adding their personalities to the proceedings. In his earlier years, Luther Dickinson played extensively with RL (most notably on Otha Turner’s Everybody Hollerin’ Goat, which Dickinson produced), and here both men take a clear delight in renewing their partnership, at times calling to mind the sparks that flew when Mississippi Fred McDowell and Eli Green performed together. Guitarist Lightnin’ Malcolm and RL sit in on one another’s sets quite often, each seemingly with an open invitation to join the other (As documented on the M for Mississippi film and soundtrack). And it is always a treat to hear drummer Calvin Jackson’s instantly recognizable rolling and tumbling style, sometimes done in tandem with his son, Cedric Burnside, on a second drum kit. Like all the other participants, they sound as if they’re having a ball.  

Though RL is now one of the elder statesmen among the traditional musicians in Como, his songs still retain the quality of when he was an exuberant youngster who was thrilled to be learning to play music with his role models. Hear a couple clips:  Gonna Boogie / Going Away
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Peter Brotzmann and Jason Adasiewicz
Mollie's in the Mood
Eremite / Bro
LP
$30

Mollie’s in the Mood is the sequel to the Brotzmann / Adasiewicz 2012 tour-only CD Going All Fancy & the third LP on Bro since the label’s 2003 revival. Recorded in ‘you are there’ fidelity live at Chicago’s Hideout, a favorite venue of both artists on the duo’s 2012 USA tour. This is what happens when the most original vibraphonist of his generation slams into a force of nature. Vinyl cut at Sterling by Steve Fallone & manufactured at RTI. Hand pulled screen printed covers on heavyweight Stoughton ‘laserdisc’ sleeves by Alan Sherry / SIWA. One-time pressing in an edition of 600, VINYL ONLY.” - Eremite. Hear a bit of Seasons May Vary.

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Earl Cross, Muhammad Ali, Rashied Al Akbar, Idris Ackamoor
Ascent of the Nether Creatures
NoBusiness Records
LP
$25

Excellent & previously unreleased live session that features Earl Cross (who was recorded far too infrequently), Idris Ackamoor of The Pyramids & many other projects, the legendary Muhammad Ali on drums, and bassist Rashied Al Akbar, about whom I unfortunately know nothing other than he held his own in this heavy company. Limited edition of 300 copies, recorded in the Netherlands on July 12, 1980. Hear some of Ascent of the Nether Creatures. See Roy Morris' Homeboy Music site for much more about Earl Cross: http://www.homeboy-music.co.uk/#cross

Earl Cross: trumpet
Idris Ackamoor: alto & tenor saxophone
Rashied Al Akbar: bass
Muhammad Ali: drums

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Ted Daniel's Energy Module
Innerconnection
NoBusiness Records
2LP
$34

Trumpeter Ted Daniel's Energy Module was an unfortunately short-lived outfit, performing only 2 gigs in their time together. This hot live recording was their last, recorded November 8, 1975, at Sunrise Studio in New York City. They burned through an array of tunes by Albert Ayler, Dewey Redman, Sunny Murray, and Ornette Coleman, plus a couple originals by Daniel, who also contributes some brief, evocative notes for the record. Edition of 400, gatefold sleeve. Hear some of Jiblet and The Probe.

Ted Daniel: trumpet, flugelhorn, French hunting horn, Moroccan bugle
Daniel Carter: tenor saxophone
Oliver Lake: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, piccolo, cow bell
Richard Pierce: bass
Tatsuya Nakamura: drums
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Rev. Charlie Jackson
Wrapped Up Tangled Up in Jesus / Morning Train
Booker Records
45rpm 7"
$9

Officially licensed reissue of Rev. Charlie Jackson’s first 45. All his original singles are in high demand, this one especially so: 2 hot, classic sides. Edition of 500.

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Rev. Charlie Jackson
Wrapped Up in Jesus / Lord You're So Good
Jackson Records
45rpm 7"
$24

Original copies of this very scarce 45, privately pressed by Rev. Charlie Jackson on his own Jackson Records imprint in the 1970s.

Rev. Charlie Jackson played an especially potent brand of raw, bluesy gospel.  Born in 1932 just outside of McComb, Mississippi, he took up the electric guitar as a young man and started out playing the blues.  Soon afterwards, he gave up the blues to serve the Lord.  He developed a powerful, instantly recognizable style and often played on church programs with the legendary Rev. Utah Smith.  He subsequently recorded a string of incredible and legendary 45s for Booker Records out of New Orleans.

After the Booker material went out-of-print, Rev. Jackson took matters into his own hands and started his own private press label, Jackson Records, in the late ‘70s.  This 45 is Jackson 101 and it features a re-recording of “Wrapped Up and Tangled Up in Jesus,” one of his most popular numbers that had been previously released on Booker, backed by the previously unrecorded “Lord You’re So Good,” a deep and measured ballad.

This version of “Wrapped Up…” has not been reissued in any form.  Since Rev. Jackson sold these records exclusively at church services, they never entered the marketplace and therefore didn’t receive any other distribution.

Each side plays with relatively low but steady background crackle as well as the occasional pop which decreases in frequency a bit as the side progresses, probably reflection on the quality of the pressing.  Generally speaking, these are quite clean copies, but there may be occasional minor idiosyncrasies in label and vinyl.  Limited stock.

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Melodic Art-Tet
s/t
NoBusiness Records
2LP
$34

Very glad to finally get to hear some music of the Melodic Art-tet, a group who was active on the NYC loft jazz scene in the 1970s and often mentioned by musicians & historians, but who never had any records issued during their lifetime. It’s especially welcome that most of the tunes here are by Charles Brackeen, perhaps best known for the Rhythm X LP on Strata East (with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, & Edward Blackwell) and whose discography as a leader is fairly modest. The tunes are engaging and open, occasionally a bit Ayler-ish, though not so stratospheric and holy rolling. No liner notes with the vinyl edition but a there is a handsome gatefold sleeve with Raymond Ross’ photographs of the musicians. Recorded October 15, 1974, at WKCR in New York City. Edition of 400. Hear a bit of Above the Cross.

Charles Brackeen: flute, soprano & tenor saxophones
Ahmed Abdullah: trumpet
William Parker: bass
Roger Blank: drums
Tony Waters (Ramadan Mumeen): percussion

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Elder Utah Smith
I Got Two Wings
CaseQuarter
book, 128 pages, and CD
$15

"Despite waxing three of the hottest electric guitar records of the pre-Rock and Roll years, almost nothing has been known about the life of the sanctified electric guitar preacher the Elder Utah Smith. African-American music scholar Lynn Abbott's years of research has produced a remarkable biographical study finally shining a light onto the preaching, healing, and guitar playing ministry of this path breaking performer. I Got Two Wings firmly places Utah Smith within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) tradition along with such COGIC contemporaries as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Elder David Curry, and Rev. F. W. McGee. Filled with fascinating anecdotes and first hand remembrances and testimonies, I Got Two Wings also features many rare and unpublished photographs and an 18-track CD. The music CD includes 5 previously unknown Utah Smith songs along with relevant performances by Tharpe, Curry, McGee and two rocking, sanctified performances by Utah Smith's daughter, Sister Sarah James and the Sanctified Six." - CaseQuarter

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Big Mama Thornton
Swing it on Home / My Heavy Load
Arhoolie
45rpm 7"
$8

"Swing it on Home" is a great piano blues stomper, while "My Heavy Load" features Big Mama digging deep into a slow number, accompanied only by Mississippi Fred McDowell on acoustic guitar. (Note that the label says both of these cuts are from the Big Mama Thornton in Europe LP on Arhoolie.) Swing it on Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJSmx9CSBW0

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Various Artists
Drop on Down in Florida
Dust-to-Digital
2CD & hardcover book
$32

“Based on four years of fieldwork throughout the state, the Florida Folklife Program released the two-album, 27-track LP “Drop on Down in Florida” in 1981. The album was intended to highlight African American music traditions for a statewide public audience, blues and sacred traditions in particular. In recent years, the Folklife Program sought the opportunity to produce an expanded reissue of the album that would include previously unissued fieldwork recordings and photos. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork materials now housed in the State Archives of Florida, the expanded reissue includes nearly 80 previously-unreleased minutes of music on 28 new tracks, plus numerous photos documenting the musicians and communities that perpetuated these traditions.

“Notable among the previously unreleased tracks are additional musical selections and personal narratives from one-string musician Moses Williams, four-shape-note Sacred Harp singing from an African American community in the Florida Panhandle, and recordings from the Richard Williams family in the blues and gospel-blues traditions. The reissue also includes new track notes from respected music scholars David Evans and Doris J. Dyen; reflective essays from past and present folklorists with the Florida Folklife Program, including Peggy A. Bulger, Dwight DeVane, Doris J. Dyen, and Blaine Waide; and an extensive essay on African American one-string instrument traditions by David Evans.

“The 2012 edition of “Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music 1977–1980,” highlights the significance of the previously unreleased material. In addition, it calls attention to the importance of the original LP and makes its contents available once again, this time to a larger audience.” - Dust-to-Digital

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Various Artists
Drop on Down in Florida
Florida Folklife
2LP
$32

Original vinyl pressing of this seminal, elusive title now just reissued in expanded form by Dust-to-Digital (see info above).  Heavy gatefold sleeve, thick booklet, the works.  A personal favorite.  Sealed copies, the sleeves show minor storage wear at the corners.  Restocked after a long absence.

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Various Artists
Parchman Farm
Dust-to-Digital
2CD & hardcover book
$32

"In 1947, ’48 and ’59, renowned folklorist Alan Lomax went behind the barbed wire into the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck—and, in 1959, a camera—Lomax documented as best an outsider could the stark and savage conditions of the prison farm, where the black inmates labored “from can’t to can’t,” chopping timber, clearing ground, and picking cotton for the state. They sang as they worked, keeping time with axes or hoes, adapting to their condition the slavery-time hollers that sustained their forbears and creating a new body of American song. Theirs was music, as Lomax wrote, that “testified to the love of truth and beauty which is a universal human trait.”

“A few strands of wire were all that separated the prison from adjoining plantations. Only the sight of an occasional armed guard or a barred window in one of the frame dormitories made one realize that this was a prison. The land produced the same crop; there was the same work for blacks to do on both sides of the fence. And there was no Delta black who was not aware of how easy it was for him to find himself on the wrong side of those few strands of barbed wire…. These songs are a vivid reminder of a system of social control and forced labor that has endured in the South for centuries, and I do not believe that the pattern of Southern life can be fundamentally reshaped until what lies behind these roaring, ironic choruses is understood.” — Alan Lomax, 1958

“Black prisoners in all the Southern agricultural prisons in the years of these recordings participated in two distinct musical traditions: free world (the blues, hollers, spirituals and other songs they sang outside and, when the situation permitted, sang inside as well) and the work-songs, which were specific to the prison situation, and the recordings in this album represent that complete range of material, which is one of the reasons this set is so important: it doesn’t just show this or that tradition within Parchman, but the range of musical traditions performed by black prisoners. I know of no other album that does that.” — Bruce Jackson, 2013. 124-page hardcover book with 2 CDs, includes slipcase and foil stamping, 44 audio recordings, 12 previously unreleased, all newly remastered; 
77 photographs, many published here for the first time;
 Essays by Alan Lomax, Anna Lomax Wood, and Bruce Jackson.
 Produced by Steven Lance Ledbetter, founder of Dust-to-Digital, and Nathan Salsburg, curator of the Alan Lomax Archive. - Dust-to-Digital

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Various Artists
Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Dust-to-Digital
LP
$19

All-time killer gospel comp finally reissued. "A collection of spiritual and gospel songs performed in informal non-church settings between 1965 and 1973. Most are guitar-accompanied and performed by active or former blues artists. 'Most records of black religious music contain some form of gospel singing or congregational singing recorded at a church service. This album, though, tries to present a broader range of performance styles and contexts with the hope of showing the important role that religious music plays in the Southern black communities and in the daily lives of individuals.' --David Evans, from the liner notes. LP, 16-page 11"x11" booklet, tip-on sleeve, 16 photographs." - Dust-to-Digital. Hear Blind Pete Burrell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXG-yVEo1rc, Eddie Lee Jones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTE_3TT37ZE, and oh man Pattie Rosemon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvyvqIqhwsw

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Pete Whelan
78 Quarterly - Issue No. 9
78 Quarterly
book, 124 pages
$12

Henry Sims and Muddy Waters on the cover. No publishing date listed, maybe from the mid-1990s? Staples show rust that slightly stains the centermost pages. Back cover shows rubbing. Featured articles:
Frederic Ramsey Jr. obituary
“Henry ‘Son’ Sims” by Gayle Dean Wardlow
“The Rarest 78s (O-P-Q)”
“Clarence M. Jones (1889-1949): Almost Forgotten (But Not Quite)” by Rick Kennedy
“Black Music in the White City: African-Americans at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition” by Doug Seroff and Lynn Abbott
“Take My Picture, Make it in a Frame: The Wiley Barner Story” by Don Kent
“The Paramount L Master Series” by Max Vreede and Guido Van Rijn
“A Portfolio of Fake Paramount Ads” by Tony Mostrom
“Southern Echoes Part 2” by Tony Russell
“100 Years from Today: A Survey of African-American Music in 1892 and 1893 as Recorded in the Black Community Press” by Doug Seroff and Lynn Abbott
Book reviews, including of “I’d Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues” by Stephen Calt.