The legendary Black Jazz Records was founded in 1969 in Oakland, California by pianist Gene Russell and percussionist Dick Schory and released its first records in summer of 1971. From then on, it became a home for many emerging African-American jazz performers across a range of styles, including free jazz, soul-jazz, funk, fusion, and spiritual jazz. Though it was only around for four years, Black Jazz Records issued a total of twenty albums, bringing Doug Carn, Cleaveland Eaton, Kellee Patterson, and many more to a new audience.
Gene Russell’s New Direction was the first Black Jazz release and it’s set for release on RSD Drop Day 1 on August 29. Released exclusively for the event, the album will be pressed on clear vinyl with heavy black swirls and presented in a replica of the original album art. Here, pianist Russell is joined by bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin and drummer Steve Clover on the majority of the tracks, with Larry Gates taking over on bass on the opening and closing tracks. While it’s more straight-ahead than the Black Jazz releases to come, there are hints of soul jazz and modal jazz that would inform the label’s trajectory.
Others are imminently available, with more planned reissues down the line…
Just before the dust settles from a run of sold-out dates that stretched from coast-to-coast with his co-founding band Camper Van Beethoven, Victor Krummenacher will be hitting the road again. Only this time he’ll be doing double-duty as both the opening and headlining acts. In support of his forthcoming solo album, Blue Pacific (out March 1st), Victor Krummenacher & His Flying Circus will open these shows, followed by his other revered art/psych/prog band, Monks of Doom, who just recently released The Bronte Pin, their first album of new studio material in 25 years. Music critic Nick Spacek writing for the music site Modern Vinyl, called it “a welcome return for the band” and that it “sees them exploring folk-inflected progressive rock that manages to be serene and pastoral one moment, and thunderous the next. It makes The Bronte Pin quite an involving listen, and one you’re likely to dissect for weeks after first listening.”
Blue Pacific marks Victor’s ninth solo effort. The inception of this emotionally-charged project started nearly a year after his divorce, and, as it turns out, it’s one-part exorcism and one-part an effort to heal and put it all behind him.
“It was a really difficult album to make, some of the basics were recorded three times,” Krummenacher admits. “I went through two other drummers before settling on Michael Urbano. There was a lot of tension this time, and [co-producer] Bruce Kaphan seriously went all out to help make the best album we think we could do.”
Despite the fact this record was a direct result of so much pain, heartache and hurdles, musically it turns out to be one of Krummenacher’s most rewarding efforts of his lengthy career – be it solo, or with his other bands. “There was a LOT of time put into this one,” the musician reveals, “and I don’t know if I can really do much better in as far as writing or recording. Between the emotional context and the difficulty in getting all the aspects of the recording taken care of, it was one of the hardest projects I’ve worked on.”