Dubbed “The Grace Jones of Jazz” by Gilles Peterson, Lady Blackbird Creates Soundtrack to a Revolution with Debut Album, Black Acid Soul

No place big enough for holding / all the tears you’re gonna cry /’Cause your mama’s name was lonely / and your daddy’s name was pain /And they call you little sorrow / ’cause you’ll never love again /Why you wanna fly Blackbird / you ain’t ever gonna fly” ~”Blackbird” (Nina Simone/Herbert Sacker, 1963)

 

Lady Blackbird didn’t mean to soundtrack a revolution. But last spring, that’s exactly what she did. On May 27th, 2020 Los Angeles-based singer Marley Munroe released her debut single. Now, “the Grace Jones of Jazz,” as dubbed by BBC’s Gilles Peterson, presents her debut album, Black Acid Soul.

 

Minimal yet rich, classic yet timely, the album connects backward to Miles Davis (his pianist, Deron Johnson, plays Steinway Baby Grand, Mellotron, and Casio Synth throughout) and forwards to Pete Tong (he made the Bruise mix of ‘Collage’ his Number Two Essential Selection tune of 2020) and, yes, Victoria BeckhamMatthew Herbert’s remix of the second single ‘Beware The Stranger’ soundtracked the designer’s Spring/Summer 2020 Fashion show.

 

Its 11 tracks have a sound, feeling, and attitude that speak of Lady Blackbird’s deep experiences in music, stretching all the way back to infancy. “I don’t ever remember not singing,” she says, recalling performances in church and at fairs from the age of five. “It’s what I knew how to do, and I don’t want to do anything else.

 

By her early teens, Lady Blackbird was traveling to and from Nashville. She was signed to a Christian label but the only music that resulted was some work with rock/rap group DC Talk. After they split, she worked with former member TobyMac, appearing on his first four solo albums. “But I realized that that whole Christian world, which my parents tried to place me in, was so goddamn far from who I was. I did not want to do Christian music, I didn’t believe anything of what they did, and I quit the tour.”

 

A wise young soul already at the age of 16, she then found herself “in limbo, because I was in this contract ‘til I was 18.” Once legally an adult and free, she based herself out of New York while flying to and from sessions in LA. She was working with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Tricky Stewart, and The Heavyweights. A production deal led to a record deal with LA Reid’s Epic. But creative differences led to her parting ways with the label. So, the deal ended “and it was back to the drawing board and working with different people.”

 

One of those was an artist-turned-writer-and-producer Chris Seefried, who’d been GRAMMY® Award-nominated for his work on the debut album by Andra Day (seen as Billie Holiday in biopic The United States Vs. Billie Holiday). On meeting Lady Blackbird, he recalls thinking: “Wow, I’m working with the best new vocalists there are – Andra and Lady Blackbird are two of the greatest singers on the planet.”

 

From Lady Blackbird’s point-of-view, “I fucking loved his shit!” she hoots, relieved to have finally found a musical partner who got her. “Chris listened to me, asking, was I feeling this vibe or that vibe? He was able to dig inside what I was feeling. Next thing you know, he had some amazing sounds worked out. We really just connected.” They took their time, working in Seefried’s LA studio, feeling out the bespoke musical path that would work with the fiercely individual performer. Finally, in hitting on the idea of stripping everything back, “we cracked the code.”

 

“I’d written a song, ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart,’ a jazz ballad kind of thing, and asked her to do a vocal,” explains Seefried. “I laid the tune on her – and it’s quite a complicated piece of music – then I played it again.” And she goes: ‘OK, I got it.’ And in two takes she nailed it, live. It’s a real natural genius kind of thing to have that kind of musicality intuitively.

 

A sad, elegantly simple tune, “Nobody’s Sweetheart” was, too, a pathfinder song, and was also the first one they recorded with a beautiful trumpet solo from the great New Orleans virtuoso, TroyTrombone ShortyAndrews. After going all out, they were going all in, deeply in, getting out of the way and letting shine the voice of Lady Blackbird.

 

For the singer, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, that approach, however, didn’t – couldn’t – diminish her onstage persona. “I loved my over-the-top costumes and all this elaborate shit on stage. Chris convinced me we could be jazz and still keep that attitude.” Suffice it to say that, when Seefried played “Nobody’s Sweetheart” to Ross Allen – the British label exec, DJ, and crate-digger who’s signed Lady Blackbird to his new imprint Foundation Music – he was astounded. “I also showed him this picture of her, this radical woman on stage, and it was from the back, wearing this incredible dress and Pattie LaBelle headgear. Ross was like: ‘She sings like that and looks like that? Fucking hell!’”

 

You can hear that personality in “Collage.” An instant earworm which she inhabits in multiple colours, it’s Lady Blackbird’s take on the James Gang original, a soulful psych-rock deep cut from 1969.

 

There’s more inspired reinvention on the aching “It’ll Never Happen Again,” written by Tim Hardin and which first appeared on the folk singer’s seminal 1966 debut. Forthright as ever, Lady admits, “that was one of the ones I didn’t like at first. It wasn’t boring, I just didn’t know how to give it some power or personality at first. But then I tried it, it was a beautiful session, and it’s ended up one of my favorites on the album. It just sounds magical.

 

That spirit of adventure and invention is there, too, on “Beware The Stranger.” It’s a take on “Wanted Dead or Alive,” a rare groove classic recorded by funk/gospel collective Voices of East Harlem in 1973 and co-produced by Curtis Mayfield.

 

Rounding out the album are two killer cuts written by Lady Blackbird and Seefried, “Fix It” and “Five Feet Tall.” The former is an elegant piano ballad that was inspired by the Bill Evans classic instrumental “Peace Piece“. The Evans Estate granted Lady Blackbird and Seefried co-authorship on a song that sounds like a Great American Songbook standard sung by a woman on the side of the angels. Her ability to nail the song in the studio in minimal takes was clearly something to behold.

 

As for “Black Acid Soul,” closing the album, it speaks of both the “Jackson Pollock jams” Seefried describes in the studio and the mantric soul evocative of Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes. Explaining how the song became the title and then, again, the vibe, Lady Blackbird says: “We used to hashtag #blackacidsoul, as our sub-genre of music. It just encompassed everything we were doing. It cemented all those ideas and genres in this made-up shit!” 

 

“And because ‘Blackbird’ is a great start to the album because it gets dark and violent and goes somewhere spiritual, we wanted to tail the album with another expression of acid soul. So that became the title track at the end.

 

This is Black Acid Soul, and this is the first crucial album of 2021. Are you ready to fly with Lady Blackbird?

 

 

“This singer that blew my mind, a singer that’s gonna explode,
her name is Lady Blackbird
The Grace Jones of Jazz” – Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 6

 

“I find her mesmerizing. She blew me away.” – Anne Litt, KCRW

 

Lady Blackbird | Black Acid Soul
BMG | Release DateSeptember 3, 2021
For more information on Lady Blackbird, please visit:

 

What are you listening to? Seasoned vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Adam Scrimshire’s 4th album Listeners

Albert’s Favourites co-founder Adam Scrimshire is set to release his fourth album “Listeners“. Musically, ‘Listeners’ draws from Scrimshire’s passion for jazz, soul, and electronic music of all styles; from an energetic combination of Afrobeat and garage on “Won’t Get Better,” to the lushly orchestrated neo-soul of “Thru You”, and the harmonious jazz experimentations of ‘I Never. The album features a host of esteemed guest vocalists and musicians telling their own personal stories, including Georgia Anne Muldrow, Emma-Jean Thackray, Joshua Idehen, Madison McFerrin, Chip Wickham, and James Alexander Bright. With this album, I wanted to get a more focused sound after six years of relearning and development in the studio. But I also struggled to find my own words, to speak about where I/we are now.

So I allowed my collaborator’s total freedom to tell their own story and as they came back to me, they were telling the same stories I wanted to. It’s resulted in some deeply personal confessional pieces: mourning family, collapsing relationships, extremes of self-doubt and analysis, trying to balance public and inner persona and a reminder that life in all forms is important. It’s called ‘Listeners‘ as I am a listener here, I feel like I’ve been given these very personal experiences to care for. Listeners because, the travesty of the last few years is that we stopped listening to each other, everyone is shouting at each other and no one is learning. And Listeners because I hope I’ve made something that is for other people more than I have before. I’ve tried to craft something warmer and more enjoyable, made for those who give me their time in listening to my music.’- Adam Scrimshire Since joining the Wah Wah 45s label in 2007, Scrimshire has released three albums of experimental cinematic jazz and electronic sounds. Following his 2009 debut ‘Along Came The Devil One Night‘, his second album ‘The Hollow‘ (2011) was a BBC 6 Music Album of the Week, with Gilles Peterson calling it ‘A late contender for album of the year’.

In the time since the release of his last album ‘Bight’ (‘An eclectic range of influences ranging from disco to fusion to more contemporary electronic styles’ XLR8R) in 2013, Adam has worked with long-time musical accomplice Dave Koor on new project Modified Man and launched Albert’s Favourites releasing projects by The Expansions, Hector Plimmer and Jonny Drop. He has continued to gain radio and DJ support for his successful ‘Scrimshire Edits’ series and has produced and mixed records for artists including Stac, Daudi Matsiko, Bastien Keb, Ronin Arkestra, Jonny Drop. He has also continued to develop the Wah Wah 45s label, where he is now a co-owner and director. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Originally released: August 12, 2019

At your leisure, check out “LISTENERS” by Adam Scrimshire

Just in case, you missed it…Phosphenes is fresh music by Wanubalé from Berlin captures heavy influences of Jazz, Neo Soul, and Funk

Wanubalé, PHOSPHENES (Original Release Date: September 27, 2019)

Wanubalé – nine guys from Berlin, inspired by the city’s fresh Jazz scene and distinct club culture. This band sets out to define their own, highly danceable version of Jazz, Neo Soul, and Funk.

Wanubalé met at school. Five of the nine in the band went to the same musical high school in Berlin. There, in dark equipment, Philip Schilz and Heinrich Eiszmann met for whole afternoons to built unique sound castles made up of bass drums, snares, and everything else they were able to get their hands on. Thus, the two drummers built the foundation for the ultra-danceable grooves that define Wanubalé.

Heavy influences from Jazz, Neo Soul, and Funk shape their compositions. However, electronic sounds are just as important to Wanubalé. All of the nine are in their early twenties. All of them grew up around the vibrant club culture of Germany’s capital. All of them are into Dub, Bass Music, and Broken Beats. And several members are DJs, as well. Philip remembers one of many long nights: “Everyone around us was dancing. We were in the midst of it, analyzing why and how the beats work.”

The Wanubalés are first-rate musicians. They tend to take their time writing arrangements, yet they are careful not to overly emphasize their jazz skills. Songwriting is a collaborative affair, everything is developed organically. Just like the band name, which dates back to the days of fooling around in the schoolyard, playing with syllables (“nuba” came first). The sound was crucial. Some say “Wanubalé” means “brother” in Swahili.

Wanubalé’s instrumental debut album was recorded by Axel Reinemer in Berlin’s Jazzanova Studio in 2018. The musicians don’t hide their influences: Snarky Puppy, Fat Freddy’s Drop, plus younger acts like Hiatus Kaiyote and Nubiyan Twist. But Wanubalé does their own thing, having produced and arranged the album. Wanubalé: four horns, two drummers, guitar, bass, keyboards. Nine musicians with a knack for funky breaks, might brass sounds and great melodies. some quotes: Radio Krimiperfect for our jazz showLaurent Garnier “superb!” bamalovesoul “we like this” Dom Servini “really strong. perfect balance of styles. love it!” Jazz London Radio “two tracks on our playlist” Opolopo “very nice” Global Riddims “wonderful release” Radio Helsinki “praise that !” Tim Love Lee “love this” Toshio Matsuura “excellent” DJ Maestro “nice !” Ketch A Vibe Radioshow “simply stunning. Both are a perfect crossover of jazzy beats including afro & fusion” DJ Oonops “pure fire.”  ~BandCamp

The band:
Gabriel Rosenbach: trumpet, flugelhorn
Niko Zeidler: tenor/alto saxophone, flute
Anton Kowalski: baritone saxophone
Jonathan Steffen: trombone
Max Feig: guitar
Moses Yoofee Vester: keys
Moritz Schmolke: bass
Heinrich Eiszmann: drums
Philip Schilz: drums

Listen up music lovers, catch of the fresh vibes and broken beats by Wanubalé

Multi Grammy-nominated vocal artist Nnenna Freelon is back, delivering her eleventh album after a decade-long hiatus from the studio with Time Traveler

What Freelon is building is not just a castle of love, but an expanded repertoire for jazz singers’ – The Washington Post. Multi Grammy-nominated vocal artist Nnenna Freelon is back, delivering her eleventh album after a decade-long hiatus from the studio. With Time Traveler, she offers a celebration of love and a prayer of hope for those living with loss. The sessions for the album stretched over two years, between 2018 and 2020, coinciding with the loss of Freelon’s soulmate and husband of forty years, Phil Freelon, to ALS. Freelon draws from her & Phil’s shared love of jazz and rhythm and blues, to step through an imagined doorway where past, present, and future collide.

From the album’s centerpiece, a medley of Marvin Gaye classics, to standards such as ‘Come Rain or Come Shine‘ and ‘Moon River,’ or her self-penned title song, Freelon reminds us of the grace and elegance that naturally accompanies her approach to interpreting melody. Inspired by her emotive glances to the past, and soulful presence in the here and now, she paints a portrait of reverence and gratitude for the gift of love that permeates every aspect of the human condition. ~Editorial Review | Amazon.com