WBGO Blog
  • "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS": YUSEF LATEEF EDITION

    February 20, 2008. Posted by Stevan Smith.

    What's going on all! Welcome to my blog series "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS"! When new releases in the music world get slow, we all tend to dig into our collections for some vintage pleasure. Join me for my weekly (or whenever I feel like it) quest for soundtrack satisfaction. This is a blog for music lovers! "Walk With Me".

    This edition celebrates: Yusef Lateef- The Gentle Giant (1972)

    Tracklisting:
    1. Nubian Lady
    2. Lowland Lullabye
    3. Hey Jude
    4. Jungle Plum
    5. The Poor Fishermen
    6. African Song
    7. Queen of the Night
    8. Below Yellow Bell

    Now I will admit, I am really picky when it comes to instrumental recordings. There has to be something powerful about a rhythm that speaks without words. Yusef Lateef is most definitely gifted in this area. Lateef defines his brand of music as "-insert here-", but don't call it jazz. "The Gentle Giant" is evidence of his unique talents. With Lateef playing various instruments (flute, tenor, and oboe) and a 9-minute cover of "Hey Jude" (?), there is enough variety on this album to prevent it from boring the "A.D.D." listener. One stand out track is, "Nubian Lady". The title say's it all. With it's melodic rhythms and ultra cool vibes, songs like these leave no room for words. That would just mess things up.
    "I'm smiling, but don't call it jazz fool!"

    Another track that stands out is "Queen of the Night" (must be something about the ladies). A funky track that has a bass line tailor made for hip-hop. It is this variety that makes this album one of his most interesting works. This Lp speaks to generations, and most likely opened the door for world music. Some refer to this album as being erratic compared to his prior works. I feel this is just a classic display of any artists' journey to evolve. This album is a honest contribution to the foundation of jaz......I mean "-insert here-". It dares to be different. ...And it is the "different" that makes it an instant classic.
    "What do you mean by different?"

  • "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS": A.T.C.Q. EDITION

    February 11, 2008. Posted by Stevan Smith.

    What's going on all!
    Welcome to my blog series "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS"! When new releases in the music world get slow, we all tend to dig into our collections for some vintage pleasure. Join me for my weekly (or whenever I feel like it) quest for soundtrack satisfaction. This is a blog for music lovers! "Walk With Me".
    This edition celebrates: A Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory (1991)

    Tracklisting (Contains Explicit Lyrics):

    1. Excursions
    2. Buggin' Out
    3. Rap Promoter
    4. Butter
    5. Verses From the Abstract
    6. Show Business
    7. Vibes and Stuff
    8. The Infamous Date Rape
    9. Check the Rhime
    10. Everything is Fair
    11. Jazz (We've Got)
    12. Skypager
    13. What?
    14. Scenario

    This is one of my all-time favorite hip-hop albums. Arguably the best album by Tribe, this project contained a very "jazzy sound" (East Coast hip-hop was James Brown sample crazy before this). This was a very different vibe from the G-Funk gangsta music made popular by Death Row Records at the time.
    While I was going through the credits, I noticed that Ron Carter played the bass on track #5 "Verses from the Abstract". Being that I said this is one of my favorite hip hop albums of all time (and I know every lyric), I never noticed that Q-Tip shouts out Ron Carter at the end of the song...."Thanks a lot Ron Carter; on the bass is my man Ron Carter on the bass..". Hey, what can I say...I was caught up in the music.
    As far as "jazz rap" goes, The Low End Theory was the bench mark. Though the album contained mostly samples of jazz music, it was the presentation of the package. From the "abstract/poetic" lyrics of Q-Tip, to the more direct delivery of Phife (in his prime I'd might add), this album is as smooth as butter. At the time of it's release, The Low End Theory was named a "5 mic" classic by The Source Magazine.
    This release was also responsible for shining a light on the "not yet solo" talents of Busta Rhymes. The song goes down in history as one of hip hop's best "posse cuts."

    This album is made classic by it's pure production excellence and it's varied subject matter.
    Exhibit A, B, C,.....and so on:

    ranked #154 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time
    ranked #32 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s"
    One of the Top 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time (The Source)
    One of the 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century (Vibe magazine)
    Here's the video for "We've Got the Jazz":

    A classic example of how Jazz & Hip-Hop can co-exist.
    Peace............
    Vegas

  • "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS": DONALD BYRD EDITION

    January 2, 2008. Posted by Stevan Smith.

    What's going on all!

    Welcome to my blog series "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS"! When new releases in the music world get slow, we all tend to dig into our collections for some vintage pleasure. Join me for my weekly (or whenever I feel like it) quest for soundtrack satisfaction. This is a blog for music lovers! "Walk With Me".

    This edition celebrates: Donald Byrd- Places and Spaces (1975)

    Tracklisting:

    1. Change (Make you wanna Hustle)
    2. Wind Parade
    3. (Fallin' Like) Dominoes
    4. Places and Spaces
    5. You and the Music
    6. Night Whistler
    7. Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

    I have only one word to describe this album: SEXY

    This is smooth jazz, funky jazz, "clean ya house jazz". I play this when my mood says,"A grown man just got home from work today....and he needs sometime to reflect".

    Here's my favorite track off of the album....Wind Parade:

     

    Recorded in the summer of 1975, Places & Spaces continued the influences of Byrd's prior release Street Lady. Exhibiting elements of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Earth Wind & Fire...let's just say this wouldn't be the darling of a jazz purist. Groovin' guitars, mellow bass, and tantalizing horns makes for a perfect blend of jazz/soul/funk/disco harmony.

    Producer Larry Mizell (One half of the Mizell Brothers)

    Hooking up with the Mizell Brothers, as he did with his last 2 albums, Byrd continued his exploration into jazz-funk. The album was also a hot bed for samples. From acid jazz to hip hop, Places and Spaces also birthed many classics in other genres. For example, Black Moon's "Buck Em Down" Remix. A classic hip hop record of the early 90's that samples Byrd's "Wind Parade."

     

    A part of the Blue Note Records Rare Groove series, Donald Byrd's Places and Spaces demands rotation in your mp3 player. A true classic of the past, present and future.