The catalog of ’70s independent jazz label Black Jazz Records has long been championed by “rare groove” connoisseurs – including BBC broadcast legend Gilles Peterson. Now with a new reissue series reviving Black Jazz’s classic spiritual/electric jazz-funk sides for the 2010s, Peterson presents a mix, “Black Jazz Radio,” consisting of some of his favorites from the label. This isn’t the first time Black Jazz’s works have been anthologized and re-packaged. But it is the first since it was reported almost a year and a half ago that the Black Jazz master tapes were up for sale on Craig’s List. The newly formed Snow Dog Records has apparently rescued the tapes from an uncertain future, and in addition to Peterson’s will present two more curated mixes (by Japan’s DJ Mitsu and another DJ to be named later) in advance of the reissue series’ commencement. Listen to Gilles’ mix and read Snow Dog’s notes, below. And while you’re at it, check the thumbnails for the original album artwork for each track – the bulk of which sports BJR’s signature stark B&W design.
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS TO SEE THE ORIGINAL ALBUM ART FOR EACH SONG OF THE MIX
Snow Dog Records: Gilles successfully links the disparate corners of a first-class soul/jazz/funk catalogue (Black Jazz, 1971-1976) with tracks by Calvin Keys, Doug Carn, Kellee Patterson and label head Gene Russell, while making the listener nearly forget the thread that ties the tracks together. At the apex of the mix, he drops one of the all time great spiritual jazz cuts ‘Higher Ground’, its hymn-like quality a surprisingly apt lead-in to Cleveland Eaton’s funk chant ‘All Your Lover, All Day, All Night’ a tribute of a different sort – and yet the mood remains constant. The mix could easily incorporate tracks by other early-mid 1970’s like-sounding giants Tony Williams, EWF, Sugarcane Harris, or Funkadelic, but the label’s five years of existence more than suffice to provide enough raw material for this devastating jazz/funk journey.