11 April 2006
BLACK RENAISSANCE - BODY MIND AND SPIRIT
A spiritual jazz classic and one of the rarest albums of its type from the 70s. This legendary session was recorded by Roy Ayers' keyboardist Harry Whitaker working here as the leader of the Black Renaissance group, a one-shot ensemble that featured Woody Shaw on trumpet, Azar Lawrence on saxes, Buster Williams on bass, and Mtume on percussion. The session was cut in New York in 1976, but never properly issued at the time save for a rare bootleg that came out briefly in Japan. Yet somehow, the quality of the work and the depth of soulfulness have created a strong aura about the session making it an oft-cited influence by a generation of DJs and soul jazz listeners. The album only features 2 long tracks both of them strong ensemble numbers that build modally searching grooves in a Strata East-like style, peppered with voices, both sung and spoken, in a hip, socially conscious mode. Both tracks -- "Black Renaissance" and "Magic Ritual" are excellent and on a par with the best 70s spiritual soul jazz.