11 April 2006


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.



Miss F said...

thank you for this album~

Slidewell said...

Nice solos by the horn players. Especially dig the funky vamps.

Thanks for posting this rare slice.

huub741 said...

great blog with wonderfull and rare music, thanx
i was looking for this one, but the link seems to be dead. could you repost it, if possible

GeeeFlat said...

Hi Bacoso, thought I'd come back a couple of months later to thank you agian re Black Renaissance. Also a bit of info from Andrew Jervis from luv n haight:

"Just real quick, 'Black Renaissance' was project from this guy called Harry Whitaker. Harry Whitaker was the piano player for Roy Ayers. He was also Roberta Flack's musical director. So, he has actually had a really successful career. But, the poor guy went and recorded one record on Martin Luther King day in 1971 or '72, got all these incredible players into a studio in New York and recorded two tracks that are about twenty minutes long each. Roberta Flack showed up, she's in the crowd kind of like shouting in the background and it's one of the first Jazz and Soul records that almost has some semi rapping on it. It's a really interesting record from a musical point of view"

Wow. Brilliant record. Cctually from 72 sounds like bloody 4 hero today to me (production wise) !

thanks again ;)

GeeeFlat said...

Also concpetually, as Endrew jervis pursues, it's a Tribute to Martin Luther King...:

"It's an interesting record. What happened was somehow - and sometimes memory is a bit fuzzy with these guys when they recorded that stuff thirty or forty years ago - he lent a copy to a company in Japan to have a listen and never heard anything back. Either his house burned down or the house where the master tapes had been stored in and he lost the master tapes. Probably because Roy Ayers travels a lot he got to hear that his record has come out in Japan and he couldn't understand. You know, here's this one guy in New York, new to the business at the time and didn't really understand how it happened and tracking down those guys in Japan, he didn't speak Japanese, for instance, just couldn't really do anything about it. A number of people over the years have told him: "Hey, your record's come out in Japan." I think at one point he may have seen it because he knew that on the back they got the dates wrong. And it was really important to him that this record was recorded on Martin Luther King day and it was a tribute to Martin Luther King and they put some random day on the back. That was a bit of an insult to him. Another good reason to put that record out. Anyway, we tracked down Harry Whitaker. He wasn't that hard to track down with all those people that we found. We asked him if it would alright if we put that record out. And he said: "Are people still interested? Who knows about it? Can you send me a copy?"

Great story :)

José said...

Can someone re-upload this one???!!!

Thanks from Portugal!

ilias said...


Simon The Pieman said...

It a mesmerising record - and such a great provenance to go with it. I'd kind of heard about it through listening to Gilles Peterson's shows over the years but had never got to actually hear it. Managed to download it from the following


But I've since learned that the CD is realtively easy to come by - try Amazon or DustyGroove