Naturally, in observance of the immensity of the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve stalled a bit with these weekly selections and labored over how best to get back in the groove. This week’s features each grabbed hold of my ears, mind and spirit out of the blue, for whatever reasons. They’re lesser-known than most– scrappy Demigods perhaps, on the fringe but certainly no less deserving of the consideration and celebration of Titans like The Coltranes that we all know and love. They’re the type of artists that I desperately seek along the road to finding and sharing more wonderful and startling creative outposts and since they’ve been simmering in the queue for a good while, I figured it was as good a time as any to serve ‘em up.
Fred E. Scott is a total enigma, but whoever he is, he concocted a radical, lysergic slice of Afro-futurist soul-funk that, in my imagination, places him alongside the Almighty Sun Ra in the Martian League of Psychedelic Super Friends Against Fascistic Evil that our world so desperately needs (still workshopping this idea.) From what I gather, only five copies or so of this lone 45 exist, and little else is known about them. Talk about a grail! With regard to the Great Jessie Mae Hemphill, I’m completely lost in this Mississippi hill country sauce, and all the wildly fluctuating fidelities her songs inhabit. I’m especially inclined towards the slow-and-low lurchers like “Standing in my Doorway Crying” and “Run Get My Shotgun.” This is God-damned American music, laid up like a snake, drunk with venom on a creek rock. Beautiful. “Your life is more than grief” is the message the pervades this living, breathing and vital bonus recommendation, the newest offering from Camae Ayewa via her Moor Mother moniker. My first impression of Ayewa came by way of early Moor Mother releases and collaborations with contemporaries in the noise/experimental scenes in Baltimore, Philly and beyond; my second came in the form of a rapturous set by free jazz unit Irreversible Entanglements, fronted by Camae, followed by a spoken-word collaboration with Roscoe Mitchell and the Art Ensemble of Chicago at Big Ears 2019. I may throw the word “Titan” around a bit too much, but I really mean it when I say that Camae is one of them and I will continue to bow at that altar. –DT
Fred E. Scott – Journey Within
Jessie Mae Hemphill – Standing in My Doorway Crying
Moor Mother ft. Sham-e-Ali Nayeem – Change