American Roots Music in Pictures

— News — Editor

Welcome to the Guide to the Week of Music, a round-up of music news, media and releases from the wide musical world.

This week’s article could begin no other way than with a tribute to Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading of Her’s, who alongside their tour manager Trevor Engelbrektson, tragically passed away in a car accident earlier this week.

Trevor and the band were midway through their US tour when the accident occurred and had completed a run of sold out UK shows just a month before.

In a statement on social media, Her’s record label Heist or Hit, expressed that: ‘Their energy, vibrancy and talent came to define our label. As humans, they were warm, gentle and hilarious. Each time they stopped by the office made for an uplifting experience.’ They added, ‘The world was at their feet. Everyone here at the label is overwhelmed and distraught’.

During Her’s’ February show and filming session for the Harvey music video at Band on the Wall, staff members experienced the same warmth and sense of humour that Heist or Hit described. We’re extremely saddened by this loss and our thoughts are with the families of Stephen, Audun and Trevor at this difficult time.

American Roots Music in Pictures

American roots music: encompassing the blues, folk, gospel and Cajun music of North America alongside its myriad variations and related musical forms, is amongst the most evocative that the world has to offer. That’s due in no small part to the reels of archival imagery — black and white with a warm sepia tinge — that captures candidly the lives of the people associated with it.

The finest albums of archival imagery help us to appreciate, in candid detail, the living and working environments on the people who played these styles of music during their developmental stages, capturing the subtle details of the characters, instruments, clothes and homes of such individuals. That imagery has struck a chord with contemporary music enthusiasts, to the point where archival imagery is referenced in contemporary photography, drawing connections between contemporary roots musicians and their counterparts of a century ago.

We’ve come across two wonderful collections of contemporary American roots music in pictures this week. The first, a collection by Lisa Elmaleh published via the New York Times and the second, the work of Timothy Duffy for his new book Blue Muse. Find both via their respective links.

The Repeat Listen: Dwight Trible – Mothership

Tasting Notes: Andy Bey – Experience and Judgement, Les McCann & Eddie Harris – Swiss Movement, Doug Carn & Jean Carn – Infant Eyes, Cécile McLorin Salvant ‎– Dreams And Daggers, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson & Cannonball Adderley – Backdoor Blues

Combine a voice as rich, strong and distinctive as that which belongs to Dwight Trible, with a band of all-star musicians and a set of compositions largely concerning love, family, life and struggle and you’ve the makings of a mightily powerful and momentous jazz recording.  

Following his outstanding collaboration with Matthew Halsall and the musicians of the Gondwana records fold on 2017’s Inspirations, Trible has continued down a path of spiritual creativity, here assembling a record of emotional and sonic weight with an ensemble of just eight musicians, including the auxiliary percussionists whose atmospheric textures add depth to a handful of the album’s beautifully-arranged tracks.

That said, these recordings aren’t free-flowing 15-minute opuses of the structure defined by Pharoah Sanders on his genre-defining early seventies works – these are concise, varied compositions that also draw from blues and gospel (Thank You Master, Walkin to Paradise) soul (These Things You Are to Me) and even psychedelic rock.

In an unexpected yet wholly successful experiment, Trible and co. lay down a rendition of The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows, conveying the psychedelic experience with dizzying organ and a distinctive beat true to Ringo’s original, layering carefully controlled dissonance and passages of free viola work from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson to achieve an immersive psych-jazz arrangement.

As has been widely observed, Trible’s timbre, diction, tone and ability to tell a story are impeccable, but the space he leaves for the band to stretch out throughout this album is also commendable. Highlights include Standing In The Need of Prayer, a track introduced by an extended, spiritual-jazz crescendo, which parts for a string bass motif before reassembling in rhythm behind Trible’s impassioned howl. The song encapsulates the tone, emotion and musical content of the album as a whole: a collection which reaffirms Trible’s excellence as a vocalist, but also his taste and leadership at the helm of a band – a musical mothership comprising all he holds dear.

New Sounds and Visuals

Wrongtom’s ‘Tuff Wrong remix’ of Bob Marley ft. vocals from Flowdan is a contemporary dub/ragga joint with a killer groove and creative production. One of 25 ace tracks on his mega new compilation, Wrongtom Meets…

Self-taught pianist and accomplished producer Alfa Mist shared a new video for his track Retainer this week. Directed by Merlin Ettore, it uses a single camera to capture the interaction of Alfa Mist and his musicians in the studio, showing how three quartets were assembled to perform the track’s three distinct passages.

Cables, the contemplative title track from Bill Laurance’s new album release today, encapsulates the darker side of our relationship with technology, yet is an ultimately uplifting piano-based piece, immaculately played and produced with co-producer Nic Hard.

The charming new animated video for CHAI’s sugary cut, Curly Adventure, is the perfect, trippy escape from real life that fans of Superorganism and Grimes are certain to dig.

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