Open Your Mind ... LP Black Fire/Strut (UK), 1977. New Copy (reissue)...
A sweet bit of spiritual jazz from the legendary Black Fire scene – the only record ever cut by this group, but a set that stands up strongly next to the label's famous work by Oneness Of Juju!! SouthernEnergyEnsemble were one of the super-hip combos on the righteous side of the DC scene of the 70s – and they effortlessly mix together jazz, funk, soul, and Afro-styled rhythms – in a style that was light years ahead of its time, and finally getting full exposure years later. If you need a reference point, think Earth Wind & Fire in their best spiritual early years – but also imagine a looser, freer approach to the music – the currents of Oneness Of Juju too. Titles include "See Funk", "Third House", "Open Your Mind", and "Looking Ahead". LP, Vinyl record album
A great look at one of our favorite record labels of all time – a company that was one of the first we ever worked together with, back when we started Dusty Groove – and whose music has been a huge inspiration to us for decades! Black Fire is a really special record label from the DC area – not just a jazz imprint, but more of an artistic collective – maybe similar to what Tribe Records was to the Detroit scene of the 70s, but also more open to more soulful sounds too – which is what really makes so many of these tracks so great – as they have a perfect balance between jazz, funk, and soul – kind of that through-line that the Chicago scene had as things moved from Sun Ra, to Phil Cohran, on to the Pharoahs and Earth Wind & Fire! That trajectory is key here – as many of the players were rooted in more avant jazz styles, but were also eager to communicate their message in ways that were more universal – which is why the music here has such lasting appeal over the years – as it's filled with messages of love and peace, life and pride – with an intensity that maybe makes these tracks every bit as important now as when they were first recorded. The best-known group on the set is Oneness Of Juju, but there's work from the whole spectrum of Black Fire artists – tracks that include "Look At The People" by Wayne Davis, "Doin The Carvin For Thabo" by Lon Moshe, "African Rhythms (live 1975)" by Oneness Of Juju, "Children Of Tomorrow's Dreams" by Theatre West, "People" by Experience Unlimited, "Third House" by SouthernEnergyEnsemble, and "Drummers From Ibadan" by Byard Lancaster. LP, Vinyl record album
A completely sublime collection of spiritual jazz numbers from the 70s – put together by the legendary Kev Beadle, one of the first cats to spin the music with Gilles Peterson on the UK scene! The package is a great mix of essentials from years back, plus some under-discovered nuggets from the American underground – all with a nice emphasis on the grooves and rhythms – in a way that you might have heard back at Dingwalls on a Sunday afternoon! The set's a great reminder that music can be progressive and groovy at the same time – and the whole thing's overflowing with righteous treasures. Vinyl version features some exclusive tracks not on the CD – "Safari" by Frank Walton, "Padali" by Chuck Flores, and "I See Chano Pozo" by Jayne Cortez & The Firespitters – plus "In Every Way" by Reverie, "Open Your Mind" by SouthernEnergyEnsemble, "Brotherhood" by Kamal Abdul Alim, and "Freedom Road" by The Pharoahs. LP, Vinyl record album