Better Blackness

June 7, 2016

Sekou Sundiata’s “Urban Music”

Filed under: Literature,Music — betterblackness @ 2:58 am
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“Let everything we say be real. Let everything we do be funky.” — Sekou Sundiata


December 30, 2015

Gladys Knight’s “End of the Road” Medley

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:56 am
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The perfect concoction of soul, nostalgia, crisp harmonies, a sharp arrangement and a singer at the top of her game. Forget the corny announcer at the end and just replay the performance again and again from the beginning.

August 31, 2014

Cassandra Wilson and Gregory Porter Hanging Out

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:46 pm
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Two of the greatest vocalists of all time hanging out together talking, eating, singing and sipping. It’s magical and awkward and wistful by turns but absolutely engrossing and revealing throughout.


May 22, 2014

Amina Claudine Myers, “African Blues”

Filed under: Music — betterblackness @ 5:56 am
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Black genius is prolific, nuanced and so prevalent that we sometimes take it for granted. Sometimes, however, somebody does something that captures our negritude so succinctly, all you can do is revel in it and thank the gods you are able to dig it. Here is one such thing, Amina Claudine Myers’ sublime “African Blues”. Words are superfluous…


January 19, 2014

Amiri Baraka Memorial Mix by DJ Jalylah

Filed under: Icons,Literature,Music — betterblackness @ 6:25 pm


In The Tradition: Amiri Baraka 1934 – 2014
mixed by jalylah


“When I’m Called Home” Rodney Kendrick/“In the Tradition” (excerpted) Amiri Baraka + E. Ethelbert Miller
“I’ll Get Along Somehow” Larry Darnell / “Baraka Reminisces” Amiri Baraka + E. Ethelbert Miller
“The Honeydripper” Joe Liggins
“I Love Music” The O’Jays / “I Love Music” Amiri Baraka
“Ogunde” John Coltrane
“Hey, Buddy Bolden” Nina Simone
“So What” (Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival)/ “The Dance” Amiri Baraka
“Black Dada Nihilismus” Amiri Baraka + New York Art Quartet
“I’m A Happy Cowboy” Herb Jeffries
“ Way Out West” Sonny Rollins / “Bronze Buckaroo” Amiri Baraka
“Long As You’re Living” Abbey Lincoln
“Black Art” Amiri Baraka + Sonny Murray
“Wailers” Amiri Baraka + David Murray
“Something In The Way Of Things (In Town)” Amiri Baraka + The Roots
“I’m So Proud / Ya He Yey Ya” Amiri Baraka + William Parker
“I Plan To Stay A Believer” Curtis Mayfield / “Thank You” E. Ethelbert Miller

“In The Tradition,” Baraka’s comments on Larry Darnell, and poet/scholar E. Ethelbert Miller’s appreciation of Baraka were excerpted from Miller’s interview of Amiri Baraka on the 1998 edition of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life, which can be viewed on YouTube:

Photo Credit: Chester Higgins Jr.


October 28, 2013

Sunshine Road and Sweet Earth Flying: Two Marion Brown Gems

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:08 pm
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There is so much great music on the Web that exemplifies Better Blackness. I could spend years re-posting it and completely disregard all other forms of expression. So I try to refrain from sharing as much as I would like. However, there are some instances when it seems downright negligent not to share outstanding work that is deserving of much wider appreciation. This is the case with lots of music by the late Marion Brown.  To keep him from being almost totally forgotten, here are two of his finest creations, “Sunshine Road” and “Sweet Earth Flying”, both from the 1970s — when there was more room for “creative music” within the jazz idiom and everything didn’t have to sound like a branch of Ellingtonia or vapid New Age. Alas, we can be thankful these recordings exist and that generous souls have made them available for our listening pleasure and edification (“Sweet Earth Flying” and the album November Cotton Flower, for example, take their inspiration from Jean Toomer’s genre-bending Cane).




August 22, 2013

Charles Lloyd’s Hymn to the Mother

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 2:46 pm
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Black buddhist jazz at its finest. The rest of the set is outstanding also. Listen and be enlightened.



April 13, 2013

In the Heart of the Moon: A Moment with Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 5:21 pm
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Given all the internecine strife that is devastating Mali, Congo, Nigeria, the U.S. and other parts of the African Diaspora, this profile of the late Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté grows in resonance with each passing day. There were moments, there are moments, there will be moments when our better selves surface. Let’s cherish them.

February 1, 2013

“Slow Change” — Bobby Hutcherson

Filed under: Music — betterblackness @ 5:41 am
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This composition still feels as vital as the first time I heard it in 1969 or ’70. Moreover, it still feels like it’s in conversation with Oliver Nelson’s 1961 “Stolen Moments” and Donald Byrd’s “Cristo Redentor” from 1963. Less saccharine and decidedly more soberly spaced-out — if not cynical. It’s hard to forget or ignore for long.

December 22, 2012

Asa’s Prescient “Fire on the Mountain”

Filed under: Music — betterblackness @ 6:03 pm
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Asa’s 2008 song and this killer video continue to be maddeningly relevant and enthralling.


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