Tuesday, 19 December 2017 19:38 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altIn any discussion of the business side of Detroit soul, one name will dominate – Berry Gordy. The pugnacious entrepreneur built a huge empire on the back of the singers and musicians of the Motor City. Dig deep though and you'll discover that Gordy was only one of many hustlers trying to create some action for themselves. ROBERT WEST was such an entrepreneur and his contribution to Detroit soul is immeasurable; sadly his work is not celebrated in the same way as people like Gordy or, say, Ed Wingate. Now a new 3CD box set might just start to rectify that!

West was born in Alabama in 1912 and relocated to Detroit in 1935. In 1957 he founded his first label – Silhouette - which was soon followed by plenty of others – amongst them Kudo, Bumble Bee, Contour and, his most famous, Lu-Pine. West enjoyed some success (most notably with the Falcons) but he was never in Gordy's league and after an unsavoury altercation with Mary Well's ex-husband, Herman Griffin (it involved guns and some serious shooting!), West moved to Las Vegas.

In the Nevada city he continued to market music – leasing much of it to UK music hustler Jeffrey Kruger (owner of the legendary Flamingo Club and Ember Records) but by the mid 60s he found other interests, eventually passing in 1983.

Various soul compilations have featured material from West's output, notably from his Lu-Pine label, but now b/g; Soul Time Records offer a quite superb 3CD, 86 track box set that brings together some of his most notable recordings alongside a smattering of later non-West cuts that were associated with Ember via the West connection.

Listening to SOUL ON FIRE – THE DETROIT SOUL STORY 1957-1977 what became apparent is Robert West's ability to spot soul talent before his competitors. Here you can enjoy early music from artists who were later to become big names – sadly for West, though, with other labels. Amongst that number are the Primettes (later of course, the Supremes; pictured below), Marv Johnson, Bettye Lavette, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, Brian Holland (who recorded for West as Briant Holland) and The Ohio Untouchables (who later morphed into the Ohio Players). Their work sits sweetly alongside output from countless Detroit wannabees.

It goes without saying that there are lashings of great soul here. Amongst the 86 tracks there are 7 previously unreleased cuts and over 20 that have never before been on CD. Factor in an in-depth 36 page, lavishly illustrated booklet and you have a must-have early soul collection.

SOUL ON FIRE – THE DETROIT SOUL STORY 1957-1977 is out now


Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 December 2017 19:47



Tuesday, 19 December 2017 13:28 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                         altThe prolific US avant-jazz saxophonist, DAVID MURRAY, has teamed up with the man dubbed the 'poet laureate of hip-hop,'  SAUL WILLIAMS, on his next LP, 'Blues For Memo,'  which is scheduled for release by Motema on February 16th 2018.

The pair's sensational collaboration was stoked by Murray hearing Williams' impassioned reading  of one of his own poems at the funeral of his friend, noted US writer Amiri Baraka,  in 2014. Though Williams, who has published several books of poetry and released six albums, has previously resisted offers to work with jazz musicians, he found his collaboration with Murray a liberating experience. “As a poet who’s very often tied to the page, collaborating with David has freed me up,” he says. “What’s beautiful about jazz is that it’s a celebration of improvisation. It has so much to do with listening, how you hear and what you hear, and how you respond to that. It keeps me fresh, so it’s the opposite of what I was afraid of when I was dodging performing with jazz musicians. It has invigorated the creative process.”

The album, which follows in the wake of 'Perfection,' Murray's 2016 collaboration with the late Geri Allen and Teri Lynne Carrington, was recorded in Istanbul and is intended as a tribute to the late Turkish music promoter, Mehmet 'Memo' Ulug, with whom both Murray and Williams had a long and warm association. Performing alongside Murray is his working 'Infinity Quartet' comprising pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Nasheet Waits. They're augmented by contributions from trombonist Craig Harris, keyboardist Jason Moran, guitarist Mingus Murray (who also happens to be David Murray's son), kanun player Aytac Dogan, and vocalist Pervis Evans.  

The album is released digitally on February 2nd, with the CD being unleashed on the 16th. European tour dates below:



Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 December 2017 19:48



Tuesday, 19 December 2017 11:42 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                 altWith four albums already to her name, 37-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter/pianist LAILA BIALI is about to release her most significant LP yet.  The self-titled set will be released by noted German label, ACT, on January 26th and features a dozen songs. All except three of them are written/co-written by Biali, who has previously worked with Sting  - on his 'If On A Winter's Night Project' in 2009 - who professes to be a fan. The set also features three striking  covers - of songs by Coldplay ('Yellow,' which Is Laila's current single), Randy Newman, and  David Bowie.  Stylistically, the album skilfully blends jazz improv with contemporary pop, gospel, and soul music influences.  Guest contributors include Blue Note trumpet sensation, Ambrose Akinmusire,  and Snarky Puppy's  horn player, Mike 'Maz' Maher.

'Laila Biali' is released on January 26th.

Look out for SJF's interview with Laila coming in early 2018.

For more info go to:

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 December 2017 19:48



Monday, 18 December 2017 20:14 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altUK soul fans will be delighted to learn that the iconic LAMONT DOZIER has announced that he will be touring the UK in 2018. The Motown legend will be playing eight dates next June and there is a possibility that further dates may be added.

The itinerary, as it now stands, is:

7th June Sage 2, Gateshead

8th June The Dancehouse, Manchester

10th June The Old Market, Brighton

11th June St Georges, Bristol

12th June Town Hall, Birmingham

14th June Union Chapel, London SOLD OUT

15th June Union Chapel, London (additional show now added)

17th June Winter Gardens, Blackpool (Soul Festival 3)

Lamont's support artist for the shows (with the exception of the Blackpool Festival) is rising UK singer/songwriter Jo Harman (check our news archive). Jo is also a featured guest on Dozier's upcoming album. The set, we're told, will also feature contributions from people like Gregory Porter, Todd Rundgren and Cliff Richard (who?)

Last Updated on Monday, 18 December 2017 20:24



Saturday, 16 December 2017 16:44 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBlack music mogul RUSSELL SIMMONS is the latest high profile media personality having to fight historic sexual assault allegations. New York Police have confirmed that Simmons, 60-year-old founder of iconic Def Jam Recordings, is being investigated after several women have come forward to accuse Simmons of sexual misconduct, including claims of rape.

Simmons strenuously denies the allegations, saying: "Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges,"


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