Summer music is its own thing. In my truck, I’ve been enjoying roots reggae. In the afternoons, I’ve been trying to find some new indie pop that captures a summertime vibe. A friend recommended Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram (and sent along this nice feature from the Washington Post) and I enjoyed the track “Rock & Roll” from his album 662 that came out last summer. There’s something summery about Delta Blues especially when the sky is a bit low, the humidity is a bit high, and the breeze blows with occasional ambivalence through our wood-frame house.
Mostly, though, I still listen to jazz and for some reason, I want to listen to a few jazz albums in the summertime. I’m not sure why. They don’t necessarily have a summertime feel or anything, but they do for whatever reason evoke the summer for me.
First, I feel the urge to listen to Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective: Band & Voices from 1964. Not only is this album a classic of early soul or spiritual jazz (performed by a class Blue Note band of the mid-1964 with Hank Mobley, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Burrell, and Rudy Van Gelder recording wizardry). The version of “Cristo Redentor” recorded here is transporting and gorgeous. The entire album is brilliant.
Last week, a buddy of mine sent me a text message that simply read “Yusef Lateef,” and this started a series of pleasant afternoons with the Detroit legend. His album Yusef Lateef’s Detroit: Latitude 43°30’ Longitude 83° from 1969, is one that I had in heavy rotation a few summers ago. It’s isn’t the typical small ensemble Yusef Lateef joint from the late 1950s or early 1960s. It featured a band that at times swelled to over a dozen performers, with multiple percussionist, strings, and horns. As the title of the album suggests, it creates a musical topography of Detroit that would befit a chapter in Krysta Ryzewski’s book, Detroit Remains. It’s expansive, brilliant, soulful, spiritual, and compelling summertime music.
Finally (and to depart a bit from Byrd’s and Lateef’s Detroit), there is Eddie Gale’s Black Rhythm Happening from 1969. Nothing is more summertime than sixth one: “Ghetto Summertime”. Check it out. I feel like I’ve blogged about Eddie Gale, but apparently not. He came up through Sun Ra’s outfit and recorded two iconic albums for Blue Note in the late 1960s, along with Ghetto Music from 1968, that combine soul jazz with the spiritual flavors of the avant garde. There are both amazing albums that capture the sound of urban summertimes and fill me with a kind of languid summer happiness.