White Crate — April 2, 2021
Float in space to Christina Chatfield's new ambient record, head bop to a meeting of jazz and hip hop stars on Jazz Is Dead, and reminisce on SF's glorious jazz days
I’m not a podcast person, but one of my favorite listens this week was my Tucson friend Parisa’s radio show Global Rhythm Radio on KXCI. In between the show’s usual diverse slate of songs by international artists like Ustad Saami, Tinariwen, fra fra, and more, this episode features an interview with Ian Brennan, who is often compared to legendary ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax for his work in traveling the world to capture field recordings in the “fly on the wall” style.
Some of the conversation focused on Ian’s recent Guardian piece—The Grammys have a major problem with global diversity. Lip service isn’t going to solve it—but beyond that it was just a great, incredibly lucid conversation from someone who loves and appreciates the power of music. And the power of new music created by new voices.
I connected this to the fact that, in years past, I would have been quick to say that music is dead or dying in the Bay Area. That the thriving scenes are in LA, NY, London, and Berlin—which is true. But that doesn’t mean music is dead here. For me, the very project of White Crate has been yet another lesson in intention, and what happens when you focus your ears in one direction. When you listen more closely. And what I’ve discovered is that while we may not be able to match the quantity of output of those other cities, we still have artists creating unique, valuable music.
Anyone anywhere can create and offer something new: It’s up to us to tune in.
HAPPY BANDCAMP FRIDAY
Today is Bandcamp Friday, meaning the site is waiving its revenue share to help support artists. Here are a few Bay Area artists to support!
Christina Chatfield, one of the longest-standing techno producers and performers associated with As You Like It, last week released Sutro, her full-length debut on ambient and experimental-focused NY label Mysteries of the Deep. Inspired by SF’s landmark TV and radio antenna Sutro Tower, the hourlong album is quiet and hypnotic—the perfect listen for a late night headphone trip.
Oakland jazz bassist, songwriter, and producer Caroline Chung and her band Citizens Jazz released Sounds of Haejin, an album melding soul, jazz, pop, and poetry with the help of SF poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and a wide variety of vocalists, including Lilan Kane, Amy Dabalos, and Miriam Speyer. Read more on Oaklandside.
Following a collaboration with London DJ/producer Endgame in February and a single (“Big Business”) last month, Oakland rapper DÆMON continues the collaboration with Zurich artists Xzavier Stone and Modulaw today with The Game, a 26-min album of hyperpop hip hop.
Dj TCuts released Sub Genre, an hourlong mixtape of jungle / drum and bass. Pick up the limited edition cassette for $10 from Oakland’s Ruff Tapes.
Recently resettled in Emeryville, saxophonist Gary Bartz just released funky soul jazz album JID006 in collaboration with Jazz Is Dead's Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest). Bartz has played with a long list of jazz legends since the 1960s—Art Blakey, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Pharoah Sanders, and McCoy Tyner, to name a few.
One-man Oakland band Labored Breath released his debut album Dyspnea—36 minutes of “soul-destroying black metal”—on Sentient Ruin Laboratories.
Featured on Bandcamp’s “New & Notable” this week, “In the Fade” is a short, pleasing piece of folk pop from Lost Demos, an upcoming EP by Oakland group the Lost Days.
Groove house maestro Moto Tembo of Oakland released a dancefloor-perfected edit of the Runaways’ dive bar classic “Cherry Bomb”.
Floppy Disk, the sister label to Oakland’s In-N-Out Jungle, is back with Floppy Disk 004, a flexi disc featuring stabby, ravey breakbeat track “Dub Tree” by M27. Get it for $5 on Bandcamp or order the full digital discography (four releases) for $5.60.
Vallejo artist SELA. teased a 10-minute preview from an upcoming release for COLORFUL YOU, a vaporwave mix dropping this summer. On Bandcamp, the limited edition cassette of 50 is already down to its last few copies.
OR JUST STREAM IT
Turn off all the lights for this one. SF group Treasvre released a moody video for “Devils,” one of their atmospheric rock singles released last year.
SF rapper A.M.K. (Alien Mac Kitty) is about to debut the new video for her single “RETROGRADE”. Also of note: As the daughter of late SF rapper Ronald Fields (better known as Cougnut), she announced in February that she got a hold of the rights to her dad’s music and is working on dropping unreleased singles and more.
Guapdad 4000 don’t quit. Two weeks after releasing his newest full-length and one week after the single “Fall Thru” (by DJ Megan Ryte feat. Flipp Dinero), West Oakland-raised rapper appears on “Ashley”, a new track by R&B artist Sainvil, who hails from Miami’s Little Haiti district.
Continuing her First Friday Series, Coda is a new 10-min EP of chill R&B from Jada Imani (Missouri-born, Bay Area-raised, Hawaii-based), who was recently featured on KQED podcast Rightnowish. Berkeley-based singer/producer/MC Isaiah Mostafa also appears on the EP’s second track, “Every Time You Move.”
I can’t even remember how I first encountered this record, but it instantly became one of my favorites from the famed Blue Note catalog. Released 50 years ago this May, San Francisco features vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and saxophonist Harold Land in top form, effortlessly bridging post-bop with jazz fusion. It has neither the pretentiousness one might associate with the former sub-genre, nor any of the cheesy 70s production of the latter; instead it slides between the excesses of either to deliver straight ahead, immediately satisfying jazz. It was recorded in LA, so I can’t say for certain why it’s named after SF, but it’s not too surprising given how hot jazz clubs used to be in the city.
If you ever want to press play on the growing list of artists covered on White Crate, follow this Spotify playlist. Shuffle and crossfade recommended!