Hosted by the Archives of African American Music & Culture at Indiana University, Black Grooves is a review site that aims to promote black music by providing monthly updates on interesting new releases and quality reissues in all genres—gospel, blues, jazz, funk, soul, and hip hop, as well as classical music composed or performed by black artists.
Reviews of selected new discs and DVDs are featured, with occasional attention to books and news items. An extra effort is made to track down releases by indie, underground, foreign, and other labels that are not covered in the mainstream media. While the primary focus is on African American music, related areas such as Afropop and reggae are also covered.
This post is part of our series celebrating Black History Month. Throughout February we will be posting about resources and landmark writings in black studies. Click here for a continuously updated page of links to all of our posts in this category.
The Centro de Documentación Musical de Andalucía released Manuel de Falla 1876–1946: Grabaciones históricas in 2009 as part of its series Documentos Sonoros del Patrimonio Musical de Andalucía. The earliest recording included is Fantasía Bética, performed by Mark Hambourg in 1923; the most recent is Fuego fatuo, recorded by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Radio Televisión Española, directed by Antoni Ros Marbà, in 1976.
The accompanying booklet provides complete discographical information, numerous historical photographs, and notes in Spanish, English, and French by Andrés Ruiz Tarazona. Additional performers include Andrés Segovia, the Orquesta Bética de Cámara de Sevilla, which Falla founded in 1923, and the composer himself at the piano.
Above, Alicia de Larrocha performs Falla’s own piano transcription of “Danza del fuego” from his El amor brujo.
The universal availability and divergent imagery of coffee in people’s lives has been expressed in popular music more often than many of us realize. “You’re the cream in my coffee: A discography of java jive” by B. Lee Cooper and William Schurk (Popular music and society XXIII/2 [summer 1999] pp. 91–100) lists over 100 coffee-related popular songs from the 1920s to the 1990s. The songs are grouped both alphabetically and by subject; topics include addictive stimulants, commercial jingles, companionship and socialization, and sexual metaphors.
Click here to hear the Ink Spots performing their 1940 hit Java jive by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake.
Sephardic music: A century of recordings showcases and discusses over 100 years of recorded Sephardic music, from the 78 rpm era to the present. Created by Joel Bresler, this resource includes information on repertory and performance practice and a comprehensive discography of Sephardic 78s in Hebrew and Ladino ordered by label, song, or artist. Numerous illustrations are provided, including reproductions of record labels and covers.
Above, the label from Haim Effendi’s 1907 recording of the popular Sephardic song A la una; the recording can be heard here.
Although he never mentioned it in his published writings, the collector and compiler of traditional Irish tunes Francis O’Neill (1848–1936) made wax cylinder recordings of some of his fellow musicians in Chicago, probably in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Once believed lost, 32 of these recordings were discovered in 2003 when David Dunn opened a suitcase that had belonged to his grandfather, who had been a friend of O’Neill. Dunn brought them to the Ward Irish Music Archives in Milwaukee, which contacted the American Folklife Center for help in digitizing them. Several recordings by the renowned uilleann pipe player Patrick J. “Patsy” Touhey (1865–1923) are included, along with performances by four other luminaries of the Chicago Irish music community.
The recordings now comprise the cornerstone of The Dunn Family Collection, an online exhibit hosted by the Ward Archives that also includes manuscripts, artifacts, photographs, and sheet music collected by the instrument maker and repairer Michael J. Dunn (1855–1935). Dunn was also a captain in the Milwaukee Fire Department, while O’Neill—when he was not pursuing his passion for Irish traditional music—served as Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.
Thanks to Patrick Hutchinson for alerting us about this collection! Patrick plays the uilleann pipes with Bento Boxty.
Launched by Frog Records in 2010, The Frog blues & jazz annual is a book series that presents original research and articles on early jazz and blues. The inaugural issue, The musicians, the records & the music of the 78 era, includes articles about the Mississippi Jook Band’s Graves brothers, the pianist Arnold Wiley, and the vocalist Ida Cox.
An initiative of the Department of Special Collections of the Donald C. Davidson Library at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project presents digital remasters of nearly 8000 cylinders that are catalogued according to standard library rules for sound recordings. The collection may be searched by keyword, author, title, subject, year, or call number, or it can be browsed by genre, instrument, topic, or language. The recordings can all be heard and downloaded for free; the project is happy to receive donations of further recordings and financial support.
Among the collection’s rare gems are 225 recordings of pre-1902 popular music, including cylinders of Sousa’s Grand Concert Band.
Related article: John Philip Sousa, violinist
According to “Humorous reflections on laughing records” by Abigail Cooke (ARSC journal 32/2 [winter 2001], pp. 232–242, three types of sound recordings involving laughter were produced between 1904 and 1923: (1) laughing songs, in which stylized laughter is integrated into the song; (2) spoken comedy routines with laughing audiences; and (3) laughing records, in which apparently genuine laughter spirals out of control.
The classic model for the latter genre, The Okeh laughing record (Okeh, 1922)—which may have originated in a real situation where the recording engineer continued to record a botched session—begins with a man playing a slow, melancholy cornet solo that is quickly interrupted by a woman’s giggle. He continues to play, but she is unable to control herself, and soon is laughing aloud; this causes him to flub a note and join her in laughing, occasionally attempting to continue playing, until the two are utterly hysterical.
Below, The Okeh laughing record.