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Genuine Negro Jig

135 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 16, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are as much about revelation as revival. On its Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig, the trio brings exuberance, humor, virtuosity and an infectious
acoustic groove to its exploration of a near-forgotten brand of banjo-driven string-band music originating more than a century ago in the foothills of North Carolina, the Piedmont region where band members Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson were raised. In this rural area, musicians, both black and white, once shared and swapped tunes. Over the decades, the importance of the African-American role in string-band music was diminished, its sound and significance
co-opted by minstrel shows and segregated by record labels. CCD -- under the tutelage of nonagenarian fiddler player Joe Thompson, one of the last surviving Piedmont musicians - have reclaimed the old-time songs, making them vital and fresh for right now, reasserting in the process the African roots of the banjo.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops have won over crowds at the Newport Folk Festival, on such National Public Radio shows as Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion, and on tours through Europe. Denzel Washington personally selected the trio to appear in his critically acclaimed 2007 directorial effort, The Great Debaters. In a review of a CCD Kennedy Center performance, The Washington Post declared, 'Their set was anything but academic... these instrument-swapping residents of Durham, N.C., kept the audience active with speedy strumming, jug-blowing and percussion via carved
hand-held bones and foot-banging syncopation.' The Boston Globe concurred: 'The acoustic trio - banjo, fiddle, guitar - managed the minor miracle of evoking a sepia- drenched era of mountain music... Giddens, Robinson and Dom Flemons, all multi- instrumentalists and vocalists, conveyed their deep knowledge with a sense of reverence and studied antiquity- including their simple, era-appropriate costumes - and a contagious, abundant joy.'
After two self-recorded independent releases, CCD chose to work with producer Joe Henry on Genuine Negro Jig. As with his production on Allen Toussaint's The Bright Mississippi, Henry emphasizes simplicity, clarity, interaction; with its striking lack of studio frills, the emphasis is on the spirit of these performances, which are often as intense as they are exhilarating.
Uptempo numbers like live-show favorite 'Cornbread and Butterbeans' and 'Sandy Boys' are immediate standouts, though slow-burning, moody tracks like 'Kissin' and Cussin' and 'Snowden's Jig (Genuine Negro Jig)' prove to be
downright haunting. The versatile Giddens performs the Celtic-style balladry of 'Reynadine' acapella; she's equally convincing taking lead on a brilliant recasting of the 2001 Blu Cantrell R&B-dance hit, 'Hit Em Up Style' Genuine Negro Jig starts out with the specific but winds up with the universal; this is music that has literally traveled continents and
centuries to achieve a brand new relevance, a shared history still in the making.

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Peace Behind The Bridge 2:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Trouble In Your Mind 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine 3:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Hit 'Em Up Style 3:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Cornbread And Butterbeans 3:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Snowden's Jig [Genuine Negro Jig] 3:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Why Don't You Do Right? 3:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Cindy Gal 2:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Kissin' And Cussin' 3:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Sandy Boys 2:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Reynadine 2:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Trampled Rose 4:37$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 16, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: February 16, 2010
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B002U33GQU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,594 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Leopold Stotch on February 18, 2010
Format: Audio CD
...old-tyme stringband music is a weird field these days. It is experiencing a renaissance, for sure, but it often holds itself hostage by clinging to ridiculous, academic-bordering-on-religious notions of purity and authenticity. Whenever an inventive band like Uncle Earl or Old Crow Medicine Show starts to bend the rules a bit in the name of personal expression, there is a howling chorus self-appointed old-tyme police officers, complaining about how that's not how Gid Tanner/Joe Thompson/whoever would have done it.

This brave, swaggering disk shows that the Chocolate Drops are actually better when they play their own game. It's easily their most assured record yet -- their prior projects were pretty rough around the edges, even for stringband music. They don't have a towering instrumental virtuoso in the band, like the Freighthoppers' David Bass, Uncle Earl's Rayna Gellert, or the pervasive Dirk Powell -- their strengths lie in their adventurous spirit, intelligent use of space and texture, and infectious charisma. On this disk, they really make the most of careful arrangements, like on the haunting title track, which is just percussion and fiddle and yet feels genuinely evocative and full.

Producer Joe Henry wisely walks a fine line between documentary clarity and studio richness, giving the band a deep warm sound with lots of space and a cool stereo picture that still feels natural. This is really their first great album, and I only give it four stars because I think they are capable of even greater things in the future. I'm sure much will be made of the Blu Cantrell cover, but it's hard NOT to talk about...I saw them do it live a while back, and it set the place buzzing, brilliantly drawing a line from the ancient past to the present and into the future.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on February 17, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's an odd time for the music business. Apple wants you to own Digital Rights Managed versions of anything you buy--and they compress it to boot. You can buy compressed versions above, for instant gratification, as long as you buy the CD as well. Well. If you care about audio clarity. ;-)

Simultaneously, it's a great time for music lovers. You see, unless you are trapped in Radioland via ClearChannel Communications and their versions of what ought to be heard by the public--we are seeing and hearing Indie Label Stuff that rises to the top in ways it couldn't have in the past fifty years.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are one such sweet reminder of greatness as it rises above the fray. (And man, do they!) As much as reviewers are going to want to put them in a pigeon hole? (They are Countrified OR Folk OR Roots-Music Or Bluegrass Or Whatever.) They can't and won't be able no matter where the origination of of style comes from--this band makes it unique. They OWN. They are their own. And with that mix of tradition and their outstanding talents--they surpass labels and are going to end up with the cross-over label from everyone. Which just means that they sell everywhere and are played as popular music. Deeply popular. That their musical talents (and this album in particular) are magnificent is an understatement. These three folks are destined for greatness (ideally together and for a long time.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By 'Rebel' Rod Ames on February 16, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Over the years, I have been "turned on" to an enormous amount of incredibly fantastic music, music that has in some cases completely blown me away. A couple artists and their albums that have accomplished the feat of "blowing me away" are artists that eventually became household names. Artists such as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "De Ja Vu", Joni Mitchell's,"Court and Spark" and many others to numerous to name. Most of these artists came out of the late 60's and early 70's. There was an unusually large amount of phenomenally great music that came out of this period.

For instance, The Pointer Sister's 1973 inaugural self titled album, "The Pointer Sisters", followed by Blue Thumb's release of "That's a Plenty", took us on a journey of the jazz music that had to have influenced them in their musically formative years and were both, in my opinion, their best work. In fact, I don't believe they ever got close to either of these records ever again.

This brings me to the subject of the day. Carolina Chocolate Drop's latest release, "Genuine Negro Jig" (Nonesuch Records) is one of those records that completely blew me away. Yes, I can use phraseology such as "instant classic", "innovative", "and absolutely astounding". This record definitely falls under any one or all of those phrases or words.

"Genuine Negro Jig" is easily one of the best albums I have heard in thirty some odd years. The vocals are as smooth as any I have EVER heard, and if that were not enough, each member trades off duties on banjo, fiddle, jug, kazoo, and beat-box and does so with an incredible amount of proficiency. I literally cannot stop listening to this record.
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