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Black Renaissance

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 20, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

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You may not know the name, but keyboardist-composer-arranger Harry Whitaker is a quiet but powerful force in the music industry. Though he's worked with everyone from the Spinners to Claudia Acuna, he's best known for his stint with Roy Ayers's soul-fusion Ubiquity group back in the day, and he was Roberta Flack's musical director when her big hit "Feel Like Makin' Love" lit up the charts. But to collectors and DJs around the world, his long-out-of-print 1976 album Black Renaissance has always been the Holy Grail. Now released on CD for the first time, we can finally hear why. Recorded on Martin Luther King's birthday in the aftermath of the turbulent '60s, the recording features two long tracks that artfully combine jazz, funk, and R&B into an early musical version of Afrocentricity. With no overdubs and Woody Shaw's great clarion trumpet tones, Whitaker laid down grooves that rock to this day. Put another way, Harry Whitaker's Black Renaissance is a soulful soundtrack, starring a gifted but overlooked musical genius. --Eugene Holley Jr.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Black Renaissance - Black Renaissance
  2. Magic Ritual - Black Renaissance


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 20, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Luv N Haight
  • ASIN: B00006AFSK
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,779 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By C. Katz on April 14, 2009
I have done a lot of reviews and never slammed another reviewer but "A Customer" is trippin' when he knocks this LP.Yes the trippy Afrocentric lyrics might seem a bit dated but to give the LP two stars is nuts.You have the a earlier 70's political sensibility that incorporates a 1976 slickness in a production style or commercial funk disco yet transcends as leader (songwriter) Harry Whitaker stays with acoustic piano (as opposed to the hen Ubiquitous Fender Rhodes and puts an all star cast down on two tracks.Woody Shaw on Trumpet?Azar Lawrence (late then of McCoy Tyner's band and having a great 21st century comeback),Buster Williams on bass,Billy Hart on skins and Mtume on percussion?(with some other drummers and lesser know David Schnitter laso on tenor) this a a screaming,tripped out session that couldn't have gone off the rails.Yes it is at times bit too spacey and yes the vocals do get a bit Sargent Pepper-ish (nut nobody had a problem with them or the same freak out of of Zappa to Funkadelic and so many more.).But the Groove here is great and the musicianship top notch.Luv' N Haight is one of the best re-issue companies and reviving this Baystate LP was needed.If you dig Strat East,Black Jazz label,or Tribe and can appreciate great percussion,rhythm and Coltrane-esque blowing this is a treat for the sessions even with the "dated vocals".P.S.Thought of the cover of this LP when I saw Michelle Obama at the Convention in Denver where her dress looked like it was INTENTIONALLY modeled after this LP cover though I would guess not?Who knows?
Peace
Chazz
Check Jazz Foundation Of America and give what you can in this time of need.Think of it like Red Cross or PBS.Somebody's gotta give and that someone is YOU!
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A long lost 1976 session described as "Afrocentric music" and recorded in Japan on Martin Luther King Day (January 15), "Black Renaissance" is no mere period piece but a strangely compelling, ceaselessly grooving experience. The repetitious harmonic and rhythmic patterns avert monotony not only because of leader-pianist Harry Whitaker's arresting bridges and set-ups but because of heated solo work by Woody Shaw, Azar Lawrence, and David Schnitter (whose contributions are curiously ignored in the liner notes).

According to the notes, the original album was released in Japan without Whitaker's permission, and the master tape was subsequently lost in a fire. There's no disguising some distortion during the collective improvisations of "Magic Ritual"; fortunately, the audio on "Black Renaissance" is better. Undoubtedly some of today's hip-hoppers will fault the spoken text (too carefully scripted and executed to pass for "street poetry"). But this is overall a surprisingly accessible and energizing session.
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This is strong work that in almost 40 years istills sounds current and relevant. I appreciate the freedom of the playing, the simplicity of the groove that scaffolds the great playing on Black Renaissance especially. I just really like the vibe of the whole project.
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By A Customer on March 21, 2003
What would otherwise be a very good album, in the vein of Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" and "Straight Life" albums, is seriously marred by garish and very dated (it was recorded in 1976) background vocals. This is not meant to diminish some fine work by Woody Shaw on trumpet and Azar Lawrence on saxophone, but those 70s-style vocals get very old very fast.
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