Resident poet and rock and roll star Harold Whit Williams is in the midst of a project to catalog the KUT Collection, obtained a few years ago and inhabiting a sizable portion of the Historical Music Recordings Collection (HMRC).
Being that he has a refined sense of both words and music, Whit seems like a good candidate for exploring and discovering some overlooked gems in the trove, and so in this occasional series, he’ll be presenting some of his noteworthy finds.
Deidre Rodman / Sun is Us
University of North Texas jazz alum and pianist/composer Rodman takes the high road (compositionally and performance-wise) on this impressive debut album. The songs suggest a bittersweet maturity beyond her years, all the while digging on a film noir/back-alley ambiance courtesy of NYC instrumentalists. One detects masterful moments of Mingus or McCoy, but turns out it’s Ahmad Jamal and Herbie Hancock to whom Rodman mostly nods. A moody, mysterious, thematically cohesive collection.
Mark Insley/ Tucson
Bare-boned and gritty country rock from the longtime SoCal troubadour Mark Insley. Think of that Bakersfield sound gone cowpunk. Insley co-produces – this, his second album – along with Paul du Gre (Los Lobos, Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin), and the result is pure Americana gold. Bad bruising kickers give way to end-of-the-bar sad ballads, while those introspective and hard-luck lyrics weave everything together into a Southwestern storyteller’s sarape. A late-night soundtrack for the road-weary heart.
Wide Hive Players / Wide Hive Players
This Bay Area soul/jazz collective brings some serious souped-up grooveon their self-titled debut album. Wide Hive Records label founder and organist Gregory Howe leads the winding way along with songwriting accomplice Matt Montgomery on piano and bass. Apart from one track featuring the incredible jazz diva Faye Carol on vocals, the album is stripped-down, instrumental, and righteously funky. Head-nodding, hip-shaking, mood-enhancing aural medicine. The base elements of R&B – good for what ails you.
Bingo Trappers / Juanita Ave.
Lo-fi masterminds Waldemar Noë and Wim Elzinga wear an affinity for raw Sixties-era music like a badge upon their faded denim sleeves. With equal parts Velvet Underground, The Byrds, and (gone electric) Dylan, this Amsterdam retro-rock duo revels in lazy breezy jingle-jangle pop songs. Add in analog-recorded warmth to their sunshiny living room vibe, and the album just melds together like some dear old summer friend’s mixtape. Truly, truly groovy.
Sam Moore / Plenty Good Lovin’
Released over thirty years after its capture at NYC’s Atlantic Studios, this Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame) solo debut album celebrates the singer’s supremely soulful voice with a mixed gift bag of mostly covers. Showcasing classic production by tenor sax legend King Curtis, big-boned R&B backbeats by Bernard Purdie, and even Aretha Franklin sitting in on keyboards(!), Moore dazzles and thrills on each track. The finest of Fine Art, the highest of a higher calling, and truly essential American music.
[Harold Whit Williams is a Content Management Specialist in Music & Multimedia Resources. He writes poetry, is guitarist for the critically acclaimed rock band Cotton Mather, and releases lo-fi guitar-heavy indie pop as DAILY WORKER.]