Black Renaissance - Body, Mind and Spirit (LP - RSD 2023)
Harry Whitaker is a piano player, producer and arranger who at the age of 26 recorded Black Renaissance "Body, Mind, and Spirit," a holy grail amongst collectors of soul-jazz and rare groove, and an album so rare it's virtually a myth to many.
Made up of two long tracks that periodically build and release for forty minutes over two sides of an LP it's an improvised masterpiece combining Afrocentric spiritual soul, jazz, poetry, amazing solos, a tasty bass line or two and more than a fair share of funky beats. It's also one of the earliest jazz albums to feature rapping. "I called the project Black Renaissance because that is what I wanted to see happen - especially in music. I describe it as Dixieland circa 1976 - by the end of the songs everyone is playing together." Given its rarity, when asked if he was surprised that people knew about the album Whitaker jokes "I've told enough people about it over the years! Now they can actually hear it. It was a record before its time. It's not a commercial release - I think of it as classical. You can call it jazz, but it's free, it's got African roots, it's for people who dig that sound.”
Harry Whitaker has enjoyed a successful career as a producer, arranger and composer, cutting his teeth on the best of the Roy Ayers Ubiquity releases and making a living working closely with Roberta Flack - as her musical director, even playing on her big Eugene McDaniels' written hit "I Feel Like Makin' Love." Black Renaissance "Body, Mind, and Spirit," was his first attempt at a project where he wrote and composed the music and played keys on both tracks.
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