BBE breathes new life into Detroit’s Strata Records.
In association with New York’s 180 Proof records, UK independent imprint BBE is to reissue classic titles and unveil previously unreleased music from the catalogue of highly infuential Detroit record label Strata.
A precursor to New York’s Strata East, Detroit’s Strata Records was founded in the late 1960s by former Blue Note artist Kenny Cox. Starting life as a music-led community organisation, coffee shop, studio and live venue, Strata released only a few titles as a record label, gaining it a cult following among record collectors and jazz lovers all over the globe. A testament to the defance local artists showed toward the urban decay and social unrest around them at the time, Strata was run passionately on a shoestring budget. The iconic, minimalist black and white artwork’s aesthetic derived from attempts to reduce printing costs; unreleased music has ended up sitting on studio tapes for decades because the label’s owners simply ran out of money.
Stumbling across Lyman Woodard’s Strata album ‘Saturday Night Special’ while trading records, BBE artist DJ Amir became intrigued by this most mysterious of labels, so he travelled to Detroit to fnd out more. While working on the Scion iQ Museum project to document the history of the label and its artwork, Amir befriended Barbara Cox, widow of Strata founder Kenny Cox, who granted him exclusive rights to the label’s entire catalogue. What Amir unearthed amounts to a treasure trove of music and art; a signifcant chapter in Detroit’s story which has never been fully told.
Commencing with last year’s 10” vinyl release of a strange and beautiful demo tape titled ‘Time Is Wasting’ by a mysterious artist known only as TJ, BBE has begun the process of bringing Strata’s special magic to the world. Summer 2017 will see the reissue of Bert Myrick’s 1974 live album ‘Live ‘n Well’, much sought after by collectors for the mesmerizing 14-minute jazz epic ‘Scorpio’s Child’. Next up, Lyman Woodard’s seminal and unique LP ‘Saturday Night Special’ will be released, complete with cover photo taken by revered music photographer and activist Leni Sinclair. After that things get even more interesting, with the frst time CD releases of CJQ’s Location & Black Hole.

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