In association with DJ Amir and 180 Proof Records, BBE Music presents ‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit – Volume 1’, a new compilation taking in just a few highlights from the short-lived but hugely influential jazz imprint.
With a raft of Strata material now entering entering the BBE Music catalogue for the first time, joining together with already-released gems such at the long-lost Charles Mingus live album ‘Jazz In Detroit’, we asked 180 Proof founder and Strata catalogue curator DJ Amir to compile a selection of tracks as an introduction to the uninitiated.
Over to DJ Amir to tell us more:
I carefully selected my top-choice select tracks that have not been already bootlegged or comp’d in the past; from the well-known fan favourites, to the obscure, to the previously unreleased cuts. This is by no means an exhaustive and comprehensive compilation, but these are the songs that truly represent the catalog and help to tell the story of Strata.
I thought it would be fitting to begin the compilation with one of my all-time favourites from the catalog, ‘Beyond the Dream’ by Kenny Cox, a spiritual groover, highlighted with the haunting mellotron strings and soulful vocals from Detroit legend Ursula Walker. And I absolutely love the ending, with the chanting of “Vamonos Que Ya Fiesta Se Acabo” (“It’s time to go because the party is coming to an end”)!
When I originally issued the previously unreleased album ‘Mirror, Mirror’ by Sam Sanders in 2013, the track ‘Face At My Window’ that features an unknown vocalist instantly became a fan favourite thanks to its hypnotising vocals and mellotron strings.
How could I not include my all-time track from Lyman Woodard, ‘Saturday Night Special’? This track represents the best of that lo-fi jazz funk organ groove and bass combined, again, with those mellotron strings. And after meeting Lyman in 2008, I became even more of a fan! His magnum opus that is ‘Saturday Night Special’ began my journey to re-introducing the world to the Strata label.
After a chance discovery of a Strata master with only the letters ‘TJ’ written on the front, I took a chance and digitally transferred the master. Unfortunately, the master was in awful shape, but what I discovered was truly a stunning recording! At first, I thought I was listening to a young Shuggie Otis but then I quickly realised that I was not. TJ, armed with a basic drum machine, guitar, and incredibly infectious vocals, was able to communicate the pain and joy in his soul so clearly in tracks like ‘Time Is Wasting’.
With further tracks from Kenny Cox featuring the Contemporary Jazz Quintet (CJQ), Larry Nozero (saxophone player on ‘What’s Goin’ On’ by Marvin Gaye), to the ever-elusive and spiritual deep Maulawi Nururidin, to a few previously unreleased gems from Ursula Walker, Mixed Bag, and the Soulmates, hopefully, you’ll be inspired to dive deeper into the Strata catalog!
Amir Abdullah aka DJ Amir
All of the original albums from which these tracks were chosen are now available to download or stream wherever you find your music.