In this installment of Reclaimed Soul (sort of the radio version of this blog), check out host Ayana Contreras’ interview with Reggie Torian of The Impressions (that’s him sitting on the bumper of that antique Rolls Royce). He’s been a part of Chicago’s own Impressions (“Keep on Pushin”, “Gypsy Woman”, etc.) for 40 years. And he’s got a lot to say. He talks about the group, Curtom Records, and more. We also hear some of the music he helped to create.
The Impressions counted Curtis Mayfield as both member and principle songwriter during the 1960s and early 1970s before he went solo. Curtom Records was Curtis Mayfield’s Chicago-based record label that was home to the Impressions for nearly a decade. It was also the one-time label of The Five Stairsteps, The Natural Four, Leroy Hutson, The Jones Girls, Linda Clifford, Rasputin’s Stash, Baby Huey and the Babysitters, The Staple Singers, and more.
Catch Reclaimed Soul Thursdays at 8pm (CST) on vocalo.org or over the air on 89.5fm (NWI) and 91.1fm (CHI)
I just found this lovely promo record. As you can see, it’s Curtis Mayfield’s “We Got to Have Peace”. It’s from the album Roots that he released back in 1971. The album was released months before Superfly, and it is just as wonderful.
Released on Curtom Records (Curtis’ own label), this promo is pretty rare. Colored vinyl (especially on 45) from this period is quite rare, in fact. Rarer still is a vanity label (unique to the release). Generally speaking, colored vinyl promos were created to make people (DJs particularly) stop and take notice.
And notice I did, 40 some years later.
In the year following the epic 1970 album Curtis, Mayfield was mounting a campaign to fully express himself as a solo artist in ways he couldn’t as a member of the arguably more conservative Impressions.
In his initial solo outings, the songs were markedly longer, basslines were funkier, African percussion became prominent, and horns a bit jauntier. But Mayfield’s commitment to exploring the full spectrum of black experience (something very evident in Impressions records) never wavered. Curtis was particularly keen at expressing voices of Urban Black Men: those who struggled, scratched, loved, dreamed, and believed. His expressions are still relevant today, wrought with eloquent and earthy simplicity. As far as I’m concerned, “Move on Up” is a Black National Anthem.
I love sharing the stories behind the music I love with the general public; and was reminded of that as I embark on Hosting and Producing “Reclaimed Soul” (a weekly radio show on Vocalo.org) which premieres tomorrow night at 8pm CST. The show, of course, will feature stories as well as music. For more about Reclaimed Soul, click here.
Local artist/instrumentalist Khari Lemuel performing his song “Come With Me” with Yaw (video by Bobby Rocwell)….Super talented brother who I’ve seen perform live multiple times. His voice combines some of the best elements of Chicago Soul’s legacy: rootsiness, spirituality, truth, and beauty.
Below, Khari’s composition “Good Morning Love” summons the power of Curtis Mayfield (and arranger Johnny Pate) in their Impressions days. The bells and snare brush conjure church, smoky jazz club, and brownstone rooftop at dawn simultaneously (quite a feat).
“Long, Long, Winter” (from the album “Keep on Pushing”)
According to Khari Lemuel’s official Bio:
[He] knows he will one day rise into heaven on a cloud of musical composition. For him music is a daily meditation; an alter where he can unfold the purpose of his life. Above all, Khari Lemuel is an artist painting with sound, composition and the mystical force of creation. Since the age of 3, Lemuel has been studying the instrumental aspect of music. First on cello then moving to flute, bass, guitar, violin, keys, trumpet and voice.
click here for more snippets of his album, Morning Music, or to purchase tracks.