The Reservoir by Kenny Roby

Kenny Roby knew from the start there would be a lot to say for his first solo album in seven years, the emotionally and musically expansive “The Reservoir”. So much had changed in his world and the world at large since his stately 2013 LP, “Memories & Birds”, an exquisite reflection on the experiences and apprehensions of crossing over 40. Kenny was now 48. He had been sober for half his adult life. Both his kids, somehow suddenly in their 20s, had left home. After more than two decades together, he and his wife had decided, rather amicably, to separate and try something else. Kenny’s band 6 String Drag—an iconic alt-country unit who were signed to Steve Earle’s record label and helped shape that very term as young North Carolina men in the ’90s—had reunited for runs of spirited shows and a barreling, but wise rock ’n’ roll record, 2018’s Top of the World. And then, of course, there was the wider social upheaval of the last decade, the feeling that all the progress Kenny had seen in his lifetime was in sudden peril. That was plenty to process for a dozen songs, right? Neal Casal thought so. The band met for a week in Woodstock in mid-October for sessions that were swift and natural. Kenny had culled 25 songs into 16, and the band captured many of them in only a few takes in the same room, with Kenny singing live as they played. They sound like a veteran ensemble on “The Reservoir”, with each of these numbers settling into deep and natural grooves. These tunes collectively summon the wealth of his experience, as a human being and as a musician.

I had the chance to catch up with Kenny t talk about the ins and out of the new album to be released August 7th on Royal Potato Family. We got into how the album took it’s shape from the beGinning moments of sharing out demos to trusted ears. We discuss in depth how our pal, Mr. Neal Casal (Rest peacefully) made it clear he wanted to be a part of these stories in one way or another…and how in any and every situation, it’s about being in the service of the songs. By the end of out talk, Kenny chose one track off the new album he would build a set around and his accompany tunes he’s pair off it made me want to try that set out on my home stereo. The album has a reason and I can feel why Neal was sure of it.

Photo by Gary Waldman.

New Positions

The second piece to the Hump Day proGram tried it this-a-way and that-s-way:

Katon- Kahil El’Zabar Ft. David Murray
A New Land, A New Music- Mehmet Ali Sanliko & What’s Next
A Vicious Murder- Mehmet Ali Sanliko & What’s Next

Muster Point III- Stanley J. Zappa Ft. Simo Laihonen & Ville Rauhala
Putte’s Bar & Pizza- Stanley J. Zappa Ft. Simo Laihonen
Chicago Ray- Kenny Carr

Peace Walks By My Side- Schizo Fun Addict
Shadow Mantra- Schizo Fun Addict
Pollen Ball- White Manna
Mythic Salon- White Manna
The Gotthun- Zone Six

Hump Day Nature Room

The first half of this week’s Hump Day fill-in proGram had the room with a view…bird, bees and butterflies do it:

Rejuvenation Agenda- Gerald Clayton (live at the Village Vanguard)
Quick Trick- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Close Your Eyes- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

La Mesha- Jimmy Heath Ft. Wynton Marsalis
Georgia on My Mind- Regina Carter Freedom Band Ft. Jon Batiste, John Daversa & Harvey Mason
Midnight Impromptu- Kemuel Roig
All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm- Kemuel Roig Ft. Ed Calle

Invitation- The Brian Swartz Quartet
Color Of Noize- Derrick Hodge

Aquestas Noites- BraAgas

Fields Of Summer

The final portion of this week’s proGram had the Midwest fields shared in all their glory:

Rude Boy Summer- Casely
No Bite Da Hand- Blessed San Ft. MC Yallah
Pole Pole- Blessed San Ft. Muhinder
Little District- Long Beach Dub Allstars

United We Stand- Los Mocosos
Blue Light- Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience

Go To Mars- Oddisee Ft. Olivier St Louis
The Cure- Oddisee
Sweet Honey- Los Retros
Blue- Blu & Exile
Dear Lord- Blu & Exile Ft. Jimetta Rose
Miles Davis- Blu & Exile
Times Up- Sampa The Great Ft. Krown

Space- Anoushka Shankar Ft. Alev Lenz
Wallet- Anoushka Shankar Ft Alev Lenz
Ma Kadouni- Meriem Ben Amor

Swedish Party- Pilhofer Jazz Quartet
Bach’s Lunch- Pilhofer Jazz Quartet
Full Circle- Pilhofer Jazz Quartet

Smells A Mile Away

The second part of this week’s proGram brought the senses to attention from very far away:

greenarrowradio promo- Gregg Martinez
My Dony- Grant Dermody
Flim Flam Man- Red’s Blues
What You Never Had- Hurricane Ruth
Did I Forget (2020 Remaster)- Wily Bo Walker & Danny Flam

Romance In The Dark- Bettye LaVette
**pre-recorded conversation with Bettye LaVette**
Strange Fruit- Bettye LaVette
Blues For The Weepers- Bettye LaVette

When I Look Back- Dedicated Men of Zion
Less Is More- Lamar Williams Jr. w/The New Mastersounds
Let’s Go Back (Iñaky Garcia Remix)- The New Mastersounds
Organ Licker- Proud and Nasty

Los Angeles- Angelo Moore & The Brand New Step
23- Monzanto Sound
Look Around- Karate Boogaloo x Danielle Ponder
Hot Hot Heat- Odario Ft. Kamilah Apong

The Power Is Up

The first piece of this week’s proGram had the switches turned on and up:

Fallen- Cinder Wall
Hey Angelina- Kenny Roby
Don’t You Think I Know Know My Woman- James Swanberg
Nosotros Y Los Demas- Andrex Montenegro

Strange World- PAINT
Flying Fox- PAINT
Sky Children- I Am Voyager 1
Loneliest Person- The Pretty Things (live at the Half Moon, 2010)

Loose Connections- Grüt
Stairwells- Grüt
I Can Hear The Grass Grow- The Telephones
I Will Spite Survive- Deerhoof (live)
Bad Kids To The Front- Deerhoof (live)

The Old Testament Of Love- Steve Hooker
Curb- The 81’s
I’ll Make Love To You Anytime- Paul Benjamin
I Ain’t Got You- GA-20

Bettye LaVette: Blackbirds

2020 Blues Hall Of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette is a native of Detroit. Her first recording in 1962, at the age of sixteen, was on Atlantic Records. She later charted with such singles as “He Made A Woman Out Of Me” and “Do Your Duty,” Since then she has recorded ten albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed, also produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), was released on Verve in 2018 and received two GRAMMY nominations, which brings her total Grammy nominations to five. Her latest release, “Blackbirds,” features songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic black women in music, who she personally respected and admired. Set for release August 28, the album finds Bettye in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. It also re-unites her with legendary producer Steve Jordan and Verve Records. From Dinah Washington’s “Drinking Again,” Nina Simone’s “I Hold No Grudge,” Nancy Wilson’s “Save Your Love For Me” and more, all delivered in Bettye’s rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues.

After having a chance to chat with Bettye a couple of years ago and hanging out with her backstage, we were like two peas in a soul sharing pod. Which made this time around even better. We talk about how this album came together, working with a producer that has the same ear and the tunes that make up this walk down music history lane. We spend a good amount of time talking about the timeliness of the song, “Strange Fruit” as social upheaval takes over the news cycles once again in the United States and beyond. This track says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today. The song was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and written by Jewish teacher Abel Meeropol who wrote the song based on a photo of two black men who were lynched as a crowd of white people looked in the camera pointing and smiling. This album is one that can help bring a little focus on the way things were and still are in many ways, but I believe it also holds some of the keys to unlocking the new realities many want to see within the space of equality and justice…while honoring the people who helped build the bridge that led Bettye as a whole person to where she is today. The music joins the times of then to the times of now, and if you never knew…..just grab an earful.

Up And On

The second half of this week’s Hump Day fill-in proGram kept reaching upwards:

Imaginary Lines- Ryan Cohan
Black And Green Blues- Ralph Peterson and The Messenger Legacy
A Light- Gerald Clayton

Mascaram Setaba- Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience
Lost And Found- Brenda Nicole Moorer
The Core- Brenda Nicole Moorer
Marrow- Brenda Nicole Moorer
Sensuous Whisper- Johanna Saint-Pierre
Petite douceur- La Récré

Tears Run Down- Bahama Soul Club Ft. Sister Wynona Carr
Afrodesia- Bahama Soul Club
Ballet of the Stars (303 Dreams Remix)- Peppermoth

Ceiling Shadow

The first half of the Hump Day fill-in proGram had a flicker of flowers presented above the night:

On Wisconsin!- Regina Carter Freedom Band
On The Edge- John Fedchock NY Sextet
Jelly- Matt Ulery
Cakes- Matt Ulery

Hipsippy Blues- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Muster Point I- Stanley J. Zappa
Muster Point II- Stanley J. Zappa
538 E 14th, City of Piss, USA- Stanley J. Zappa

A Glimpse- Marcin Wasilewski Trio W/Joe Lovano
On The Other Side- Marcin Wasilewski Trio w/Joe Lovanao
Fashion Or Passion- Jimmy Heath

Not Right Now- Derrick Hodge

Of A Kind

The final portion of this week’s proGram had them lined up in a row, to show…the go:

Babylon The Bandit- Paolo Baldini DubFiles Meets Dubblestandart
Black Board Jungle- Paolo Baldini DubFiles Meets Dubblestandart Ft. Lee SCRATCH Perry
Tajine Dub- C. Jones Meets Ale X

Disco Venture (All Good Funk Alliance RMX)- Mr Moustache Ft. Lauren Joy
Breakfast in Space- Aldorande
Confliction- Olivier St. Louis Ft. Oddisee

Soulful & Unique- Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Ft Roy Ayers
Sunflowers- Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Ft Roy Ayers
At the House, In Da Pocket- Jason Marsalis (live)

Portsmouth Figurations- John Scofield, Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart
***pre-recorded conversation with Mr. Steve Swallow***
In F.- John Scofield, Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart
John A.- Scott Sawyer
Blue Lounge- Scott Sawyer


The middle portion of the proGram showed what a good watering will do:

It’s A Shame- Dedicated Men of Zion
Give Us Justice- Thee Sacred Souls

Baby Girl- Young Gun Silver Fox
Gimme A Minute- DJ Williams’ Shots Fired
Entirely- Star Kitchen Ft. Eddie Roberts & Nate Werth
Shake It (Pimps Of Joytime RMX)- The New Mastersounds

Catalina- The Greyboy Allstars
Italian Spiderman Theme- Enzo Bontempi
Do The Heavy- J&B Kings

Mulatu- Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience
Use Me- Gentleman’s Dub Club Ft. Kiko Bun
Web of Lies- The Arithmetics Ft. Eve Marie Jennings
Summer of Love- Space Kamp Ft. Jessica Lamb

Nice To Be Nice- The Equators

From My Hose To

The first piece of the proGram made sure to give you a good soaking:

Potatoes- Johnette Downing and Dickie Knickerbocker
Farm Fresh Cookin’- Johnette Downing and Dickie Knickerbocker

No One Hears My Prayers- Anthony Geraci with Dennis Brennan Ft. Walter Trout
Corner Strut- Grant Dermody
I Got You (I Feel Good)- Sir Rod & the Blues Doctors
Velvet Windows (Treme Trippin’)- Wily Bo Walker & Danny Flam

Like Wildfire- Hurricane Ruth
A Reason to Sing the Blues- Laura Green
Baby On The Run- Mandalyn
She Breaks Her Own Heart- Peter Karp

Necktie Party- Steve Hooker
Helluva Deal- Paul Benjamin
Tramp- Branjae
As Far As We Know- Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers Ft. Brother GoodLove & Alan Evans

Swallow Tales With Steve Swallow

Friend of the proGram, John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, aply titled “Swallow Tales” – made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts. “I love these songs”, says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: “Sometimes when we play it’s like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together.” Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. “What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'” Scofield says. “He’s a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard.” The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: “These two giants bring out the best in me.” Swallow’s compositions, John notes, “make perfect vehicles for improvisation. The changes are always interesting – but not too interesting! They’re grounded in reality with cadences that make sense. They’re never just intellectual exercises, and they’re so melodic. They’re all songs, rather than ‘pieces’. They could all be sung.”

I had the honor of chatting with Mr. Steve Swallow about the way this album (out now on ECM Records), came together, from start to finish. We get into the way the three “generations” got to the working part of this piece of art. Talking with Mr. Swallow was a learning reminder of how things are born into change. Hearing him talk about how he had to wear a bassist hat rather than the person who brought these tunes into the world originally was just thrilling. Hearing a little of that mentor pride is his voice as he speaks about the way Mr. Scofield goes after it when making music, especially this music was equally ear-opening for me. As someone who loves to share these sounds with others and weave them into little neighborhoods over the airwaves, it is moments like this, getting a little mind-time with the artist(s) that reminds me why pushing those buttons and twisting those knobs is an important part of getting the entire story out there on behalf of these creators. Take a moment, and be in the room with Mr. Swallow and I.

A Place To Be With

The second half of the Hump day proGram found its spot:

Caribbean Girl- Dr. Michael White (live)
Daaayuuum- Derrick Gardner & the Big dig! Band
Blues a la Burgess- Derrick Gardner & the Big dig! Band

Eldertown- John Scofield, Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart
Quantum Entanglement- Dave Pietro
Fierce Heart- David Bach
Miraculous- David Boswell
Resilience- Jesse Fischer Ft. Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah

Violin 3.0- Reinaldo Moya
Chiggis Khaan- Auli Ft. Batzorig Vaanchig
Saturn- Billy Yfantis

Yellowstone: Photo by J.Grom

Stem Feelers

The first half of this week’s Hump day proGram had it’s ear feelers out and working:

Your Coffee Is A Disaster- Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile
Scarcely Cricket- Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile

Bebop Operations- Steve Fidyk Ft. Joe Magnarelli, Xavier Perez, Peter Zak & Michael Karn
Dear Old Southland- Louis Armstrong (live in France)
Rocking Chair- Louis Armstrong (live in France)
Blue Bassa- Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker

Love Survival- Black Light Collective Ft. Dave McMurray & Rayse Biggs
Black Light- Black Light Ft. Dave McMurray & Allen Dennard

N.I.T.T.- Jorge Perez-Albela
E.R.P.- Ricardo Grilli

Sink That Pink

The final portion of this week’s proGram saw how beautiful the insides AND ousides are:

Te lo Recordare (Black Lives Matter)- Lando Lavarra Ft. Sigrid & Mandy
Night Of Love- Arema Arega
6ixty 8ight- D.Foe
Lady Jane- Saib
Sweating- Alewaya

Na Kozonga- Jupiter & Okwess
Freedom Groove- Keleketla! Ft. Antibalas, Nono Nkoane, Tamar Osborn, The Watts Prophets & Tony Allen
Papua Merdeka- Keleketla! Ft. Afla Sackey, Dele Sosimi, Tamar Osborn, The Lani Singers & Tony Allen

Ancestry- Lex Amor/Faizal Mostrixx Ft. Hibotep
Utokapo- K15 & Labdi
Ghazal- Captain Planet Ft. Alsarah
Body Yako- Captain Planet Ft. Kongo Elektro & Thornato

Dread Lockdown- Dreadzone & Dubmatix
Revolution- Blackout JA Ft. Daddy Freddy & Liondub

Afzelia- Alexander Flood
Genesis- Alexander Flood

Playful Visitors

The middle portion of this week’s proGram has a constant Summertime play-date in our ear-gardens.

Between Wars (Instrumental)- Cro Mags
Settle Down- Dexateens (live from Athens, GA)
Please Read Me (demo)- Nathan Hall

Breakup Songs- Deerhoof with Wadada Leo Smith (live)
**pre-recorded conversation with Mr. Wadada Leo Smith**
Flower- Deerhoof with Wadada Leo Smith (live)
Snoopy Waves- Deerhoof with Wadada Leo Smith (live)

Chinese Form- Greg Lisher
Ricasso- Rhy Dongju
Elvis Remember- Rhy Dongju
Splinter- ShwizZ

I Yike It- Charlie Redd & Briana Wright
Have Mercy Joe- Bill King Ft. Dubmatix
Let The Music Take Your Mind- The Greyboy Allstars Ft. Fred Wesley
The Skipper- They Greyboy Allstars

Thumper- Five Alarm Funk
Black Rider- Alan Evans Trio
Express 76- Crowd Company Ft. Ryan Zoidis & Eric Bloom

Off Leash

The first part of this week’s proGram was running all around the yard:

Morning Train- Grant Dermody
BBQ And Blues- Mark May Band
Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home- Mandalyn

Black Sheep- Hurricane Ruth
Who I am- Hurricane Ruth
Picture Perfect- Gravel & Grace

Follow The River Home- CD Woodbury
Tutti Frutti Booty- Anthony Geraci with Dennis Brennan
My Days Are so Long- Linsey Alexander (live at Rosa’s)

This House- Gregg Martinez
Cool Cool Thing- Peter Karp

Crows Legs- Steve Hooker
Black Is The Color- G.E. Smith & LeRoy Bell
Johnny Porter- Shirley King Ft. Arthur Adams

Talking Change With Wadada Leo Smith

Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.” For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways. Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking body of work. A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.” In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion. Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His recent recording is 2019’s Rosa Parks: Pure Love, an Oratorio of Seven Songs. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.” Writing about Smith’s 2017 album Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk in the New York Review of Books, Adam Shatz notes: “For all the minimalism of his sound, Smith has turned out to be a maximalist in his ambitions, evolving into one of our most powerful storytellers, an heir to American chroniclers like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman.”

This Legendary composer and trumpeter is now featured on Deerhoof’s new live album To Be Surrounded By Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough, available as a Bandcamp exclusive from July 3rd, 2020 via Joyful Noise Recordings. Deerhoof is in peak form on the album, which culminates in a thrilling five-song collaborative set with Mr. Smith as part of New York City’s Winter Jazzfest at Le Poisson Rouge. All album proceeds will benefit Black Lives Matter. We get into the making of the music and how the feelings of it translate from then to now, but also how the live set transforms moments in time and brings the listener to that ten, right now. We get deep into the movement and making real change. REAL CHANGE. Whether it’s the man, the music, that band or the movement, this all works so well for that change and I hope this conversation helps lead you to a new space in time, toGether.

Check out the album here.

Pollinate Brush

The second half of the Hump Day fill-in proGram helped nature to get it on:

The Night Visitor II- Dave Bryant/Charnett Moffett/Gregg Bendian
Battle Lines-Steve Fidyk Ft. Joe Magnarelli, Xavier Perez, Peter Zak & Michael Karn

Solace- Roy Ayers, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Shadows Of The East- Roy Ayers, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Lang la Ku Shona- Guy Buttery & the Bandura Express Marimba Ensemble
Goulimine- Guy Buttery & the Bandura Express Marimba Ensemble Lang
Land Rights- Ben Tyree & Sameer Gupta
Long Pause- Ben Tyree & Sameer Gupta

Surf- LA PINGOS ORQUESTA & Todd Clouser
Real de 14- LA PINGOS ORQUESTA & Todd Clouser
Camion- LA PINGOS ORQUESTA & Todd Clouser

Hunnu Guren- Auli Ft. Batzorig Vaanchig