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Sekou Sundiata

LONGSTORYSHORT (Righteous Babe)  •  Sekou Sundiata

Powerful record! Starts off with a bang, Afro-Caribbean high life horn punches and sparkly rhythm guitar awakens the listener's attention, then a big slide guitar jumps up like a river that pulls you in for a long ride to somewhere you probably haven't been before, or haven't been for awhile. I hadn't been anywhere like that since I'd listened a lot to Gil Scott Heron and The Last Poets when my brother came home from Vietnam. I don't believe he listened to too much white music again after that war (except Van Morrison), but that's another story.

Spoken Word is enjoying a level of resurgence on record and in live performance, and Sekou Sundiata is one of the number of poet performers who does it with a badass live band. His first CD, Blue Oneness of Dreams, came out on Mouth Almighty Records, a spoken word label. They went by the wayside when Seagrams acquired Mercury records. This second release is on the Righteous Babe label, owned by his famous former student, Ani DiFranco. Sundiata taught writing and related courses at the New School of Social Research in NYC, and is a former fellow at the Sundance Film Institute.

Bill Moyers' 1995 series The Language of Life brought the work of Sekou into the national spotlight. It's nothing short of fantastic groove poetry on the black experience in America. All the words are Sekou Sundiata's, and the beautiful music and arrangements by Mark Batson, who primarily plays keyboards on the record. The musical styles move around the board, but center largely on grooves reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes, excellently rendered.

I found this record to be mind expanding. It was a soulful experience. It's also good to dance to. After you check it out on our Listen page, you can purchase it here.    • FG

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