BlackNotes

BlackNotes

 Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., USA
BandJazzWorld

BlackNotes offers a uniquely attractive brand of music, a dynamic blend of soulful singing and spoken word with progressive messages rooted in African-American heritage, with full musical instrumentation, funky grooves, jazzy horns and spicy African drumming, an appealing music-message combination.

Biography

BlackNotes is a music ensemble, based in Washington, DC, that offers a uniquely attractive brand of music and cultural art. With its dynamic blend of soulful singing and spoken word with insightful, and uplifting and progressive messages rooted in African-American and African heritage, along with rich, full musical instrumentation that includes funky grooves, jazzy horns and spicy African drumming, BlackNotes provides an appealing music-message combination.

BlackNotes’ repertoire includes music of several different genres, including R&B/soul, jazz, hip-hop and Afrobeat, but some of its music defies classification in a pre-existing genre, which led the group to coin a new genre label—SWARM (Spoken Word; African Rhythms; Melodies)—to describe some of BlackNotes’ unique, original compositions, such as “Living Rhythm”, a signature tune from their impressive new CD entitled “Legacy”.

BlackNotes consists of the following experienced and talented artists: pianist/keyboardist James McKinney, saxophonist Antonio Parker, trombonist Reginald Cyntje; vocalists Michelle (Maimuna) Chatman, Nina Harley, Bashea Imana and Ka’Ba Akintunde; bassist David White; drummers/percussionists Daruba Kenyatte, Kweku Handon, Kofi Handon and Mahiri Fadjimba Keita; dancer Chekejai Coley; and spoken word/poetry/rap artists Lasana and Kamila.

With substantive and progressive messages interspersed throughout their music, BlackNotes’ original compositions and unique musical arrangements carry forward the sacred tradition of cutting-edge music-message artists such as Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron, Bob Marley & the Wailers, The Last Poets, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Fela Kuti, the late Nigerian music innovator and activist who is the subject of a recent Toni award-winning Broadway musical, to whom BlackNotes pays tribute with a couple of captivating Afrobeat tracks on their new CD “Legacy”.

New CD Release – “LEGACY”

BlackNotes’ new release is entitled “Legacy--BlackNotes Covers the Spectrum, volume 1.” This new offering from BlackNotes takes the group to new dimensions. After listening to this new CD a few times, a music lover commented that Legacy is “the best CD I’ve heard in a long time!” Along with several compelling original compositions, Legacy features BlackNotes renditions of several classic songs in the musical legacy of people of African descent, in various genres. Legacy includes covers of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, John Coltrane’s “Spiritual”, Peter Tosh’s “Not Gonna Give It Up”, and Fela Kuti’s “Mr. Grammar…Is the Boss”, along with the classic jazz standard “Afro-Blue” and the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”—all with fresh, unique arrangements that highlight BlackNotes’ strengths and let them shine! Legacy helps to keep this great music alive and reminds the listener of the power of the musical tradition that these songs represent, and that these songs and their messages are still quite relevant today. The BlackNotes original compositions on Legacy are impressive as well, with “The Vision of It” astutely addressing the phenomenon of the election of Barack Obama as President of the USA; with “Living Rhythm” embodying the best of BlackNotes’ signature SWARM genre with an infectious tune with super-spicy African drumming and hot horn playing on a tune that salutes, with crafty spoken word and singing, some of the great African-American and African ancestors who struggled for their people’s freedom; with “Fela’s Fierce Musical message” providing poignant poetry by Lasana summarizing the great Fela Kuti’s catalogue of profound Pan-Africanist musical messages on top of a funky, hypnotic Afrobeat groove reminiscent of Fela’s music; and with “Post-Captivity”, a catchy hip-hop tune insightfully presenting the contemporary conditions of African-Americans as seen through the eyes of a young, talented and aware female hip-hop artist, Kamila, who makes her BlackNotes recording debut on this selection. Legacy is a beautiful and powerful offering!

Earlier CD Releases

Founded in 1998 by Lasana K. Mack, based on his desire to blend spoken word/poetry, West African drumming, singing and other musical instrumentation, BlackNotes has two prior recordings, “Insights”, released in 2005 and “Miracle in Progress”, released in 1999. Both contain all original BlackNotes compositions featuring the group’s unique SWARM genre, with themes that address social, cultural, historical and spiritual topics, such as the history of African-Americans’ struggles for cultural identity, freedom and justice. Both projects were well-received by listeners. Insights received an outstanding review by music critic and acclaimed poet Kenneth Carroll, who wrote that “Insights is in the finest tradition of enlightenment and entertainment with songs that are sing-able, danceable, and memorable”, and that “Insights is a percussive and melodic celebration of…Black music a

Discography

2010 - "Legacy--BlackNotes Covers the Spectrum--Volume 1"
2005 - "Insights"
1999 - "Miracle In Progress"