Afro-funk collective pick from the past and present
Guitarist/producer Nathan Aust:
Jamiroquai Emergency on Planet Earth (Sony) 1993
This was a refreshing change on the grunge-dominated music market. The primary attraction to this album was the rhythm section. Not detracting from Jay Kay’s personality and the Stevie Wonder–influenced vocals, but Stuart Zender on bass and Nick Van Gelder on drums really sealed it. The album helped lay the foundations for that acid-jazz sound, but unfortunately, I lost interest in their albums straight after Return of the Space Cowboy.
Bob Marley and the Wailers Natty Dread (Island/Tuff Gong) 1974
The first album Bob recorded without Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. Even though most of Bob and the Wailers’ albums are on high rotation in my household, this one seems to strike a chord this month. The album has what I hear as a blues-influenced feel, mixing up political, social, and spiritual statements with a positive celebratory energy. Additionally, most things Sly and Robbie, the Revolutionaries, played on gets a special mention, but Bob Marley and the Wailers’ melodies, sounds, and ideals get my three-year-old’s attention more so.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold as Love (Track) 1967
Jimi’s second studio album is my favorite of the three Experience albums. I first got into his sound around the age of fourteen and had them on repeat for years, trying to copy the guitar parts as best as I could. After concluding that I won’t be half the guitarist Jimi was, I stopped analyzing the musicianship and just enjoyed the imagery that the songs on this album created.
The Daktaris Soul Explosion (Desco) 1998
I was a bit of a latecomer to this album, only really finding it mid-2000s after falling in love with the Daptone sound. Scratchy and raw Fela Kuti–styled grooves coming from NYC, but sounding like they were straight out of Africa. The icing on the cake was finding out the public believed the album to be created by some long-defunct Nigerian band. This album was pivotal in inspiring the Liberators.