It was 1960’s Giant Steps that thoroughly and inexorably changed the saxophonist’s game going forward.
Ramsey Lewis always operated in the popular realm, successfully crossing over from jazz to the pop-R&B world but always doing it with soul.
From its psychedelic black and white cover by David Stahlberg to its perfect 1968 production by Gary McFarland, Dreams has remained one of my most treasured LPs.
Guitarist Junior Marvin had a choice: join the Wailers or Stevie Wonder...
New York City’s roller-disco scene in the 1970s rivaled long-established DJ clubs and introduced a new outlet for breaking current music.
Written by Andy Thomas
Hiatus Kaiyote is four uniquely talented individuals whose musical alchemy creates a whole that is more magical than its parts.
San Francisco’s Om Records is primarily known for house and downtempo. But it had a potent, if short-lived, offshoot dedicated to hip-hop...
Amongst the hundreds of artists who recorded at Stax Studios in the 1960s, Linda Lyndell was a minor figure. But her song “What a Man” has had a surprising longevity...
Little Dragon's brand of future funk and fractured pop-soul was delivered the old-fashioned way, through nonstop touring. They finally take a break to hit the studio and talk to Wax Poetics...
A chance meeting thousands of miles from home led to a one-off recording session and the creation of Disco Jazz, cult favorite. Singer Rupa Sen tells her story.
Written by David Ma
It took many months and twice as many phone calls to get Quincy Jones on the line. Once he called back, the man was everything you could have hoped for.
Iconic composer Giorgio Moroder got his start writing and producing pop music in Germany. But an encounter with Donna Summer would change his career forever.
Sharon Jones is the real deal. She’s an atomic bomb of funk that may come in a small package, but when it’s unleashed, no one is left standing. They’d rather dance.
Producer Jneiro Jarel has followed a path of faith, experimentation, and artistic expression that has helped him create both a cache of original music and peace of mind.
In 1970s New York, photography student Chris Stein found his muse in singer Deborah Harry. Together they formed Blondie, merging cutting edge downtown visual style with a pop sensibilty.
Cynthia Robinson was a single mother when she joined Sly and the Family Stone as a trumpeter and vocalist in 1966. Her story winds from the very start of the band into the next century...
The progressive singer teams up with producer Madlib for bountiful Seeds, which she calls Black music “in the tradition of anyone who wasn’t scared.”
Tenor sax player and arranger Gene Barge left his job teaching social studies, music, and English in Virginia, to work at Chicago’s famed Chess Records in 1964.
Amoeba Music opened on November 17, 1990, in Berkeley, California, offering an eclectic palette of music...
What’s the future of dance music? Godfathers of the new EDM movement Daft Punk have proposed an answer in the form of a question.
Premier is passionate and deadly serious about what he does, and on this evening he was relentless in articulating his philosophy of hip-hop.
Living in post-9/11 Manhattan, I’ve had to learn to be more flexible than Gumby. I need more arms than Durga to field all the curve balls life’s throwing at me.
Isaac Hayes, William Bell, Al Bell, Bettye Berger, Deanie Parker and Calvin Newborn share stories of Memphis during Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Written by Andria Lisle
First-call funksters, the Meters have provided the backbone to countless classics. But the story of the band remains seldom-told.
Yusef Lateef discusses his colorful musical experiences that influenced his sonic persona and the influential producer Joel Dorn adds his unique perspective.
Jazzy Jay has been digging since day one. Peeking into his basement studio in the heart of Brooklyn conjures up the dusty ghosts of crates past.
The Hot 8 Brass Band is a juggernaut of sweat, breath, metal, and drums, a powerhouse that lets nothing get in its way.
Back in the good old days of 1977 when gas lines were long and unemployment was high, there were two schools of DJs competing for Black and Latino audiences in New York City....
Ask music lovers what Detroit means to them, and you’ll probably hear mention of Berry Gordy or Norman Whitfield, perhaps George Clinton. That said, techno's roots can't be ignored.
Back in the early ’60s, my sister’s hipster boyfriend used to bring his Herbie Mann albums over to our house, along with a couple Modern Jazz Quartet and Mose Allison records....
Barrington Levy, the most important and best-admired vocalist to emerge from the early dancehall movement, discusses his past, present and future.
9th Wonder chats with Wax Poetics about the records that influenced him and discusses his mission to teach hip-hop history to the next generation.
Written by David Ma
When did you first hear the Skull Snaps? Was it in the summer of 1993 when the Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” rode the pneumatic drums of the...
The true story of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Welcome to the world of Daniel Dumile, whose youthful nickname of “Doom,” a phonetic abbreviation of his last name, has come to describe one of the most masterful rap artists.
I’d finally done it. Somehow I managed to scrape together the loot, eighty-some bucks to buy the Ornette Coleman box set Beauty Is a Rare Thing and was on my way home...
An excerpt from People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee “Scratch” Perry
It was an overlooked song by one of the more underrated rappers of his generation, and it was a masterpiece.
Pete Rock keeps active nowadays by doing what he perfected as a teenager: putting sounds into his sampler and banging out beats.
Meet Kool DJ Red Alert, part of the trinity of DJs that fostered the Zulu Nation during the early days of hip-hop, along with Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay.
Written by Robbie Busch
The Fishtail Bar in the Bay Watch Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is right out back overlooking the beach. Dozens of families are crowded in several swimming pools....
Slick Rick set the standard in rap’s glory years
Shuggie Otis sits down for a conversation to discuss his early life, main guitar inspirations, turning down a gig with the Rolling Stones and much more.
DJ Shadow discusses transformations in record-buying culture, how his interest in 45s began, his first digging experience, and pinpoints the record that “changed his life.”
Jimmy Cliff is one of reggae’s true pioneers. Helping to inaugurate the Beverley’s Records label in the early 1960s....
David Holmes grew up as the youngest of ten in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With so many older siblings, he was surrounded by music from a very early age.
It starts with a check for $3.19. Without that check, there is no Motown. Without Motown, there is no Smokey Robinson. Without them, say good-bye to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin....
The streets of New York City weren’t very pretty in the 1970s. Littered throughout once welcoming communities, an influx of heroin junkies, many broken young brothers home....
“The wildness is exquisitely wholesome. Furious dancing. Gentle laughter. Crepe paper and tinsel. Body energy shakes the room…”
Tim Maia was never satisfied. Brazil’s number one soul brother had a voracious appetite for both carnal and philosophical indulgences.
Although enlightened music fans the world over were saddened by the passing of organist Lyman Woodard, the relationship that Wax Poetics had formed with the gifted musician and composer....
I had no expectations going into this interview with Teddy Pendergrass at the Conrad Chicago hotel.
Gamble and Huff cooked up the perfect recipe for Philadelphia soul
Written by Ronnie Reese
When greats like Pete Rock and DJ Premier acknowledge people of influence, they often mention Large Professor.
Lamont Dozier was a natural-born hitmaker. His famed songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland gained unparalleled success in the R&B world...
It’s hard to imagine an era when an industry giant like Capitol Records would have to choose between signing Brief Encounter or Maze.
Bobby Womack is a thread that runs through soul music.
Meeting Tom Moulton is a bit like meeting Henry Ford. Whether you know it or not, if you’ve driven a car, you owe something to Ford. And if you’ve danced in a club....
It could be argued that the real architect of Chicago house music was in fact a wild and pioneering DJ by the name of Ron Hardy.
That Teena Marie has authored several of the most enduring classics of modern funk is undeniable.
“As some folks say, I helped create the disco music, the house music, and a lot of other different things,” says Bohannon.
There are a few things to know about Erykah Badu. First, she lives on a different plane. One that only true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool artists inhabit.
Written by Travis Atria
Singer, songwriter, and musician Michael Eugene Archer, who later adopted the jiggy stage name D’Angelo, released his groundbreaking album, Brown Sugar, in 1995.
It was winter of 1994, and I had just scored a sweet assignment to interview the king of “champagne soul,” Barry White, in Europe.
Let it be known: this time around, Bilal is not about love songs.
L.A. bass beast Thundercat mixes jazz intricacies with sweeps of forward thinking electronic inspiration.
Ishmael Butler effortlessly made his mark on hip-hop in 1993 with his unique voice and delivery, and the overall musical aesthetic of his group, Digable Planets...
Written by Jon Kirby
Pianist Robert Glasper for years made straightahead jazz records and experimented with fusion on the side. Now he embraces the totality of Black music to bring jazz up to speed.
When Nasir Jones released his 1994 debut Illmatic, his use of several superstar producers on the same album set a hip-hop precendent that forever changed the game.
It was Aug. 11, 1973, and a teen from the Bronx, NY, named Coke was helping his homeboy Clive “Kool Herc” Campbell set up stereo equipment for a party scheduled for that night.
Following in the footsteps of Double Dee & Steinski, Prince Paul, and the Dust Brothers, DJ Shadow would push the boundaries of sampling...
The funky ballad of David Bowie’s time in Philly, the making of Young Americans, and his transition into Station to Station.
Written by A. D. Amorosi
On a sunny October morning in 2015, a historic marker was placed in front of Sigma Sound Studios, the Philadelphia landmark recording hot spot.
Kamasi Washington received worldwide recognition for arranging and playing saxophone on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.
In an arena where MCs seldom have extended careers, Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah has increasingly improved through two decades after his 1996 solo debut, Ironman.
Producer, songwriter, and organist Edwin Birdsong is the anonymous genius behind some of jazz-funk’s most cosmic moments.
Growing up with a roller-disco mom and drummer dad, Kon has been chasing the perfect beat his entire life.
Willed into being by one man, Earth, Wind & Fire became one of the biggest acts of the 1970s.
I’ve been fortunate enough to know “Poppa” Willie Mitchell for a handful of years. When we first met, in August 2000, I was working for Ike Turner, who decided to...
Brazilian singer Ed Motta channeled his lifelong love for well-produced AOR groups like Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers and delivers a slick and melodic ode to yacht rock.
On the heels of her best-selling debut, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, fifteen-year-old Aaliyah was rocked by a sex scandal that would have crushed a lesser talent.
The Roots first hit the national spotlight as a live hip-hop act with their 1993 indie debut, Organix...
“My style is combined from a lot of different things I got growing up,” veteran producer and DJ Louie Vega states.
You couldn't ask for a better guide to New York club culture than Danny Krivit. He sits with Wax Poetics to share twelve influential records.
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