** restocked, very last copies ** 180-gram exact repro reissue, originally released in 1972. Hyper-afro spiritual jazz teetering between avant-garde inventiveness and free jazz madness.
"This album is a mean motherfucker. It’s an amazing document of the pure fire of Black Nationalist Free-Jazz. I discovered it during a period when I was picking at the outer reaches of Leroy Jenkins’ discography (he’s a member of this ensemble). At the time I had exhausted his output as a band leader and as a member of the Revolutionary Ensemble and was desperate to hear more. It begins with an Afro-Spiritual/Political monologue. Even before the music started, I knew I was onto a good thing. When its first notes cried out, I nearly fell out of my chair. It’s astounding. I spent years desperately trying to track down a copy. It doesn’t turn up often and when it does, it’s rarely cheap. I waited it out and got lucky. The ensemble is lead by James Mtume, a percussionist who during this period was playing regularly with with Miles Davis, Buddy Terry, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders and others. He released two albums as a leader. Both are great representations of 1970’s New York Free-Jazz, and among the best displaying the possibilities of larger ensembles. Alkebu-Lan – Land Of The Blacks was recorded at The East, a radical venue in the Clinton Hill Neighborhood of Brooklyn, remembered for the Pharoah Sanders album bearing its name, and notable for not allowing White people to pass its doors.
Mtume left the world of Jazz in the late 70’s and went on to have a fairly successful career as a Modern Soul and Disco artist. This phase in his career didn’t produce many things I like, and is probably most noted for the track Juicy Fruit, which was famously sampled by Notorious B.I.G.
Of all the albums I’ve chosen for this list, Alkebu-Lan stands slightly at odds. Most of the artists featured here, like Mingus, use complex orchestration to capture the depth of their anger and emotion. To achieve this, they exacted remarkable control over the emotional realization of their music. Alkebu-Lan is the other end of the spectrum. It is a howling storm set forth on the world. There isn’t an ounce of restraint on its four sides. It makes the emotional onslaught of Punk and Hardcore sound like a childish temper tantrum. Despite all that it unleashes, somehow its sound still returns me to Mingus. It’s not only the scale of the ensemble, but how the musicians play off each other. The album embraces the rising tide of the whole rather than the brittle interplay of single musicians. The dissonances they create despite their energy and emotion feel considered and composed. It’s a rare and wonderful thing. If you spend the time it takes to hunt it down, you won’t be disappointed." The Hum