Composer, clarinetist, singer and spiritual jazz soothsayer Angel Bat Dawid descended on Chicago's jazz and improvised music scene just a few years ago. In very short time, the potency, prowess, spirit and charisma of her cosmic musical proselytizing has taken her from relatively unknown improviser to borderline ubiquitous performer in Chicago's avant-garde. On any given night you can find Angel adding aura to ensembles led by Ben LaMar Gay, or Damon Locks, or Jaimie Branch, or Matthew Lux, or even, on a Summer night in 2018, onstage doing a woodwind duo with Roscoe Mitchell.For her recorded debut on International Anthem, The Oracle, we've chosen to release a batch of tracks that Angel created entirely alone – performing, overdubbing and mixing all instruments and voices by herself – recorded using only her cell phone in various locations, from London UK to Cape Town RSA, but primarily from her residency in the attic of the historic Radcliffe Hunter mansion in Bronzeville, Southside, Chicago.
"Independent record company International Anthem has become an incubator for philosophical, political, and visionary creative artists like Ben LaMar Gay, Makaya McCraven, Jaimie Branch, and the Irreversible Entanglements collective of Keir Neuringer, Moor Mother, Luke Stewart, Aquiles Navarro and Tcheser Holmes. Each has approached universalism from a different perspective and tuned their thrilling music to an often biting frequency. Add to that list Angel Bat Dawid. As a fairly recent convert from 9–5 clock-puncher to full-time artist (as detailed in a fantastic Chicago Reader feature by Leor Gali I), it hasn’t taken long for her reputation to grow. For her debut, The Oracle, she took a Mitchell-esque approach towards performance that stretches beyond a simple solo album and presents a holistic concept of Dawid as a singular artist.
On What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black? (Dr. Margaret Burroughs), Dawid sings lines from Burroughs’s essential 1963 poem, What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black? (Reflections of an African-American Mother). A decade later, Burroughs revisited the poem with a look at the violence of capitalism, oppression, and faith. What Shall We Tell Our Children? An Addenda, 1973 features something of a guiding principle for Dawid’s music (and, perhaps, International Anthem as a whole).
Throughout The Oracle, Dawid circles back to themes of growth and creation. Tasking herself with performing, recording, and mixing, Dawid began many of these as sketches for her main group, Tha Brotherhood. Recording at Radcliffe Hunter mansion and in London and Cape Town, Dawid’s songs communicate musical ideas, as well as states of time and place. Both Capetown and London catch her in improvisatory contexts, capturing the state of a mind in transit. On Capetown, Dawid is joined by drummer Asher Simiso Gamedze, and their duet is lengthy and relaxed. The shining center of the album, We Are Starzz, is an incredible melange of voice and clarinet, expertly intertwined and luminescent. The Oracle runs the gamut from cosmic to brittle, but it’s Dawid’s sincerity and dynamic performance that make it so memorable." - Lee Rice Epstein,