Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Howard University Jazz Ensemble HUJE '83, by request

Recalling my earlier comments about the university jazz bands lacking representation by African-Americans, who single-handedly invented the genre, this time checking out the photo of the band members on the inside we can see a hundred percent affirmative action in action with nary a white face to be seen in a sea of hip cats circa early 80s. The superior swing, the smoothness and the soulful singing on one track (Genesis) bear witness to their communal abilities here.  And since composition credits are spread out among such a large constituency we get presumably the cream of the crop in writing quality.

This is the requested 1983 installment from a long line of records.  And on the strength of this it's clearly worth hearing some more.

From discogs:

Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE), Washington DC, USA, was founded in 1975 by its director, Fred Irby, III. Outstanding performances in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean have caused it to be recognized as one of the foremost college jazz ensembles. HUJE has been heard on radio and television as well as in concert, often appearing with celebrated performers. Members of the HUJE have won awards as performers and composers/arrangers, and the ensemble includes among its alumni several practicing jazz artists. Additionally, the HUJE was featured during the 1992, 1996 and 2005 Kennedy Center Honors Gala (CBS-TV). The HUJE has released thirty-four recordings in a distinguished series that began in 1976.

Btw, for those like me who were wondering, Howard University is in Washington, D.C.  A beautiful city, well worth visiting in the summer, with its grand monuments and enormous bureaucratic buildings reminiscent of the height of the Roman Empire, or perhaps the ancient American Empire, its wonderful museums, particularly the museum of democracy in which you can witness what a grand political system once existed here, the memorials of the great presidents of the past, none of whom will be equaled ever again obviously, the enormous and well-stocked swamps all around with their interesting and often abnormal lifeforms (please don't get too close, some are very dangerous).  There is a sense of all the wealth and power of the world passing within the perimeter of the city, from the hands of very lucky middle-aged white men to other very lucky middle-aged white men in order to further impoverish the 99.99999999 percent of citizens of the country, representatives of whom you will see sleeping peacefully on the many dirty sidewalks, perhaps politely asking for a crumb outside the boutique hotel gourmet restaurants where water costs 20 dollars a bottle and is shipped from 10,000 miles away.  Go perhaps to a place called Foggy Bottom where you may be privileged enough to see someone with a million, or even a billion times more money in their wallet than yours and don't be envious, they must be a billion times better a person than you.  Needless to say the most important man in the world resides here, and the luckiest too, with his harem of porn stars.  But be sure to stay safe and heed the common warning of the travel guides, if your skin is colored, stay away from the police: they are likely to kill you for holding your cellphone.

First track, called Hot Line, quite representative of the contents:

A beautiful record, from the beautiful city that is also lucky enough to be its own state.