It has been thirty years since what is officially considered the debut album from 311 was released. This milestone is being celebrated with a reissue of Music released as part of the Record Store Day Essential series. This will be its first time on colored vinyl and includes four demo bonus tracks. It is newly remastered and expanded on translucent orange vinyl with a specialized pearl embossed cover.
Just because it has the Record Store Day name attached to it does not mean it is super limited, but it will be limited. My experience is that if you get a pre-order in quickly, you will have a good shot at getting one. Head to your local independent store and get that pre-order today. This is just coming off embargo, so if they don’t have it quite set up yet, they should soon. This will be released on September 29th.
Meshell Ndegeocello-The Omnichord Real Book-Released June 16th on Blue Note Records
When we got the promo for Meshell Nedegeocello’s first album Plantation Lullaby in 1993 it came with a sticker that told us how to pronounce her name. A few years later when she had the hit with Mellencamp and people actually started coming in looking for her, no one could say her name. My little pompous self would always rattle it off like nothing and give a little look of dismissal to the poor soul who asked. Thank you promo sticker. I was a huge fan from the start. Those first four albums are incredible and still so relevant. She may not have launched the Neo Soul movement, but she sure was right there. In the 2010s she put out a couple of original albums, and two cover albums, the last of those covers albums, Ventriliquism, is worth a listen. The two original albums included Weather, which is song-writer based, and direct and pretty mellow. It’s a lovely album, and stands out in her catalog because of the normalcy of it. 2014’s Comet, Come To Me was all over the place with blues rock, reggae and jazz and a cover of Whoodini’s “Friends”. It is fine, but not as inspired and relevant as those first four albums were.
Omnichord Real Book might be her most focused work in quite a while. There are a lot of people on here collaborating with her, which is not that unusual, as her albums after the first four have been for the most part full of collaborators. This is a jazz album, but not her first foray into that either. Her 2008 album The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance Of The Infidel was a traditional jazz album and she has of course had jazz influenced tracks on her albums all through her career. This new album is more “future jazz” if that is an actual thing. I listen to a lot of jazz, but have never felt comfortable describing it. This album really feels like her now. Like this is the album she should be making at this point. It sounds fresh, relevant, and makes use of the essence that is Meshell Ndegeocello. It’s a pleasant listen the first time around, but not an easy one. Further listens bring out new nuances and really solidify what this album is and eventually it all just syncs and makes sense. I know this as I am listening to it for the seventh time as I write this. It is once again, kind of all over the place, but there is a thread that holds it all together, it flows wonderfully. There are classic Meshell neo soul moments, world music vibes, electronic whispers and both funky moments and soothingly stunning turns also.
I would have listened to this album anyway, but when I saw Jeff Parker and Ambrose Akinmusire’s name on there I rushed to it as I had this feeling that she would be really exploring some current things here, and she is. Other performers include Cory Henry, Joan As Police Woman, and Josh Johnson. This album introduced me to vibraphone player Joel Ross whose performance on “Towers” had me googling him. I found one of his albums in my store and will be picking that up this week.
Ominchord Real Book is well over an hour long and 18 songs deep, which can be a lot to ask of a listener, especially with an album that needs and deserves repeated listens. If you are that kind of listener, I highly recommend opening these pages.