Looking for an esoteric listen this weekend? Two hidden treasures from soul and jazz artists have made their way to stream or download for the first time - part of Rhino Records' ongoing celebration of Black History Month.
The names Jimmie & Vella Cameron might not mean much to casual listeners, but soulful cratediggers have been singing the brother-sister duo's praises for decades. Bobby Womack produced their debut for Imperial Records in 1968, and Barry White signed the pair to his Unlimited Gold label for an album in 1981. But in the middle was Jimmie & Vella, a 1972 effort recorded mostly at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady studio (with one cut, "Chica Boom," laid down at Island Studios in London). The album's arguable standout track is "Old Men," a dramatic, harmony-rich number that was flipped by Kanye West for "This Way," a 2004 single he produced for hip-hop group Dilated Peoples.
For jazz lovers, a late-career masterwork by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color makes its digital debut. Kirk, a blind multi-instrumentalist lauded by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa, was no stranger to pushing musical boundaries. He called his style "Black classical," drawn from jazz, soul, pop and classical music influences; he could also be seen in concert holding up to three horns across his body and even playing two simultaneously.
Released in 1975 - the same year a stroke cut back his creative output two years before his passing - The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color lives up to its ambitious name: three sides of mind-expanding jazz and funk, including unconventional takes on standards like "Bye, Bye Blackbird," "High Heel Sneakers" and "The Entertainer" and cacophonous originals - all interspersed with bursts of sound collage "dreams." It's likely you won't hear an album quite like it this week - or this year.