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Black Fire: Spiritual Jazz and Black American Empowerment through Music in 1970s

Now-Again — May 11, 2020 | Comments Off on Black Fire: Spiritual Jazz and Black American Empowerment through Music in 1970s

This is Juju’s founder and saxophonist James “Plunky” Branch returning to the historical home of the legendary Brooklyn jazz venue and cultural center The East in early 2019, reflecting on The East, its importance and legacy, and the cauldron of music now called “Spiritual Jazz”.

Juju’s Live At The East , recorded at the venue in 1973, has recently been issued by Now-Again Records as one in a set of reissues from the label Black Fire.


“Magical, mystical, Afrocentric, progressive” – words that could be used to describe any number of musical compositions by Sun Ra or his cosmic brothers and sisters, from John to Alice Coltrane, early ‘70s projects on record labels like Detroit’s Tribe or New York’s Strata-East. Or, the interests of one Washington DC native named Jimmy Gray that centered under one perfect moniker: Black Fire, the label he founded in 1975.

Jimmy Gray spent nearly three decades pushing boundaries as a Black American promoter, distributor and, finally, record label owner. Together with Oneness of Juju’s leader James “Plunky Nkabinde” Branch, Gray oversaw sixteen releases on Black Fire Records between 1975 and 1996.

Now-Again is releasing definitive reissues of four of label’s key titles, all were lacquered – most directly from master tape – by legendary Los Angeles mastering engineer Bernie Grundman.

With this set, Oneness of Juju and Black Fire’s story burns forth into its fifth decade, its message not tempered, its sound pure. It’s cycle, once again, complete.


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