John Morrison's Philly Top 5: March highlights from Slumber to Shirley Scott - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

March is here and Spring is knocking on the door! As we move into the warmer part of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to revamp my relationship to music. I’ve been writing at home a lot, I go out on solo missions to dig for records and while all of that is fine, I am looking forward to being out in the mix more. Humans are social animals and music is one of the grandest examples of our social being. So,this month, I’ve made it a point to pop up at more events to see friends and fam and preparie to take on more DJ gigs in an effort to share in the experience of hearing and playing music. Here are 5 things that have lit my mind and soul on fire as we prepare to have fun and shake off the winter blues.

Slumber – This Is a Song to the Sound of You

Lately, I‘ve been leaning heavily on dreamy, 90s alt-rock, revisiting and obsessively playing bands that I adored as a kid like Velocity Girl, Belly and Velour 100. Philly shoegaze/dream-rock outfit Slumber would fit perfectly on a mixtape alongside the aforementioned bands and I’ve been playing this Bandcamp collection of their tunes a lot this month. Throughout, the vocals are as soft and airy as the guitars are fiery and luminous. I remember Slumber from  “Bell Boy!”, their gorgeous contribution to Lounge Records’ 1998 Sounds From Psychedelphia compilation but the rest of the tunes on This Is a Song to the Sound of You are new to me. It’s a perfect listening experience. It’s funny how songs you’ve never heard can sometimes spark nostalgia due to the sheer temporal specificity of their sound.

Blasphemous Jazz: The Bitches Brew Sessions

Hosted at the now-defunct Little Bar restaurant/venue in South Philly on the evening of September 5th, 2011, Blasphemous Jazz: The Bitches Brew Sessions gathered Mndsgn, Swarvy, Sir Froderick, Knxwledge, Josh Hey and Stainless Steele twisting and reinterpreting the sound of Miles Davis’ classic 1969 album, Bitches Brew. Although this is a studio recreation of the music played that evening, the album displays the free-flowing spirit of the evening and gives us a clear a look at the level of creativity present Philly’s live beat/instrumental hip hop scene in the early 2010s.

Ebony Broadcast System – Broadcastin’

Goofy, boundlessly creative and ultra rare, Philadelphia rap quartet Ebony Broadcast System’s sole album was 1993’s Broadcastin’. Full of funky, dynamic beats, dick jokes and DJ Tat Money’s deft cuts, Broadcastin’ is an immersive sonic experience. With it’s wild humor and funky, uptempo production, Broadcastin’ shares a stylistic kinship with contemporaneous works like De La Soul Is Dead or Son of Bazerk’s 1991 avant-rap masterpiece, Bazerk, Berserk, Berserk. Hopefully, it gets a reissue soon because even the one that Dope Folks put out a few years back is hard to find.

Ebony Broadcast System – Broadcastin'

Shirley Scott – Soul Song

Whether you think of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Trudy Pitts, or Bill Doggett, Philadelphia has earned it’s reputation as the capital of jazz organ. During her prime in the late 50 and 60s,  Shirley Scott was once hailed as the queen of jazz organ. Recorded in the autumn of 1968, Soul Song is a somewhat underrated session from Philly jazz organ genius’ time on the Atlantic label. I love this one because it has a funky drum break on it (“Soul Song”) as well as some sweet and mellow versions of “When A Man Loves A Woman” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind.”

Shirley Scott - Soul Song

Vinyl Tap at Bob & Barbara’s

Community therapy disguised as an all-vinyl party, DJ DuiJi13’s Vinyl Tap has been enriching venues throughout the city since 2017. Every third Saturday of the month they’ve been holding it down at the legendary bar Bob & Barbara’s, inviting local DJs and record enthusiasts of all experience levels to come and share the jewels from their crates. I popped up at this month’s edition to hang with friends , chat and hear dope music and it was a fun and brilliant time as always.

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