John Morrison's Philly Top 5: Cuts for DJs from Anwar Highsign to Jean Carne - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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For much of my adult life, summertime has signaled an uptick in DJ gigs and a catalyst for me to rethink and adjust my relationship with music.The last 3 years have been different as the COIVD pandemic essentially caused me to step away from DJing in public. This year will mark the first summer in years that I’ve been booking gigs and I’m elated to bring some new tunes and energy to events around the city. In the interest of getting my mind and music library ready for summer, here are a few hip-hop, jazz and rock releases that have caught my eye recently and we bring in June with a tribute to one of our city’s living masters.

The Photon Band – Out Of My Head

Now based in Savannah, Georgia, the locally-rooted guitarist Arthur J. DiFuria’s The Photon Band has produced some of the best records in the annals of Philly psychedelic rock. Out Of My Head is full of excellently crafted songs packed with ripping guitar solos. Standouts like “I Was Free, I Was Fried”, “Dude, Leave The Headphones On” and “When I Fall out of the Sky” distill the last 5+ decades of psychedelia into perfectly playful and trippy nuggets.

The Photon Band - Out of My Head

Anwar Highsign & Giallo Point – Whatever The Case May Be

Whatever The Case May Be is a collaboration between the producer Giallo Point and Philly lyricist, Anwar Highsign (fka Has-Lo). From the opening cut “Landlord” the duo let us know they’re not fucking around. Anwar wrecks GP’s ghostly understated beat with lines like “God or the devil..they both call collect.” Songs like “God Tier”,  “That’s Regular”, and “Mirror” follow a similar path: the production is dark and subtle and Anwar’s lyrics and delivery have real venom and teeth. Highly recommended.

Spark The Mag vs. Operator G. – Telephone of the 7 Curses

With a wide-ranging sound and aesthetic, Professor 950 has released a wealth of albums and surreal comic books under various names for his Ghost Jazz Tapes imprint. His Phantom Jazz Wizards project is experimental tape recordings while Secret Dub Controllers explores a dusty, post-sampling approach to 70s soundtrack music. For his latest project under the name Operator G. 950 links with Philly MC Spark The Mag for a good old dusted-out basement rap session recorded on a Tascam 4-track.

Lee Lovett – Lee + 3

Pianist, composer, and arranger Leroy “Lee” Lovett is an underappreciated figure in Philly jazz history. He played with legends like Billie Holiday and Johnny Hodges, wrote arrangements and film scores, and co-founded Benn-X, a label that produced a number of obscure singles from local R&B acts in the 1960s. Lee + 3 is a session from 1959 that finds Lovett and his band working through a set of breezy, soulful tunes. “Judaline” is a gorgeous vocal tune while “Angel Eyes” is a slick, Latin cut. Lovett’s playing here is complex and tasteful and the entire set has a dreamy, sophisticated air.

Leroy Lovett - Lee Plus 3 (Wynne: WLP-110), Full Album

Jean Carne – “Was That All It Was”

Columbus, Georgia-born singer and songwriter, Jean Carne has made an indelible mark on Philadelphia and Black music as a whole. From her early days performing spiritually attuned, progressive jazz with Doug Carn to her work with Earth Wind & Fire and Norman, Carne’s voice has been a part of many magical pieces of music. “Was That All It Was” was one of the best songs to come out of her late 70s-early 80s run with Philadelphia International. Over a smooth, disco groove, Carne sings a passionate plea to a lover after a brief one night stand. Carne’s performance here is brilliant as she attacks the song with passion and more than a little bit of indignance. I can’t wait to test this one out on the dancefloor.

Jean Carn - Was That All It Was ( 12" Extended )
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