Blues and Reggae Intersections

Corey Harris - blu.black
Corey Harris – blu.black
Corey Harris

blu.black (Telarc, 2009)

Originally a blues musician, Corey Harris has been exploring the music of the African diaspora in the United States and Caribbean. His recordings include genres such as blues, reggae, gospel and other types of roots music. His latest recording is blu.black, which focuses primarily on original blues and reggae-flavored pieces and one Burning Spear cover. Harris’ songs refer to African-American history and connect them to present day generations.

"There’s a blues song at the end of the sequence that’s simply called ‘Blues,’ and a song at the beginning called ‘Black,’" Harris says of the range of material on the recording. "The record is both of those things and everything in between. All the styles in all those songs represent everything between blue and black."

"I always deal with Africa and the blues and roots on my records," he says. "Those have been my primary themes throughout most of my career. On this record, I wanted to express my love for great black music, and demonstrate that love in original song form. It’s the same goal I’ve been pursuing for some time – to make original music and try to educate people in the process."

For blu.black, Harris scaled down the number of musicians and instruments, seeking a rootsier sound. "I didn’t want a busy record," says Harris, who enlisted the services of producer and keyboardist Chris "Peanut" Whitley. "I think this record proves that you can have minimal instrumentation and still express a lot of different ideas. I wanted to have each song be basically a combination of keyboards, bass, drum and guitar – or in some cases, guitar only. I didn’t want a bunch of different guest artists and a full horn section. Even though the music has variety, the sound is consistent throughout. This was recorded all at the same time, in the same studio, with the same people on each track. You can make a record with heart and soul without adding a lot of bells and whistles."

"The story that I want to tell is that we who have had the experience of coming from parents who came from the south, whose parent were poor and the children of slaves – we can take this music and make something new with it," he says. "The story isn’t finished. There are still places where it can move forward. There are still things that can be accomplished. There’s so much that can be done if we stay connected to the music and stay connected to our culture. That goes for all of us, for people of every culture. If we know where we’re coming from individually, then we’ll be able to present those gifts to the worked so that others can appreciate them."

With blu.black, Corey Harris presents a mesmerizing and delicious blend of blues, reggae, gospel and beyond.

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