What seems like decades ago but was only a few years, producer and pop craftsman Don Was, of Detroit, seized the reins at the House Of Blue Note records. For anybody who showed consternation at the time, and there were a few pundits, Was immediately showed himself to be both reverent steward and a bold adventurer. Getting Lonnie Smith back on the payroll was a stroke of savvy. And his focus has also been on the retention and recruitment of hipster youth culture. That is nothing new for this label.
Two releases in that vain came across my desk last week: “Purest Form” by James Francies.
And, though not on Blue Note Records, Sons of Kmet “Black to the Future” (Verve) simply has to be paired with this.
Lots of stylistic similarities are prevalent here that I’ve noted in prior recordings from these bands: The ubiquitous hip hop and electronica vibes are awash. But the reverence for the form is equally acute. Sons of Kmet are more culturally and politically bent. The song “Never Forget the Source” might be the most fitting credo for both records.
Shifting gears considerably, I also encountered local singer-songwriter Betty Danger on the socials. If you know the night club scene, let me hip you, as Betty is quick to point out: Her connection to the Northeast Minneapolis bar and playground is purely happenstance.
“Enigma” by Betty Danger is a labor of passion and love from a candid, blunt and clever songwriter. I sometimes lament the gate-keeping days of the recording studio, but that mainly applies to mediocre recordings. Neither “Enigma” nor its author fall into that description. Danger addresses the usual topics of love and tragedy and humor with an approach unlike any I’ve ever seen. If I wasn’t convinced on line her visit to the studio of KBEM had me sold. And this album was lovingly hand crafted in her living room.
Kevin T. O’Connor