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"Black Renaissance is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite tunes, up there with Sun Ra's 'Sleeping Beauty' and Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme'."
- Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 1, London 2002.
Harry Whitaker is a piano player, producer and arranger who on MLK day 1976, at the age of 26, recorded Black Renaissance “Body, Mind, and Spirit,” a holy grail amongst collectors of soul-jazz and rare groove. So rare, it’s virtually a myth to many collectors and music aficionados.
Made up of two long tracks that periodically build and release for forty minutes over two sides of an LP it’s an improvised masterpiece combining Afrocentric spiritual soul, jazz, poetry, amazing solos, a tasty bass line or two and more than a fair share of funky beats. It’s also one of theearliest albums to feature rapping. “I called the project Black Renaissance because that is what I wanted to see happen – especially in music.”
Given its rarity, when asked if he was surprised that people knew about the album Whitaker jokes “I’ve told enough people about it over the years! Now they can actually hear it. It was a record before it’s time.”
Harry Whitaker cut his teeth on the best of the Roy Ayers Ubiquity releases (including playing keys on “We Live In Brooklyn Baby” and co-producing the “Coffy” OST) on and making a living working closely with Roberta Flack – as her musical director, even playing on her big Eugene McDaniels’ written hit “I Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Black Renaissance “Body, Mind, and Spirit,” was his first attempt at a project where he wrote and composed the music and played keys on all tracks.
This album features Woody Shaw, Azar Lawrence, Buster Williams, Billy Hart and Mtume amongst others. CD liner notes (and album insert) explain how this album almost never saw light of day.