Bobbi Humphrey: Blacks And Blues

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Bobbi Humphrey: Blacks And Blues
The title of the album and that of its opening track ("Chicago, Damn"), the original release date (1973) and the 'fro might suggest flautist Bobbi Humphrey's Blacks And Blues came with a clenched-fist salute and a political manifesto. But hey, Humphrey's third Blue Note release was composed and produced in La La Land by brothers Fonce and Larry Mizell, masters of chilled-out jazz-funk. Humphrey's cover-shot smile is the real clue to the vibe of the album—which in 2019 has been given an all-analog remaster and reissued on 180g vinyl as part of Blue Note's 80 Vinyl Edition series.

Straight-ahead jazz fans hated Blacks And Blues when it first came out. It represented everything they loathed about Blue Note's direction following its sale to United Artists and the subsequent retirement of label founder Alfred Lion. Following the passing in 1971 of Francis Wolff, the sole survivor of the original regime, UA brought George Butler in to helm the label, with a brief to reach out to the pop and funk worlds and reverse a precipitous decline in sales. Some dreck besmirching Blue Note's reputation certainly followed. But there was good stuff too and, on its own terms, Blacks And Blues was a winner. The strongest tracks are the openers, "Chicago, Damn" and "Harlem River Drive," but the mellifluous groove is maintained throughout, anchored by Harvey Mason's drums and Chuck Rainey's Fender bass. When the sun is out and the living feels easy, the album hits the spot as sure as a line of Colombia's finest did back in the day.

Such was the success of Blacks And Blues that Butler teamed Humphrey up with the Mizells for the follow-ups Satin Doll (1974) and Fancy Dancer (1975). Both albums kept things on the good foot, but Blacks And Blues was the stone killer. Blue Note has chosen the right album for reissue.

Track Listing

Side One: Chicago, Damn; Harlem River Drive; Just A Love Child. Side Two: Blacks And Blues; Jasper Country Man; Baby’s Gone.


Bobbi Humphrey: flute, vocals; Jerry Peters: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes; Fonce Mizell: clavinet, trumpet, vocals; Freddie Perren: synthesiser, vocals; David T. Walker: guitar; John Rowin: guitar; Chuck Rainey: electric bass; Ron Brown: electric bass; Harvey Mason: drums; King Errison: congas; Stephanie Spruill: percussion; Chuck Davis: vocals; Larry Mizell: vocals.

Album information

Title: Blacks And Blues | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Summer Water
Scott DuBois
Nate Wooley / Liudas Mockunas / Barry Guy /...
Vasko Atanasovski


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.