Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

9

Rev. Sekou: In Times Like These

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
Throughout American history, southern black churches have been a source of reassurance and hope, and a respected safe haven for their congregation. Rev. Sekou (Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou) is a third generation Pentecostal-Holiness Church minister from Zent, Arkansas, who stepped out of the pulpit, taking his motivational message to the streets with In Times Like These. As critical civil rights issues continue to be in the national spotlight, Sekou draws on the functional intent of music to chronicle the frustrations of a mistreated population.

Produced and recorded at Zebra Ranch Studios, in Hernando, Mississippi, by Luther and Cody Dickinson, who appear on guitar and drums respectively, the record is an honest testament to the rural folkloric roots of black music. Coming from that familiar tradition where blues and gospel formed soul, Sekou sings with a passionate, rhythmic emotion, inherent of a life preaching and testifying to people who cannot be fooled, and expect the truth. And truth is what he delivers.

The opening expressions on "Resist," were taken from one of his activities at Ferguson, Missouri, at the height of racial unrest, where he was arrested and jailed for his role in organizing the protesters. It is a song of peaceful, yet determined, resistance, set to a marching tempo. The title track is an exclamation for action, the band accompaniment perfect, as the horn section and backing vocals provide a solid podium for Sekou's inspirational plea. He re-imagines Bob Marley's "Burnin' and Lootin," the hymned organ phrasing by Rev. Charles Hodges taking the song into a holy blues direction, far removed from the original reggae version.

"We Who Believe," is the familiar refrain from "Ella's Song," associated with the acapella group Sweet Honey In The Rock, though Sekou reworks the lyrics into a tougher, more strident narrative, determined by a woeful chain gang syncopation. Barking hound dogs chase the protagonist in the classic anthem "Lord I Am Running (99½ Won't Do)" Sekou joined by vocalist Raisa Sokolov for a unique depiction of anxious desperation set to music. This sense of agitated motion continues with a staggered dirge pace on "Muddy and Rough (Woyaya)" and the parading "Will To Win," which is encircled by distorted guitars and wailing vocals.

Sekou gives a blues twist to writer James Baldwin's essay "The Devil Finds Work," which critiqued the discriminatory portrayal of African-Americans in motion pictures. This interpretation opens with a power blues structure, then shifts into an energized spiritual revival with a prominent sacred steel guitar solo courtesy of AJ Ghent. Pure celebration and praise abound on "Old Time Religion," as Sekou takes it back home; and the walking bass line summons the Holy Ghost on a rocking version of the hymnal "When The Spirit Says Move." Bringing the pace way down, "Loving You Is Killing Me," reveals Sekou to be an accomplished soul singer, taking his time, letting pure sentiment carry him through the heartbreak and pain. An acoustical piano sets the mood on "Problems," as the electric lead guitar rises into a dramatic crescendo, the record coming to a finale.

After a life immersed in religion and civil rights activism, Rev. Sekou's musical ability and inclination naturally drew him into performing and recording, appreciating the opportunity of expanding his audience. In the liner notes, Sekou reflects on the role of the artist in battling the monsters we are confronted with, be they personal, political, or otherwise. With this recording he personifies what writer Amiri Baraka believed: "The artist's role is to raise the consciousness of the people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely. That's how I see it. Otherwise, I don't know why you do it."

Track Listing: In Times Like These; Burnin’ and Lootin’; We Who Believe; Lord, I Am Running (99 ½ Won’t Do); Muddy and Rough; The Devil Finds Work; Old Time Religion; When The Spirit Says Move; Loving You Is Killing Me; Will To Win; Problems.

Personnel: Rev. Sekou: vocals; Luther Dickinson: guitar; Cody Dickerson: drums; AJ Ghent: pedal steel guitar; Raina Sokolov: vocals; Art Edmaiston: tenor and baritone saxophones; Rev. Charles Hodges: Hammond organ; Marc Franklin: trumpet.

Title: In Times Like These | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zent Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Ariel CD/LP/Track Review Ariel
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Fukushima CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "Home Counties" CD/LP/Track Review Home Counties
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Arise" CD/LP/Track Review Arise
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Mu'U" CD/LP/Track Review Mu'U
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Borrowed Time" CD/LP/Track Review Borrowed Time
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "Asteroidea" CD/LP/Track Review Asteroidea
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 9, 2017
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 29, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor