Tag Archives: Ben LaMar Gay

A Guide to Spoken Word on Bandcamp

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Tanesha the Wordsmith

In May 2018, The Last Poets celebrated their 50th year with a new LP, Understand What Black Is. Back in the late ’60s, the group used politically charged raps and militant rhythms to raise black consciousness and spread awareness throughout Harlem, Manhattan. At the same time, in a different part of the city, Gil Scott-Heron was using his own barbed verse to attack consumer culture, mass media, and systemic racism, setting spoken word poetry to steady-boiling free jazz. And while spoken word verse had been around for centuries—think back to the storytelling of 13th century griots in the Mandé Empire of Mali, West Africa, or even further back to the original wordsmiths of Ancient Greece—Heron and the Last Poets were among the first to see its value as a popular art form, and a way to comment on the turbulent world around them.

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Dos Santos Create a Fascinating Blend of Cabaret, Cumbia, Jazz, and Latinx Punk

Dos Santos

Photos by Andrea Falcone

International Anthem has established itself as Chicago’s premiere jazz label by highlighting the threads that tie jazz together: the experimentalism, the roots, and the soul. Trumpeter Jaimie Branch hones in on the avant-garde and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Parker peppers his art with alternative funk. Producer Ben LaMar Gay infuses his music with experimental cues from rock ‘n’ roll, neo-classical composers, and electronic texturalists.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Black Metal, Mersey Beat, Electronic, & More

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Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Ben LaMar Gay’s Debut Album Mixes Free Jazz, Bossa Nova, and Electro-Bounce

Ben LaMar Gay

Photos by Maren Celest

Ben LaMar Gay is about to release his debut solo album. It’s also an album of his greatest hits. Until this point, the Chicago-born composer had treated the process of making music as an exercise in improvement: Rather than making songs to be released, he made them to analyze and study. The ones he enjoyed were sent to family members, and Gay’s nieces and a nephew became his biggest fans. After seven “records” in seven years, International Anthem—the Chicago-based jazz-leaning label—in conjunction with Gay, has culled the greatest from these personal exercises and turned them into Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun, an album that remains surprisingly cohesive despite featuring material from over the course of nearly a decade.

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