This week we have a guest playlist from South London multi-instrumentalist and composer Nathan Jamal aka Roseland En Why Cee who comes through with a brilliant selection that takes in Erykah Badu, Gill Scott Heron, Dizzy Gillespie, Steely Dan and more.
Dive in and without further ado, over to Nathan who has kindly put together a few words about each track for the playlist.
My Dream – Sunny and the Sunliners
“Working’s got to be the wrong scene. Loving and grooving, that’s my dream”. What a song. Beautiful, groovy, filled with hope and a hint of sadness. I loved the contrast of two sections so much I stole it for The Fall.
Girl from the Mountain – Ghetto Brothers
As a mixed-race man who probably spends a bit too much time pondering on his identity, I am obsessed with the idea of mixing seemingly opposite influences to create something. It’s a practice that doesn’t always turn out well and can be quite disheartening; then I hear Ghetto Brothers, and I remember how great it can be.
From the File of Lonely Hearts (Take 1) – Group from Lutheran East
Oh, man. This hits me right in the heart. So much soul with so little going on. It’s the perfect example that great tech and slick production are nothing compared to creativity and emotion.
That Hump – Erykah Badu
Man, Erykah is one of the great artists of our time. Weirdo, genius and a source of endless inspiration to me. That Hump is a great musical interpretation of the struggle, the endless grind. That descending bassline, the minor 9th chords, her vocal, the delivery. I can feel it. One of the most valuable tools we have as humans is the ability to turn our pain into something productive. Something that can help heal ourselves and others.
Exit Music (for a film) – Easy Star All-Stars Ft. Sugar Minot
I’m a big Radiohead fan and a reggae lover. When I first heard the Radiodread album, I felt as if it had been made specifically for me, and I still feel that when I listen to it eight years on. I think Easy Star’s timbres are the perfect match for Radiohead’s eerie ode to alienation. Sugar’s voice, the chop, the organ and that deep bass. When I hear this, I feel like some otherwise hidden part of me lights up. I’m suddenly aware of a secret truth about myself, and that is what art is all about, right?
Pieces of a Man – Gill Scott Heron
Pain. Confusion. Hopelessness. There are so many difficult emotions in this song yet it’s so beautiful. And, Ron, you get me every time. It’s my goal in life to be able to play a bassline with the expression that Ron Carter does here.
The Pushers – Dizzy Gillespie
50’s and 60’s Jazz is a huge inspiration to me, and I wish I could have got more in this list. I think the mood of this song is perfect. The rhythm section creates something effortlessly cool, and Dizzy tempers his virtuosic skill to play not a note more than is needed. The Pushers takes me into a scene from my favourite film-noir, and that’s always a good place to be.
Fair Play – Diamond Joe
Fair Play is another great example of how you can create so much feeling from so little. The pain is palpable in this track, and it has this ghostly quality to it; it feels haunted. I strive to make music as full of soul as this is.
Black Cow – Steely Dan
Man, I just can’t help but smile when this comes on. The groove! I started using slurred basslines a lot after hearing this. But I also love this track because it is (Like Steely Dan at their best) accessible on multiple levels: It has really slick production and uses lots of interesting musical ideas while being impossible not to nod your head to and undeniably fun.
Humpin’ Bumpin’ & Thumping – Andre Willams
“Anybody got a raw egg?” Ha! Who starts a song like that?
To fit that much energy and excitement into two and a half minutes is a skill I’m extremely envious of. The track is a rhythm section master class; it’s full of funk and Andre’s insane vocal fits perfectly. This was one of the inspirations for my song Blondie’s Wiggle.