About GBM

Miles Davis as a young man

GreatBlackMusic.com came about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic of 2019 - 2020.

In late March and early April, 2020, I was trapped inside during the "self-isolation" phase of the pandemic, far away from friends and family.  

It was just me and my companion Alexa, also known as the Amazon Echo smart home speaker.  Alexa does a lot of things (she will read the news to you, if you want, or tell you the exact distance from New York to Hong Kong).

But her main purpose is to play music.  

Does she spy on you?  Yes, I think she probably does.  I also think it's worth it.  What am I really doing that's so bad, anyway?  

So I got into the habit of saying things to Alexa, like "Alexa, play Miles Davis."

In response to that, Alexa would search massive online databases for songs by Miles Davis, but also for songs that are like Miles Davis.  Or songs by people who had played with Miles Davis at one time or another.    

Alexa might play something from Kind of Blue or In a Silent Way, but she also might play something by John Coltrane, or Cannonball Adderly, or Herbie Hancock, or even Rahsaan Roland Kirk.  

Blind, mad eccentric Roland Kirk, playing several instruments at the same time.

I knew some of that music already, but there was a lot I didn't know.  It was just this gigantic endowment of incredible jazz, by amazing musicians - hours and hours and hours of it.  An entire language, a vocabulary, voices speaking to each other and building on what the others had done.

And then it hit me: "That isn't nearly it.  There's a lot more."

So I started saying other things to Alexa.  Like, "play John Lee Hooker."  Or "play Earth, Wind and Fire."  Or "play George Clinton."  Or "play Donna Summer."  Or even, "play Tupac Shakur."

My friend Alexa.  She likes music.

I started to think about the way black musicians had given birth to and shaped American popular music.  To say that they've had a LARGE IMPACT on it, would be a lot like saying it gets warm inside the fiery heart of the sun.

And I thought, "Why don't people talk about this?"

But of course, people do talk about it.  So then I thought, "Why don't I talk about it?"

Better question.

So I started the blog as a way to talk about not just the music, but my own personal relationship to it.  Call it a hobby, or a labor of love.  If other people engage with the material and get something from it, all the better.

One caveat: I only ever recommend things on here that I personally love.  If I suggest buying something, and you go ahead and buy it, I might make a few pennies from that.

Fair?  Okay.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. 

The Fine Print: Obviously, I don't own rights to the music I reference here, or post examples of.  The thoughts about it are certainly my own.  And I post the music itself under the right to fair use.  The law governing fair use reads as such:

Copyright Disclaimer under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976: allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.