DJSmilesDavis Weblog
Music Transends Time & Space



I ran across this image of the New York skyline while on-line tonight. Ill right!? It reminded me of my stay there during my independent studies at Alvin Ailey. The dance center is not too far from the ocean, so at night me and some of my peers would wonder off in between classes sometimes just to go see the sunset.

New York is full of culture and diversity with influences from all over the globe. This mix salutes some personal musical experiences of mine while in the Big Apple. Enjoy



Alice Russell Under the Munka Moon

British singer/songwriter Alice Russell is quite the force to reckon with. With many titles under her belt, Russell was the front woman for The Quantic Soul Orchestra but, is currently working on a solo career. She blew my mind when I heard her for the first time and it tripped me out even more when I saw her in a picture.

Don’t be fooled by the baby face Russell packs one powerful punch. She covers all the elements- a soulful, bluesy voice often dropped over funky beats, jazz and even sounds of gospel and northern soul. Either our music industry is in true shambles or she isn’t being properly marketed. Can’t seem to grasp the fact that so few people are up on Miss Russell. It’s the type of timeless voice that can compete with the greats and produce material and dominate like Amy Wino can. Seriously, it’s a shame. I couldn’t find any music video or decent live performance on the diva to save my life. Don’t sleep, though go get her album.

This underdog is often backed by Australian funk band The Bamboos, whom I mentioned earlier.With two solo albums under her belt, Under the Munka Moon is her latest work to date.

Can you dig 04-hurry-on-now.mp3


I just found this footage of the Breakdancing crew Footklan that I used to roam the streets with back in the day. This clip I believe was from a MTV spot they had showcasing their skills. The group is located in Glendale, AZ but they travel all over the world to perform and teach.

I remember practices were about 3 hours long 5 days a week, ( 7 if we had upcoming performances) incorporating inversions (tricks performed on the hands) often the entire practice. Ain’t to many cats that can stand on their hands for a complete second let alone perform tricks, monuver from one hand to the other, contort limbs by binding, stretching, and manipulating their position.

Darrel (Head), myself, Kaseim (his brother), and Derek headed somewhere

We never flew to our destination it was always a long ass road trip with about 10-15 kids stuffed in two vans. These were often tension heavy events could you imagine being couped up all the way in the back of the van where 6 heads are in front of you and it’s musty in the air and only one person is controlling the radio playing something you probably don’t want to hear for hours on end. I’m drained just thinking about it. Let’s just say it wasn’t common for piece to reign on our journeys. Nothing too drastic ever took place maybe someone got slapped in the face or someone was getting body slammed but it was usually broken up before bones were broken or blood was drawn. (mostly men would quarrel with an occasional cat fight)

Me (in the middle w/ hat) and Luciana (the girl in front of me) about to perform on the Soul Train Awards

I learned plenty about hip-hop from FootKlan, I learned alot period from FootKlan. They conveyed a positive message which was something I hadn’t really seen on the streets and desperately needed to keep me out of trouble after high school where I was involved in many organized programs to keep me occupied. The group even formed an acronym for Hip Hop defining it as Higher Inner Peace Helping Other People. FootKlan has catapulted it’s organization since shows like So You Think You Can Dance? and Dancing With The Stars have become so popular, bringing back the interest in dance that had for some time been lost. Without further ado here’s the clip





All works done by Austin Shaw

read an Interview with Mr. Shaw @ amateurillustrator


In the sixties the music scene in Ireland was let’s just say um…non existent. The Catholic Church controlled the showbands and massive dance hall. Um, no offense but, that sucks.

All the popular R&B ring lords were coming out of the US and the UK. I stand corrected, the Catholic Church only controlled the halls located in southern Ireland. Big shocker that amenities were sparsely available in Northern Ireland where there was no BIG backing. The halls were said to have been much smaller not to mention there was hardly any music coming out of the area to begin with.

In stomps in a band by the name of THEM are you familiar?

thestoryofthemfeatvanmorrison.jpg For some time Van Morrison was the lead vocalist of the group writing most of their material and produced some of the best R&B ever made! Funny thing is, the hometown where the members of the group are from despised the band not at all impressed at their immaculate talent. Natives threw pennies at the band during performances as a sign of displeasure… that’s worse than tomatoes talk about a tough gig.


The Story of Them, originally re-mastered and released in 1997 in the UK by Polydor, is being re-released in the coming months (if it hasn’t already lacked info). As far as I know this double disc sells for $60-$100 on some websites. Too bad the band had such a destructive way about them (no pun intended).

Apparently, in only just a few years (less than 5) the band had about 16 different versions (possible exaggeration) with new members every other show. The band couldn’t seem to stay sober often too intoxicated to count to 3 let alone try to perform in front of a live audience. A witness to one of their tragic performances lived to tell about his painful experience-

The show started about an hour late (not unusual in Ireland) and the band was terrible. They were so drunk that they thought they were still in the US (they had recently returned from a tour) each member appeared to be performing a different song and the drummer was on a different planet … we were huge fans so we were shocked, horrified and very upset especially because they were showing that our parents had been right all along. After about forty minutes of total disaster Van (who was totally sober and focused) managed to gain control and saved the day by performing more-or-less solo and he was brilliant. He gave an incredible performance of “Mystic Eyes”.


Ouch!! That hurts. Regardless the music they made is dope in a major way. I wanna say I got this album about a year ago and I can honestly say I’ve past the word on to more people than Polydor has sold more copies of. What’s good music if you don’t share?


Read the rest of this entry »


So here marks the day that I will feature a brief 20 minute masterful mix showcasing what I have in rotation that week. This week is musical posts in review. Most of the songs in this mix I have featured on the blog recently. Lately I’ve been in a sentimental mood. Hope you enjoy, there are plenty more to come.

01-In A Sentimental Mood.mp3


  1. King Oliver- West End Blues
  2. Ralfi Pagan- I Can’t See Me Without You
  3. Dinah Washington- Duke Before You Drown
  4. Bobby Blue Bland- I Pitty the Fool
  5. Rhetta Hughs- Come on Home
  6. Willie Hightower-It’s Too Late
  7. Judy Mowatt- Sisters’ Chant
  8. Ruth Brown- I Don’t Know
  9. Solomon Burke- Go On Back to Him
  10. Aretha Franklin- All Night Long
  11. Candi Staton- Sure as Sin

Bobby Blue Bland Two Steps from the Blues


Bland’s music incorporates just the right mix of gospel, blues and R&B. I dig it. You know when you hear a song and the first thing you want to do once it ends is just hear it again that you found a sinker. Caught me hook and string, the whole album from start to finish is worth praising. My ongoing quest for soulful inspiring music still continues but a little piece of me is satisfied after this find. Can you dig?


The J.B.’s Pass the Peas


If you don’t know about The J.B.’s you need to get acquainted with them. They don’t breed ’em like this anymore so take notes.The J.B.’s were the legendary supporting cast of musicians behind James Brown, need I say more?

Read the rest of this entry »



Daniel Edwards, controversial sculptor envy of celerity absurdity, has yet again unveiled a depiction of a public figure in “uncanny” light. This sculpture of Oprah Winfrey entitled “The Oprah Sarcophagus” portrays the talk show host with over-sized breast and protruding baby bearing hips. I personally don’t find it that insulting. She looks beautiful, pure, and voluptuous. Men like their women to look as natural possible…don’t get no more better than nude, bronzed and plated.

I wrote an article for my fiance about Daniel Edwards and various sex exploited art including a damn near naked Hilary Clinton and a nude Britney Spears on all fours. Check the full story @



It was Paul Robeson who realized the role of the artist extended far beyond the stage or the concert hall. As an entertainer, it was Paul Robeson who advised his peers to convey a positive image in plight of his people to change humanity, to fight for equal treatment, and to demand justice & peace with the power in which they possessed.

Robeson wore many hats defying categorization surpassing his role galore as just an actor, athlete, singer, political activist, or freedom writer. “I saw the connection between the problems of all oppressed people and the necessity of the artist to participate fully,” Robeson once said. He also protested, “the artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery.”


robeson2.jpg Robeson spoke 15 languages, that’s impressive…hell I know plenty of folks that can barely speak one language fluently. Although his fame grew in the United States, he was despised by the conservatives trying to uphold the status quo, yet was well renowned internationally. This was the ongoing theme for all entertainers and public figures of color in the states.

Miles Davis quoted people in Europe treated him as a king because of his talent regardless of his color. Davis found it hard to cope once back to America where he would confront discrimination and injustice in a country where he was revered and looked down upon as a savage and ridiculous excuse for a human being (he also claims this was what drove him to his heroin addiction).



“Paul Robeson was the most persecuted, the most ostracized, the most condemned black men in America, then or ever”– Llyod Brown, writer.

Robeson gave speeches about the sufferings of oppressed, more particularly blacks, in America while on tour abroad. His statements were distorted while dispatched to the United States. When he would return a riot would erupt outside a concert hall in New York in 1949. The white community culminated into outrage and he would receive mixed responses from blacks. Ultimately, the government revoked his passport crippling Paul from leaving the states for nearly eight years. The NAACP openly denounced Robeson while many other black organizations shunned him in fear of reprisals.

He was an impeccable talent, fearless, and absurdly relentless with an unprecedented will to have his voice heard. Paul Robeson was the Renaissance man of the 21st Century.

A friend of mine, Charlie Hustle and his partner, Flux Capacitor collaborated to form dotMental a soulful hip-hop duo from Philly. They contributed to the making of this song and video dedicated to Paul Robeson. The images strongly depict a part of our history where destruction fluttered and prejudice ruled.

check dotMental at their myspace page




b000000xw101lzzzzzzz.jpg Back when technology lacked musicians played their instruments live in a studio for the duration of entire songs to record. Who knew?! Players were forced to be spread about the room by instrument to get a balanced sound. Myth has it that when Louis Armstrong recorded with Joe “King” Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, he was forced to play in the hall way due to his virtuous sound. A myth!! That’s just what that is, whether there is any truth to it no one really knows. Louis was said to have been in the very back of the room during recordings, though so was King Oliver. True or false all I know is the work they did together is masterful. Have a sneak


Read the rest of this entry »


Latin Soul Recordings released this compilation full of Latin Soul- Ballads with English lyrics and Latin Beats. Most in which were quite popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s By far the sweetest Latin comp I’ve ever heard. The mp3 I listed below is the first song on the CD and that voice you hear is Ralfi Pagan.


V/A The Sweeter Side of Latin Soul Vol. II



Read the rest of this entry »


odetta.jpg I wandered if I would find another album that I enjoyed listening to as much as I did Judy Mowatt’s Black Woman an album that is full of soul and spiritually enlightening. That’s a strong statement, at least I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. A little birdie dropped The Essential Odetta my way this afternoon. He said “I think you might like this,” he couldn’t have been more right.

Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. anointed Odetta “The Queen of American Folk Music,” in 1961. That’s quite the title. She had a subsequent influence on artist like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Two of the few Folk artists I can listen to on a daily basis besides Simon & Garfunkel. Director Martin Scorcese highlights her influence on Dylan in the 2005 documentary No Direction Home. Can’t say I’ve seen it but I will look for it.

Maya Angelou once stated “If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta’s would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time.” I dig it. From what I hear, Odetta still performs at McCab’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Gotta check into that! Have a listen.

Odetta The Essential Odetta

Read the rest of this entry »



Apparently Al Green has been in the studio for the past three years working on an album that is due to release this spring. A few names are said to appear on this project: Anthony Hamilton, Corine Bailey Ray, D’angelo and possibly Justin Timberlake. I can dig that. Multitask-er ?uestlove, from famed hip-hop group The Roots is the mastermind behind the production of the album.

Get acquainted with their live album The Roots Come Alive All Access. That joint with Erykah Badu “You got me” -which was written by Philly’s Jill Scott- has the illest break I’ve ever heard. The drums take it to another level, ?uest was working double overtime. Man, I remember hearing that song while I was on tour with this break dancing crew that used to appear on Soul Train. The members of the crew used to freestyle and battle over the breaks. I was just a kid at the time it was the most excited thing to me. I can give them credit for putting me up on game. The whole album actually gave me a divine appreciation for hip-hop.


?uestlove & Al Green, talk about a CD to get excited about. The album is still untitled. Props to Sit Down Stand Up! A song from the upcoming album has been leaked. Have a listen…



Photos taken by Brian Auer

more photos from Brian

Read the rest of this entry »



It’s no surprise to anyone that Hip-Hop has sampled other music forms since it’s inception. Any serious hip hop fan knows that many samples come from Jazz music. Famous American label Blue Note Records has been releasing Jazz Records since the 1950’s. Notable albums such as Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder album, John Coltranes’s Blue Train, Miles Davis’ Kind of blue, along with a plethera of other albums were released by Blue Note. The veteran label plans to release Droppin’ Science, a collection of songs that were sampled by Hip-Hop artist, on Feb 2.

full story @


art_17962_big.jpgIt appears someone has robbed Jamaica of a part of it’s history. A rather large collection, including original recordings of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh music and famous footage from the 1970’s was stolen from a former Jamaican Broadcasting corporation.
The most disturbing part about the story is that the void was noticed days before being reported. I smell a rat. Musicians and employees of the co. are upset with the government of Jamaica for not better protecting the archives.

Song from Marley and the Wailers 09-its-all-right.mp3

Read the rest of this entry »



After listening to my blues playlist in my ipod yesterday while working out, I realized there were some precious gems I really wanted to share. The greatest part about an inchanting music experience is being able to give it to sombody to help them deal or just for their listening pleasure. For me, there’s no music that helps me distress better than the blues. To fully understand the Blues, I once said, takes a certain level of life experience. You can’t preach to something you’ve never witnessed. Here are just a few men that have experienced plenty and lived to sing about it Enjoy.

Professor Longhair New Orleans Piano

have a listen 09-hey-little-girl.mp3
Read the rest of this entry »



I first heard this Cassandra Wilson cover of a Robert Johnson song while taking a modern jazz class at Arizona State. If you know anything about taking class on a professional level, you’d know classes tend to be about 2 hrs long the first hour usually reserved just for prepping and warming the body. This hour was different still remember it like it was yesterday. A moist room full of slim, sweaty, heavy breathing woman all stretching and maneuvering their limbs in unison to this song. It was trippy, felt like I was on drugs.

Cassandra has this immaculate way of bending and accentuating her tone like I’ve never heard anybody do. Made it easy for every sluggish, isolated movement to be drawn out to extreme proportions. Looked like something out of a psychedelic music video. And this was just the warm-up. You just can’t help the flattering harmonica, piercing guitar arrangements, and moaning bass over Wilson’s raspy voice, this song still makes me wanna move my body in ways unimaginable.



Cassandra Wilson learned piano at age six and by the age of twelve she was teaching herself the guitar.

Hear Robert Johnson’s version Read the rest of this entry »


If you havn’t seen this you need to.

watch more performances from Gabi Wilson Read the rest of this entry »


I ran across this CD not too long ago and after hearing it I was enraptured. The vocalist, at the time was unfamiliar to me, but the cover of the album had me intrigued.


Judy Mowatt Black Woman


Man, was I stoked! Couldn’t believe I hadn’t discovered the CD sooner. That’s how you always feel when you find a gem that elevates you. I felt the same way when I heard Candi Staton for the first time. Shocked and stunned, yet immensely grateful. Anyhow, after doing some research turns out Judy was one of the singers in Bob Marley’s reggae trio the I-Threes which Rita Marley was a member of. The reggae singer was the first woman to be nominated for a Grammy. Oh, did I mention Ms. Mowatt was the first woman to compose and produce her own record. She was considered to be spiritually enlightening and liberating to the African community with intense, meaningful lyrics. I dig that.

Judy converted to Christianity after the death of Halie Selassie. She has released a few gospel albums with the lasted installment just a few years back.

hear a song from Black Woman Read the rest of this entry »