Going Underground with Avery R. Young

Chris Daly goes in on the Chicago musician's newest release.
By    August 1, 2019

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Chris Daly was listening to more jazz before listening to more jazz became cool again.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a riot going on.  While the revolution may or may not be televised, you can bet your ass it will be live streamed, and if this sucker is going to get the likes it deserves, we’re going to need a soundtrack.  Enter Chicago’s own avery r. young. If you missed his debut, booker t. soltreyne: a race rekkid, you might recognize his vocals from joints by Catfish Haven, Marvin Tate or Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (NYT’s #1 jazz album of the year and Top 5 on the NPR Jazz Critics Poll).  In addition to being one hell of a musician, he also happens to be quite the political poet and historian.  Consider yourself informed.

With his latest, tubman., young goes miles further to prove that funk is the preferred venue for airing grievances and furthering emotional resonance. He amalgamates the sounds of Gill Scott Heron, early Parliament, Curtis Mayfield and the Temptations to create what he calls “sousefunk.” Backed by his band, da beacon board, tubman. is a political screed laced with humanity and humor, all the better to get through the pathos of life.  (Incidentally, the album is being released in conjunction with first volume of poetry neckbone: visual verses, which we did not have an opportunity to review.)  Whether it’s the history lesson imparted in “maasai” or the warning of ” lead in de wattah [a re-visit(id) negro spiritual] fo(r) flint ” (a reworking of the classic, “Wade in the Water”), young is here to educate and enlighten with heaping helpings of funk, soul, gospel, blues and just enough hip-hop to make everything go down smoother than a spoonful of sugar could ever hope to achieve.

From the opening, jabbing guitar lines in “sit down job (mudda mary)” to the low end bass on the titular closer, young gives a virtual history lesson on Black American Music, touching on some of the most popular genres of the past century, to instruct his listeners. He dutifully describes the world as he sees it, covering everything from nappy hair (‘com[b]) to the importance of good soul food (“ms lee’s good food”) as he presents a slice-of-life version of Chicago’s South Side living.

As young quotes  Dr. Rev. Deac. Bro. A. R-rah in the liner notes:Harriet Tubman didn’t run TO freedom.
Harriet ran cause she was free ALREADY.She wanted her body to be aligned
with what her mind and spirit already KNEW of herself

avery r. young is here to teach.  tubman. is the lesson you do not want to miss.

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