Quite a significant number of Black classical musicians (soloists and ensembles) have wonderful albums, but precious little press around them, even from niche reviewers. While I am no experienced album reviewer, I would love to direct BIBA Fans to this world of artistry that is available to support in various ways. BIBA has reviewed Seth Parker Woods's album in the past (in a VLOG), thus will continue with reviews moving forward! And this blog's album review is a recent release by COOS collaborator Julian Terrell Otis: All the Pretty Flowers.
Now that you've purchased the album (!!), please take a moment to bathe yourself in what may be a new sonic experience.
I first met Julian in Chicago, when Seth organized a performance of one of my works. Julian sang this raw piece, being accompanied only by a contrabass. Their performance was truly stunning and solidified my deep respect for his artistry. I then had the pleasure of seeing him perform with Angel Bat Dawid & The Brothahood in Den Haag (The Hague, in the Netherlands). It was refreshing to see and hear another color and character of his artistry. Angel Bad Dawid appears on this album, and adds to the Afrofuturism element of Otis's environments. The tracks come from two sessions, one in Chicago and one at the Banff Centre in Canada, where Julian was a featured artist. While these sessions were separated by time and geography, the album definitely meshes together as one cohesive entity.
In the eight tracks offered on this stellar sonic journey, Julian spans the gambit of issues and emotions, including questioning the canon (Beethoven was Black), futuristic civil rights (We Are Not Robots), environmental betrayal and - perhaps inadvertently - the power of a Black man's tears (Mother Earth), Afrofuturism comedy and new versions of familiarities (The Tale of the Martian Cheetos), a tribute to Chicago (All the Pretty Flowers), experimental sonic flow (Pauline's Interlude), and true wealth (Rich). Otis's text is clear and simple, but NOT in any way simplistic. In fact, these little text nuggets contain such wisdom and philosophy that one can sit with this album for years unpacking hidden meanings, secrets, messages, and perhaps prompts from the future, the present, and the past. Are you ready for this journey?
THANK YOU JULIAN and all your collaborators for this heartfelt, meaningful experience!
"Have you ever put a smile on someone's face? Then you're rich ... "