The Black Gold Orchestra, Genesis Review
A Genesis of Jazz’s Future: The Black Gold Orchestra
The jazz albums of today have to hit the scene with a genre-blending sound that is increasingly popular. The Black Gold Orchestra’s debut album, “Genesis,” released on September 8, 2023, bursts onto the platform as a sprawling mosaic of Black American music. Formed by GRAMMY-nominated producer Larry Wilson, the Atlanta-based 19-piece big band combines jazz, R&B, soul, hip-hop, house, rock, blues, and gospel into an emotionally rich and technically fluid album.
Taking a quick pass through this debut album reveals how the melding of genres contributes to both the preservation and innovation of the ensemble’s performance—a statement that promises a lauded place in today’s jazz canon. This is epitomized in the opening track “On The Move,” where the blend of rock, Latin jazz, and R&B creates an auditory tapestry that harkens back to the big band era while signaling the future of jazz. With standout solos from Mike Walton, Melvin Jones, Kenny Banks Jr., and Larry Wilson, the track serves as a testament to the group’s collective virtuosity and dynamic interplay, laying a strong foundation for the accolades that are likely to come their way.
The compositions on “Genesis” ingeniously root themselves in the bedrock of Black American musical traditions, while also casting a wide net to attract listeners across both generational and racial divides. This is exemplified in “Midnight Oil,” a track that ingeniously blends modern jazz and R&B elements to craft a nocturnal narrative that resonates with both seasoned jazz enthusiasts and younger audiences. The song gains further distinction through its adept use of a steady rock-inspired bass line and its impeccably expressive ensemble, a feat achieved through the rhythmic synergy between Wilson’s drumming and bassist Joel Powell.
In “Firm Roots,” the opening theme pays homage to the rhythmic complexity and melodic exuberance of jazz, associated with the ’70s blending of jazz with rock, funk, and R&B, but here reimagined in a big band setting. The horn sections breathe new life into the iconic big band voicings with added tensions and rhythms, grounding them in a rich, well-articulated buzz, while the rhythm section captures the song’s original drive and high energy.
The smooth sounds of “Prototype” seamlessly weave elements of contemporary gospel, R&B, and hip-hop-flavored jazz. The opening theme exudes a dynamic contemporary gospel melody that feels as if it were lifted straight from Sunday worship. Following this, saxophonist Mike Burton delivers an exceptional solo that bridges traditional bebop with today’s jazz language, all set over a hip-hop-inspired jazz groove masterfully laid down by Wilson and Powell.
After plunging into the exhilarating waters of “Firm Roots” and the soulful depths of “Prototype,” it becomes clear that this album is a masterstroke in the art of musical synthesis. The musicians have managed to construct a sonic bridge that makes you feel like a time traveler of American music history. The ensemble’s treatment of rhythm, coupled with their skilled manipulation of tempo and dynamics, creates a compelling narrative arc across the album. The high production value adds another layer of polish, making the album not just a treat for jazz aficionados but also a welcoming entry point for newcomers to the genre.
In conclusion, the ensemble has succeeded in creating an album that celebrates jazz’s rich history while providing a thrilling example of today’s trajectory for the future of jazz. This deserves acknowledgement in today’s musical landscape and promises further accolades in the future as the word about The Black Gold Orchestra spreads. That’s the short of it!
Connect with The Black Gold Orchestra: Website |
September 8, 2023
Sessions Lane Records/Truth Music