Friday, April 12, 2013
RIP Don Blackman, 1953-2013
Many music worlds lost a man of great talent and unrecognized influence on Wednesday night when Donald Blackman passed away at the age of 59. I don't want to get into too much of a biography, because Google does a better job at that than I ever could anyway. "The Godfather", as he was called amongst his group in the GRP family, had his hand in the jazz-funk sound of Jamaica, Queens residents like Tom Browne, Marcus Miller and Bernard Wright. The blend of heavy groove based funk with the musical sensibility and harmonic style of jazz is one that was unmistakably his own, and his 1982 self-titled album has been so heavily sampled in modern hip-hop that it deserves as wide recognition as the other funk-break albums by people like Bob James and David Axelrod.
When I finally found his original self-titled album in an antique store in Pasadena, I wrote the email address listed on his website asking if he would ever play any shows in California (or the United States at all for that matter). To my surprise, it was actually his personal email address, and through a series of genuine and humble emails it was clear that Don Blackman was a kind and approachable human being who appreciated music and music lovers more than fame or popularity.
I will close this post with a few of my favorite songs of his (either performed or written by him):