This installment will feature composer, producer and former percussionist with Miles Davis during his “electric period” James Mtume from 1971 to 1975. It will air on Sunday June 17, 2012 at 11:00pm – Monday at 1:00am on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. You can hear a 30-second promo below:
James Mtume was raised in a musical family where his father and uncles formed a band “The Heath Brothers”. Already in the sixties, James Mtume studied percussion and soon after this, he also acquired guitar playing skills. It didn’t take long before he played together with artists like Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and eventually became the percussionist for Miles Davis. In the Miles Davis band, Reggie Lucas played guitar, and it was with Reggie Lucas that James Mtume started a song writing partnership that became the R&B group Mtume.
Mtume recorded as a bandleader for Strata-East before turning to funk in the late ’70s. Mtume’s band included the sassy, sultry vocalist Tawatha Agee, keyboardist Phil Fields, and bassist Ray Johnson. Mtume, the band, had a number one R&B hit with “Juicy Fruit” for Epic Records in 1983 and a number 2 R&B single in 1984 with “You, Me and He”. Mtume recorded for Epic until the late ’80s. Their final Top Ten hit was “Breathless” in 1986. Mtume produced and/or wrote for such artists as Stephanie Mills, Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman, Gary Bartz, Sadane, Lou Rawls, Rena Scott, Eddie Henderson in the late ’70s, Levert, Tyrone Brunson, Roy Ayers, Henderson and Tease. Roots and Influences: Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders. Mtume’s hits for Robert Flack and Donny Hathaway include “The Closer I Get To You” and “Back Together Again”, both platinum sellers and widely viewed “classic songs” in the business.
Hosted by Joyce Jones.
Web extra: Watch this discussion between jazz critic Stanley Crouch and James Mtume on the music of Miles Davis’s electric period. If you have an older computer or slower internet connection, changing the video quality to a lower setting will give you smoother play with fewer interruptions. Youtube explains how to do that here.
Part 1: 14 minutes, 40 seconds
Part 2: 14 minutes, 9 seconds