Black Jesus Experience is a 10 (+) piece cooperative of musicians and poets who encapsulate the spirit of multi cultural Melbourne. Part funk, hip hop, ethio groove, afrobeat, jazz and everything else, their music draws upon their Zimbabwean, Ethiopian and Australian origins to create their unique melting pot of sound. I first encountered them as the backing band to the great Ethiopian composer and vibraphonist Mulutu Astatke, with whom they’ve subsequently recorded two albums, 2016’s Cradle Of Humanity and 2019’s To Know Without Knowing, though I’ve also caught them numerous times playing around town. Probably the best place to see them is at the Ethiopian restaurant The Horn, where they perform weekly when not touring, often featuring guest musicians and descending into epic jam sessions. Their most recent album is 2022’s Good Evening Black Buddha, their seventh studio album, which merges singer Enushu Taye’s gorgeous Amharic vocals with the breathless flows of MC Mista Monk. It really feels like they’re moving beyond genres here, even featuring guest didgeridoo on a few pieces – and it integrates seamlessly.
Most of the time it’s difficult to categorise their music, its got an amazing groove, and references so much – often all at once. With their recently announced shows at Womadelaide we took the opportunity to finally ask them about the music that moves them, and they didn’t disappoint. Each of the 10 members were given one miserly selection.
Peter Harper – Sax
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
The title says it all.
This is a masterpiece. It shows an absolute commitment to pioneer and create art, free from cliche and established forms. The bands connection and musicianship is beyond belief.
Bobby Sedergreen – Piano
Cannonball Adderley – Country Preacher
Bob chose Cannonball Adderley Country Preacher A live concert by an established and tight band to an all black audience featuring the following genres -gospel, funk and fusion,free improvisation,black African music ,blues and the tightest grooves ever. A working band turned on musically delivering a feast of Black African music.
Lorenzo Crestani – Guitar
Jimmy Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
When I heard Electric Ladyland I was 7 years old.
Since then I stopped my imaginary phone conversations with Jeaque Cousteau and started playing guitar.
James Davies – Drums
Donny Hathaway – Live
The best part of ‘Live’ is that the way it is recorded feels like a time capsule, putting listeners in the room at the gig experiencing a moment in time. The audience, musicianship, interaction, and dynamics in the rhythm section all have a palpable magic, everything in it’s right place! On top of it all, Donny’s performance is on another level, like lightning in a bottle.
Enushu Taye – vocals
Gigi – Gold and Wax
Amazing words and Melodies mixed with jazzy arrangements.
Liam Monkhouse – MC
Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
This is one of the most compelling rap albums of its time, or indeed of any time, the revolutionary sound of fiery black nationalism, like a syncopated call to arms over an air raid siren set to a funk backbone on acid and steroids.
Kahan Harper – percussion
The Ted Vining Trio – Live at PBS fm
I chose The Ted Vining Trio live at pbsfm because it swings like a dunny door. It’s Jazz at what I consider highest standard and more importantly music played passionately between three unified individuals.
Ian Dixon – Trumpet
Sly And The Family Stone – There’s A Riot Goin’ On
Funky as! Musically and lyrically – and funky in a way that opened up funk, gave it more freedom, openness, spaciousness, paved the way for P-Funk, G-Funk and all their antecedents in funk, hip-hop and the rest. Super funky mix of played and machine grooves ten years ahead of masterpieces like Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing and twenty ahead of the 90’s explosion of creativity that saw the broadest of acid-jazz, nu-jazz, electronica, DnB, Jungle etc revelling in the rhythmic energy in the tension between human and machine grooves, and of loops of both human and machine origin. Yeah, funky as from the master Sly Stone.
Richard Rose – Bass
Bob Dylan – Times They Are A-Changin
My reason for choosing the Bob Dylan album:
On the album is a song called Only A Pawn In Their Game. Dylan sang this song on the same podium Martin Luther King gave his iconic “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. The song points a finger firmly in the face of those who seek to weaponise their wealth and privilege for political gain. Over 60 years since the song was written, as we watch fascist and imperialist leaders committing and funding genocide against the Palestinian people, this song is a reminder that all humans deserve the right to be free, to thrive and to feel safe and that we must resist all forms of racial oppression including governments and organisations that profit from it.
Zac Lister – Guitar
Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life
Good Evening Black Buddha is out now via Agogo Records. You can find it here.
Black Jesus Experience are performing at Womadelaide 8-11th of March. You can find more information here.
They are also playing alongside Reunion Island artist Aurus at Melbourne’s Nightcat on the 16th of March. You can find more information here.