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Tarika Blue: Tarika Blue

A New York-based fusion band that recorded for the jazz label Chiaroscuro Records during the ’70s, Tarika Blue came to the attention of a more contemporary audience when singer Erykah Badu sampled its hypnotic tune “Dreamflower” for her hit “Didn’t Cha Know.” Badu had used the tune without permission, though, and the settlement she and her label paid for the sample allowed Chiaroscuro to launch a new label called Downtown Sounds, whose first release is the single CD Tarika Blue, a reissue of the group’s two albums: 1976’s self-titled debut and 1977’s The Blue Path.

The CD spotlights Tarika Blue’s improvisational skill, infectious spirit and high-level musicianship. Sinuous, snake-charmer saxophone meets hypnotic rhythms on “Blue Neptune,” while “Jimi” features dueling-axe fireworks from guitarists Ryo Kawasaki and James Mason. On “My Love Is So Free,” singer Dolores Smith’s vocals are cushioned by a rhythm pattern reminiscent of the rhythm of Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father.” While this collection will undoubtedly evoke memories of Tarika Blue for some listeners, it will serve to introduce others to the music of this first-rate ensemble.

Originally Published