Stix Bones & Bob Beamon
There is a good story to tell before we get into the music. Bob Beamon won long-jump gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Beamon reached out to Stix Bones’s bassist and cousin, Albert Brisbane, to work with the drummer on a record. That record is Olimpik Soul. The record marks Beamon’s recording debut as a percussionist at age 77.
The music Stix Bones and Beamon make reminds me a lot of 1970s Soul Jazz. I can almost picture Isaac Hayes and Gill Scott Heron nodding their approval from the galactic control room in the spiritual studio. “Leap” opens the record with a smooth vibe with funky percussion, and Densen “Meighstro” Curwen’s piano reminds me of the jazz radio hits of Bob James. “Funktronic” picks up the pace and gives the horns plenty of room to roam. “Monday Madness” has a nice afro-Caribbean groove with more tasteful piano work from Curwen.
The two tracks with guest vocalists are highlights of the record. “Be Thankful” is a quiet storm reimagining of William DeVaughan’s 1974 Soul classic “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got.” Khadejia Bass’ silky smooth vocals caress your ears. Her hushed delivery makes it feel like a lover reassuring their partner that things will be all right after a particularly punishing week.
The other guest vocalist is Abiodun Oyewole, who was a member of the highly influential, proto-hip hop group The Last Poets. Oyewole contributes the song “Price of Freedom,” reciting words about freedom being too precious to be bought, even though the capitalist world would try to make you think otherwise.