Black Unity Trio - Al-Fatihah LP
Black Unity Trio - Al-Fatihah LP
Gotta Groove Records
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2021 second edition. "Black Unity Trio - Al Fatihah quite possibly was the first independently released free jazz record ever. Originating in Oberlin, Ohio as the Black Unity Quartet, and ultimately becoming the Trio (Abdul Wadud, Yusuf Mumin, and Hasan Al Hut), the group recorded Al Fatihah in December 24, 1968 at Agency Recording Studio (which was located upstairs in the building housing the legendary Agora Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio). The album ultimately was released in May 1969 in an edition of 500 copies. The album has been legendary among collectors, producers, and DJs in the past several decades, and has been sampled numerous times on other releases. Much mystery surrounded the origins of the album, as well as the status of the musicians, until 2020 when The Wire published an interview with Hasan. Many underground jazz purists know about the intense, though relatively short-lived hotbed of avant-garde jazz in Cleveland, Ohio during the mid-to-late 1960s. Clubs such as Leo's Casino, Jazz Temple, The Doan Club, Le Cave and a few private clubs saw many young avant-garde jazz acts during this time period. I first learned of Black Unity Trio when seeking out tapes of Albert Ayler playing at Le Cave. From that point forward, I had a mission to seek out the members and see if they would be interested in making a vinyl reissue of Al Fatihah. Most of my efforts ran into dead ends, and it did not take very long to learn that the members, perhaps, were content with letting the record fall into the annals of crate digging history. Then in 2019, I received a phone call from someone referring to himself as 'Ron'; who wanted to bring some tapes by the pressing plant. Whenever I get a call on the subject of tapes, my first question is 'how old are the tapes?'. The caller replied 'late 1960's''. Of course, this perked my interest even more, so I asked what sort of material was on the tapes, to which he replied 'Oh, spiritual jazz''. 'Really?'; I replied, even more interested than ever - particularly since the caller id showed a 216 area code phone number. Then he proceeded to say 'it's called the Black Unity Trio''. I about dropped the phone; 'Are you serious, I have been trying to get a hold of you guys for a year!' I replied. Ron (Abdul) was surprised by that statement. But, it led to months of additional conversations with both he and Yusuf about how to get the record back into the world, and eventually I was introduced to Hasan as well. After many phone conferences, we were able to come to an agreement to reissue this seminal free jazz record via Gotta Groove Records' OHWax series. Yusuf personally brought the original 1968 master tapes to Cleveland in early 2020, and we have been working on the audio restoration and package details ever since. We have spared no expense in making this reissue. Our friend Grammy-Award recipient Paul Blakemore's restoration and remastering work cleaned random ticks from the original source, as well as greatly improved the balance to bring out some of the instrument subtleties which were barely, if at all audible, in the original pressing. We also used Gotta Groove's proprietary GrooveCoated stamper plating technology -- This involves an additional electroforming step in the creation of the metal stampers used to press the grooves into the records. GrooveCoated stampers have a lubricious surface which helps high frequencies in particular to be held more intact during the course of manufacturing, verses traditional stampers. This is a record I am truly proud and excited to be working on, and I look forward to a new generation of vinyl listeners to have access to it." --Matt Earley, Executive Producer. The musicians of Black Unity Trio are paid at least 70% of the profits from this release by Gotta Groove Records, Inc.