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iTunes Review

"When veteran Miles Davis / Fishbone / Everlast sideman John ""JB"" Bigham steps out on his own, he does so with soul music that's much more than just ""retro-soul."" There should be nothing ""retro"" after all with playing instruments in real time with a genuinely elastic rhythm section that breathes with honest human spirit. Black John canvasses R&B, soul, funk, blues and country, taking its sweet time and expanding the groove wherever Bigham hears fit. Sure, its reference points and influences are of older vintage, but there's nothing wrong with emulating the classics. The title track kicks in like a vintage piece of '70s blaxploitation film music, its tight funk ushering in a groove that centers on a knife fight. ""Betty Jean"" turns on a sweet backing group vocal ensemble. ""White Dress"" presses forth with a minimalist funk that leaves plenty of anxious air. Echoes of classic soul from Sly Stone to Curtis Mayfield, James Brown to Isaac Hayes can be heard haunting these tracks. In this case, there are no better ghosts to evoke."

Customer Reviews

Black John Is The Master of Variety On His New Album

Black John and The Soul of John Black. Whichever way you look at it, this John has got his groove thang going nonstop on this recording on the sizzling hot Eclecto Groove label. I have not heard a CD from this label that I did not love yet. This is the gospel according to John, in a very musical sense that is. Black John sings from deep down in his soul and plays the six-string the same way. He gets help from his friends on this project including notables Adam McDougal (keys), Oliver Charles (drums), Scott Seiver (drums), Jake Najor (drums), Shawn Davis (bass), Davey Chegwidden (percussion) and Bill Botrell (2nd guitar), the list and resumes are long and impressive. It sure sounds as if Mr. John is a good match for everyone that steps in the studio to lend a hand. I knew I was going to enjoy this the moment the title track kicked in. This sound has the perfect blend of street smarts, a belief in the lord above, and enough real life interplay including expletives to keep it real and every day as the sunshine and blue sky. In addition to all of that, the dude can sing and play, he makes you believe every story he is telling and if you don’t he sounds like he will give you a thrashing you will never forget. I have to say I like his style and his straight up with-no-chaser look at life. This man is breaking some new ground here with a melting pot of emotion and sound that crosses over many different musical lines in the sand. He steps into gospel and then grabs back the blues and rocks on “I Knew A Lady” and then commences to serve up some nasty funk and soul on “Black John”. He cuts it loose on “Betty Jean” (about Miles Davis’ wife Betty) and warns her that she will be missing out saying things like “a cool MF like me,” and then lays it all down heavy on a track that would have made Isaac Hayes envious, with the rockin’ soulful and cinematic “Push Into The Night”. Like he says in “Holiday Inn”- don’t give me no chaser, give it to me straight, and he is not talking only about the booze here. Just as some of the rough edges wear off and the sun is ready to set, Black John pulls a rabbit out of his hat to close down the day with a tender ballad to his lady, offering us some haunting vocals accompanied by a beautiful acoustic guitar. Just when you think you got this guy all figured out he does something entirely different that you would not expect. For that, I believe this artist will have tremendous success wherever he plays out live or records. The Soul of John Black is diverse and entertaining in so many ways and that is an unusual thing in these strange and uncertain times. This artist is consistent yet unpredictable all at the same time and that is why he seems to find it easy to rock and cut out a groove that you cannot resist on every track. Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck February 17, 2009

Seamless blend of blues, R&B, funk and soul

The third album from guitarist John Bigham (Fishbone, Miles Davis) continues to explore the intersection of blues, R&B, funk and soul. Having co-founded the group with bassist Chris Thomas for 2003’s eponymous debut, he assumed the lion’s share of artistic control on 2007’s The Good Girl Blues, and here provides the songs, vocals, guitar and production. Blues and gospel provide the underlying progressions, but this is anything but “straight eight,” with electric bass and piano guiding the music towards the blend of soul, R&B and funk heard on the group’s first album. But neither is this a mash-up of styles, as the elements are smoothly absorbed into the whole, rather than stitched together patchwork-style. Bigham’s guitar is here, but it’s his elegant and thoughtful vocals that are the album’s star, with elements of Al Green, Prince, Sly Stone Lenny Kravitz, and Isaac Hayes all figuring into the results. Fans of old-school funk, ‘70s soul and contemporary blues will all find this to their liking. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]


It took several listens to appreciate this disk. I have their first one and instantly loved it. Black John takes a few listens to appreciate the diversity of sounds. There are few clunkers on this one. Turn it up and dance (on some tracks), or turn it down and chill.


Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s

This US band is designed to present the writing and performing skills of two musicians, John Bigham (b. USA; percussion), who worked with Miles Davis in the late 80s and early 90s, and Christopher Thomas (b. USA; bass). Exemplified by a propulsive swing, the old school funk songs are mostly soulful and simple in construction but played with considerable technical skill. Very much a personal project, the two principals augmented their line-up for their debut CD, released in 2003. Oliver Charles (drums),...
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Black John, The Soul of John Black
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