The Positive Force with Ade Olatunji - Oracy LP
Label: Rain & Shine
Seminal Spiritual Jazz from Detroit, 1977. Oracy by The Positive Force & Ade Olatunji belongs to the body of 1970s recordings that joined two of the great African American vehicles for expression, jazz and poetry, into a single, powerful force. A profoundly inspiring album that doubles as an important lens into the lasting struggle for social change and racial equity, it's impossible for us to recommend it enough. During this era, artists started their record labels and venues, freeing themselves from outside dependency and exploitation. Many collaborated within a sprawling network, where they came together in an endlessly reconfiguring series of groups, while others worked within now legendary collectives like Sun Ra's Arkestra, the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), Kelan Phil Cohran's Afro-Arts Theater, the Black Artist's Group, and the Pan Afrikan Arkestra.
Among the rarest and most coveted of these gestures, is a lone record entitled Oracy, released privately in 1977 by the Detroit ensemble, The Positive Force & Ade Olatunji, now reissued for the first time on vinyl by the New Zealand imprint Rain & Shine. A towering achievement that links the worlds of activism, cultural consciousness, poetry, and spiritual jazz as a single force, its long awaited return is a truly historically significant event.
Little detail is widely known about the group behind Oracy, The Positive Force, accompanied by the poet Ade Olatunji. While it is their lone recorded outing, issued in 1977 on Pamoja Records, there are indications that the project lasted for some time and was connected to a larger constellation of creativity and cultural togetherness in Detroit. One member recounts, "I remember Detroit being a cultural hotbed in 1977. There was poetry, theater and music everywhere." When entering the studio, the group settled on their title, Oracy, which they took from Wole Soyinka's term for oral literacy, a practice deeply connected to their own.
One of the great triumphs of social, political, and creative self-determinism that rose from African American communities during the 1970s, not to mention jazz at large, it's hard to express how potent and prescient The Positive Force & Ade Olatunji's Oracy feels in this moment. A profoundly inspiring work of beauty and expression, that doubles as an important lens into the lasting struggle for social change and racial equity, it's impossible for us to recommend it enough.
A truly incredible piece of work, issued lovingly by Rain & Shine as an officially licensed and re-mastered edition, featuring a fold-out insert of Olatunji's poetry and never before seen illustrations from 1977. Easily one of the best reissues of the year, and not to be missed.