Digging Deep: Tall Black Guy
Detroit is the home of musical legend: a once fertile city that even when bulldozed to the ground, can yield the most inspiring and exciting sapling of musical ingenuity. Terrel Wallace, aka Tall Black Guy, is one of those artists still upholding the magic of the Motor City. Whilst the musical zeitgeist tardily salivates over the techno traditions Detroit gave birth to, Wallace, now living in humble Norwich, has eased out a catalogue of masterful grooves which appeal to the more soulful side of his native city.
Every article or interview you read reminds you that Wallace was “raised on a healthy diet of soul, jazz and early hip hop”, but yet it’s very hard to overlook these influences as they are the veins that run throughout his work. DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J. Dilla, Madlib, Timbaland and The Neptunes; all these hip hop greats helped Wallace to define his sound and refine his craft. Following in their footsteps, his intricately sliced production and chopped beats piece together to make a jazzy and soulful collage.
His first LP 8 Miles to Moenart on First Word Records is certainly a timely glance back across the Atlantic to his nurtured familiars. A swinging hip hop, down-tempo house and jazz-infused composition, it is a true signature of his sound. Alongside this, Wallace’s strong catalogue of singles and EPs also manages to dip a noticeable nod (Wallace stands at 6ft 5”) across the water, sampling soulful classics and crate-dug gems to produce effortlessly smooth, yet tangibly hazy 7”s. Mini Therapy Chops 3, the most recent instalment in his ever-expanding canon on his own Tall Black Guy Productions is an incandescent, summer swell; a Dilla-esque, tripping beat, dripping with the soothing tones of Marvin Gaye.
Ahead of his appearance at Southport Weekender in May alongside the likes of Gregory Porter and fellow Detroiter, Moodyman, Tall Black Guy took some time out to delve through his extensive record collection for a succinct selection of some of those most deeply dug influences which have helped shape and define his musical approach.
Sergio Mendes & The Brazil 66 – “Casa Forte” (from the album Foot On The Hill, originally composed by Edu Lobo.)
This tune is ridiculous! I really love the how the track flows and when the lady starts singing with the music. But whats even more intresting about this track is that it’s like 9 or 10 different version of it. And all of them are sick!
Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express – “Beginning Again” (off the Straight Ahead album.)
Brian Auger is a stupid dope keyboard player. He really displays his expertise at the 2:34 mark, just gliding thru the track with grace on his solo. One day I want to be able to play like him and the other greats.
Cal Tjader – “Sake and Greens” (off the Breeze for the East album.)
I heard this joint while driving home from work listening to this college jazz radio station. The the song was still playing, I immediately pulled over to the shoulder and waited untill it finished so I could get the name of it. The next day I went and bought the record.
A short but sweet selection from TBG! His latest 7″ Mini Therapy Chops 3 is out now.