Marcus Machado delivers a stunning new interpretation of the color purple.

Marcus Machado is no stranger to the I SPY SOUL platform. Five years ago we shined a light on the virtuosic guitarist who since being acknowledged as a bonafide prodigy as a child, had been wowing audiences and notable artists alike. A suggested look back at that feature HERE will reveal why more high profile looks were likely on the horizon or have in fact, come to fruition. Before and leading up to the pandemic, the sought-after Machado was in addition to performing and recording as a lead artist, successfully juggling a dizzying schedule of work and performances with artists like vocalist Jose James, iconic DJ/Producer, Pete Rock, standout drummer, Daru Jones, Grammy-winning artist, Anderson.Paak, and with sibling, burgeoning producer Vicky Casis as part of their production team, Mach 7 Muzik to name just a few.

He’d also scored the music for the critically acclaimed hip hop documentary, Contact High as well as worked with Grammy-winning artist, Robert Glasper on the score for the Emmy-winning HBO documentary, The Apollo about the historic Harlem theater. He also worked with Glasper and Grammy-winning vocalist Lalah Hathaway on the NAACP Award winning documentary Mr.Soul which made it to the Academy Awards shortlist. 

So when the pandemic arrived and brought everything to a sobering, screeching halt, Marcus Machado had no choice but to … seemingly be as busy as if nothing were stopped at all.  The Mach 7 Muzik duo released two hip hop laced EPs, Black Summer Again, and Black Summer Vol.2As part of the supergroup Th1rt3en he joined rapper phenomenon, Pharoahe Monch, and the Grammy- winning, Daru Jones to release the trenchant, rock/hip hop gem,  A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism. The project, widely acclaimed, encouraged performances on the Stephen Colbert show and NPR’s popular Tiny Desk series along with several epic visuals. He performed live streams with Jose James and Pete Rock & The Soul Brothers whose project, Petestrumentals 3, on which he also appears, dropped late 2020. He and sister, Vicky Casis even created QSTV, a hip and innovative, bi – weekly program streaming live on YouTube that features a spectrum of accomplished creatives via live and recorded performances, DJ sets, music videos, interviews and more. 

Oh and one more thing, Marcus Machado released his long anticipated, debut album, Aquarius Purple, on vinyl in late February of this year and just recently on all other platforms. It is a triumphant and comprehensive display of not only the consummate guitar skills for which he is known, but as a producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist as well. Featuring frequent collaborators, Daru Jones, Grammy-winning vocalists, Jermaine Holmes and Ahrel Lumzy, accomplished rap artist, JSWISS as well as producer and multi-instrumentalist, TFOX, it is being considered one of the best releases of the year thus far.  

On the I SPY SOUL podcast edition interview, we talk to Marcus Machado about the new album, his near experience meeting Prince that inspired, “Her” and much more. BC

Featured Photo: Robert Adam Mayer

The following tracks were played during the course of the interview:

Opening and closing music: Dillafornia 6 by Daniel Crawford

“New Thangz” featuring DJ Spinna from the EP, 29 by Marcus Machado

“Let’s Play”, “AQ Intro” (Night Owl Child), “Black Psychedelic Funk” and “Her”

all from the new album, Aquarius Purple by Marcus Machado

For more on Marcus Machado go to www.officialmarcusmachado.com/ or follow him on Instagram

@ https://www.instagram.com/officialmarcusmachado/

And to check out Mach 7 Muzik go to https://mach-7muzik.bandcamp.com/

Ben Williams declares people still need to know, “I Am A Man”

I AM A MAN

Bassist, composer and vocalist Ben Williams was one of the busiest and sought-after players on the scene prior to the pandemic. The Grammy-winning musician has been a first-call bassist for many elite artists for more than a decade with a sterling resume that includes work with Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Pat Metheny, Nicholas Payton, José James, Marcus Strickland and so many more.  So certainly, like most artists and musicians, the reality of the resulting shut down was mind-boggling, life-altering and incredibly disappointing.

But there was another layer of disappointment for Williams as well. That’s because he found opportunity and was in the midst of touring and performing as a leader in support of his instantly acclaimed third album, the compelling, I AM A MAN released in February 2020. Borrowing its title from the signs held high during the consequential 1968 Memphis sanitation strike where 1,300 black sanitation workers walked off the job, protesting awful working conditions, racism and discrimination, Williams’ project sought to shine a light on the continued racial injustice and inequality experienced by African – Americans in America. 

The pandemic seemed like it would steal the spotlight, momentum and most importantly, message of the project away. In the most twisted of ways that would have almost been preferred when you consider that the alternative would be some of the most alarming examples of what Williams’ I AM A MAN spoke to. There was news and video surfaced about shootings of Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor and alas, the horrific scene shown the world over – the killing of George Floyd, which of course led to mammoth protest, unrest and conversation about racism and change. For us all the pandemic hit with huge, unicorn-like proportion and out of nowhere, but sadly the killings where an almost inevitable occurrence and Williams’ I AM A MAN provided a powerful and prophetic soundtrack. 

In addition to talking about what influences his bass playing; his emergence as a vocalist; the confines of being labeled a jazz artist and more, in this special I SPY SOUL podcast edition interview, Williams shares why pushing this project continues to be so very important to him and toward a continued goal of change.

The following tracks were played during the course of the interview. Click the title links for full track:

“Half Steppin'” from the album Coming of Age

“Promised Land” from I AM A MAN

“If You Hear Me” from I AM A MAN

“Take It From Me” from I AM A MAN

“High Road”(Instrumental) from I AM A MAN (Instrumentals)

For more about Ben Williams go to BenWilliamsmusic.net and to keep up on Instagram follow him @benwmsonbass