Ishmael Reed - The Hands of Grace

(November 2022)


Reading Group is thrilled to announce The Hands of Grace, a new album of original music by the legendary novelist, essayist, poet, critic, and playwright Ishmael Reed (b. Tennessee, 1938). The Hands of Grace presents for the first time the original music that Reed composed for his 2021 play, “The Slave Who Loved Caviar,” which was read at the Nuyorican Poets Café and premiered at the Theater for the New City in 2021. Also featured on the album is several other solo piano and ensemble compositions by Reed, with accompaniment from Roger Glenn (flute), Ray Obiedo (guitar), Carla Blank Reed (violin), and Tennessee Reed (voice).

Reed’s compositions on The Hands of Grace range from humor and pastiche to arresting beauty. The intimate and idiosyncratic sound calls to mind the off-kilter beauty of Charles Mingus’s piano record and Carman Moore’s score (also on Reading Group) for Personal Problems (1980), the brilliant “black soap opera” that Reed co-developed with Steve Cannon and Bill Gunn. Opening with a minimalist meditation on Jean-Michel Basquiat (also the subject of the play), and moving through blues tunes, descriptive pieces, and tributes to poet Lucille Clifton and Reed’s partner Carla Blank, the record closes with a moving ode to Reed’s late daughter Timothy. The Hands of Grace offers a deep dive into the musicality of this inimitable artist.

Edition of 250 CDs, with liner note essays by Ishmael Reed and Fred Moten.

mastered by Matt Bachmann
Published in 2022, rg25
Ships mid-November 2022. Pre-order below.



Pre-order CD:
price with shipping

or order digital from bandcamp.



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