Good Read
5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Strata-East Records

An artist-driven label, Strata-East became a hub for the type of Afrocentric and psychedelic jazz that wasn’t accepted by the wider mainstream. With projects like Tolliver’s own Music Inc., alongside experimental acts like Brother Ah, the Descendants of Mike and Phoebe, and Jayne Cortez, the albums released on Strata-East spoke to the Civil Rights struggles of Black Americans at the time. In 1974, the label enjoyed a breakout hit with “Winter in America,” a collaborative album from Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson powered by the lead single “The Bottle.” But while that’s the most notable album in the catalog, Strata-East is full of excellent records that are widely celebrated, if not always easy to hear; original copies of some trade hands for hundreds of dollars, and none of the selections below are available on Spotify.

An essential guided tour of the label from 10 writers and musicians.