Sylvester: Private Recordings, August 1970

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Disco legend Sylvester showcases a different side of his musical talents on Dark Entries’ release, “Private Recordings: August 1970.” This collection offers an intimate glimpse into the vintage jazz, blues, and gospel influences that inspired Sylvester during this period. While he is most famous for his collaborations with producer Patrick Cowley, this album reveals his deep admiration for the sounds of the 1930s and 1940s. In 1970, a young Sylvester relocated to San Francisco and became involved with the avant-garde performance art troupe, the Cockettes. It was within this creative community that Sylvester met Peter Mintun, a pianist and record collector immersed in retro culture. Sharing a mutual love for the music of bygone eras, Mintun and Sylvester secured a slot in Cockettes performances, breathing new life into Prohibition Era songs. The duo decided to record some of their favorite tunes, resulting in the nine tracks featured on “Private Recordings.” These recordings capture the essence of Sylvester’s unique falsetto, infusing his signature depth and a touch of camp into beloved standards such as “Stormy Weather,” “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and “God Bless the Child.” The album holds an air of authenticity, with Sylvester and Mintun’s banter and experimentation evident throughout. The duo’s spontaneous rendition of “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” showcases their collaborative process, as they craft a melody in real-time. Beyond their musical exploration, Sylvester and Mintun also embarked on vintage couture photoshoots, capturing the spirit of the era visually. The album includes a 16-page booklet that showcases never-before-seen images from these sessions, alongside liner notes by Mintun, providing insight into his friendship with Sylvester and their recording experiences. To honor Sylvester’s enduring legacy, “Private Recordings” will be released on what would have been his 76th birthday, September 6th. All proceeds from the album will be donated to two charities dear to Sylvester’s heart: Project Open Hand and PRC (formerly AIDS Emergency Fund). This release is a significant documentation of the earliest known recordings from one of disco’s most influential figures. It offers a glimpse into the multifaceted artistry of Sylvester, highlighting his passion for music from different eras and his willingness to push boundaries and explore new sounds.

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