Galt MacDermot - Ghetto Suite

Galt MacDermot - Ghetto Suite

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Release Date 24/11/2023
Format LP
Label Tidal Waves
Catalogue Number TWM115

Galt MacDermot (1928-2018) was an award-winning Canadian-American composer, pianist, writer of classical music and theatrical pieces. MacDermot also composed music for several film soundtracks (like the 1970 blaxploitation film ‘Cotton Comes To Harlem’) and released several exceptional jazz and funk albums on his own label Kilmarnock Records.

He is best known for his work on the Grammy winning 1967 musical Hair (which also produced several number-one singles like “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In”) and Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971) for which he won a Tony Award. In 2009 Galt MacDermot was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and in 2010 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1979, MacDermot formed the New Pulse Jazz Band, which performed and recorded his original music. Galt MacDermot’s music is extremely popular with collectors of jazz and funk. Working with jazz and soul musicians such as Bernard Purdie and Idris Muhammad, MacDermot created pieces that used African rhythms (he made the study of African music his speciality).

In recent decades, his work has become popular with hip-hop musicians including Busta Rhymes, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Gang Starr, Action Bronson, Public Enemy, MF Doom, Madlib, J Dilla, Obie Trice, Naughty By Nature, Run DMC and Digable Planets…the list is endless.
The album we are proudly presenting you today (Ghetto Suite written in 1970 and released in 1972) is considered one of the most ground-breaking records ever issued on Galt MacDermot’s Killmarnock label and consists out of a selection of songs and poems by Harlem/Bronx school children, set to Galt’s music, and sung by vocalist Angela Ortega.

Given That Galt’s handling the music, you can bet that there’s plenty of nicely executed funky touches-supported by rolling bass-work, snapping drums, and organ virtuosity. But the real charm of these groovy tunes comes from the lyrics, which have a simple and to the point way of dealing with issues of racism, poverty and other issues of the time. The story telling is surprisingly gripping even after all these years.

The whole album creates an extremely personal direct sensitivity to the environment of Ghetto kids…telling us with defiantly honest intensity what it was like to be young and black, the drugs and the deaths, the topic of incarceration…or simply the fact of being battered by the frustration of Ghetto existence.

Ghetto Suite is way more than an entertainment record, it has been used by teachers and counsellors to inspire and motivate the muted voices of the black inner cities…documenting both their anguish and their triumphs.

Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents the FIRST EVER vinyl reissue of this exceptional conceptual album (originally released in 1972 and a highly sought-after pricey collectable ever since) This unique record now comes as a deluxe 180g vinyl edition (strictly limited to 1000 copies) with obi strip and features the original artwork and extensive sleeve notes. Released exclusively for Record Store Day Black Friday 2023 (UK & EUROPE) and available in participating stores on November 24, 2023.


1. Do You Know
2. Black Is Beautiful
3. Slums
4. Drugs
5. The World Of Today
6. Set Us Free
1. This Old Heart Of Mine
2. Cry Sound
3. Everyday
4. Black Is Beautiful
5. Evil Hands
6. Do You Know