I was in college when I first started traveling frequently by plane, between Florida and the Northeast on Delta or the defunct MetroJet by USAirways. This was the late 90s and my musical horizons, already broad for having grown up with a band directing father and a soprano-singing mother, were being expanded even further beyond R&B and Miami bass by the international students I interacted with on my internship program in DC, and by a good buddy who studied in Boston and put me onto his own discoveries. Now, electronic (particularly drum-and-bass and lounge/chillout) and world music have become the staples of my aural diet.
One of the first groups to catch my ear and have a permanent space on the playlist was Sade’s band, Sweetback. Their self-titled first album dropped in 1996, chock full of songs originally written for their Afro-British muse but sung on this CD by neo-soulsters like Maxwell and Amel Larrieux. Two instrumental tracks, however, have a special transportative power and, when listened to on an airplane, seem to progress at the same speed as the plane traveling over the Earth. “Chord” gives you daytime Atlanta-to-DC while “Walk of Ju” takes you over New York and Philly at night. Ignore the videos and just listen.