One Good Thing About Music, When It Hits You, You Feel No Pain(Marley)
If Music Be The Fruit And Soul Of Life, Play and Listen On
First Movement: Symphony Number One
This Hub is about the music that I consider to be my favorite musical videos. I will not select them in any particular order, but I will provide the photo of the group or artist/s, then follow this up with the video and a a brief history. The aim of writing and producing such a video is to honor the artists and their craft. One other thing that I aim to do is to keep the vibes and grooves alive and remind the musicians and music appreciators that this music has not gone away or died.
These days of the viral web, it is important that we as music lovers keep the music in its proper perspective. In a way, this is what is called "World Music" in its true sense,meaning and sound. This is also a Hub published for the enjoyment of the readers without getting caught up in the daily hum-drum of life. I hope for those who will listen/partly read and view the videos below, will find some songs that they have not heard in a very long time, and hoping that they be songs that bring back valuable and good memories to all.
Because so many genres have been relegated to the Rubbish bin of sound systems, I want to present it as an ever-green groove and that the genius of the musicians should be at least given it due. I will therefore attempt to present music as I have appreciated it my way and hope that I am not alone in this endeavor.
This whole Hub will be done or written/composed in three movements. By this I mean, the first movement will be more intense and involve the bios of the artists and the choices will be what I consider to be my taste albeit not not a complete nor comprehensive choice of my listening appreciation. At the same time, there will be a Second and Third Movement of what I will call Symphonies just so that the listener and viewer has a sense of the change-ups in the various tunes that will be posted in the Hubs which will not necessarily follow any strict genres.
Time Is Tight by Booker T. & The MG's (1998) - Box set
On Rodney Franklin Briefly
Rodney Franklin, 16th September 1958, Berkeley, California, U.S.A.
Rodney Franklin was born in Berkeley, California, in September 1958.
He was taking jazz piano lessons by the age of six at Washington Elementary School.
His Administrator at the school was Dr Herb Wong, a noted jazz journalist, DJ and teacher.
Prior to signing with CBS in 1978, Rodney worked extensively with John Handy in San Francisco, and toured with Bill Summers, Freddle Hubbard and Marlena Shaw.
In 1978 he signed with Columbia Records and recorded his debut album for the label, In The Center, a jazz fusion workout that was not released in the UK. His second album, You’ll Never Know, redressed the balance. Aided by the hit single, ‘The Groove’, which sparked a popular dance craze (dancers had to ‘freeze’ in time with the track’s breaks), Rodney hit the Top 10 of the singles charts and saw You’ll Never Know rise in the album listings. Although subsequent Columbia releases never came anywhere near repeating the extraordinary success of You’ll Never Know, they did establish Franklin as a considerable name in the fusion market, particularly with Marathon. In 1988 he switched labels to BMG, recording Diamond Inside You which featured lead vocals by Jennifer Holliday on the single ‘Gotta Give It Up’. Subsequent releases have failed to restore Franklin to his previous commercial position, but he remains a respected keyboard player and fusion artist.
Grooving to the Vibes
Ronnie Laws and his vibe
Sangre de un Don ( Herencia Afro Peruana ) by Peru Negro
Ronnie Laws's Soulful Tenor
The younger brother of Hubert Laws, Ronnie Laws has a nice soulful sound on tenor, but has never seriously pursued playing jazz. Throughout his career, which includes early-'70s gigs with Quincy Jones, his brother, Ramsey Lewis, and Earth, Wind & Fire, Laws has essentially been an R&B player. He has led his own albums since 1975, but recorded very little of interest to the jazz world, although he is often listed on Billboard's contemporary jazz chart.
In 1970 he moved to Los Angeles, where he found work under the tutelage of such legendary talents as The Jazz Crusaders and Hugh Masakela. His formative training also included stints with Jazz pianist Walter Bishop Jr. and organist Doug Cann. He was a member of the 70’s much-revered soul group Earth Wind and Fire, where he played tenor and soprano sax for a two-year stint, before finally venturing out to pursue a solo career.
Assisted by immortal Jazz great Donald Byrd, he soon signed his first recording contract with Blue Note records, resulting in the impressive debut album Pressure Sensitive (1975), produced by family friend, Wayne Henderson, (a founding member of the contemporary jazz pioneers The Crusaders), which rapidly emerged to become the longest selling album, at that time, in the 42 year history of the label. Pressure Sensitive, was followed up by his second album Fever (1976).
Controversy quickly erupted around him, with so called Jazz “purist”, criticizing Laws’ inventive, non- traditional, “Jazz Fusion” style. Laws promptly answered his critics by also scoring unprecedented cross-over success in R&B and Pop, in addition to Jazz, and receiving multiple awards for originality in the process.
Laws is a proven natural at combining the exploratory heart of Jazz with the broader reaching strains of Soul and Pop music. His first hit, “Always There” (credited as Ronnie Laws and Pressure on the original 45), was one of the most popular, sax-driven, cross-over hits of the 70’s Jazz-Funk Fusion era. He ushered in the sensualization of the soprano sax with Quiet Storm gems such as “Grace”, “Karmen”, and “Just Love”. Pressure Sensitive, Fever, and Friends and Strangers (Blue Note 1978), the title track of his third album, all propelled to gold status.
Donald Byrd's Music Must be played with the Volume turned All the Way Up!
Ancient Evening Sibongile Khumalo
Donald Byrd made an important contribution to music education
We learn about Donald Byrd's brief bio from John Fordham who informs us that:
"The teaching of jazz in conservatoires may now be commonplace, but for decades the art was informally learned by listening to records and sharing ideas. Many of the giants who shaped jazz as it sounds today learned from each other, and from the pioneers who preceded them. A rare few learned their music formally and informally in about equal measure. One of that handful was the trumpeter Donald Byrd, who has died aged 80.
Byrd spent much of his life in academic institutions studying everything from composition and music education to law, but his craft as a trumpeter was homed in one of the most famous of all road-going jazz finishing schools – Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Through the ranks of the Messengers, from the mid-1950s to the late 1980s, there passed a procession of stars-to-be, nurtured by the drummer Blakey's belief that the best young players to hire were the ones with the talent and determination to become bandleaders themselves. Despite a roster of Blakey trumpeters over the years that included Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Wynton Marsalis, one of the most celebrated of brass-playing Messengers was the gifted Byrd.
He was born in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Cass technical high school. Byrd played in a military band while in the US air force, took a music degree at Wayne State University in Michigan and then studied music education at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He joined the Jazz Messengers in the mid-1950s. Byrd's trumpet predecessors in Blakey's company had already included the graceful, glossy-toned Brown and the Dizzy Gillespie-influenced Kenny Dorham, but the newcomer with his polished phrasing and luxurious tone was recognised as a technical master equal to both.
He was even heralded as the new guiding light in jazz trumpet, and the acclaim intensified after Brown died in a 1956 road accident. Byrd's talent seemed to encompass some of Brown's spontaneous, narrative-generating strength and his exquisite tone, as well as Miles Davis's pacing, and the fire and penetrating attack of the first-wave bebop trumpeters inspired by Gillespie. After that racing start, Byrd eventually prioritised academic work over musical creativity – but until the arrival of the similarly skilled Freddie Hubbard, and his own withdrawal to the classroom, Byrd was briefly one of modern jazz's leading young trumpeters.
He was prolifically active in the late 1950s, in demand for sessions on the Savoy, Riverside and Blue Note labels, in the company of Max Roach, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Horace Silver among others. At the end of the decade he was also leading or co-leading his own ensembles, mostly operating in the laconically pyrotechnical, blues-inflected hard-bop style. Byrd regularly worked with the bop pianist George Wallington and with the alto saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce, and in 1958 he led a quintet including the Belgian saxophonist Bobby Jaspar on a European tour.
On his return to the US, Byrd teamed up with the excellent baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, and the two continued to mine the hard-bop seam with various partners, including the then little-known pianist Herbie Hancock. Byrd sounded as polished as ever, but a shade predictable alongside more individualistic players such as Adams, or Wayne Shorter and Hancock, with both of whom he played on the 1961 album Free Form.
In the early 1960s, Byrd studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and though he periodically visited the Blue Note studios for steadily more easy-listening ventures in the 1960s, African-American musical history became his central preoccupation. He took up posts at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; the Hampton Institute in Virginia; Howard University in Washington; and North Carolina Central University. He was a pioneering force in establishing jazz studies in American colleges and conservatoires (evolving in the process into a leading African-American ethnomusicologist), regularly lectured for the New York outreach organization Jazzmobile, and developed an education programme he called Music + Math = Art, to link the teaching of music and mathematics. Byrd later became a distinguished artist in residence at Delaware State University, from 1996 to 2001 and then from 2009, founding a $10,000 scholarship fund in his name.
At Howard, Byrd became chairman of the black music department in the 1970s. Dedicating himself to raising the status of black American music and securing equality for black players, he studied law as well as music to broaden the scope of the advice he could offer in his lectures and workshops. Byrd said in the 1970s that he was addressing "the plight of black musicians in academia … Until we get an integrated view of things with respect to black music, nothing is going to happen". It was this concern, rather than the material success and supposed musical dumbing-down for which he was lambasted, that probably influenced Byrd's decision to embrace the pop- and soul-influenced end of jazz. He wanted to draw attention to the situation of black music in colleges in the most high-profile way he could, even if the results did nothing to enhance the respect his musicianship had previously commanded.
Forming the Blackbyrds soul and funk band from a pool of his Howard University students, Byrd directed some lucrative if artistically unsteady forays into dancefloor jazz and fusion. His million-selling 1973 album Black Byrd made him a major star again, and brought Blue Note more income than the label had ever generated from any release before. But the follow-ups in 1975 and 1976 became increasingly bland.
In 1987, Byrd returned to jazz, recording for the experienced producer Orrin Keepnes's Landmark label, on a primarily hard-bop repertoire that by the final recording, A City Called Heaven (1991), was also including interpretations of Henry Purcell, and the voice of a mezzo-soprano. Byrd's old blazing virtuosity was gone but he could still be an affecting player of ballads, and his front-rank partners included the saxophonists Joe Henderson and Kenny Garrett, and the vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.
Byrd's legacy is his contribution to music education in a culture that spawned jazz but then neglected it – a role he pursued from the unique vantage point of having been a leading player in the idiom. His work has been sampled by pop and hip-hop artists including Public Enemy and Ice Cube, and many young musicians at work today owe their education, and the widespread acceptance of their art, to his tireless pursuit of stature and respect for jazz."
Byrd married Lorraine Glover in 1955.
• Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, trumpeter and educator, born 9 December 1932; died 4 February 2013
Playing the Keys and voicing the music
George Duke - Fusion Master Musician
Do It! Poncho Sanchez
He worked with numerous acclaimed artists as arranger, music director, writer and co-writer, record producer and as a professor of music.
George Duke was born in San Rafael, California, and reared in Marin City, a working class section of Marin County. When he was just four years old, his mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert. "I don't remember it too well," says George, "but my mother told me I went crazy. I ran around saying 'Get me a piano, get me a piano!'" He began his piano studies at age seven, absorbing the roots of Black music in his local Baptist church. "That's where I first began to play funky. I really learned a lot about music from the church. I saw how music could trigger emotions in a cause-and-effect relationship."
By the age of sixteen, George had played with a number of high school jazz groups. He was heavily influenced by Miles Davis and the soul-jazz sound of Les McCannand Cal Tjader. Attending the San Francisco Conservatory Of Music and majoring in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass, he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1967.
George and a young singer named Al Jarreau formed a group which became the house band at San Francisco's Half Note Club. "There was another club up the street called The Both/And and I worked there on Mondays with everybody from Letta Mbulu to Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon." George later received a Masters Degree in composition from San Francisco State University and briefly taught a course on Jazz And American Culture at Merritt Junior College in Oakland. It was about this time that George began to release a series of jazz LP's on the MPS label.
One night, on a local jazz station, George heard a record by the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. When he found out that Jean-Luc was coming to California to record, he sent a tape to Dick Bock at World-Pacific Records, along with a note saying "There is no other pianist for this guy but me."
The George Duke Trio which emerged from those sessions was soon burning a path of creative excitement through the jazz world. It included a major European tour and an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival. The group's first gig in a rock-oriented venue came in early 1969. "It was a club in Los Angeles called Thee Experience," George recalls. In attendance were Cannonball Adderly, Quincy Jones, Frank Zappa, and the unexpected presence of an electric, rather than acoustic, piano on-stage. The Ponty-Duke performance wowed the crowd, and ushered in the West Coast counterpart of the Eastern fusion revolution sparked by Miles Davis, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. Before '69 was out, George joined Frank Zappa (as he put together a new "Mothers Of Invention" lineup) and toured for an entire year.
At the end of 1970, George Duke received an offer he couldn't refuse from veteran jazzman Julian "Cannonball" Adderly. "I joined the group in January '71, and stayed two years. Through Cannonball, I was given the opportunity to meet and work with Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie -- all these great artists I'd been listening to since I was a kid."
I met Stanley Clarke through my association with Cannonball. We played a festival in Pori Finland where I heard Stan with Chick Corea for the first time live – I was astounded! Through my recordings and live performances with Cannonball and Stanley, I developed a musical, and even more importantly, a family relationship with Flora Purim and Airto Moriera. The 70’s were filled with musical experimentation with all of these great musicians and more.
In 1973, George rejoined Zappa and brought Jean-Luc Ponty with him. That band stayed together for the next three years, until Duke left to join forces with drummerBilly Cobham. Together, they formed a powerhouse jazz fusion unit even more popular and influential than the earlier Duke/Ponty group.
George Duke became a solo artist in 1976, and enjoyed success with a series of fusion-oriented LP's such as his debut CBS LP, From Me To You. In 1978, the funk-flavored sound of the gold album Reach For It propelled George Duke into the upper reaches of the charts, and from small clubs to large arenas.
In the late '70s, George decided to get into producing as a career. George began by producing the Brazilian instrumentalist Raoul de Souza, then made his first vocal album with singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. His breakthrough came with an album by A Taste Of Honey. The single, "Sukiyaki," went to Number 1 on the pop, adult contemporary, and R&B charts, ultimately selling over two million copies.
"From there," says George, "things started snowballing." He went on to produce three albums for Jeffrey Osborne (including the Top Ten pop singles "Stay With Me Tonight" and "On The Wings Of Love") and two best-sellers for Deniece Williams(including her across-the-board number one smash "Let's Hear It For The Boy" and the chart-topping R&B single "Do What You Feel").
Duke also wrote and produced the number one single "Sweet Baby" for his own recording with Stanley Clarke (The Clarke/Duke Project). Duke's special expertise was even tapped by such unlikely mainstream artists as Melissa Manchester andBarry Manilow. By the end of 1988, he had produced four songs for Smokey Robinson and several songs for saxophonist George Howard. George's other production projects included the number one chart hit "Call Me" by Phil Perry and several songs for Miles Jaye, vocalist Dianne Reeves, The Pointer Sisters, 101 North, Najee, Jeffrey Osborne, Take 6, Howard Hewett, Chante Moore, Everette Harp, Rachelle Ferrell and, most recently, Gladys Knight, Keith Washington,Filipino star Gary Valenciano, Johnny Gill and Anita Baker.
George Duke made his debut on Elektra in February, 1985 with the Latin-flavoredThief In The Night. A second album, simply titled George Duke, was issued in August 1986, followed by Night After Night, George Duke's final release for Elektra.
Through the years, along with his own releases and busy producing schedule, George has acted as musical director for numerous artists and television specials, including the Soul Train Music Awards (nine years), NBC's Sunday Night Showand Anita Baker (Duke took Anita and a 14-piece band to Washington D.C. to perform at the Kennedy Center for The Democratic National Committee). He served as musical director for Disney's concert to benefit the Foundation for Pediatric AIDS For Our Children (featuring an all-star cast that included Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul and Kris Kross) and Disney's Salute To Youth during the President's Inaugural celebration. In '92, he went to Spain to be music director for the largest guitar festival in history, featuring such artists as George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Larry Coryell, Paco de Lucia, Rickie Lee Jones and John McLaughlin. He also was at the helm for Legend to Legend with George Burns, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, and others.
In addition to his non-stop musical adventures, George appeared on NBC's soap opera Generations in '89, playing the role of a nightclub owner. He also found time in his schedule to appear on Comic Relief with Doc Severinson, donating his funds to the homeless. That same year George recorded a third album with Stanley Clarke for Epic Records, titled Stanley Clarke & George Duke 3.
In 1990, George Duke was named "R&B Keyboardist Of The Year" by Keyboard Magazine for the second consecutive year. Other honors include Grammy nominations for his production of "We Are The World" by the Children Of The World; "Sweet Baby" by the Clarke/Duke project; "Let's Hear It For The Boy" by Deniece Williams; "Stay With Me Tonight" and "On The Wings Of Love" by Jeffrey Osborne; and "Fumilayo" by Dianne Reeves. Tutu, by Miles Davis with selections produced by George Duke, won a Grammy in 1986. Both Miles Davis Amandla (selections produced by Duke) and Al Jarreau's Heart's Horizon (produced entirely by Duke) received Grammy nominations in 1990.
Duke has also established a reputation for television and film scoring work with The Five Heartbeats film soundtrack, the title song for the movie Karate Kid III, music for Paramount Pictures Leap Of Faith and Meteor Man, and NBC's Leeza and Mariludaytime talk shows.
Highlights of '91 included a sold-out U.S. tour with Dianne Reeves and Najee, with a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival's 25th Anniversary and headlining the first annual Japanese Playboy Festival at the Tokyo Dome.
In '92, George's Warner Bros. debut Snapshot captured the number one slot on the jazz charts for five weeks and generated the Top Ten R&B single "No Rhyme, No Reason."
The following year, George Duke's Muir Woods Suite, a major orchestral piece, premiered at the Montreux Jazz Festival and, in 1994, Duke began work on Illusions.
Reflecting on Illusions George said, "I wanted to continue what I started with theSnapshot record, to continue doing that type of music... and I wanted to do a follow-up to 'No Rhyme, No Reason.'"
Following the release of Illusions in January 1995, Duke began mixing the Muir Woods Suite which was recorded live, when originally performed at the Montreux Festival in 1993. When not locked in the studio with the Suite, George arranged, produced and performed on songs and albums for a number of artists, including: Najee, George Howard, and the Winans (he arranged and produced three tracks on their Qwest album Heart And Soul which was nominated for a Grammy). George Duke also traveled extensively, performed a European tour with Anita Baker and a Brazilian tour with Rachelle Ferrell, as well as toured the states with his own Duke and Friends tour featuring Phil Perry, Howard Hewett, Dianne Reeves and George Howard. He ended the year performing in Jakarta with Phil Perry.
'95 also saw George involved in conducting and arranging for numerous award and episodic TV shows. He maintained his long time association with Soul Train, and served as Music Director for their 25th anniversary special and also wrote, performed and produced the theme for the Walt Disney show Inside Out.
The beginning of '96 saw the release of his musical and emotional tour de force Muir Woods Suite, which was performed by a jazz quartet made up of George Duke (piano), Stanley Clarke (bass), Chester Thompson (drums) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion) with L·orchestre National de Lille, Ettore Stratta, conductor.
This was followed by more production with work on songs for Marilyn Scott, Al Jarreau and Natalie Cole. (George produced one-third of the songs on Natalie Cole's Stardust LP which was nominated for two Grammys and won one). George also wrote and produced the main title for The Malcolm and Eddie Show on UPN.
1997 began on a high note, with a trip to the Arkansas Ball for the President's Inaugural, where George Duke was a featured performer and special guest. This was followed by the spring release of George Duke's 30th solo album and fourth release on Warner Bros. Records, Is Love Enough? It displayed myriad influences and boundless energy, continuing his tradition of posing questions, inspiring thought and requiring reflection.
George Duke immersed himself in more "Love," serving as executive producer on Warner Bros. Records artist Marilyn Scott's album, Avenues Of Love. (George also produced the Grammy-nominated hit "The Look of Love," from the same album.) That same year, he played on yet another labelmate's album, Kirk Whalum's The Gospel According To Jazz, recorded live at the Roy Acuff Theatre in September of '97 (and released in late '98). The two teamed up again, along with Michael McDonald, headlining the inaugural event for a weeklong celebration entitled "Memphis Remembers Martin," in March of '98. Around the same time, he served as musical director for the critically-lauded Burt Bacharach television special on Fox Network entitled One Amazing Night, which featured Bacharach and an array of legendary and breaking artists including Dionne Warwick, Elvis Costello, Winona Judd and Barenaked Ladies.
In addition to doing his annual Soul Train Music Award stint in '98 and recording and releasing his "for lovers only" Grammy-nominated After Hours, his first completely instrumental album since 1975, he also produced three tracks for Dionne Warwickand one for Take 6. Next he hit the road, touring with Rachelle Ferrell, subsequently serving as music director for The Lady of Soul Awards and the Kansas City Jazz Festival.
George also produced the Grammy award winning In the Moment CD for Dianne Reeves, and Rachelle Ferrell's Individuality, delaying completion of his own year 2000 solo release, Cool. In the midst of production of his wonderfully diverse and vocally revealing sixth Warner Bros. solo release, he headlined a tribute to Jesse Jackson at a special birthday celebration for the renowned reverend, along withStevie Wonder and Erykah Badu and continued his longstanding association as musical director for the Soul Train Awards. During the summer, Duke toured with the Montreux Jazz Festival on Tour in the USA, for which he served as both musical director and a featured artist, along with an all-star cast of musicians and vocalists including Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Roberta Flack and Joe Sample.
Immediately following the tour, George began work on another Dianne Reeves CD, a special tribute to Sarah Vaughn with full string orchestra. It is entitled The Calling.October 19th George received the Prism award and began shooting a one hour biographical television special for BET called "The House Of Duke." Once again, Duke served as music director for the Soul Train Christrmas Star Fest, and on December 16th plays at The Forum in Los Angeles as part of the Stevie Wonder Toy drive for disadvantaged kids.
In January, Duke flew to New York to sit on several panels for the International Association of Jazz Educators, including a one hour "One on One" discussion and interview with Quincy Jones. Live performances in January 2001 include Las Vegas, Vale, Colorado (w/Chante Moore) and a week at Catalina's Bar and Grill in Los Angeles. George also began work on a flag song for the Arthritis Association featuring artists such as Steven Seagal, Donnie McClurkin, Bonny James and more. George's CD Cool, is nominated for a Grammy and an Image award. While not winning either, George did win a Grammy for producing the Best Jazz Vocal Album In The Moment for Dianne Reeves.
In April, George re-releases Follow The Rainbow and From Me To You on CD via his Web Site. On April 19th, a special performance of Muir Woods Suite at St. John Devine Cathedral to aid various battered womens shelters in New York was scheduled. Upon his return, George began work on three tracks for a Christmas CD featuring Kelly Price.
The summer of 2001 finds Duke on the Tom Joyner Cruise with a combination vacation and gig. Live dates include a special performance for the 100 Black Men of AmerIca Convention in Atlanta. Off to Europe where Duke is artist in residence at the North Sea Jazz Festival featuring performances with Dianne Reeves and Rachelle Ferrell. A special performance of Muir Woods Suite with the Prima la Musica Orchestra form Brussels was amazing! Also various performances at the Montreux Festival kept George busy. One special moment was a tribute to Miles Davisfeaturing Marcus Miller, Christian McBride and Richard Bona on basses; Herbie Hancock and duke on piano and synths; Terri Lynn Carrington and Chester Thompson on drums; Wallace Roney on trumpet and Jeff Lee Johnson on guitar.
Upon his return from Europe, rehearsals for a USA tour with Al Jarreau and Rachelle Ferrell begin. Once again immediately following the tour, George begins rehearsals for the Lady Of Soul Award Show featuring performances with Johnny Gil, Tyrese, Luther Vandross, Ronny Isley, Genuine, and El Debarge. In September, work began on his new CD to be released the Spring on 2002. George also was part of Wave for Peace, a concert to raise money for the victims of the WTC incident.
Predictably, the energetic, unstoppable George Duke keeps moving from strength to strength, bringing invention, dimension and texture to music that is alive with personality and rich with artistry. In the case of his passionately performed Cool,which was nominated for an Image Award and a Grammy, Duke takes the lead on vocals adding presence and power to his ever-evolving view of others and himself. This deeply revealing and yet thoroughly accessible edition of Duke celebrates life, love…and the “Ancient Source."
2001 was a great year for Duke! Tami Willis from BET produced and directed a profile called “House Of Duke.” We also find the release of the Duke produced Grammy award winning Dianne Reeves album, “The Calling.”
He hooked up with Kenny Lattimore to write and produce a Gospel song entitled “Healing.” George also enjoyed producing three tracks for the incredible Kelly Pricefor her first Christmas offering on Def Jam.
After returning from a brief European tour, George did a USA tour with Rachelle Ferrell and Al Jarreau. After another Soul Train Awards ceremony, George set about writing and recording the first CD for his new label, BPM (Big Piano Music) called Face The Music.
The beginning of 2002 finds Duke editing and enhancing Rachelle Ferrells live CD Live In Montreux 91-97, and putting the final touches on his new solo CD. This year also marks his debut performance in South Africa. In May of 2002, George began rehearsals for the second installment of Kirk Whalum’s “Gospel According To Jazz.” He also worked on Eddie Griffin’s movie “Undercover Brother” with Stanley Clarke, and played a “vacation” date in Bermuda.
Duke returned to Rotterdam for several shows with Randy Crawford before returning to LA to put the final touches on Dexter Gordons CD for BPM.
Face The Music was released on September 3rd. The rest of the year finds George on the road doing one promotional activity after another. Between these dates, George found time to play for the Emeril Show, and a trip to Holland to perform with the Metropole Orchestra.
The end of the year, he is quite busy scoring a film for Whoopi Goldberg andDanny Glover called "Good Fences," directed by Ernest Dickerson for Showtime. It is now available on DVD.
2003 finds Duke still touring and promoting his new CD, while handling the MD chores for Soul Train, The Trumpet Awards, and BET’s Gospel Celebration. The Dexter Gordon CD, Live at the Both/And Club 1970 was released on BPM, and George found time to recorded a tribute project for Jimi Hendrix and played several tracks on a new Will Downing CD.
During the summer, George takes his band to Moscow to perform, and secures the release of “Face The Music” in Europe through Challenge Records in Holland. George spends several weeks re-establishing contacts in Europe, and then returns to finish the DMX film.
2004 began with George performing “Muir Woods Suite” at Disney Hall with The LA Philharmonic, followed by a performance with The US Air Force Band at Constitution Hall in Washington DC.
MD for the Trumpet Awards was again on tap followed by an Artist In Residence series at Berklee College of Music.
George produced albums for Regina Belle and Marilyn Scott, and continued to tour with his band in the US and Europe. He also found time to score his second film for Ernest Dickerson “Never Die Alone” staring DMX.
Duke completed work on “DUKE,” his second solo CD on his label, BPM. In September he was MD for the Black Caucus Gala and the Thelonius Monk Institute Awards in DC.
George received the coveted Edison Lifetime Achievement Award in Rotterdam in November. January 2005, George served as artist and MD for a special series of concerts in India featuring Al Jarreau, Stanley Clarke, Earl Klugh, L Subramanium and Ravi Coltrane. BET and MTV India documented some of the shows.
Duke composed the theme for the “News & Notes” PBS radio show staring Ed Gordon, and flew to Jakarta, Indonesia for the 1st Annual Jakarta Jazz festival. More live dates followed with George promoting his new CD.
Another Marilyn Scott CD was on the way (to be released in 2006), and a very special George Duke & Friends show was presented at the Hollywood Bowl featuring Billy Cobham, Christian McBride, Airto, Bobby Hutcherson, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove and Joe Sample. George & Joe also began playing some duo piano gigs in the US and Japan.
At a New Years Eve fundraiser, George saluted the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra with his jazz trio at the Bakery. Brain Bromberg was on bass and Terri Lyne Carrington was the drummer. A week later, Duke was in the studio with this band recording his new jazz CD for release in June 2006. At the end of January another project took place in Nassau, the Bahamas for the Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf Tournament. George put a band together for himself, Michael McDonald and Philip Bailey.
T-Jam” from the DUKE CD was nominated for a Grammy as “Best Instrumental Pop Performance.” The new jazz CD should be released in June and the Clarke/Duke Project begins touring at the end of May. Also some very interesting production projects are coming up including a foray into the Broadway Musical scene.
Music with a Social Conscience and Groove
Fela Complete Collection [Box Set] Fela Kuti
Gil Scott Hero: Musician, Composer, Poet, Revolutionary, Cultural Warrior and Great Humanitarian
IcePick Wrote the following article:
Gill Scott-Heron - The God Father of MC-ing Gil Scott Heron: Hip-Hop Progenitor Makes His Transition Fearless cult-icon - who helped inspire Hip-Hop's founding fathers and sparked a legion of MCs – initiated his transition this past Friday afternoon [May 27th] at Harlem's St. Luke Hospital at age 62. Gil Scott-Heron was admitted after feeling ill upon returning from a recent European tour. He was born in Chicago on April 1st 1949, relocating to Jacksonville, Tennessee a couple years later after his parents divorced. Gil lived there with his maternal grandmother until she transpired when he was just 12, only to then relocate to The Bronx with his mother where he attended Dewitt Clinton HS. Following in the footsteps of one of his literary inspirations, Langston Hughes, he enrolled at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he not only teamed up with musician and future ‘Blacks & Blues' band-mate Brian Jackson, but also where he initially met one of his greatest influences...
“We had gone to Lincoln University in 1968 to do a show and it was nice because it was ‘Black Power' time and the place was packed,” recalls Abiodun Oyewole of the legendary Last Poets. “Gil came into our dressing room and says... ‘Yo, I want to start a group like you guys.' I said, ‘Gil, we want Last Poets all over the world, because we're trying to start a revolution! Go for it!'” Adding: “Gil took us very seriously and went on and did an album called, ‘Small Talk On 125th Street' and on there he did ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
‘Black & Blues' fused jazz, soul and blues music along with the socially-conscious spoken-word and/or sung commentary which vividly depicted the grim realities many Americanized-Africans endured in the United States then, calling it ‘bluesology'. Scott-Heron is genuinely regarded to be one of the greatest songwriters/poets of all times. He is a Hip-Hop progenitor who has been studied by, and helped influence, most prominent MCs since the urban-culture's inception. His signature pieces include: "The Bottle," "Home Is Where The Hatred Is", "Ain't No Such Thing As Superman", "Winter In America" and "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." His songs addressed topics like: police brutality [Jose Campos Torres, No Knock], racism [The klan], alcoholism [The Bottle], corrupt politicians [Watergate Blues, Pardon Our Analysis], apartheid [Johannesburg], reparations [Who'll Pay Reparations On My Soul], Amerikkka's concentration camps [The King Alfred Plan], results of war [Did You Hear What They Said?].
“I said, ‘When the revolution comes', and Gil simply said, ‘It won't be televised! You're not going to see that Isht on NBC or ABC.' He graduated my stuff. I appreciate Gil. We were brothers for life!” asserted Abiodun. The Watts Prophets, The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron initiated many inner-city youths to educate themselves about their origin, then relay those tales verbally to their peers. This inspired some to be the catalyst which brought about positive social changes in their dilapidated communities. His distinct unquivering delivery, along with his non-compromising, soulful messages, which detailed many of society's ills in America, captured the climate and sentiment of many angry Amerikkkanized-Afrikans, leading some to label him as the godfather of MC-ing. The information often delivered on the concrete corners by street scholars were now being articulated over thumping percussion patterns instead. His art reflected the climate of when the militant Malcolm X, the Five Percenters and the Black Panther Party were major forces in Harlem.
Black Panther, Tarik Haskins remarked on Scott-Herons social-impact during the 1970s: “Gil's music was like the tide coming in. It contributed to the atmosphere of revolution. We would be impacted on a personal level when we would turn the radio on and hear Gil say ‘The revolution will not be televised!' It was an important contributor for us maintaining our revolutionary spirit.” Tarik concurs: “He played a very significant part in the revolution. All of us knew his music, and that was like knowing him. The first rappers were revolutionaries/conscious, and they would try to impart a lot of information to the audience, and I'm sure Gil had inspired them to do that.”
Scott-Heron's ability to speak truth to power stimulated a generation of MCs to do the same. Regardless of soul and funk's mainstream success, revolutionary music can never be suppressed. Gil's art challenged the establishment's mental-grip on the masses, motivating the oppressed to seek and bring about change. “Our enemies saw the impact that Gil had on people, and they saw that he had inspired all the conscious rappers and that's when they put the breaks on conscious Hip-Hop and hit us with gangster rap,” Haskins determined.
Oyewole reflects: “Because Gil is the only popular guy who did poetry and sang – he got that space and he mastered it and I was very, very proud of what he did.” Although original people have been breathing over rhythmic drum beats since time immemorial, the socio-political messages depicting urban pain during Amerikkka's Black Power era laid down the groundwork for Hip-Hop music. It is one reason some label him as the godfather of rap, a term he rejected. “It might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating 'hooks' which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,” he wrote in a 1990 intro to a collection of his poems.
Culture and resistance to oppression can never be divorced. Gil Scott Heron's music has been sampled by and/or inspired numerous Hip-Hop artists, including: Melle Mel, DJ Marley Marl, KRS, Rakim, Public Enemy, Tupac, Dr. Dre, AZ, The Coup, dead prez, Common, Mos Def, Nas; just to mention a few. The music to the title-track for Masta Ase's debut album ‘Take A Look Around', is looped from The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. His thought-provoking lyrics inspired a whole generation before Hip-Hop got COINTELPROed. “Gil left us a volume of work that speaks for itself and can't be denied. We're supposed to listen and learn from it. If you can write, try to parrot it somehow with your own ideas,” Abiodun suggested. The revolution will not be televised because it will be live! Peace go with you brother.
Ramsey Lewis: 3 Grammys; 5 Gold Records
The Columbia Years (1955-1985) [Box Set] Miles Davis
Ramsey Lewis - Legendary Jazz Music
Composer and pianist Ramsey Lewis has been referred to as “the great performer", a title reflecting his performance style and musical selections which display his early gospel playing and classical training along with his love of jazz and other musical forms. A native Chicagoan (born May 27, 1935), Mr. Lewis represents the great diversity of music for which Chicago is noted.
Ramsey Lewis first captivated fans with his first album “Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen of Swing” by the Ramsey Lewis Trio. By 1965, he was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with The In Crowd, Hang On Sloopy and Wade In The Water. He has three Grammy Awards and seven gold records to his credit. Often called legendary, Ramsey concedes “It’s a high honor when someone says so, but I don’t see myself that way. What keeps me enthusiastic and energizes me, is the realization that the more I learn, the more I find there is to know.”
To his credit, he has been honored with three (3) honorary doctorate degrees, the Recording Academy Governor’s Award in 2000 and he was “Person of the Week” on ABC Nightly News in February 1995. Mr. Lewis performed at the White House State dinner President Bill Clinton held for President Fernando Henrique & Mrs. Cardoso of Brazil in April of 1995. He was awarded the prestigious Lincoln Academy of Illinois “Laureate” Award in Springfield, Illinois in April of 1997, and was one of the Olympic Torch runners who carried the Winter 2002 Olympic Torch during its journey to Salt Lake City in January of 2002.
In addition to recording albums and performing live, Mr. Lewis hosts WNUA-FM Chicago’s weekday morning drive-time radio show for which he has been awarded R&R’s 1999 and 2000 Personality of the Year Award. He also hosts the syndicated “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis”, a two-hour radio program which airs in over 65 cities throughout the U.S. Active in community affairs, especially on behalf of youth, he helped organize the Ravinia Festival’s Jazz Mentor Program and also serves as the Artistic Director for that festival’s jazz series. He is constantly his own trio composed of Larry Gray on bass and Leon Joyce on drums.Mr. Lewis has performed concerts and has played many of the jazz festivals and summer venues in the U.S. He has performed with over 25 symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Canada and has performed in concert and at festivals throughout Europe, Japan, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Lewis has performed at many of the jazz festivals and summer venues in the U.S. He has performed with over 25 symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Canada and has performed in concert and at festivals throughout Europe, Japan, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Since 2005, he has also been seriously composing large-scale musical works, including To Know Her ..., Proclamation of Hope, and Colors: The Ecology of Oneness. His most recent album, Songs from the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey, came out in 2009 on Concord Records.
Lewis has been honored with three honorary doctorate degrees and the Recording Academy Governor's Award in 2000, and he was Person of the Week on ABC Nightly News in February 1995. He has performed at a White House State Dinner, was awarded the prestigious Lincoln Academy of Illinois Laureate Award in Springfield, Illinois, in 1997, and was one of the Olympic Torch runners who carried the Winter 2002 Olympic Torch during its journey to Salt Lake City in January of 2002.
Its all in the Blues and Jazz funk
Hiroshima's Music is Music With a tasty Japanese tilt
The perfect storm that is Hiroshima continues into its fourth decade
By J. Doug Gill
As soon as Hiroshima’s Dan Kuramoto grasps he’s being phone-interviewed from Maryland, the greetings took an immediate turn.
“Awww, man, I love Maryland oysters,” the multi-instrumentalist said before steering the interview toward one of what would be many varied directions.
With the common denominator being food, Kuramoto mentioned David Bowie, Iman, Cheech Marin and many other celebrity notables with whom he has a culinary connection.
“This band travels on its stomach, man,” Kuramoto cheerfully admits. “We’ve been known to select tour dates based on the location of nearby noteworthy restaurants.”
Kuramoto is a third generation Asian-American who grew up absorbing the Latin and African American cultures of East Los Angeles. Calling him “energetic” is similar to describing a tornado as just another whirlwind; there’s simply no descriptor that can do him justice.
He can rollercoaster through subjects ranging from the lack of arts education for children to his own art school days, from his multicultural upbringing to the diversity of the musical education received on the road with the legendary Miles Davis, and from the exceptional musicians and vocalists he’s been “blessed” to play alongside to the incredible 30 years of music he and his bandmates have provided.
The genre-defying ensemble that is Hiroshima has sold millions of records, garnered a couple Grammy nominations, had albums reach Gold status, topped the BillboardContemporary Jazz chart for months, won a Soul Train ward, had their music featured on the PBS cooking show “Simply Ming” and toured with Davis. And that’s just an overview of their career––a musical vocation that is well into its fourth decade.
Still, Kuramoto––who was fresh from a morning appearance on the Pat & Kim show with Pat Prescott and Kim Amidon on Los Angeles-based radio station 94.7 The WAVE––finds it difficult to explain why the band enjoys continuing success, but he’s more than willing to take several stabs at it.
“Well, we’re totally multicultural and have always had a diverse musical palette to draw from,” Kuramoto began. “I don’t think we would have had such a long run had we settled into one particular genre.”
Instead, Hiroshima draws primarily from the influences of its two founding members, Dan and June Kuramoto.
“June started the band, man,” explained Dan Kuramoto, crediting the koto player for Hiroshima’s humble beginnings. “We all just kind of vibe into her world and become a band. Hiroshima has always been about the band.”
For all the dense diversity of Hiroshima’s music and influence, it is June’s koto––a 6-foot long, 13-string member of the zither family––that stamps this band with its inimitable sound.
“June is an extraordinary musician,” Kuramoto stated emphatically about the woman who has been his friend for nearly four decades and was his wife for nine of those years.
“The band is an arts community,” Kuramoto continued, confident he had adequately represented Hiroshima’s exotic blend of jazz, pop, R&B, Latin and traditional Japanese influences.
“You could always go with the Bill Cosby vibe,” he chuckled, reminiscing about an appearance at the Playboy Jazz Festival where the legendary comedian took a shot at describing the band.
“After our set, Cosby walked up to us,” Kuramoto said in his rapid-fire style, “and may have summed it all up by saying: ‘You know, you guys are a lot weirder than you think.’”
Nowhere is Hiroshima’s weirdly enticing musical stew as tasty as it is on 2009’sLegacy, a recording not only released in conjunction with the band’s 30th anniversary, but one that Kuramoto calls a “best of” collection (“It’s not a greatest hits album,” he repeated with each mention of the Grammy-nominated effort) because the band went in to the studio to “revisit” the most significant songs from their first decade.
“There were just so many songs to choose from,” Kuramoto said, referring to the tremendous catalog of material that had to be whittled down for inclusion on a single or double album. “Album, CD, tape,” Kuramoto added dryly, “whatever it is we’re calling them these days.”**
On the Corner Miles Davis
Touch Of Musical Class
Gene Harris, a jazz pianist who plied a polished, mainstream and agreeably bright brand of blues, soul and bebop, died on Sunday at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was 66.
The cause was complications from kidney failure a month before he was expecting a kidney transplant from one of his daughters, The Associated Press said.
Born in Benton Harbor, Mich., Mr. Harris taught himself piano at age 9. His primary influences were boogie-woogie players like Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson. Later, when his playing became more mature, he absorbed the refined style of Oscar Peterson. After joining the Army in 1951 he played in the 82nd Airborne Division band, and after his discharge in 1954 he toured the country with various band leaders.
In 1956 Mr. Harris formed his first band, the Four Sounds, which lost a member within a year and became the Three Sounds. The band, featuring Mr. Harris, the bassist Andy Simpkins and the drummer Bill Dowdy, soon gained a following as it began playing clubs around the Washington area.
The Three Sounds made several recordings through the 1960s and 70's on the Blue Note label. Mr. Harris also played on other records with groups led by Stanley Turrentine, James Clay, Milt Jackson, Benny Carter and others.
In 1977 Mr. Harris announced his semiretirement and moved to Boise. But his career took on new life when he signed with Concord Records in the mid-80's. No fewer than 22 albums followed, the most recent being ''Alley Cats,'' a live recording from last year. His albums ranged from solo performances, to sessions with groups like the Ray Brown Trio, to big-band dates.
His earlier recordings include ''Anita O'Day and the Three Sounds'' (Verve), ''The Three Sounds'' (Blue Note) and ''Astral Signal'' (Blue Note). His album ''Tribute to Count Basie'' (Concord), featuring the Gene Harris All-Star Big Band, earned him a nomination for a Grammy Award in 1988 in the category of Best Big Band Jazz Instrumental.
He is survived by his wife, Janie; two daughters, Beth and Niki, and a son, Gene Harris Jr.
Tribute to Jack Johnson [Import] Miles Davis
Billy Paul and His Music For The Soul
Billy Paul had a good run in the '70s as an R&B vocalist, though he'd been recording since the '50s, when he debuted on Jubilee. Paul was featured on radio broadcasts in Philadelphia at age 11 and had an extensive jazz background. He worked with Dinah Washington, Miles Davis, and Roberta Flack, as well as Charlie Parker, before forming a trio and recording for Jubilee. His original 1959 recording of "Ebony Woman" for New Dawn was later re-recorded for Neptune as the title of his 1970 LP. He signed the next year with Philadelphia International and scored his biggest hit with "Me & Mrs. Jones" in 1972, topping both the R&B and pop charts. Paul had one other Top Ten R&B single, "Thanks for Saving My Life," in 1974. He remained on Philadelphia International until the mid-'80s. Paul recorded one LP for Total Experience in 1985, Lately, and another for Ichiban before announcing his retirement in 1989 in London. But he's since done several club dates, both in America and overseas.
West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology (4 CD/ 1 DVD Collectors Box) [Box Set, Collector's Edition] Jimi Hendrix
George Howard: - The Zen Of Funk Jazz
Musical Jazz/Funk In The mix
Kind of Blue [Original Recording Remastered] Miles Davis
George Howard was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His earlier training could be best attributed to his classical training on the clarinet, and the bassoon. During his teen years, he often listened to jazz-rock, and soul. However, it was his father who first introduced him to the earlier jazz works, of Charlie “The Bird” Parker, and John Coltrane. Later on, he moved to the soprano saxophone, which was quickly replaced by the tenor sax.
By the 70’s, George was performing with the tenor sax, for which he used to hone his skills, by performing with the local groups and gaining recognition through his session playing. This was soon followed by work with the pioneers of the Philly-sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Dexter Wansel. While at Philly, George gained more notoriety through his work, with the groups, Harold Melvin and the Blues Notes, and Blue Magic.
His first major break occurred when he was invited, by his idol Grover Washington, Jr. to join him on tour in 1979. And by the early 80’s he found himself actually recording under his own name. According to George, ”playing with Grover gave me a real hunger.” “As far and learning the ropes and watching Grover, who is a consummate professional, I learned a whole lot of stuff from being in that environment.” “It really fired up my hunger, for having my own thing.”
George eventually landed a deal and recorded his first album entitled, ”Asphalt Garden”, in 1982 on Palo Alto. The album was a moderate hit for George. Two years later, in 1984 he followed with his second album entitled, “Steppin-Out”. However, it wasn’t until 1985 that George actually gained a wider audience with the release of his third album entitled, “Dancing in the Sun”. With this release George found himself in the number one position on the contemporary jazz charts.
Through this experimentation, with his special fusion, of funk, jazz and urban soul, George found an audience who could identify with his music. This appeared to play a major role in his decision to seek a better understanding for the roots of his music when he made several trips to Africa to help define his dynamic style of playing. This smooth mixture of jazz and soul helped to garner a larger audience, while playing the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones.
After the release of “Dancing In The Sun”, he moved to the recording label of MCA. While there he recorded the albums, “A Nice Place To Be”(which included the theme song for the TV series, Spencer For Hire"), “Reflections”, “Personal”, and “Love Will Follow”. All four albums were considered to be very successful on the music charts.
By 1991, George had signed with the new recording label GRP, and debuted with his eighth album entitled, “Love and Understanding”. This was followed by his 1992 release entitled, “Do I Cross Your Mind “, and his 1993 tenth album entitled, “When Summer Comes”. In 1994, George released his eleventh album entitled, “A Home Far Away”, and two years later followed it with the 1996 release called, “Attitude Adjustment”.
For the last 14 years (eight years living in L.A. and six in Atlanta), and another ten albums under his belt George brought this collection of great tracks to his many listeners. This album was a combination, of his first five years with GRP, plus additional selections, from his MCA recordings. The 1997 release was simply entitled, “The Very Best of George Howard.”
A year later his next anticipated album was released in January 1998, which was entitled, “Midnight Mood.” It was greeted with excellent reviews. This album would be George Howard’s final release.
George’s career was still going strong, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma and died unexpectedly on March 22, 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia. Within a few months, George’s final recording would be released, as part of Blue Note’s Cover Series. The song was a version of Sly Stone’s, “There’s A Riot Goin’ On.”
Individuality Can I Be Me Rachelle Ferrell
Cool Funk Jazz Music
The jazz saxophonist Art Porter came from a musical family. His father, Art Porter Snr, was a professional pianist who led his own band, worked with the John Stubblefield band and, for a time, accompanied the singer Carmen McRae. Porter junior began playing saxophone at 15, initially in his father's band in Little Rock, Arkansas. His prodigal talents led him into some misfortune, however, and he was arrested and charged for working under age in a night club. Fortunately for him, the case caught the attention of the state attorney general, Bill Clinton, and, thanks to his involvement, the legislature changed the law, allowing youngsters to work in such establishments, if chaperoned by a legal guardian. The Act became known as the "Art Porter Bill".
Porter was born in 1961 and studied at the Berklee School of Music and at the Virginia Commonwealth University. He became a protégé of the pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis and, after moving to Chicago in the mid-Eighties, undertook further studies with the tenor saxophonist Von Freeman.
The less academic side of his career was conducted at a more empirical level. He worked in the widely contrasting musical environments provided by Jack McDuff's earthy, organ-led combo and the exotic Pharaoh Sanders unit as it progressed the John Coltrane message.
Porter's initial influence had been Charlie Parker and his bebop-based style proved a useful tool in most of the situations in which he found himself. His interest in Coltrane had grown during his involvement with Sanders but he had avoided the fierce extremes into which this might have led him. He was a believer in communication and he wanted his music to have a wider audience. He shunned the repertory, hard bop of the neo-classical jazz movement and was happy to introduce funkier, rhythmic ingredients into his well-heated musical pot.
On the tour circuit in the Nineties, he demonstrated his penetrating sound and an improvisational style that was more concerned with modest variation than in-depth musical analysis. The success of this policy was endorsed by an audience response that suggested that he was correct in calling most heavily on his experience with the organ groups and on his own liking for R&B.
At the time of his death, Porter could have been in Europe. A trip, including a week at Ronnie Scott's Club in London, had been proposed but his record company had influenced him to go to Bangkok for the 1996 Thailand International Jazz Festival. He was drowned in an accident when his boat capsized on a reservoir in western Thailand.
Art Porter, saxophonist: born 1961; married (two sons); died Kratha Taek, Thailand 23 November 1996.
Spyro Gyra - Got The Magic
Brass Musical Explosion
Formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1968.
Brass Construction were the brainchild of keyboards player and singer Randy Muller (b. Guyana). In 1975, their debut album changed the face of dance music and is still a huge influence some 30 years on.
Randy originally formed the band in Brooklyn, New York, under the name of Dynamic Soul. Renamed Brass Construction, the nine-piece group were signed by United Artists in 1975.
The members included:
Michael Grudge (b. Jamaica) and Jesse Ward Jnr. (saxophones)
Wayne Parris (b. Jamaica) and Morris Price (trumpets)
Joseph Arthur Wong (b. Trinidad; guitar)
Wade Williamson (bass)
Larry Payton (drums)
and percussionist Sandy Billups
With their tight horn section and brief, chanted vocals, the group’s first release, ‘Movin’, topped the R & B charts and was a pop Top 20 hit. It was followed by ‘Changin’, ‘Ha Cha Cha’ (From Brass Construction II) and ‘L-O-V-E U’, which were all best-sellers.
Jeff Lane produced Brass Construction’s albums up until the 1982 ‘Attitudes’ set, at which point Randy Muller took over the production chores. Brass Construction’s albums all sold well and they even endured the lightweight Disco era.
Randy also wrote for and produced New York disco group Skyy and was the string arranger for the group B.T Express.The group moved into the 80’s with less pop hits, however, club interest was as high as ever.
The remix craze brought numerous versions of their early hits into the clubs in 1988, including ‘Ha Cha Cha (Acieed Mix)’. Randy then moved into producing one off 12” singles including B.C. Underground’s ‘Let The World Dance’.
Incidentally, Randy Muller is a classically trained flautist and has recorded a classical album utilising the instrument.
They will forever be the tightest group
Curtis Made My soul sing
River: The Joni Letters Herbie Hancock, Herbie Hancock / Michael Brecker / Roy Hargrove
Perhaps because he didn't cross over to the pop audience as heavily as Motown's stars, it may be that the scope of Curtis Mayfield's talents and contributions have yet to be fully recognized. Judged merely by his records alone, the man's legacy is enormous. As the leader of the Impressions, he recorded some of the finest soul vocal group music of the 1960s. As a solo artist in the 1970s, he helped pioneer funk and helped introduce hard-hitting urban commentary into soul music. "Gypsy Woman," "It's All Right," "People Get Ready," "Freddie's Dead," and "Super Fly" are merely the most famous of his many hit records.
But Curtis Mayfield wasn't just a singer. He wrote most of his material at a time when that was not the norm for soul performers. He was among the first -- if not the very first -- to speak openly about African-American pride and community struggle in his compositions. As a songwriter and a producer, he was a key architect of Chicago soul, penning material and working on sessions by notable Windy City soulsters like Gene Chandler, Jerry Butler, Major Lance, and Billy Butler. In this sense, he can be compared to Smokey Robinson, who also managed to find time to write and produce many classics for other soul stars. Mayfield was also an excellent guitarist, and his rolling, Latin-influenced lines were highlights of the Impressions' recordings in the '60s. During the next decade, he would toughen up his guitar work and production, incorporating some of the best features of psychedelic rock and funk.
Mayfield began his career as an associate of Jerry Butler, with whom he formed the Impressions in the late '50s. After the Impressions had a big hit in 1958 with "For Your Precious Love," Butler, who had sung lead on the record, split to start a solo career. Mayfield, while keeping the Impressions together, continued to write for and tour with Butler before the Impressions got their first Top 20 hit in 1961, "Gypsy Woman."
Mayfield was heavily steeped in gospel music before he entered the pop arena, and gospel, as well as doo wop, influences would figure prominently in most of his '60s work. Mayfield wasn't a staunch traditionalist, however. He and the Impressions may have often worked the call-and-response gospel style, but his songs (romantic and otherwise) were often veiled or unveiled messages of black pride, reflecting the increased confidence and self-determination of the African-American community. Musically he was an innovator as well, using arrangements that employed the punchy, blaring horns and Latin-influenced rhythms that came to be trademark flourishes of Chicago soul. As the staff producer for the OKeh label, Mayfield was also instrumental in lending his talents to the work of other Chi-town soul singers who went on to national success. With Mayfield singing lead and playing guitar, the Impressions had 14 Top 40 hits in the 1960s (five made the Top 20 in 1964 alone), and released some above-average albums during that period as well.
Given Mayfield's prodigious talents, it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually leave the Impressions to begin a solo career, as he did in 1970. His first few singles boasted a harder, more funk-driven sound; singles like "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go" found him confronting ghetto life with a realism that had rarely been heard on record. He really didn't hit his artistic or commercial stride as a solo artist, though, until Super Fly, his soundtrack to a 1972 blaxploitation film. Drug deals, ghetto shootings, the death of young black men before their time: all were described in penetrating detail. Yet Mayfield's irrepressible falsetto vocals, uplifting melodies, and fabulous funk pop arrangements gave the oft-moralizing material a graceful strength that few others could have achieved. For all the glory of his past work, Superfly stands as his crowning achievement, not to mention a much-needed counterpoint to the sensationalistic portrayals of the film itself.
At this point Mayfield, along with Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, was the foremost exponent of a new level of compelling auteurism in soul. His failure to maintain the standards of Super Fly qualifies as one of the great disappointments in the history of black popular music. Perhaps he'd simply reached his peak after a long climb, but the rest of his '70s work didn't match the musical brilliance and lyrical subtleties of Super Fly, although he had a few large R&B hits in a much more conventional vein, such as "Kung Fu," "So in Love," and "Only You Babe."
Mayfield had a couple of hits in the early '80s, but the decade generally found his commercial fortunes in a steady downward spiral, despite some intermittent albums. On August 14, 1990, he became paralyzed from the neck down when a lighting rig fell on top of him at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. In the mid-'90s, a couple of tribute albums consisting of Mayfield covers appeared, with contributions by such superstars as Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, and Gladys Knight. Though no substitute for the man himself, these tributes served as an indication of the enormous regard in which Mayfield was still held by his peers. He died December 26, 1999 at the age of 57. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
Moving On Up Music
Benny Latimore - Out to Get'cha
I Get Lifted - BLatimore.
Benjamin “Benny” Latimore (born 7 September 1939, Charleston, Tennessee), usually known professionally simply as Latimore, is an American R&B singer, songwriter and pianist.
He was born in Charleston, Tennessee, and was influenced by country music, his Baptist church choir, and the blues. His first professional experience came as a pianist for various Florida-based groups including Joe Henderson and Steve Alaimo. He first recorded around 1965 for Henry Stone’s Dade record label in Miami, Florida. In the early 1970s he moved to the Glades label, and had his first major hit in 1973 with a jazzy reworking of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday”, which reached #27 on the R&B chart.
His first national hit was a cover of Gladys Knight’s “If You Were My Woman” (#70 R&B). His biggest success came in 1974, with “Let’s Straighten It Out”, an R&B chart #1 which also reached #31 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 charts. He followed it up with more hits including “Keep The Home Fire Burnin’” (#5 R & B, 1975) and “Somethin’ ‘Bout ‘Cha” (#7 R &B, 1976). However, the hits dried up in the late 1970s.
Latimore moved to Malaco Records in 1982, resulting in seven albums worth of modern soul music. He briefly left the label in 1994 and released a song for the J-Town label (“Turning Up The Mood”) before returning to Malaco in 2000 with “You’re Welcome To Ride”. Next he recorded one album with Mel Waiters’ label Brittney Records called “Latt is Back”.
After several years he collaborated on a new record label with Henry Stone called LatStone, which issued his first new album in six years called “Back ‘Atcha”.
He has also continued to work as a session pianist. He appeared most recently on Joss Stone’s albums, The Soul Sessions (2003) and Mind, Body & Soul (2004), along with fellow Miami music veterans Betty Wright, Timmy Thomas and Willie Hale.(Eveldo)
African/Diapsora/Atlantic Socio/Musical Cultural Areas
Music My Way and In The Groove... Vibey Jams Aplenty
Second Movement: Symphony Number Two ~ The Caribbean/African Jam and Swing
At this juncture in this Hub I would like to create Master Jam-non-stop musical session and let the lister/Viewer choose whatever video they would like to listen to, at their own choosing and time.
As I have chosen the Topic of this Hub titles: "In the Groove: Music My Way.. Well, I have come to that point of playing the music My Way, and am now going into the groove and I hope the reader/Lister/viewer will enjoy what is to come below. Hubs like this one I am composing, are mostly for pure enjoyment and listening, to be honest. So that, I hope the long jam that will follow will satisfy those who rally would like to listen to music without interruption of bios, or explanation, and just click-away what they want to listen to and dance to the tunes to their hearts content. This to me is not all I can offer in terms of the music I would like to present, but this bit will will give a taste of the music to come. Now, Onto the Vibes/Grooves/Jams/Funk and dance if the feet still can cut the carpet/rug.......
In this mixes below, there will be much more of a concentration on the Caribbean/Brazilian and African music in order to add and spice the musical take that is rarely given airplay or Internet stream. There is a lot of music, like the one below that many people would love to hear, but rarely do because the commercialization of music is not only controlled by the music moguls, but the listening public, as dictated and disseminated by the most powerful countries in the world.
My thing in the second Movement below, is to give the listener/viewer a much more broader choice and variegated choice of music that is being by other people throughout the world, either than what would only be American music. In the Hub as a whole, I have decided not to strictly follow any genre, but made sure to explore a vast region of World Music and different artists that some people would like to hear. Unlike in some of the Musical Hubs I have posted or published this far, this is one Hub where the musical selection does not follow any specific pater/genre, but what I would listen to as a musical appreciator/aficionado in my own time.
Roger Troutman (November 29, 1951 - April 25, 1999) was the lead singer of the band Zapp. Born in Hamilton, Ohio Troutman was the fourth of nine children. Like his mentor Clinton, who recorded for several labels at the same time under different monikers, Troutman recorded simultaneously as Roger, releasing albums and hit singles on Warner Bros.
Innovative funkster Roger Troutman is considered by many the master of the Talk box — an effects pedal usually used by guitarists, that Roger connected to keyboard to create robotic-sounding vocals. As a member of Zapp, a band that included his brothers Larry, Lester, and Terry, and recording under the solo moniker of Roger, he helped define and give life to a difficult-to-play instrument that previously was used for gimmicky effects and, as played by others, was basically devoid of personality. He’d often bring his Talk Box along on radio interviews, treating the listeners to his skills.
On Sunday, April 25, 1999, Roger Troutman was found shot and critically wounded outside a recording studio in Dayton, Ohio; he died during surgery at a local hospital. Roger’s brother Larry was found dead in a car a few blocks away with a single gunshot wound to the head. It is likely that a personal dispute had developed between the two brothers; as far as can be determined, Larry shot Roger, then shot himself.
Djoliba, Mali (1949 – present)
Salif Keita (b. 25 August 1949), is an internationally recognized afro-pop singer and songwriter from Djoliba, Mali. He has a reputation as the “Golden Voice of Africa”, he is also a descendant of the Mali Empire’s founder, Sundiata Keita.
He was outcast by his family & ostracized by the community, because he was an albino - a sign of bad luck in Mandinka culture. In 1967, he left Djoliba for Bamako, where he joined the government-sponsored Super Rail Band De Bamako (aka Super Rail Band). In 1973, Keita joined the group Les Ambassadeurs. Keita and Les Ambassadeurs fled political unrest in Mali during the mid-1970s for Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire & changed the group’s name to Les Ambassadeurs. The reputation of Les Ambassadeurs Internationales rose to the international level in the 1970s and in 1977 Keita received a National Order award from the president of Guinea, Sékou Touré.
Keita moved to Paris in 1984 to reach a larger audience. His music combines traditional West African music styles with influences from both Europe and the Americas, while maintaining an overall Islamic style. Musical instruments that are commonly featured in Keita’s work include balafon, djembe, guitar kora, organ, saxophone, and synthesizer.
His album, M’Bemba, was released in October 2005.
There are two Walter Beasleys:
1. An R&B-ish player whose music sometimes crosses over into jazz, Walter Beasley’s sound is a bit derivative but he is a talented musician. After briefly playing trumpet, Beasley switched to saxophone when he was nine and was soon inspired by Grover Washington, Jr. He attended Berkley College and, after graduating at age 22, became one of the school’s teachers. In 1987, Beasley released his first self-titled album and since then has recorded two sets for Mercury and several for Shanachie (culminating with Rendezvous in 2002), in addition to often accompanying R&B singers. In 2005, he released his debut for Heads-Up, For Her. In 2006, Shanchie released Live, a concert club set from 1998.
2. A blues guitarist and singer best known for his recordings with Sylvester Weaver in 1927
World Sound Systems
Music On the Groove
Elio Revé Matos was born in Guantánamo, the home of changüí, in 1930. He became an accomplished timbalero at an early age. In the mid-1950s he went to Havana to start his own group, and in 1956 the first Orquesta Revé was born. Unlike son, which had moved from the Oriente province to Havana and taken the country by storm in the 1920s, changüí had remained in eastern Cuba and Elio's idea was to create his own style by infusing charanga music with the flavor of changüí. Nevertheless the first decade of Revé's music was charanga in terms of instrumentation and rhythm.
In 1958, members of Revé split off to form Ritmo Oriental. Chucho Valdés passed through the group before Revé hired a new pianist, Pupy Pedroso, and a new musical director, bassist Juan Formell. Formell added electric guitar and created a new style called changüí 68 , which was even less like changüí that Revé's previous music.
In 1969 Formell, Pedroso, and several other key Revé musicians set off on their own to form Los Van Van. During the 1970s, members of Revé went on to form important groups such as Orquesta 440, but in 1982 Elio Revé made perhaps the most influential change of his illustrious career. He added bongó and tres, two critical elements of changüí which had been missing from the charanga instrumentation, and he also three trombones, one of whom, Ignacio Herrera, contributed a handful of genius arrangments which finally realized Revé's vision of fusing Havana popular music with the essential elements of flavor of Guantánamo changüí. Revé called this monstrous new instrumentation charangón, and Cuban music has never been the same since.
Ignacio Herrera stayed for only one album and was replaced as musical director by Juan Carlos Alfonso, whose arrangements kept Revé at the top of the charts until 1988 when he split off to form Dan Den. Without missing a beat, Revé brought in Tony Gómez, the arranger of Suave suave and Mi salsa tiene sandunga. He also continued to sport one of Cuba's best lead vocal lineups, replacing Héctor Valentín with Yumurí Valle, to cite just one example.
A look at the Timba Genealogy shows the central role played by Orquesta Revé in the development of modern timba. The majority of major bands can trace their genealogy back to Revé and our chart isn't even complete, as we failed to show the connections to Ritmo Oriental, Irakere, Orquesta 440 or Yumurí y sus Hermanos.
We'll never know how Elio Revé would have responded to the timba revolution of the late 90s because his live was cut tragically short by a car crash.
The band was taken over by his son Elito, who inherited both his father's gruff voice and his astounding ear for talent. Elito is a graduate of the music schools but also owes much of his musical education to his father. He began at the age of 20 as pianist for the charangón and also worked as arranger for many of the band's hit songs. Elito has employed many extraordinary singers, such as El Gallo, Lele Rasalps and El Nene, and several brilliant musical directors, but none greater than the present one, bassist Aisar Hernández, whose work on Fresquecito made it one of the best ten albums of the 2000s. In 2011 Orquesta Revé soared to new heights with the CD De qué estamos hablando , which won both Best Contemporary Dance Album and the Cubadisco Grand Prize marking the first time in Cubadisco history that this prize was awarded to a timba group. The band is now known as "La planadora de Cuba".
Elio Revé Jr. is also a founder of the Changüí Festival which is held annually in December in Guantánamo. He has recorded four CDs and one DVD, which I highly recommend, with the charangón and is soon to release another DVD filemd live a La Tropical.
The charangón celebrated 50 years in 2006 and continues to be as good, and as popular, as it's ever been.
Music of the World
Stimela is a legendary South african band that was formed by guitarist Ray Phiri in 1981 with Nana Coyote, Isaac Mtshali, Lloyd Lelosa, Jabu Sibumbe, and Charles Ndlovu.
Stimela means “Steam Engine / Locomotive”
They made platinum-winning albums like “Fire, Passion and Ecstacy”, “Look, Listen and Decide” as well as the controversial “People Don’t Talk So Let’s Talk”.
One of their most memorable tracks “Whispers in the Deep” was restricted for broadcast by the old South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Ray Phiri collaborated with Paul Simon on his “Graceland” and “Rhythm of the Saints” albums.
The Color Of Music
Sounds/Vibes of the Caribbean
Sahara All Star Band Jos - "Enjoy Yourself"
Free Music of the World Mix
Feeling the Rhythm and Beats Sounds
Music Mixes for the the Millenniums
Awesome sound and Sounding Heavy Dubs
Latina and Samba Grooves
The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa Rough Guide
Traditional African Music Has Influenced Modern Music In The world today
Third Movement - Soul Symphony Number Three
This is the Third installment of the the music that I like, listen to and think that it needs some serious exposure. Traditional african music made modern music more upbeat with drums and soulful voices to make the song catchy.The slaves from africa brought blues and that created rock as well.If you know the band ''Vampire Weekend'' their songs are lively and fun and make you really happy, they were inspired by south african music ( forgot what it is called) and really brought it out in their songs.
African beats brought out faster dancing which adapted into techno as well,Before the dancing was slow and graceful whereas traditional african dancing is faster and more lively and fun. In essence, Africans have made it more melodic then it was, they gave it more soul. Music was kind of stiff and "elegant" sounding before that point.We are here talking about various genres of music worldwide. This has come to be dubbed World Music. Well, all that music of the world has its roots from the Africans Sound Systems.
The single most area in which African music influenced modern music is with the use of drums. Rock 'n' Roll rhythms as we know them today have been used for centuries in African tribal dance use.If you were able to travel back in time 200 years you would most probably hear all the rock rhythms that we know today. The coming of slaves to America and before that England brought the African rhythms to the western countries.Largely ignored in the early years because of segregation and the white population regarding African influenced music as "jungle music" or "Devil Music". It slowly became accepted in the early part of the 20th century which brought about the birth of Jazz and Blues in America.
The Powerful Influence of African Culture on Modern Music
We are informed by Mark Lincoln that:
“The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope...” Nelson Mandela
"Since no one single person can truly pinpoint the precise moment that the very first music was played, or sung or even pondered on a cloudless and sunny afternoon, and since it is highly likely that the first music was most certainly accidental and appealed so much to the “instrumentalist” that he or she simply repeated the action that they initially made in the futile hope that the same pleasant sound might be replicated, it is incumbent upon this particular writer to pick a starting point where the humble beginnings of music likely originated from.
Archaeologists tell us that the oldest human bones have been unearthed on the continent of Africa, and so it follows then that the first music must also have emanated from the expressive and rhythmic limbs and dark countenances of the African peoples. Obviously we must make a leap of faith here in terms of extrapolating from known information about ancient cultures, and certainly new data is constantly being presented that may or may not support current theories of human origins. But, for the sake of argument we'll make the assumption that human beings began their sojourn into the world on the continent known as Africa.
African music is as diverse as the topography of the land itself and is said to be comprised of literally thousands of different styles of music. But many “experts” of regional music tend to separate African music into two distinct groups: North African Music which is strongly Arabic and Islamic in nature, and Black African music or that which is centralized in the West, Central and Sub Saharan regions of Africa. Indeed, as with all varieties of music there are cross-overs and numerous syntheses of the two areas, but for the sake of brevity and simplicity we'll keep the two categories separate and distinct. Keep in mind as well that although our discussion will focus on modern day African music and instruments that are to be found in the regions contained therein, and the manner in which that music has affected Western music, we will not be investigating the actual ancient instruments that are the forefathers of their modern relatives. In other words, our discussion will deal with modern manifestations of ancient instruments and the evolution of those instruments into those found in households around the world.
North African Music
As stated, this type of music finds its origins in the Northern regions of Africa and is not considered true African music by many aficionados, but rather influenced by Arabic and Islamic tradition. Consequently, much of the music is monophonic (having a single often simple melody) and melodic in structure. This variety of music is frequently performed by soloists with little or no accompaniment, and often on stringed instruments of Arabic origin. There are five categories of instruments often found in North African music:
A. Ancient Egyptian Instruments - Including the Arghul, a single reed woodwind instrument, the Kanun, a Turkish stringed instrument loosely resembling the modern day harpsichord, and the Pandura a three-stringed lute instrument originating from ancient Greece. Again, these instruments are the modern forms of their ancient relatives. [See my Hub On "How The Moors Civilized Spain" on this topic]
B. Moroccan Instruments - Including the Sintir, a three-stringed instrument introduced into North African music by the Gnawa tribe and resembling the strange and perverse marriage between a bass and a banjo and tuned to C-C-G, where the second C-string is an octave higher than its neighbor. The instrument is played in a percussive manner and is described as "slap-and-pop. Sintir players strike downward on the strings with their index-finger nail, thumping the camel skin head as a kind of percussive accompaniment” and in rhythmic time intended to bring about a trance (we'll talk more about the importance of trance later in the article) state in its listeners. This type of play could be compared to the tapping style seen in some remarkable modern players such as the late great Michael Hedges, Andy Mckee and Kaki King. Other instruments in this category include the Qraqeb, an instrument resembling the modern castanet and often played in accompaniment to the Tbri, a barrel drum with two heads.
C. Sahrawi Instruments - (meaning “from the Sahara”) Including the Xalam which is believed to be an ancient ancestor of the modern day banjo and is made up of a wooden body with anywhere from 1 to 8 strings made from fishing line. Cowhide straps hold the strings in place and allow them to be adjusted and tuned. The instrument is held by its player in the same manner as the guitar, with the “neck” of the Xalam held in the left hand and the body held in the right. Interestingly enough, it has also been amplified in modern day musical settings giving it broader applications.
D. Sudanese Instruments - Including the Wazzah which is a variety of horn, the Riq which is similar in form to the modern day Tambourine, as well as utilizing the voice as a primary instrument. In fact, Haqiba (pronounced Ha-gee bah) is considered a highly coveted form of vocal art that is practiced widely in the Sudan and relies heavily on vocal parts and less on instruments themselves. Vocal parts are arranged in a fashion that might be compared to chanting and the lead singer induces a trance-like state in the listeners. Trance states seem to be common goal amongst numerous varieties of African music and song, giving the music a hypnotic, even meditative character.
The concept of Melisma can also come into play here and can be defined as the process whereby the singer sings multiple notes over a single line of text or syllable. Consequently, singing in this manner would be called “melismatic” rather than “syllabic” where each syllable is matched with a particular note. Singing melismatically is also common in other cultures, such as those celebrating Christianity and practicing Gregorian chanting, where singing and chanting is utilized to bring the listeners, as well as their singers into a trance-like state.
E. Tuareg Instruments - Including the Bendir, classified as a frame drum (frame drums are the oldest known drums) which is also similar to the Tambourine but has no jangles, but rather a metal snare located beneath the drum surface. The drum head itself is made of gut and is played using the fingers and hand. The Anzad is another notable Tuareg instrument characterized by having only one string and being played only by women during evening ceremonies. Many Toureg cultures have also assimilated electric instruments, including guitars into their music.
The instruments listed above from the five North African categories are only a sample of those played and are certainly interchangeable between regions. Because the areas in question are so vast and are populated by many different groups of nomadic peoples, instruments from one region are likely to be found in others as well. I have simply provided some examples of instruments that are likely to be found in those regions as well as some food for thought as to where some of our modern day instruments may have evolved from.
Black African Music
Music that is considered “true” African music by many indigenous peoples to Africa. Black African music is generally to be found in the West, Central and sub-Saharan regions of Africa although evidence of its influence can be found all over Africa including more remote areas of the continent like Mozambique and Madagascar. Black African music has evolved in a very different manner than that of its Northern cousins, being more influenced by Gospel music and early Dutch inhabitants who having brought slaves with them to Africa, also brought their more Westernized ideas and ideals of music with them as well. Consequently, the music is very different from that of Northern Africa and leans towards more complex rhythmic types of compositions utilizing cross and poly rhythms.
The term cross rhythm was coined by a man named Arthur Morris Jones, a missionary and musicologist working in Zambia during the 20th century. Jones was known for his work involving the complexities of Black African Music in particular, the music of the Ewe tribe found in Western Africa. Cross rhythms, according to Jones, are rhythms in which the established pattern of accents is conflicted with by a novel rhythm not having the same meter as the original rhythm. In other words, their starting points and down beats cross or rather they do not coincide. This is an example of what is know as poly rhythm which is the process of having two or more rhythms played simultaneously not sharing the same meter. The idea of crossing rhythmic patterns was considered central and unique to sub Saharan music separating it from music to be found in the north of the continent and from most Western music as well. Western rhythms traditionally emphasized the primary beat but Cross Rhythms tended to emphasize the secondary beat. Jones' work on this topic helped to distinguish sub Saharan music from other African music, and from Western music although there are specific examples in the annals of classical music that defy this notion (see Beethoven's 3rd Symphony).
Historians have documented the tragic mass destruction of many of the treasured cultural practices of African peoples during the 19th century, pieces of music as well as instruments sadly bearing inclusion into this travesty. Subsequently, older fragile representatives of instruments as well as accurate depictions of instruments indigenous to the region are sometimes vague, according to some. And although instruments used in South, West and Central African cultures are similar to those in the Northern regions in some respects, many of them tend to be directed towards percussion and those creating rich tapestries of rhythmic music. Black African instruments are categorized based on the regions they are predominantly played in:
A. Southern African Instruments - Including the Imifece (Im-if-ici), this instrument is a rattle tied loosely to one's ankles and wrists. It's made from a specific moth species and after being harvested is filled with tiny pebbles and sown to a piece of animal hide. The Imifece is a percussive instrument worn during ceremonies involving drumming, song and clapping. These types of ceremonies often bring about a trance state in the participants which they believe can help them to recover lost relatives, livestock or discover important herbs. Another instrument found in the South is the Isiginci or the African equivalent of the six-string guitar. This simple instrument is composed of a tin box with a wooden neck glued on the face of it. These inexpensive instruments are widely constructed and played by young boys in many parts of colonized Africa and play a predominant role in Mission school and Black Christian wedding dances. Due to its inexpensive nature as well as the accessibility of the materials utilized, the Isiginci has made playing the guitar much more attainable for people of lower socioeconomic status. Another interesting instrument found in the south is called the Mbira. This is a traditional instrument played by the Shona people of Zimbabwe which dates back more than a thousand years. It's simple in construction and is made of a small wooden board with staggered metal keys and bits of shell or metal placed on the inside as a resonator. This instrument is simple and fun to play and can be classified as being in the lamellophone family of instruments.
B. Western African Instruments - Including the Djembe (pronounced Jem-be') which is a drum made from a single piece of wood, carved in the shape of a goblet and covered in goatskin. This type of drum is frequently used by the Mandinka people who have been using this instrument since the Mali Empire of the 12th century A.D. The Kora is another interesting Western African instrument also played by the Mandinka and similar to a lute or harp, having 21 strings all of which are played with four fingers.
C. Central African Instruments: This category has two subcategories:
i. Democratic Republic of Congo Instruments - Including the Kisanji which is similar in form to the S. African Mbira. The Kisanji is usually tuned to the Pentatonic scale and is often played utilizing poly rhythms and as an accompaniment to vocal passages. Another instrument from this region is known as the Slit Drum. This variety of percussive instrument is hollow with slits cut into it usually in the shape of an “H” which produces wooden tongues in varying lengths and thicknesses. This variation in characteristics produces different tones when struck by a mallet.
ii. Ugandan Instruments - Including the Adangu which is a 9-stringed arched harp which is played both as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble. The Adangu is found in Sub Saharan regions but predominantly in portions of Uganda, and is played in multiple settings including night clubs, or even as a palliative measure as therapy for the mentally ill. Another interesting instrument is the Endingidi which is a single stringed bowed instrument known specifically in Uganda. The body is typically made of wood or horn and the string of animal gut or other available materials. Some might compare this instrument roughly to our modern-day bass. Uganda is also known for its wide array of drums including the Embuutu which is simply a large drum with a cowhide membrane and typically a low register. The Engalabi is another drum found in this region which is characterized by a long, cylindrical body with reptile skins, often of the Monitor Lizard, nailed across the top and bottom of the drum openings with wooden pins. This particular drum is always used with other drums and rattles and is inextricably linked with specific dance ceremonies found in the region. There are many other instruments as well as numerous drums in this category which merit inclusion in this category.
D. East African Instruments - This category has eight subcategories:
i. Djiboutian Instruments - Including the Tanbura which is a Bowl Lyre, characterized by having one to three strings stretched across a wooden frame made from three branches. What is interesting about this particular instrument is that it has its origins in Northern Africa but has made it's way south and East to become indigenous to Eastern Africa. As stated previously, this is fairly common in Africa where people have been compelled to move vast distances to find food, water or freedom from persecution.
ii. Eritrean Instruments - Including the Krar or Kirar which is a five or six-stringed Bowl Lyre often played as accompaniment to a meal or other pleasurable event. It can be plucked or strummed and is usually tuned to the pentatonic scale. Another instrument in this category is the Wata which is a violin-like instrument and the Kebero which is a drum. Eritrea is well-known for its rich tradition of dance and song as well and often incorporate song into their ceremonies.
iii. Ethiopian Instruments - Including the Sistrum which is a percussive instrument thought to have originated in Iraq or Egypt. In fact the Sistrum was considered sacred in Egyptian ceremonies and was used in celebration of the Goddess Hathor the Cow Goddess. The shape of the Sistrum is said to resemble the countenance and horns of a cow in reverence to her. The instrument is usually made of brass or bronze and when shaken produces a jangling or clanking sound. Many believe this instrument to be the distant cousin of the modern tambourine. Another interesting Ethiopian instrument is the Washint or Ethiopian Flute. This simple instrument is made of wood or cane and is usually used as a solo instrument. The flute has four holes and is usually played in a melismatic fashion, not unlike the chanting made reference to earlier in the article.
iv. Kenyan Instruments - Including the Orutu which is a single-stringed fiddle native to Kenya. This instrument is mostly used by the Luo people of Western Kenya and has been made famous (relatively speaking) by a musical group known as the Kenge Kenge Orutu System. This eight-pieced ensemble combines the classic sounds of age-old African instruments with more upbeat and danceable rhythms and has played from their native region of East Africa to other areas far away including Thailand, Malaysia and Europe.
vi. Malagasy Instruments - Including the Marovany which is a steel-stringed Boxed Zither originally finding its home in Madagascar. The Box Zither is traditionally constructed from either a rectangular or trapezoidal shaped body and the strings can either be plucked by hand, or played with hammers. Modern day Box Zithers more familiar to Western musicians are the harpsichord and the Hammer Dulcimer. Another interesting instrument to be found in this category is the Valiha which is considered a Tube Zither. This type of Zither is constructed from bamboo and strings usually constructed from used bicycle brake cables. This use of recycled materials in instruments is undoubtedly a remarkable testimony to the resilience and creativity of the African people. The instrument dates back before the birth of Christ and can be played by holding it between the legs or under one's arm and plucking the strings gently. It can be used as either a solo instrument or as accompaniment to an ensemble.
Vii. Mauritian Instruments - Including the Kayamba which is a flat percussive instrument of sorts composed of reed and filled with seed found in the region, either Jequirity or Canna seeds. The instrument is shaken with both hands eliciting a rich sound not dissimilar to the sound of maracas, and compelling to dancers and others in the ceremony. Another instrument from the Mauritian region is the Ravanne which is considered by many in the region as the most important instrument in the provision of the basic rhythm necessary for a given ceremony. The Ravanne is a large Tambourine-like instrument played by holding it in one's lap and beating upon it, or by wearing it on a strap. An interesting fact about the Ravanne is that it's made of goatskin and needs to be heated up before playing it to give it its most full and expressive sound.
Viii. Somalian Instruments - Not much is currently known about instruments indigenous to this region except the Tanbura which is a bowl-shaped lyre thought to have originated in Egypt and the Sudan. This instrument is often used in ceremonies particularly in the Zar ritual which involves possession of an individual, usually a female for malevolent purposes. Mental illness is often attributed to Zar possession in some regions located in Africa as well as some Arabic countries.
Viii. Sudanese Instruments - See above... This category overlaps with North African music which emphasizes simple instrumentation with more vocally centered formats.
Again, the instruments listed above are simply examples and are intended to give you a small taste of what the various areas incorporated into their musical practices. There are also small variations between some of the instruments which can be witnessed from region to region, or even between different producers of instruments of the same name.
Cross Cultural Manifestation
Obviously we set out upon this journey to the dark continent and back again to examine the relationship between the origins of music and the implements necessary to create it, and the modern forms more familiar to most of us. Our first thoughts naturally flow towards Jazz and Blues which have clearly evolved from African music and have found their ways into our cultures as well as our hearts. But what about other forms of music that have traveled a more convoluted path to reach the modern era? Let's take a look at some interesting variations on the musical theme that some people may not have perceived to be of African origin.
Hip Hop and Rap
Many people confuse these two different forms although there are distinct differences between them. Rapping literally means “to converse” and predates the phenomenon known as hip hopping by centuries. Consequently, rapping has been used as a chanting or speaking art form (as a rhyming lyrical form accompanying Reggae music as well) with or without an accompaniment and can be very powerful as a tool of self-expression. Depending on how you define it, Rap may very well date back to early African tribes and their practice of chanting in rhythmic fashion to induce trance states.
Hip Hop was born out of New York subculture during the 1970s and was born of four basic elements: Mcing (Emcee-ing), Djing, Breaking, and Graffitti Writing. Mcing can be compared with Rapping and many consider the two terms to be synonymous. Hip Hop was basically discovered by DJ's who exchanged portions or “samples” of rhythmic beats and “looped” them to create compositions. Rapping over the top of the rhythms soon followed along with “breaking” or colorful and highly energetic dance accompaniment. Consequently, Hip Hop is the culmination of a number of art forms from Rapping, to the subtle yet brilliant synthesis of rhythms and poly rhythms, to dance and written art forms.
House is an electronic form of music that originated in Chicago in the 1980s catering to African American and Latino clientele desiring high energy danceable music. House borrows elements liberally from Rhythm and Blues, Soul as well as Funk and disco but infuses an element of electronica into the mix. Some House music also samples pieces of bass lines from earlier Disco tunes and combines vocals or other effects in for good measure. Consequently, House is a synthesis of various components of different types of music but with the goal of creating a high energy environment for movement and dance. Regardless of the fact that House incorporates electronic elements into the mix, its origins are deeply seated in Funk and Soul and this is evident in the groove and feel of the music, especially when you're out on the dance floor.
Techno music was founded in Detroit Michigan in the early 1980s by three African American musicians and friends interested in both Funk as well as more electronic bands such as Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder. Initially techno was played in small groups and local parties but eventually found broader and broader audiences as local clubs began to cater to interested crowds of party goers and danc-a-holics. The growing popularity of DJ's and their ability to collate and synthesize select groups of songs also helped to launch the popularity of Techno to International degrees helping it along to the popularity that it enjoys today. And although Techno adheres to Western forms of composition (i.e simple 4/4 time, major scales etc) much of it is simply cleverly programmed drum samples with cool effects.
A Trance is “a somnolent state, as of deep hypnosis; a state of profound abstraction or absorption” (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield Mass., USA, 1999. pp 1252.) As mentioned earlier in the article, many African cultures perform various forms of their music in order to bring about a trance state in themselves as well as their listeners. Some might equate the process of going into a trance as a negative thing, but there is a specific branch of music designed to induce a calmer, trance-like state.
Trance is a specific genre of music that was initially born in Europe during the 1990s and can take on a number of forms. Generally speaking though, Trance is often made up of a specific melodic hook that can be either a guitar riff or a bassline or even a vocal melody. There is massive variation built into Trance and it can take on many forms, which is perhaps one of the great things about it. It is an open, uplifting, flexible, emotional sometimes subdued but often very danceable form of music that ranges from the sublime to the psychedelic. Most of it is fairly simply though in terms of rhythm and is often measured in 4/4 time making it very conducive to movement and long protracted bouts of dance.
Many see Trance as a synthesis between House and Techno, but with an edgier more poignant and emotional edge. But regardless of what the general components are or what elements of music have come together to form it, Trance music has become a world-wide phenomenon taking numerous forms including Euro Trance, Goa Trance (founded in the Goa region of India), Psychedelic Trance, Hard Trance as well as numerous other forms.
There are many compilations and cross-overs between different styles of music and tribal house is one of them. There is no clear cut definition of this sub-variety of music but it frequently features chanting and melodies that are not uncommon to tribal music found in African cultures. Tribal House can also feature live drummers and other musicians bringing the energy and passion of live instruments to the crowd and combining it with electronica. True Tribal House though in its purest form does not have any live musicians but rather relies on the power of digital instrumentation."
Mark Lincoln ends the story above by writing
"So many of our modern icons have incorporated African instrumentation, ideas and ideals into their music including Paul Simon (see Graceland), Peter Gabriel and Carlos Santana amongst many, many others. And ultimately there are almost infinite different forms of music most of which have been produced as a result of, or have been affected by African music on some level. Whether Western instruments have evolved from ancient African forms, or we have adopted knowledge in terms of rhythms and cross rhythms, various scale patterns, or simply the evolution of melody and harmony, Western music undoubtedly owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude to our African brothers and sisters for their wisdom, insight and creativity."
African Musical Sound system - The African Diaspora
The brief history above is important because these African Influences run the gamut from the caribbean, South America, Latin America and the United States of America. All the regions and continents/Areas mentioned above have one or various influences in their music from the Africa Sound Systems. I will refer the viewer/listener to the Web site offered by the Stanford University Libraries (SULAIR - Africa South Of The Sahara) which has a topic that deals with "African Music On the Internet" as a valuable resource for all those who have listened to the music thus far in this Hub.
This section of the Hub deals with all the various music from Africans in Africa and Africans in the Diaspora. It is an important resources because not many people know how extensive the music os Africa is globally. The site I have noted above is important for it gives many links to African music as it has spread throughout the Internet and the world at large. What this Hub is doing, is synthesize and synergize the music of people of Africa origins, without being of a specific genre, but gives the reader/viewer/lister a sense of the history and depth and breadth of the music of Africa people in the World, and throughout the AfricanDiaspora.
As those who visit this Hub and listen to music above, I hope to have helped them have a much more broader perspective and knowledge about the influence of the music of Africans to the Modern music as we know it and listen to it.
Also, the Stanford University Libraries gives a list of South Africa Under the same Website, SULAIR-Africa South Of The Sahara - South Africa - Music. I have written several Hubs on the music of South Africa and the Reader/Listener/Viewer can see them in my link one can type or Google - ixwa.hub.com - and this will give the reader/viewer/listener access to all the Hubs I have written. Amongst these are the Hubs I have published/written about the music of South Africa, Jazz and African music in the Diaspora.
So that the Hub above is a series of Hubs I have been composing, but this one in particular, is about the appreciation I have for various genres of music that are mostly of Africa origin and African centered. There are more such Hubs in the works wherein I provide the listener/viewer//reader a varied choice of music. In this Hub and many more to come, wherein I have made my own listening and appreciation choices, I try to get away from the straight jacket approach of composing a Hub just based on one Genre. The only common element in these Hubs is that they are mostly from artist that are of African origin in Africa and the Diaspora.
So that, the 'Third Movement- soul Symphony Number three, is mostly the history and the sites about the music of Africans in Africa, the Diaspora and and the Music of Africans in the world and on the Internet.
"Jamming Africoid - A Potpourri of African Polyrhythmic Vibes/Grooves and Jams Today", is a concept and music appreciation and entertainment of all the musical videos posted below for the enjoyment and appreciation of and for the Listeners/Viewers/Music Lovers...
Rough Guide To The Best African Music You've Never Heard
The Nitty-Gritty Of The Polyrhythmic Kaledoscopic Sounds and Vibes Of Africa
The music of and from Africa is very interesting and has deep roots in the cultural sounds of the local traditional music. In the world of music recording and sales, this music has not yet sold in the millions as its counterparts from all over the world. There are too many politics and economical imperialism that is responsible for this failure. In this Hub, I will sample some of the music that is found throughout Africa and played and listened to by many African people.
About this music of Africa, we learn from Dumisani Maraire that:
"... the West responds very positively to African music and art, it is equally true that Westerners are frequently bewildered by the subject since the objectives of the two cultures, in many cases, differ. If the definition of music is read from a dictionary in the West, the concept of music reflecting an "aesthetic of beauty" or a "sense of the beautiful" is apparent. For example, the 1969 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines music as "1. The art of organizing tones to produce a coherent sequence of sounds intended to elicit an aesthetic response in a listener. . . 6. Any aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds. . ." Second, the objective of African music is not to make sounds which are pleasing to the ear but rather to "express life in all of its aspects through the medium of sound." If an understanding of African music is to be developed, it is this point of departure that should be taken.
Comparing African and Western education, the French ethnomusicologist Herbert Pepper, having spent eleven years with the forest-dwellers of the Congo and Gabon, wrote: "I had the impression that I learnt more about my art in the African school than in the Western school. The latter certainly taught me to appreciate the quality of the finished article, but it sometimes seemed so far removed from the everyday world that I began to wonder if it bore any relationship to it. The African school, on the other hand, has taught me that what matters is not the quality of the music itself, but its ability to render emotions and desires as naturally as possible."
Francis Babey further adds that:
"African music, which is nearly always coupled with some other art form, expresses the feelings and life of the entire community. The sound of feet pounding the ground becomes the rhythm of the music whose notes are in turn transformed into dance steps."
"Dumisani adds that:
"Broadly speaking, there are both similarities and differences between Western music and African music and it is in this domain of diversity that African music is best discovered. The elements of African music )rhythm, melody, harmony, musical instruments, meter, timbre, et al.) are, broadly speaking, those of Western music. However, the unique features of each element of African music contains the essence of what makes African music unique in the World.
African music is best understood by rejecting the notion that it is "primitive" music. This "ear opening" allows a person to discover African Music on its own terms without applying Western standards and values where, in many cases, those standards and values are inappropriate."
The study of African musical systems holds an incredible wealth for the modern percussion educator and band director. In the average grade school band room, the band director often has to work with other sections of the band while the percussionists sit idle. When the percussion section is then asked to rejoin the ensemble they frequently have difficulty staying in time, keeping their place in parts that are very repetitious, or holding on to a groove where the bass drum, snare drum, and cymbals have non-unison parts. Specifically there are four African musical concepts that will help to foster and develop solid foundations of time, feel, groove and ensemble playing while improving listening and memory skills. These concepts are rote learning, repetition, hocketing and call and response.
Brazilian Samba recordings are a great place to hear amazing examples of all three of the call and response varieties.
These African musical concepts have direct application for entire band programs as well as percussion sections. After all, each of these concepts has found its way into popular music. The music of Count Basie and James Brown are perfect examples of rote leaning, subtle variation, hocketing and call and response.(Norm Bergeron)
Music of the African Continent
The Music of Africa
Letta Mbuli - "Zimkile"(The Are Gone..)
The Music Of Africans in Africa
Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa Rough Guide
African Music, Art, Linguistic and Cultural History: An Alternate Take
The reason I am dedicating this section to music it is because it is what I grew up on and understand much more better. Although, I can never, in one Hub discuss or post about the music of African and African music in the Diaspora, I can always try to use key information about the history or otherwise of this music of Africans. So, below, I have decided to use a whole article that was a speech and now an article that was made by Amiri Barak, wherein I found that he works hard to put the music of African people in his own particular African-centered perspective.
Although it is written from an African American perspective, most of what he says I can relate it in relation to the environment I grew up in, and there are also some issue I would like to take up on in my later additions to this Hub. But his article enables me to pass on his knowledge and experience for those who might gain too from knowing what he has to say.
This also helps me to put the section into some perspective, and be able to give background information about the genre of the music of African people, which is the same all over the world.The title of the article that Amiri Barak spoke about is called:
Riffin' on Music and Language
"There's an essay that I put in this mazaine called Presida 9 called "Doc Iment," for a poet who died in 1999 ho was a close friend of mine, Gaston Neal. What is this document about? It's about word music, as we call it. Word music is poetry and music. It begins, "Doc I meant. What I say? Document?"Djali.
"That's the African word for what people call griot, which is a French word. Griot means "cry." Djali, on the other hand, does not mean to cry, but to "promote laughter." It's like a geo-socialaesthetic portrait of the world, which would be, for instance, the masks of theater, one is smiling, one is frwoning. You have a geo-social aesthetic.
In college they taught us that the highest form of art is tragedy. Meaning, Aeshylus, Sophocles, the dude that killed his father, slept with his mama, put out his own eyes, and searched the world for mediocrity. That dude. That's the first Crazy Eddie, Oedipus. What does Oedipus mean? come on, Greek Scholars, if you haven't had any Greek scholarship, you haven't been to school. It means "lame, clubfoot." Even today in urban America, corny people are called lame. Are we talking about Oedipus when we say "Lame Motherf***r. Are we talking about language ... about image or about history?
"African Americans are urban people, because as quiet as it's kept-independnet off Jesse Helms and the rest of the people who want to make the world safe for nobody-the world is mixed, inalterably, ineffably mixed. If Africans were the first persons here, if you don't have some African trace in you, you would be from beyond the Van Allen Belt..
"Language, which began in one base and spread wherever the conditions had changed, is the oldest record of human life. These hands were once paws, all shaped the same way, and everybody read the same information down there on the ground. there wasn't much to see on the ground. then there was the monkey who had to leap off the ground and therefore break his thumb, break his hand to turn it this way so that therefore I can pickup a stick and beat you to death, or a too-making instrument.
"At the same time, if you read Engels, is there anybody here who's not addicted to imperialism that would read Engels? Solid. He talks about the development of the hand as a form of labor, of society as a form of labor. We keep jumping up. You can't jump up with a paw. The woman said,"Why are you down there on the ground? Get Up"" So belatedly, he stood up and said, "I can't get that. My Paw won't get it."
"Engels talks about the development of the vowels ass the same time that the fingers developed. He talks about the development of a-e-i-o-u, the vowels; at the same time that's traced to the pentatonic scale. You're talking about music, about language, about anthropology. so that at the same time it becomes possible for you to not be cheetah to pick it up. With that kind of articulation, it become possible for you to say, ah, eh, ih, oh uu. that is the beginning of language.
"It means a lot of things. First, if you read Paul Robeson',does any one know Paul Robeson's work, not his work as a singer, he was a great artist, but he was also and aesthetic theorist? His work on backgrounds of afro-American music was very interesting and important. You can see that in his selected works. He talks about the pentatonic scale,the blues, the black notes. that's why the blues singers could play that easy, because they were the black notes.
"But Robeson said, and this was interesting, was that you can trace the development of the pentatonic, whether you're listening to the Volga boatmen in russia and the Ukraine or Deep River in the South. It's essentially the same scale, the same chords. Robeson goes through the whole technical, musical thing. I'd be glad to send the essay to yu. If you can find the time.
We talk about griot. six o'clock and all's well, the town crier. The Djali had a different fucntion. It was literally to make you jolly. We get the term glee, glee man, glee club. When Louis Armstrong, for instance, used to sing, "Just because my hair is curly, just because my teeth are pearly, just because I wear a smile on my face all the time, that's why they call me shine." We're talking about history that not understood by those upon which it was shaped. We're walking around full of, "You square motherf***s." Why do we say that? The Egyptians said a square was the angle of failure. The pyramid was the angle of success. Who knows that on the street? We don't know that.
"We talk about the griot vs. the Djali. What is the Djali's function" Griot is a word that comes into use through colonialism. If you go to Senegal, Mali, great places to go to, Ras, my second son, and I went there to visit the old slave castles. That's a hell of an experience. It's like the Jews when they go back to the concentration camps. It's something that breaks you down. We didn't say anything. I wrote my name inside an old castle. they said, "You mean there a a Baraka here many years ago?" But you know, when you see it, you go to the French possessions, you know, number one, nobody's there. You travel for miles, there's nobody in Senegal.
"You see the baobab trees and empty villages. Where are they? Maybe in Denver or LA or Oakland. But that strength of that French -African connection meant that the words coming out of Africa,, like Djali would become griot. What is the job of the Djali? Storyteller. That makes it abstract. Poet. Historian. Musican. Storyteller. Because if it's not a story, if it hasn't stored something, that's what a story is. It's a storage place. You store stuff in there. There's something interesting. So, it's a historian.
"The Djali was supposed to go to each place and tell the history of the joint.[They do so from the beginning. In so-and-so we did so and so. Why? Because everybody is not up to speed on that]. When the Djali comes, the first thing they do is say, "You know the world begins and this happened. It used to be this. to get the point . And now this is the case."
"Also, when the Djali gets down you call that Djeliaw. Billy Eckstein's most famous hit was "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly." There was a great pianist from New Orleans named Jelly Roll Morton. We always hook up jelly with sex. Why? You'll have to reason that out yourself. Must be jelly because jam don't shake like that. we could go on with these associations.
"Jam comes from djama, which means family, which ultimately means socialism, cooperative, ujama. so, when he says, Jelly, Jelly, Jelly drove my old man crazy, made my mama wild. The point is that the Djeliaw their job is to light up the mind, to make the mind shine, to make the mind smile, to make the mind laugh, to understand history as a revelatory story.
So that the poet, or at least the poet per my own self, like I said, Doc Iment, I'm not talking about what I meant, the point is that for the Djali the first function is to light up people's minds, to light up the understanding of the world. Why music? Because music is an expression of the word inne-rself. In terms of why music, we're working on that now, when for instance you know the Greeks and Romans always used to say the Ethiopians were always smiling.
"This is a hell of a put down, because when you get down there with the sun picking stuff off the trees, which has a downside to it, it means people who wrest their life from the snow, who tended to be stricter, can come down and beat the sh*t out of you, ultimately, if you're not cool. There's an upside and a downside, an upside to the frown and a downside to the smile. Together it's infinity.
"You keep doing that and you keep going on. What we're trying to do is, human beings hopefully make a circle rather than always flactuating. It's bound to have a dialectic to it. If there's an up, there's a down. If there's a slow, there's a fast. If there's a hot, there's a cold. so, where there was once the so-called master of the universe, Egypt, the light of the world,they called themselves, who now must push bags for fat, aging businessmen. So, there's an upside and a downside to everything.
Why Music? Music is the motion of rising and changing, as thought given form, feeling as an object, the living reflection of material life, the thoughts I see, I hear, sonographics, drama itself. In terms of word music, the Africans, when we arrived here, now Afro-Americans, black Americans, people who think that Africans remain Africans in the US are unrealistic.
"Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, are Western musicians. When I taught at Yale with Bill Ferris, who's now the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), we taught a course. He showed an incredible film. A drummer named Tony Williams, who used to play with Miles Davis, they took him to Africa to the shore. He comes to the shore of Africa and sets up his drum set and goes, boom, boom,,pow, pow!
"A minute later they heard from across the way drums. the people are saying, "We've heard you, but don't understand what you are saying." Not only we heard you, but we heard you plural. Why Plural? Because we play an industrial instrument. It's got levers. It's a little motor. they thought it was 10 or 15 people, when it was actually Tony Williams, you know, young Max Roach.
"Because that's an industrial, Western instrument, created by the one-man bands after the Civil War, the guys who stand out there, they don't want to go do the work, pick cotton,or whatnot, so instead they pick up instruments-everything, harmonicas, drums, banjos, and started playing around with them. That's where that comes from, that is, to play it all.
"The point is that this has not got to do with just the African qua nationality, but the culture, which is now embedded in the US. If you don't think the American culture is Africa, European and Native, you don't know what you're talking about. That's what this while idea is about Standard English. Hey, americans never spoke English. Or about Ebonics. All of those are off the wall. Language is created by people together. You cannot be on the West Coast and not speak Spanish. You know that. I want to go to Los Angeles. what are you going to say?
"You want to go to San Diego, what are you going to call it? You can't be in the Midwest unless you can speak Native American. You can't be in the South and not speak Bantu. There are more Bantu names, African names,in South Carolina, where they're trying to keep the flag up, which is why they're trying to keep Confederate flag up. Because they figured all those Bantu names are going to rise up off the ground and get them.
"You cannot speak an american sentence without going from Europe to Native to Africa. We're one people. Even though the social thing keeps us separated and sometimes hateful and not understanding each other, we're still one people. A wild, wild thing. We have the history to kill each other off or to learn to be human beings. That's the way it is. Somebody told me that a long, long time ago, and I said Fiddlesticks. I didn't understand that then.
"The question of word music. Music is a strictly abstract function, but music as a form of actual telling, for instance, "Meet me tomorrow at seven o'clock. Bring your largest knife and do not be late." At that point, where that is stopped, that is, take the drums away, why take the drums away, is it because you don't like percussion in you symphony orchestras? Why isn't there percussion in Europe? We have to ask, Why is the piano segregated?
"The question of history and art is the same thing. What happens in social history happens in aesthetic history, in arts. So, if somebody suddenly says, "Look, boss, if you take that piece of wood away from them slaves, that wood they keep beating on, if you take that wood, all that notion about them rising up into the night, that would be over with," Fiddlesticks. Certainly can't b true. How can that piece of wood be related to slave uprisings? Watch them, and for three more pork chops I will tell you.
"Sure enough, that night, there he goes again. He hears it and says, "Ali, there is some kind of relationship. what is it?" "They're speaking to each other, boss. You mean it's code?" "No, its not a code. It's a language." "Because its a tonal language and they're using the drum under their arm, we call it the dundun, the drum is shaped like the hourglass with cords around it that you have with the drumstick shaped like a staff and you hold it under your arm like that so that you could make it like a string instrument, tight high, loose low. It's a tonal language. they'r actually speaking to each other.
"Why is that so important? The greatest drummers now are still playing a form of abstract expressionism. that is, they say, "We hear you, but we no longer understand what you are talking about, and neither do you." You understand the emotion, which drives you and makes you do certain things, but to actually be able to say, "Meet me tomorrow."
"In periods of backwardness such as one we're in today, notice for instance how he music has changed. In the sixties, the rhythm and blues, the pop, very clear. There's no clearer singer, for instance, than the Motown people in terms of their words. You hear everything they say. Listen to Stevie wonder. Marvin Gaye. they're clear. But then rap, I defy you to understand most of its just right off the thing.
"Reggae. Nobody clearer than bob Marley. "Redemption Song." Tell me what they're singing now. Why is that? Because it is the society itself that no longer wants that clarity. when rap began, hip hop, and I say rap because it relates to the drum, that's what the sailors did on a log. What did the log do? It told what happened. That's the same thing.
"You cannot become merely a passive receiver of culture. You cannot in the meantime be a dog in the manger and trying to wait until imperialism discovers you. A lot of people say, I'm out here being this and that, but as soon as el hombre discovers you, you turn into a 'ho', whore. They'll turn you into what they are.
It's the job of people who think of themselves as advanced or progressive to create a living culture themselves.Even Narop ... What would this whole scene here be without this alternative institution? We need these in ever city. Where black people live as plurality, majority,that's 27 cities. the biggest cities in the US. We need a network. Why should we go to all those jazz festivals in Europe? sure, we're going to go to them, Why not? But why should those be the only things we attend? Where's the Zimbabwe jazz festival, the Beijing jazz festival? Where is the Pyongyang jazz festival, the Ho Chi Minh City jazz festival" It sounds like I am communist, and it's true.
"... It is also important to give history of the place that actually place it in the place where people lived
"The last thing I mentioned is the thing that were working on now, myself, personally, and some people are helping me, is that we're trying to reclaim word music.we have actually written music so that when we write words they correspond to the notes. If you write b-aa-t, that actually corresponds to a chord.These are things that we're working on so that for instance one day, and any of you poets who are interested in coming out there, who are serious and revolutionary, because we're not doing tis just to strum our own gourds, we're trying to crete alternative means of communication and networking.
Sister Rosseta Tharpe
African Voices: Songs of Life
A Short Take on Gospel: sister Rosetta Tharpe
The African-American religious folk songs known as spirituals grew out of the slavery experience and the introduction of Christianity into slaves' lives. Though rooted in African musical tradition, they reflected life in a strange and terribly oppressive new world. Often improvisations upon older hymns, they became entirely new songs — songs like "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho" and "Steal Away." In some ways, they foreshadow the birth of American jazz.
Though spirituals were a product of enslavement, they also became a coded means of communicating escape. The lyrics of some are said to have referred to the Underground Railroad, and the singing of spirituals could signal an imminent slave revolt. They were also sometimes used to summon clandestine night-worship services — the so-called "invisible churches" that existed on plantations where masters feared that religious meetings could lead to insurrection and liberation.
In the years following the abolition of slavery, the Fisk Jubilee Singers introduced the sound of spirituals to many different audiences through concert tours. In the early 20th century, singers such as Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson performed spirituals, and they figured strongly in the repertoire of many New Orleans and revivalist jazz bands.
Spirituals were played less often in later years, but their themes of suffering and liberation retained a latter-day appeal for some modern jazz musicians, many of whom grew up knowing and singing spirituals in the African-American church community. Notable recordings were made by performers such as Louis Armstrong, Albert Ayler, Johnny Griffin, Charlie Haden and Hank Jones. Here are five jazz interpretations of spirituals by other artists.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe-A Short Bio
Nobody could swing a spiritual like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the guitarist and singer whose gospel crossover success in the late '30s and early '40s helped pave the way for future stars such as Ray Charles. Tharpe made her recording debut with Lucky Millinder's big band in 1938 and performed later that year at jazz impresario John Hammond's "From Spirituals to Swing" Carnegie Hall concert. In the 1940s, she went solo and began to frequently use an electric guitar, another element of her sound that some have described as a precursor to rock 'n' roll. In this 1943 broadcast for Jubilee, a U.S. military radio program produced for African-American service members, Tharpe joins forces once again with Lucky Millinder to deliver a jubilant rendition of "Down by the Riverside" — an interesting choice for the times, given the song's refrain of, "I ain't gonna study war no more." Tharpe's subsequent studio version of the song would eventually land in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.
John Coltrane - A Short Bio
In 1961, John Coltrane began incorporating spirituals and older folk music into his repertoire, recording "Greensleeves" as well as "Song of the Underground Railroad," based on an African-American song called "The Drinking Gourd." In November of that year, Coltrane took his group, including Eric Dolphy, into New York City's Village Vanguard; his label, Impulse Records, taped four nights' worth of music. Initially only three sides came out, on the album Live at the Village Vanguard, and one of them was a lengthy number called "Spiritual."
Some Coltrane biographers have suggested that Coltrane based "Spiritual" on a song drawn from a book in his library — The Book of American Negro Spirituals, a 1925 volume edited by James Weldon Johnson. In the liner notes to the LP, Coltrane stated that the group had been working on this piece for some time, "because I wanted to make sure that we would be able to get the original emotional essence of the spiritual." Jazz writer Ashley Kahn cites "Spiritual" as a sort of precursor to Coltrane's later monumental suite A Love Supreme, and its very title implied the personal direction and concern of Coltrane's future music.
The Shining Light of Grant Green on Blue Note 1963-64
Lee Morgan's 'Search for the New Land' is one of the tracks that really turned me on to jazz: its moody, its a journey, and above all its a great groove. I've come back to it many times over the years, and I got to thinking about the guitar solo on it: there's something about the unexpected, bright, single note guitar tones of that section that really make the track. It inspired me to look up the guitarist, Grant Green, and see what else he's played on.
I read that Grant was a bedrock of '60s Blue Note sessions, and from 1961 to 1965 he made more appearances on Blue Note LPs, as leader or sideman, than anyone else. The Blue Note sound of this period was predominantly a mixture of jazz often with gospel, blues, r'n'b, and latin influences in the mix. A lot of this material doesn't really do it for me, including the majority of Grant's led albums, which tend to feel a little too safe: his default mode is to play in a melodic and smooth style, often accompanied by hammond, which comes over a little too easy listening for my tastes, particularly when you consider what people like John Coltrane and Sun Ra were doing at the time on Impulse! Records. In fact some people call Grant the father of acid jazz, for the way he brought a carefree mood to the soul jazz excursions he was best known for.
That said there seems to be a small seam of edgier, harder Blue Note sessions that he was involved with as a side man - all recorded within the space of a year, from November 1963 to November 1964 - that I really love, and hope you'll enjoy too. As on 'Search for the New Land' the lightness of his playing compliments and contrasts the tension in the material, and this little mix picks out my favourites of such pieces.
Although the politics aren't explicit here, as they would later become in the later 60s and 70s jazz eras, I think they are there between the lines. It is worth remembering that this is the height of the civil rights struggle in the States, with the landmark victory of the Civil Rights Act being passed on July 2, 1964, and Martin Luther King Jr being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964. The Lee Morgan track 'Mr. Kenyatta' featured here refers to Jomo Kenyatta, who won independence for Kenya from the UK on December 12, 1963, and became the countries first president. There was definitely a heady atmosphere of social change in the air.
The selection starts relatively optimistic and buzzy, getting a little darker and edgier as it goes on, before going out on a reflective and mellower note with 'Lazy Afternoon', the one track taken from one of Grant's own LPs, 'Street of Dreams'. The innocent title of the track masks Grant's heroin use, whose bitter-sweet influence is particularly strong on this tune. Whatever the mood, throughout all the tracks featured, Grant's light, unique tone illuminates and uplifts.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King, Jr.
For those interested I've posted the personnel line-ups and other info on each track in the comments.
In 1962, as the Civil Rights Movement gathered momentum in America, guitarist Grant Green recorded an all-spirituals album for the Blue Note label with a group that included other young modern jazz musicians such as pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Billy Higgins. "Go Down Moses" was popularized by Paul Robeson and is a retelling of the Biblical Exodus story — a narrative that, for obvious reasons, resonated powerfully with African-American listeners.
"Every musician has a unique journey that has lead them to their calling, an early inspiration that solidified their passion for music. For Ramsey Lewis, his introduction to the world of harmony was Gospel. In the mid-1940s, the pastor of the Wayman Episcopal Church appointed Ramsey’s as the director of their Gospel Chorus. The church would eventually become immersed in the evolving history of black music and the gospel genre. Ramsey’s family ensured that they nurtured their child’s musical talents and had him taking piano lessons at the age of four.
Music and a strong religious foundation bonded the Lewis family and their passions were expressed through gospel. As an adolescent, Lewis was being trained by the Chicago Musical College and was building a strong foundation in classical music. The preparation proved to be invaluable, and at the tender age of nine, Ramsey was chosen to play for the Gospel Chorus. Ramsey fully engaged into the various rhythms that gospel music had to offer and was the youngest ever to play in the gospel chorus. These experiences truly helped nurture his gifts. It was through his classical training during the week and church schooling on the weekends that his passion for jazz music emerged.
Lewis joined his first Jazz band, The Cleffs, at age of 15. He later formed his own band with the Cleffs’ drummer. The friends focused primarily on jazz sound and had some relative success, but it was their 1965 pop hit, “The In Crowd”, that truly brought Lewis to prosperity. The piano laced instrumental with roaring voices clamoring in the background exemplified a celebratory atmosphere. With later hits that were equally successful like “Hang On Sloppy”, and “Wade in the Water”, Lewis helped usher in a movement while marrying pop music and jazz.
Although Ramsey Lewis may not be one of the more known musicians in our generation, he has been extremely influential. He has been recording music for over 60 years, has won three Grammy awards in the genres of R&B and Jazz, and additionally hosts a syndicated radio show called Legends of Jazz. Lewis makes the kind of music that is timeless and can cross generational lines and is amazing that his music is still impactful after so many years.
The spirit rose all the way to the top of the charts in 1966, when pianist Ramsey Lewis, hot on the success of "The In Crowd," delivered this party-like-it's-Exodus performance of "Wade in the Water," another spiritual initially popularized by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The recording marked the debut of new trio members (bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White) after the departure of Red Holt and Eldee Young to form Young-Holt Unlimited. White himself would leave several years later to found the landmark 1970s soul group Earth, Wind and Fire."
Archie Shepp - Short Bio
Archie Shepp is an American jazz saxophonist, poet, and playwright long known for the outspoken political tones in his work.
Shepp was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 24th, 1937, but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he studied piano, clarinet and alto saxophone before focusing on tenor saxophone (he occasionally plays soprano saxophone). He is best known for his passionately Afrocentric music of the late sixties which focused on highlighting the injustices faced by people of African descent. He is also known for his 60’s work with the New York Contemporary Five with co-founder Don Cherry and Shepp’s collaborations with his “New Thing” contemporaries, most notably Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane, but also Rowell Rudd Bobby Hutcherson.
Considered a jazz great, saxophonist Archie Shepp recorded albums like Poem for Malcolm and Live in Antibes for labels like Verve and Impulse. He was active in academia at SUNY Buffalo as a professor of African American Studies and the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a professor of music. He played with other notable musical radicals including Frank Zappa and provided the musical score to the movie Gotta Dance and is featured on the 1984 Wilebski’s Blues Saloon Festival DVD.
In 1977, pianist Horace Parlan, who had recorded his own version of "Wade in the Water" a few years before Ramsey Lewis' barn-burner take, teamed up with Archie Shepp, a tenor saxophonist renowned for his 1960s "fire music."
Shepp was a devotee of John Coltrane; the older musician helped Shepp get signed to Impulse Records, and one of Shepp's first albums was called Four for Trane, an homage to the man he so admired. Shepp's early reputation was made as a member of the avant-garde, so the Goin' Home LP of duets with Parlan (the duo did a companion album of blues, as well) came as a surprise to some listeners. But Shepp, like Albert Ayler and other jazz musicians before him, had grown up with a deep appreciation for spiritual music, profoundly reflected in his and Parlan's sensitive and lovely renderings of these songs.
The powerful Improvisation of Jazz throughout the centuries
Wherever you go there's jazz...
A sense of liberty that rises above the humdrum
Independent spirits in search of new life and a fresh voice...
Jazz. It's in the lovers in their secret corners, in the hollering street traders, the traffic, the cat curled into a ball at the side of the road, the shrieking seagulls, the loving, the angered, the offended, those making up, those alone, and in the multiplying voices of the crowd.
It comes from the streets, stirs it up and sets off on a journey of adventure...
It's an inward journey of the individual, but also one made deep in the hectic world outside.
And now the life force jazz carries within becomes part of everyone and everything it touches. For some universal reason we all recognize a part of ourselves in jazz.
The journey is perhaps the strangest possible... You begin, but then incredibly you realize that the further you go the closer you get to yourself, your home town, and to people you don't even know and cities you've never seen.
Despitepredictionsof terrible weather, Saturday’s SpringFIing show was marked by excellent weather and an enormous turn - )ut of nearly 6,000. Every act vas well-received, especially ieadliner and funk legend George :linton, who, along with his 30- terson entourage, funked the ampus for almost two hours. Jnfortunately, Clinton’s set had as many downs as it did ups. His set began slowly, with a guy screamingout “George” over and over and then the band slip- ping into a slow funk that didn’t motivate. The band obviously needed one number to warm up before they could start cooking. Once Hot. though, they kicked into the up- beat funk groove of “Flashlight.” Thumpingbass, raging horns, and wocka-wockaguitar set the scene perfectly for Clinton’s nonsensi- cal lyrics.
The band kept everyone bopping with “Tear the Roof Of (Give Up the Funk)” which established a firm Mothership Connection between Medford and the land of the Funk. When Clinton dipped into his reservoir
of groove, he scored unbelievably. And his ultra-goofy appearance, combined with bizarrechants (“A tail ain’t but a long thing, a booty ain’t nothin’ but a butt”) kept smiles all around.
But then somethinghappened: they started to slow down and sputter. Segueingfrom hardnosed, uncut funk into a glorified slow jam, Clinton lost the legion of funkateers he had just culled on campus.While the drudging R&B might have been decent music, it didn’t fly for this show.
Spring Fling is less of a con- cert than it is a big party, a giant drunken festival where the whole campus converges on the President’s Lawn. But people
don’t come just to hear a band they want to socialize and dance and be merry. Yes, it was cool to actually see Michael Hampton play “Maggot Brain,” but it was undanceable and went on too long.
When George did his solo and Parliamentstuff(sillyhorn-based funk with a capital F), he really kicked out the jams, the crowd went nuts; when he opted for Funkadelic (guitar-oriented mel- low and metal), he bit the big one.
But Clinton puts the fun into funk - there was one half-naked man with a ten-inch nose whose sole purpose was to wiggle his booty, and Clinton came out for the secondhalf wearing.a Zeta Psi Tufts T-shirt. He even let a bunch of Tufts students onstage to dance for the show-closing “Atomic Dog.” Overall, it was a great per-formance.
After widespread student complaints about their second campus booking in four years, the Violent Femmes actually put on the most solid show of the day. Sticking to
the peppy alterna-pop that made them famous when we were in junior high school, the Femmes succeeded because they under- stood what Spring Fling is sup- posed to be about (perhaps be- cause this wasn’t their first time on the Lawn).
After their only slow song, psy- chotic bassist Brian Ritchie took the mike and said, “We’d like to apologize for playing a song that actually has a melody. We guar- antee it won’t happen again.” Ob- viously the Femmes knew why they were there and provided a happy, upbeat, and very danceable set that got everyone off their blankets. Sure they were here in
1993,but most of the campus was not, and their set was just fun.
The only sketchy part was the choice to use “Blister in the Sun” astheiropeningsong-itseemed for a minute that they might play a long version as their whole set. They resisted the temptation, however. Singerlguitarist Gordon Gano couldn’t keep from taunting the crowd at the conclusion of “Blister in the Sun.”
“That was the weakest singing along I’ve heard to that song in a long time,” he complained, smil- ing.
Since most people arrive to the President’s Lawn halfway through the second band, opening with their biggest hit wasn’t the best idea, but they redeemed by running through “Add It Up,” “American Music,’’ and the counting song,“Kiss Off.” All the prior bad-mouthing made the Femmes seem better since few expected
a good show, it was even more im- pressive when they delivered.
Opening the show were the re- cently added moe., a hippie-rock jam band with superfluouspunc- tuation. The quartet was cursed by what has been the plague of ev- ery opening band at Spring Fling: meager attendance. Beginning at
11:30 a.m., most students were still shotgunning beers in their rooms, and the few people scat- tered around the President’s Lawn were fanatical Phish fans out to hear more of the same.
That was the problem with they sounded so much like Phish it could get them sued for copyright infringment. Neverending guitar jams, nasal harmonies, and an overall lack of hygiene are the hallmarks of their genre, and moe. stayed true to the standard. But they know the genre
so well that rocking through a set seems effortless. For the 50 or 60 people who showed up to hear them, moe. was a delight, and maybe even the closest thing to Phish, since they’ll never be com- ing to a closed venue like Tufts.
In non-musical events, the American Gladiator giant Q-tip battles and inflatable boxing ring interested many an inebriated student. The food ran out too early (as usual), but the weather was so beautiful that it didn’t even mat- ter. Not even the justifiable no re-entry policy (name one venue that allows you to leave and come back) put a damper on this year’s SpringFling. Concert Board should be proud; after a lot of abuse, they really came through.
We learn from Jeremy Shephard that:
"Of all the arts that take place in the United States, Jazz is considered to be America's first original art form. But though the history of jazz is easy to research the more looming question is where is our art form today? In the early 20th century a person could not walk down the street on a Friday night without being able to find a band playing one of their favorite charts. But long gone are the days of Count Basie and Benny Goodman, so who is out there today passing on the jazz tradition?
Though jazz is no longer in the forefront of pop culture that does not mean it has disappeared completely, just ask The Stanley Clarke Band who won this year's Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. There are some musicians that started the careers in the mid 20th century that are still performing today, just talk to Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and many, many more. There are also jazz players that have been performing for years but have only seen a rise in popularity more recently, such as the bass player Victor Wooten. These musicians have contributed to the jazz community in such a way that they are leaving lasting impressions on jazz students everywhere.
Almost all jazz musicians will admit that the genre has seen a decline in popularity over the years, after all, jazz is a bit of an acquired taste. More harmonically and melodically complex than today's pop songs, like Train's Hey, Soul Sister, jazz bombards the listener with advanced musical theory and often complex rhythms. With all of the time put in on developing jazz, which is seen by many as being the root to almost all pop music, it would be reasonable to wonder, where does jazz stand today?
Though jazz groups are no longer in the same abundance in the early 21st century as they were in the early 20th, they are still performing and gigs can be found almost anywhere, as long as you're willing to look. For example Huntsville has the Rocket City Jazz Orchestra which will be performing in June at the Jazz-N-June at the Monte Sano State Park. For those willing to travel there are numerous large venue jazz festivals all over the world. It also hard to find a university with a music program that does not have a jazz ensemble of some kind, whether it be a combo size group or a big band.
So where is jazz today? As opposed to its time of origin where it could be found anywhere, it is now in the nooks and crannies of today's musical society, but it is still there. Jazz is still around, and though it might not be in the forefront like it once was, it's still going strong."
Funkin' In The Groove
Describing Funk And Its Origins
The word "funk" has many meanings, but in music it refers to a type of dance music that was particularly popular during the late 1960s to the late 70s. Funk music evolved from different types of African-American music such as blues and soul. It's characterized by syncopated rhythms, with emphasis on the first beat, distinctive grooves, melodic basslines and thoughtful lyrics often expressing political views or social commentaries. Other music genres evolved from funk, and later, hip-hop sampled the already established artists and copied their music-by talking(rapping) over it .
Someone once said "If you can describe it, it ain't funky". However, we can tell you how it all began. So pull out your notebooks class, we goin' back to the REAL "old-school".
With a blend of tribal and gospel music, the "soul and blues" movement began. Soul and blues grew and out of the two genres, along with Jazz, rhythm & blues and urban music were created. These music genres are the political and social voice of inner city lower and middle class citizens. African-American citizens pioneered the culture of these music genres.
Through the 20th century, other cultures began to accept these forms of music, and began playing this kind of music as well. White America welcomed Jazz and Blues, but for the most part, they blended it with music that they already knew, such as gospel, classical, and folk music. Many other types of music came as a result, like ragtime, big band, swing, and doo-wop. Rock and roll then came out of the blending of music, with Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley (to name a few), followed by the Beatles.
Soul music took off in the early to mid 60's, with the "Motown Sound": artists like The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and others, along with Wilson Pickett. 1965-1970 was the changing of times, not only in American culture, but in music as well. James Brown, however, was the man with the groove. James had the most outspoken voice in soul music and had a groove that would be proven to be the future of funk music. Many of his band members would go on to funk with many other bands.
Another emerging group called The Parliaments, had many similar traits of a Motown group, but with a deeper, more groove oriented sound, similar to that of James Brown. This "deeper, more groove oriented sound" would prove to be the biggest thing in soul music for the next 20 years and beyond. This sound would be later improved upon and streamlined by Sly and the Family Stone, who appealed to many different races of people and had a wide audience, and featured a funky bassist named Larry Graham, who would keep funkin' forever. Other artists, like Isaac Hayes had major influence, but the biggest of them all was about to emerge with a new sound.
George Clinton had created two new funk bands, one called Parliament (formerly The Parliaments) and the other called Funkadelic. Parliament had emphasis on horns and Funkadelic had emphasis on guitars, but both had a deep, rhythm filled groove. Clinton's funk had elements of all the following genres of music, all rolled into one: rock and roll, jazz, urban, rhythm and blues, soul, blues, black gospel, and symphonic/classical. Clinton had successfully fused together all of these types of music to create funk, or as he called it, P-Funk.
Clinton added musical powerhouses to his funk band, including many members of James Brown's band "The JB's". Among them were Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and bassist William "Bootsy" Collins. Bootsy's style of bass playing was very unique. Not only was he a slap bassist, he also used a synthesizer to create a sound called "the space bass", which would be used in disco and other music. The funk mob would continue through the 70's and 80's, bringing the P-Funk with songs like Flashlight, Not Just Knee Deep, One Nation Under A Groove, P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up), and Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk), and many, many more, including Clinton's 1982 release "Atomic Dog" which is still a club favorite to date.
Bridging the Funk
Trussel - Love Injection (1979 Dj Cole Special 12'' Mix)
Bootsy's Rubber Band released many albums as a side project of the P-Funk mob, and went on to help produce Zapp, which was a Dayton, Ohio band featuring Roger and Zapp Troutman. The Zapp sound was the pioneering sound of electrofunk, donning synthesized drum beats and loops, a vocoder (talk box) on many songs, and even envisioned the internet becoming a place where people could meet in the song "Computer Love". Zapp had many other elecrofunk songs, including the classic 1980 release "More Bounce To The Ounce" that would be an inspiration to many hip-hop and R&B artists in the future.
In the mid to late 70's, Rick James began to funk the world with his party music. James was known for his discofunk song "You And I" in the late 70's and the major hit "Superfreak" in the early 80's. Rick James' fun and sexy style of music, blended with the dance grooves of the times, was a major influence to many different races of people.
But by far, the most influential artist to all people in regards to funk and dance music, was Prince. Prince released his first full-length record in 1978, titled "For You", and from there would go on to blend many styles of music together into a danceable and soulful presentation of art. His self-titled release "Prince" was funky and sexy, but without talk of drug use or "sexploitation". The album artwork featured him riding nude on a white horse, which was very controversial to the media. This controversy continued, and Prince released "Dirty Mind" in 1980, "Controversy" in 1981, and "1999" in 1982, and many, many more since then that have charted #1 hits.
Dirty Mind has been said to be one of the most musically influential albums of the last 50 years (from SPIN and Rolling Stone magazines) and many of his other albums have been added to that list. Prince was the only artist to blend all of the previous genres (that contributed to funk) together with many other genres of music, like disco/dance, European/new romantic, new wave, folk, techno/electronic, Latin and world music, and hip-hop. This new genre of music that emerged from Prince' unique blend was called New Funk. As the generations went on, many musicians of all colors started listening to the music of the original African-American pioneers and were mainly influenced by them. However, Prince was one of the few remaining artists who continued the traditions of previous soul artists.
Political messages in music were very rare to be heard in mainstream music and on the radio. The social revolution that the soul, funk, and R&B artists of the 60's and 70's had worked so hard to create was dying. Some disco funk supergroups like Chic (they still to this day have the #1 selling single of all time on Warner Brothers with "Le Freak") who were successful in the late 70's and early 80's had since faded. Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic went on to produce big pop/funk artists like Madonna. However, the new political leaders of the Reagan generation seemed to stifle social music (especially music that uplifted and educated the lower and middle classes; disco and funk) from becoming well known by the mass public.
Prince, however, was able to creatively express it in a way that even appealed to his political and social adversaries. Prince continued on the traditions of the social revolution, and many of his friends joined him, like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, The Time and Morris Day, Paul Peterson (a.k.a. St. Paul), other artists from Minneapolis and many other artists worldwide. Prince had bands titled "The Revolution" and to date "The New Power Generation".
But even as hip-hop grew in the 80's, there was no true positive and uplifting message that gave the people a reason to believe, and a groove that they could truly dance to- other than Prince. Sure, the artists of old, like George, Bootsy, Sly, James Brown, and many others continued on in bringing the funk, but failed to receive attention from major media outlets. Society had lost many of the musical leaders since 1970. Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, Roger Troutman, and Eddie Hazel, Rick James, to name a few, had all passed away years too soon. So, needless to say, funk, and the social musical revolution, was not what it used to be.
Hip-hop and rap was the closest thing to the 70's music revolution that existed through the 80's and 90's. Hip-hop artists sampled many of the soul and funk legends by adding parts of older songs into their own music, or looping instrumental parts of old funk and soul songs and adding heavier drum beats and rhythms to it. The closest to funk in the hip-hop movement was Digital Underground, led by Shock G. 2Pac Shakur came out of Digital Underground. George Clinton had officially branded Digital Underground as "Sons of the P". Other good groove oriented groups like Jamiriquai came around every now and then, and it would be fair to say that many artists have at least some elements of the original funk and soul in their music, but there was no organized movement.
The Recording Industry Association of America has started arresting and fining people for downloading music online, making George Clinton's statement "funk ain't no sin, and no we won't go to hell, it's just illegal" sound all too real. Many unsigned artists are being hurt by the companies’ stronghold on music production, sales, distribution, and the control of the airwaves by similar companies.
So, here we are. We know what New Funk is. We know that many artists with a social message who contain elements of the "New Funk" genre are being kept under by the system that is in place. Prince, James Brown, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Sylvester Stewart (Sly and the Family Stone) are all still alive. Many other artists who have a great social and artistic message, like the Talking Heads, are still alive, and artists who love greed are letting the RIAA persecute people in their name.
All that the people want are reasonable prices for media, good quality for their money, and the ability to do as they wish without harm to anyone else. If digital music player software is banned or controlled, and filesharing software is regulated to where no one can download and share music for free any longer, then true art would be dead. All that would be left is "pimped" music that would be completely manufactured by the companies, and radio stations that only played music with very few artistic qualities- much like today's scenario!
Enter The New Funk Order
In August of 2002, Jason Dodson, a Southern Illinois musician, originally from Columbus, Ohio proposed a new forum category at Prince.org, a Musician’s forum. Many artists inspired by Prince wanted to share their own creations and get feedback and support. VinaBlue gave the topic a little push, Prince.org founder Ben Margolin approved the idea, and the Org Musician Hangout was born. Members began comparing and critiquing each other's songs, and the varied musical styles reflected the many styles combined in Prince’s music. In January 2003, Jason asked who would be interested in being a part of the New Funk Order, a “new music order among musicians who share a message of revolution, love, peace, change, and correction.” Many artists wanted to contribute and soon it was decided that a compilation of original music would be put together, with artists collaborating via the internet. Graphic artists also got involved, donating their time and creativity. The artwork for the NFO Project 1 cd was created by Prince.org user Yamomma (Kelly McClain), and an anonymous supporter of the arts decided to create a website for the New Funk Order.
Jason then started work on formulating the NFO into a non-profit organization for artists dedicated to preserving the freedom of music. The New Funk Order became a musical movement, a rebuttal to the political "New World Order" that encourages corporate globalization and exploitation of all that is good. The message of the NFO is to show that artists can provide free music to the public without the influence of corporate greed. Music is not free. Radio stations can only play a certain percentage of artists that are signed and record companies wont sign artists based on artistic merit. The internet is a great place to share music you wouldn’t otherwise hear unless you know these artists personally.
2003 was the beginning of what was called "the dawning of a new funk revolution". 18 artists from all over the world came together on the New Funk Order's "Project 1". The virtual cd contains music from artists in the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Sweden, and Canada. The CD is available for free download in the "projects" section of this, as is the CD artwork and a video for one of the tracks.
Originally, the NFO was intended to only include funk and new funk. Now, many artists with different types of music are participating, and the NFO welcomes all artists into the NFO community. All artists participating in the NFO agree to share at least some of their music freely with the public.
© 2013 ixwa