Lenny White  black and white

Drummer  says Much of Today’s Music Lacks “Evenness and Identifiable Sound”

By Margaret Summers

Renowned drummer Lenny White built his reputation through his work with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, and has clearly listened to, been influenced by, and respects classic jazz artists. But his jazz knowledge was thoroughly challenged Thursday, June 6, during a live JazzTimes “Before & After” listening session. The free event was held at The Hamilton music venue and supper club in downtown Washington, D.C. White was in town to play at The Hamilton with Nicholas Payton as part of the D.C. Jazz Festival taking place around the city at various locations June 5 to June 16.

Hosting the session was Willard Jenkins, a D.C.-based independent consultant, writer and producer under his Open Sky Jazz company. He is also a former radio broadcaster with, among other places, national satellite radio network Sirius XM and “jazz and justice” D.C. public radio station WPFW-FM.

With Jenkins and White seated on a stage facing each other, excerpts of jazz compositions were played over the performance space’s speakers. White was to guess the names of the compositions, the artists playing them, and critique what he heard.

Among the compositions was Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do,” which White defined as “having more of a hip-hop vibe.” White couldn’t identify the instrumental that followed, but he shook his head and chuckled, saying of its style, “(Miles Davis’) ‘Bitches Brew’ messed up a lot of folks!

“This music has a ‘Bitches Brew’ vibe. ‘Bitches Brew’ was released in 1969, but you can still hear its influence, its insolence, in jazz today.” Jenkins said the music came from a not yet completed CD by a cooperative band called Tarbaby, which is recording on Hipnotic Records, a D.C. label.

After the Tarbaby piece, an excerpt of music was played in which the lead saxophonist dominated. “The saxophone is the loudest instrument on this cut,” White commented. “This has to be a sax player’s CD.”

“It’s Joe Lovano and Us 5,” confirmed Jenkins. “It’s from his recent CD “Cross Culture” on Blue Note. “I knew it!” White responded. “It’s nothing against it, just that the sax is so loud.

“Lovano used two drummers throughout this CD (Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela),” Jenkins noted. “But the sax is so loud you don’t get the sense of two drummers playing on this cut,” White insisted.

“Do you think the producer felt it would be hard to hear the sax with two drummers, and increased the (microphone) volume on the sax?” asked Jenkins. “What sense does that make?” said White. “They were in a recording studio, which is already a controlled environment.

“When I was coming up,” White explained, “the music on jazz records was even. You could hear everyone in the band equally. You could hear Art Blakey. You could hear Wayne Shorter.” One instrument didn’t dominate or drown out the others, he said. “You think of compositions like ‘Kind of Blue,’ ‘Time Out,’ ‘Speak No Evil.’ ”

White listened intently to the next jazz excerpt. “I like it already,” he said, breaking into a smile. “It’s musical, I can hear everybody. I don’t know who this (artist) is, but I liked it.” Jenkins said it was drummer Winard Harper and Jeli Posse, playing “Helen’s Song,” from their recent CD “Coexist” on the Jazz Legacy Productions label.

Although White didn’t know who the next artist was, he correctly identified the composition. “‘Teen Town,’ that’s my favorite Jaco Pastorius tune,” he said. “When he recorded it, he was at a high point of his virtuosity, his performance. What I miss in this version is the rhythm. In the original composition, it (the rhythm) was brilliant.” Jenkins said the version of “Teen Town” was by drummer Matt Wilson and Arts & Crafts, from their most recent CD, “Attitude for Gratitude” on the Palmetto label.

The “Before & After” session concluded with a snippet of a composition by drummer Allison Miller, which White described as “Nice” and “Free flowing.” “Everything you played for me is great.  It ran the gamut,” said White. If he had one overall criticism, he said, it’s that “Today’s musicians don’t think in terms of having a specific sound. If I had heard (some of the) artists 15 years ago, it would have been difficult to identify them.”


MarvinJuniorNice1 Now
CHICAGO, IL  – Marvin Junior, lead singer of  Soul group The Dells, was cremated Wednesday (06-05-13) after a sudden death at his home last week.  Junior, 77, died on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, with family members bedside at his home in Harvey, Illinois  from complications associated with kidney failure. Born January 31, 1936, in Harrell, Arkansas.
Both parents preceded him in death. Junior was the oldest of four siblings: Nathaniel Dabon (deceased), Melvin Dabon (deceased) and, Jack Dabon. He moved to Harvey, Illinois, when he was only six months old, and was raised by his mother, maternal aunt and her husband, Frankie and Bill Boylen. Junior’s musical development was rooted in the church, where he participated in the choir at a young age. He attributed his talent and love of music to his parents; his voice from his mother who sang in a spiritual group, and his father who played guitar. When asked who else inspired him, he said, “We listened to groups like the Moonglows, the Five Keys and always Ray Charles.” By the time he was 14, singing emerged as his passion.
Junior married his  true love, Ruby Caldwell in 1960. During their 53-year marriage, they had six children, and 12 grandchildren. When asked why some of his contemporaries, other male entertainers, struggled and did not have the support they needed during their elderly years, Junior commented, “Marrying the right woman, a good woman, like Ruby makes all the difference. I married the right one.”
As a teenager, he helped form the musical group which would become The Dells, who would go on to perform  over six decades and sell millions of records. Often considered the most enduring and endearing vocal group in music history, beginning their recording career as the El Rays. Soon after, they re-named themselves,The Dells. Mentored by Harvey Fuqua of  The Moonglows  on five-part vocal harmony and gaining experience as background touring singers,
The Dells recorded the original “Oh What A Night” written by Marvin Junior and Johnny Funches in 1956,  their first big seller.The rest as they say is musical history. Marvin Junior without question, have left a strong and vibrant legacy in the pantheon of soul and popular music.

Guitarist Jacques Lesure Drummer Tootie Heath Pay Tribute to Blue Note Legends

Celebrating Lee Morgan, Hank  Mobley and Grant Green with the iconic ALBERT “TOOTIE” HEATH on drums. Los Angeles based guitarist Jacques Lesure is partnering with one of the most prolific jazz drummers of all time. This is all happening in a eclectic venue, The Blue Whale. Located in Japan town part of downtown Los Angeles. Jacques Lesure, one of the busiest jazz guitarist in L.A. these days.whether playing with jazz legends,teaching music to students ,or fronting his own group, Jacques is a very strong advocate for the preservation and continued legacy of classic or straght-ahead jazz.  Its no surprise he chose to come up with this concept to explore the music of  messers. Morgan,Green and Mobley. Lesure is a big fan of all three musicians. While Tootie Heath  knew all three  men personally, he also played or recorded with them as well. Albert Heath is the youngest of the famous Heath Brothers from Philly. Bassist Percy, the eldest, now deceased, followed by Reedman/composer and bandleader, Jimmy.
By the way, Tootie is Uncle to  percussionist/producer/composer, James Mtume.
Jacques is a Detroit transplant by way of Atlanta , Georgia. In the short time Lesure has resided  in Los Angeles, He’s been able to establish himself as a reliable, first call musician and sessions player. Not  willing to share much about his upcoming  Bandleader recording project in the works as this article is being written. He would only say that, some of the musicians involved are drummer, Willie Jones III, and iconic pianist, Eric Reed.
jacque the Hipster
According to Jacques, the evening promises to be a real cooker “night of pure soulfulness.” These gentlemen of jazz will put their spin on those electrifying compositions of Blue Note Records finest…which this writer calls “Hard Bop’s Holy Trinity”,Lee Morgan..Grant Green..Hank Mobley. In support of,  and rounding out this stellar lineup of L.A. based musicians are
Chris Lowry-Trumpet,Tim Lin – tenor saxophone, Aaron Provisor-piano and Bassist-James Leary.
#robert j.carmack is a #music journalist at this blog or twitter:#@blues2jazzguy
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St Suite 301,
Los Angeles, California 90012

Coming in August..The Dells:Oh What a Life

A special expose on a group who’s probably has the most  continuous time together as a group with  original members.  Also, special profiles on the late Marvin Junior and Johnny Carter .  dells05  the Use Now 1


Shown Left to Right: Clarence Burke,Jr.  Stevie Wonder  Keni BurkeClarence Burke Jr. , Stevie  Wonder & Keni Burke