posted by Robert J. Carmack @blues2jazzguy Photos by-E-Man
Recently while visiting my favorite Jamaican Cafe in Leimert Park, an arts Village part of Los Angeles,California, I kept hearing very nice Hammond “B-3 licks” and a funky guitar, so I followed the sounds around the building to Barbara Morrison(Blues Singer) Performing Arts Center. Once there , I was met by a man in a suit ,who said come in and have a seat. I wound up sitting there for almost two hours. Then it hit me! That host is Garrett Morris , from the movie ,Cooley High, TVs “MARTIN” and the original “Saturday Night Live” cast member. There he was presenting some of the funniest comedians I’ve heard in a long time, especially from the “new generation” comics. With all due respect , they tend to over-use the foul language .
Besides Mr. Morris hosting the show every Saturday 7:PM, also a Blues icon on the Hammond Organ, Deacon Jones and The Deacon Jones Blues Band. Jones at one time was longtime sideman to John Lee Hooker.
The Deacon Jones Blues Band was smoking that evening! Come on out and enjoy comedy and a hot “Old School Soul & Blues band to boot.
Garrett Morris Comedy Nite @ Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center located at 4305 Degnan blvd. LA, California 90008
More information call 310-462-1439
posted by Robert J. Carmack #@blues2jazzguy
On June 18, we lost one of the few remaining Jazz giants, pianist Horace Silver. As a serious fan of this man’s music, I have to take you all the way back to my early teen days in junior high, when I first heard a tune called Filthy McNasty. A live set (recorded at the Village Gate) finds pianist/composer Horace Silver and his most acclaimed quintet (the one with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Roy Brooks) stretching out on four selections, including this song “Filthy McNasty in May 1961 .
Its 1963, while most kids my age were groovin’ to Motown sounds, a handful of my special friends and I were learning instruments.
We soon got to take our parents records to listen and try to emulate what we heard . besides the BB King, Ray Charles and Bobby Blue Bland records, our parents also had, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley to name just a few. My Dad either didn’t know about Horace Silver, or he didn’t like him, but I liked him. My best friend Ray had a cousin who was away in Viet Nam, so we had full run of his cousin’s album collection. Man! this cat had everything jazz, needless to say …He had a lot of Horace Silver including the Stylings of Silver , Blowin’ the Blues Away,Silver’s Serenade, also I got hip to Donald Byrd’s Cristo Redento, The Way I Feel by Big John Patton and even Ramsey Lewis Trio, Barefoot Sunday Blues. but it was always Filthy McNasty that we blasted first and foremost.
Horace had that real Bluesy sound without turning off the straight jazz fan.. I describe it as a bouncy, barrel-house saloon type blues with hip, clean lines and definitely FUNKY HARD BOP.
Hard Bop, an extension of bebop (or “bop”) music. Journalists and record companies began using the term in the mid-1950s to describe the new current within jazz which incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in saxophone and piano playing. Purist would easily say, Silver is the Cat that put Hard Bop on the map with fellow band mate/drummer Art Blakey, when they fronted a group called the Jazz Messengers, leaving audiences with their jaws dropped everywhere they played.
Horace later split up with Art Blakey and formed all kinds of variations trios, quartet and quintets, staying with the rollicking sounds and gymnastics on the piano with other like-minded cats like Kenny Dorham. Silver burst on the scene with Horace Silver’s jazz Messengers, but now he had a new quintet in 1956 and recording them, which spawned 6 Pieces of Silver.
6 Pieces of Silver is an album by jazz pianist Horace Silver released on the Blue Note label in 1957 featuring performances by Silver with Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, Doug Watkins and Louis Hayes. “The early Silver quintet was essentially the Jazz Messengers of the year before, but already the band was starting to develop a sound of its own. “Señor Blues” officially put Horace Silver on the map”.
By The time I was beginning high school , Horace was reinventing himself, stylistic of previous bands, but growing funkier and introducing stronger disciples playing with him, enter saxophonist, Joe Henderson. Horace Silver 1964, Song for My Father.
You know.. of all the songs, albums, and performances by Horace Silver, None of them connected with the general public like Song For My Father did. If not for Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder, it would have been the biggest jazz hit of 1964. That cut just carried me away, and put me down to chill and reflect. You heard it everywhere, cafe, barber shops, clubs, stores, on transistor radios and record players in homes..old and young loved this song. Whenever Horace came into Los Angeles, at the world-famous Lighthouse jazz club, He used it as his swan song for the evening.
No question.. even before his death, I had been missing Horace on the scene already for years with his ailments not allowing him to play live and in-concert since 2004. A decade off the scene did not make our allegiance and respect for this great musician wane one iota! IMHO, it got stronger. I guess for me, I will always have my special memories growing up, listening to Horace and seeing him at a famous jazz club before I was 21. thats why, even now as I reflect on Horace’s death, I have nothing but joy and happy thoughts. Rest in eternal peace my old friend, some day I will see you again.
#@blues2jazz guy June 19,2014
It was announced today by the Producers of the June 21 , Black Music Legacies in Jazz Tribute to Trane, Lee Morgan and Doug Carn is canceled until further notice. Building owners and city building inspectors are not on the same page, We will reschedule this concert once the ordinances are cleared up. please follow this website for further details, new dates and times. “Please accept our humble apologies for the inconvenience we may have caused you.”
Robert J. Carmack
written & photographed by Robert J. Carmack @blues to jazzguy
Howlin’ Blues & Dirty Digs opened on Sunday, June 8. The star of the play, Ms Jewell Tompkins IS Big MAMA. One of the first thing you notice as she moves into the spotlight, she is a full-figured woman, but not the hulking six footer Big Mama was at the time. Even ballooning up to 300 pounds at one point in her hey day. The one thing that is clear, Jewell Tompkins is a consummate thespian. She attacks the character by not trying do the obvious. a tortured soul, Willie Mae had many personalities. She showed the dignity of this blues-woman and how she had to do what she could to survive in a Man’s business. Even that was hard Because, “Singing the Blues” was a “Black thing” in the 40s & 50s. Many times she was up against some of the best blues people in the country. Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, Lead Belly, Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt just to name a few.
I was able to liken her life story to another great musician with a bitter/sweet life, Charlie Parker. I was totally entertained from start to finish, and at times ,a little misty-eyed, because of her demise, by prejudice , racism, sexism, alcohol, and felonious Men. She had to grow up so fast, she never had time to be a kid. Her education came in the back of Juke joints, boarding houses, and back seats of cars.
Jewell is able to take the well written script and embrace all of the beauty of Willie Mae Thornton. In one scene , she’s on the road, Having fun playing the Blues, drinking and partying, Impresario Johnny Otis comes back into the club afterwards and say to the band, They’re not getting paid. Big Mama straightens her hat, walks into the club owner’s office, ask in a low tone for the Money , and after he told her to get out of his face “telling him what to do with his money”
“I don’t want your Money, I want my Money”..she balled up her fist and used all 300 lbs of brute force on his unsuspecting body, until he submitted and gave up the money.. Lol! “I did what I had to Do!” She had a Rep, for not “taking no mess off of nobody”. I again thought Carla Clark’s directing was on point . Not going for the obvious and relying on the craftsmanship of the actors. many scenes were again reflecting what her “Inside” was all about. Mostly when Big mama had to confront nefarious men about Money, relationships,etc.
Her father was a real mean man ,who abused her brother and her in their childhood, it was probably at the seat of her many problems.
The singing by Tompkins is sublime, and at one point, reminded me of a young Aretha-like sound in her approach to the blues.. You feel the church presence in her life and that resonated into the character.. I often found golden nuggets of acting skills in both cast in general, but especially in Jewell Tompkins performance. This play is too good to be missed, too good to not be recognized again by the L.A. drama critics when they hand out the awards for Best Play & Best actress.
Howlin’ Blues and Dirty Dogs is well supported by a veteran cast of ensemble players. Another stand out is Philip Bell , who portrays two characters, from L.A. music history Bardu Ali and singer Johnny Ace . who, after becoming one of the hottest acts of the early 1950s Rhythm & Blues era, committed suicide. I highly advise you to RSVP or call ahead to theater regarding tickets, as there is limited seats available. For more information call 310-910-0392 or, email us at email@example.com
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