This collects the photographs of legendary musician Les McCann; he documented the jazz scene and its players—Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Count Basie, and many others—from the inside, across several decades.
“His perfect marriage of church and swing captured the spirit of the times in the same way that Ray Charles’ mixture of gospel and blues heralded the arrival of soul.” Joel Dorn
Arranger/producer Charles Stepney is heard on gold and platinum hits by the Dells and Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as Chicago soul acts ranging from Rotary Connection to Terry Callier. While a staff arranger and producer at Chicago-based Chess Records, label artist Ramsey Lewis recorded one of his tunes, “Close Your Eyes and Remember,” on a ’60s Chess LP. Stepney worked with Lewis on his Chess sides and his 1975 gold Columbia album Sun Goddess, which peaked at #12 on Billboard’s Top POP 200 Albums chart in early 1975. Lewis, Elton John, and many of his peers list Charles Stepney as a strong musical influence. Dells group member, Chuck Barksdale met Vibes player Stepney, who headed his own jazz trio. The meeting proved to be pivotal for Charles, who began doing orchestral arrangements on the Dells’ Chess recordings, also other acts on the label’s roster. He also played Vibes on various Chess sessions. His stint at Chess included working with a pre-stardom Minnie Ripperton. First, she was a member of a girl group “The Gems” and later when she was a vocalist with the eclectic rock/R&B Rotary Connection. He and label co-owner Marshall Chess co-wrote the song “Rotary Connection.” Stepney also produced Ripperton’s 1969 Chess LP Come to My Garden,reissued as a 1992 CD from U.K. label Blue Moon and as a 1995 Magnum America CD. Some of these sides are on the 1997 MCA CD Minnie Ripperton: Her Chess Years (50th Anniversary Collection). Ripperton is best remembered for the million-selling single “Lovin’ You,” which hit number one pop (early 1975), and “Inside My Love,” number 26 R&B (summer 1975). His biggest successes with Chess were the sides he cut with the Harvey, IL, R&B soul vocal group the Dells. Soon after the group hit with the classic “Stay in My Corner” (number 23 R&B, summer 1965, on Vee-Jay Records), the label folded. The Dells, who had recorded for Chess before going to Vee-Jay, returned to the label in summer 1966, where they began working with producer Billy Davis and arranger Phil Wright. In summer 1967, Chess assigned the Dells to their Cadet imprint. Staff producer Bobby Miller and arranger Charles Stepney picked the group to work with after a meeting with Leonard Chess. Their collaboration with Miller and Stepney yielded a hit single, “O-O, I Love You,” number 22 R&B, late 1967. The next year, their career-making fast-selling album “There Is” was issued. The title track b/w the Motown-ish “Show Me” peaked at number 11 R&B, number 20 pop (early 1968), and “Wear It on Your Face” went to number 27 R&B in spring 1968. The There Is LP hit number 29 pop in summer 1968. The hits continued: A six-minute remake of “Stay in My Corner” (number one R&B for three weeks, summer 1968), “Always Together” (number three R&B, fall 1968), “Does Anybody Know I’m Here” (number 15 R&B, early 1969), the medley “I Can Sing a Rainbow”/”Love Is Blue” (number five R&B, late spring 1969), “Oh What a Night” (a respelled remake of their Vee-Jay hit, number one R&B, summer 1969), an up-tempo cover of Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (number 13 R&B, late 1969), and “Open up Your Heart” b/w a remake of the Coronets’ “Nadine” (number 5 R&B, spring 1970). In the fall of 1969, Leonard Chess, one of the group’s biggest supporters, suffered a fatal heart attack. The following year, Bobby Miller left Chess for Motown and Charles Stepney took over the production duties for the Dells. The 1971 album Freedom Means (the title track was written by Stepney/Terry Callier/Larry Wade)spawned the hit single “The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)” (number eight R&B, summer 1971). The group recorded two more LPs with Stepney, The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke’s Greatest Hits (May 1972) and Sweet as Funk Can Be (single: “Just as Long as We’re in Love,” November 1972) before switching to Detroit producer Don Davis. Davis produced the group’s only certified gold single, “Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation” (number three R&B, spring 1973) from the album of the same name. Other Davis-produced hits were “My Pretending Days Are Over” (number ten R&B, fall 1973) and “I Miss You” (number eight R&B, late 1973). In the ’70s, Stepney was reunited with former Chess session drummer Maurice White, who founded ’70s super-group Earth Wind & Fire (EWF). First recording for Warner Bros. Records, then Columbia Records, the group slowly began to build a reputation for exciting live shows (complete with feats of magic) and innovative recordings. Six-time Grammy winners, Earth Wind & Fire had 46 charting R&B singles, 33 charting pop singles including eight gold singles.The group also won four American Music Awards and earned more than 50 gold and platinum albums. Charles wrote/co-wrote many popular EWF tunes. Along with White and Philip Bailey, he co-wrote the classic ballad “Reasons,” an extremely popular radio-aired LP track from EWF’s 1975 double-platinum LP That’s the Way of the World that was curiously never a single. In addition to the soul-stirring title track, Maurice White, Charles Stepney, and Verdine White, wrote the track “Yearnin’, Learnin'” (number five R&B, summer 1975) for That’s the Way of the World, which held the number one pop spot for three weeks in spring 1975, was the soundtrack of a Sig Shore-produced movie that featured EWF, and included the gold single “Shining Star” (number one R&B for two weeks, number one pop, early 1975). The trio also wrote the radio-aired LP track “Imagination” from the double platinum LP Spirit (number two pop for two weeks, fall 1976) which also boasted the gold “Getaway” (number one R&B for two weeks, summer 1976). On their first platinum Earth, Wind & Fire LP Open Our Eyes, Stepney co-wrote “Tee Nine Chee Bit” with Russell Giles. He also worked with Maurice White’s Kalimba Productions and co-produced tracks on two 1976 Columbia LPs, Deniece Williams’ “This Is Niecy” (number 33 pop, spring 1977) and the Emotions’ Flowers. Charles Stepney’s work is threaded throughout the Chess Records catalog, appearing on numerous compilations from and licensed by MCA/UNI. His Earth, Wind & Fire sides appear on CD reissues of the LPs and various compilations licensed through Columbia/Sony Legacy Music. Just prior to the release of EWF’s Spirit album, and while he was in negotiations to work with Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand, Charles Stepney died May 17, 1976, in Chicago, IL, at the age of 43.
Dale Fielder Quartet and Robert J. Carmack set for Jazz Appreciation Month Celebration
“The stories DFQ tell through their instruments are like classic volumes in your personal library.” Robert J. Carmack Publisher/Editor Hipster Sanctuary
THE DALE FIELDER QUARTET & SPECIAL GUEST POET ROBERT J. CARMACK@ KINGSTON CAFE
333 FAIR OAKS Ave. Off DEL MAR Ave. PASADENA, CALIFSATURDAY APRIL 18 2015 7pm to 9pm $15 admission (at door only) Limited Seating
2015 is proving to be a very special year for both talents as The Dale Fielder Quartet is celebrating 20 years as a group together, virtually unheard of in today’s music business. Robert J. Carmack and Glenn Davis co-founded a jazz newsletter 17 years ago (The Hipster) as part of the Atlanta International Jazz Society,that’s now grown into a full blown music E-Zine dedicated to classic Jazz, Blues and Soul music. www.hipstersanctuary.com.
Both are Leos, Dale Fielder & Robert Carmack are longtime friends and artists in constant creative mode. Fielder is set to produce his 16th CD later in 2015. A release date has not been set yet. Carmack has written and is currently producing a unique musical revue set in the 1950s/60s Los Angeles, weaving a story around the music scene in Los Angeles, while paying homage to the music of Nellie Lutcher, T-Bone Walker,Ray Charles, Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland and Sarah Vaughn , including some Doo-Wop.
“CHITLIN’ CIRCUIT” is debuting a Sneak Preview Summer 2015, as part of a Black Music Series produced by RJC Mediatainment & Hipster Sanctuary.Com. “I met Dale while hanging out at a very popular coffeehouse of the time, 5th Street Dick’s in Leimert Park. It was in early 1993 as the area was trying to get back on track after the riot in 1992 and an entire community of artist all came together inside a small area called Leimert Park (Village) a group of small business people, often marketing Afro-centric wares, and crafts. One was a former homeless person living on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, who parlayed his 12 step-recovery and saved enough money to open a Jazz coffee house, which he gave a willing Dale Fielder a spot hosting the jam sessions at midnight every weekend, while jazz flowed downstairs and out into the 43rd & Degnan’s sidewalks, the people came and came and, came including, the media cameras, movie celebrities and all the best young cats in jazz.” This all coincided with what was happening nationally with the Wynton Marsalis crowd and an upsurge in Jazz spots in L.A. once again because of three spots, Marla’s Memory lane, 5th Street Dick’s and Billy Higgins, master jazz drummer & Poet Kamau Daaood developing a performance gallery, the World Stage. Dale Fielder was at the forefront of all that. He went on to win the Jazz Discovery artist at TV network BET in 1995/96. By then, he had already produced two very solid CDs, including “Dear Sir” a moving tribute to Wayne Shorter’s music and was getting wide rotation and coverage on radio across the country. Fielder even had the blessings of Wayne Shorter himself as Dale performed songs from the newly released CD with the maestro himself in the house staying late and digging on the young saxophonist peppering the solos. Dale Fielder has been all around the world practically with either the Quartet, or Quintet. After 20 years, the passion has only gotten stronger with Dale, and his historic band of Pianist Jane Getz, Drummer Thomas White and Bassist, Bill “The Count” Markus. This band just knows how to squeeze every drop of soul power, passion and sometimes romance out of the notes. The stories they tell through their instruments are like classic volumes in your personal library.
Don’t miss out on celebrating 20 years of fun-filled excitement and adventure with the leader of the DFQ. Save the date April 18th 7pm to 9pm @ The Kingston Café Pasadena, California More Info: 951-840-7120
“ The music this band plays recalls the ‘fire music’ Lawrence inhaled during his many years in McCoy Tyner’s band.” Chuck Koton
There ain’t no denyin’ that jazz is best heard “live.” Ideally, the band is playing in a club equipped with quality sound and lighting systems, staffed by experienced people who are respectful of the music (especially bartenders who try to avoid running the drink mixers during bass and piano solos) and managed by someone who not only sees to it that the players are properly introduced but also always reminds the audience to keep the chatter subdued, so as not to disrespect the performers. In such an ideal environment, a hip and enthusiastic audience can interact with inspired jazz musicians to create a truly sublime musical experience. All of these conditions were met at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola when tenor and soprano saxophonist, Azar Lawrence, played four sold out nights at Dizzy’s, occasioned by a CD release party for The Seeker (Sunnyside, 2014), recorded live at the Jazz Standard.
The gig offered visceral and indisputable evidence of the emotional and spiritual power of live jazz. Lawrence, who has been traveling on a personal journey in search of truth and beauty through music since he was a young man, opened his performance (he was joined by the same group who played on the recording, save for veteran trumpet master, Eddie Henderson, who replaced Nicholas Payton for this gig), with an original composition, “Gandhi,” inspired by the legendary Indian seeker of peace and freedom. This modal burner instantly signaled the band’s serious intentions to the audience; this was going to be a “hold on to your hats” wild ride. Lawrence blew a forceful snake charmer riff on tenor before stepping aside to give the rhythm section some space. The heavy, percussive quality of pianist Benito Gonzalez’ playing immediately recalled the sledgehammer left hand of McCoy Tyner, a fundamental influence not only on Gonzalez, but also Lawrence, whose big break in jazz came when he joined Tyner’s band in 1973, and with whom he toured and recorded for six years. Then, Henderson strode to the microphone and blew a minimalist and gentle solo that provided appropriate contrast to the band’s surging power. Then Lawrence returned, blew chorus after breathless chorus, and left everyone in need of a drink. On “One More Time,” a Benito Gonzalez composition, the highlight was, unquestionably, the rhythm section’s 10 minute improvisatory excursion. With a diamond cutter’s finesse, exuberant spirit and a dominatrix’s talent for restraint and unbridled power, these three cats rocked the room. Taking the first solo, Gonzalez, head, torso and hands a blur of motion, nearly ascended off the piano bench as his supple fingers pounded rumbling chords out of the eighty eight keys. Next, long time fixture on the NY scene, bassist Essiet Essiet, not content to merely pluck the strings, put on his own jaw-dropping display of rhythmic prowess by punctuating his beats with dramatic bass slaps. Finally, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts took over. His “Tainness” built up the tempo and intensity slowly, but soon he was “droppin’ bombs” and beatin’ the drums and cymbals as if they were covered with the face of a grade school teacher who’d punished him for tapping on his desk.
All the while, a beatific smile beamed from his sweat-drenched face. Yeah, while these cats were “workin,’ steamin,’ and cookin,’ the audience was finger snappin’ and head boppin’ in spirited unity. The band slowed down the pace with “Rain Ballad,” a stirring plea to the heavens that opened with Watts’ dramatic bass drum mimicking distant thunder, followed by shimmering cymbals that simulated life-giving, falling rain. Then Lawrence, like a rain god, answered the prayer with his lush tenor tone and Dr. Henderson reached into his “medical” bag for a mute, then blew with barely enough air to coax the sweetest sounds from his horn. The cats left no doubt they could jam in a “sweet and lovely” style, too. Next came the title tune, “The Seeker,” a medium tempo compositon by Lawrence that conjured up images of child-like innocence and joy, like the feeling of awe experienced on a first walk through a garden abuzz with the spectacle of life in spring time. Lawrence, on soprano, sounded like the pied piper leading the children on a journey of discovery. Eddie Henderson called on his six decades of experience to blow a solo that employed the trumpet’s entire range of tones from sweet and “midnight blue,” to hot and bright. Behind the horn soloists, Gonzalez, Essiet and the irrepressible Watts drove the rhythm relentlessly.
About Writer –
Chuck Koton has been a jazz lover for 40 years and is currently covering the Los Angeles jazz scene for All About Jazz (AAJ). “I grew up in New York and since high school, I have spent much quality time hangin’ at the Village Vanguard and many other jazz clubs. I’m an educator and jazz photographer, now living in Los Angeles.”
Jazz Appreciation month is only weeks away , when a cavalcade of events are unleashed across the globe and especially in the USA . Venues spring up everywhere with festivals, concerts, symposiums, exhibits and just good old-fashioned Jam sessions. However, fortunately for many of us, the fans of classic jazz and spoken word together. we have a special performance one night only event in Pasadena California. The Kingston Cafe debut of The Dale Fielder Quartet, celebrating 20 years of music together . In addition, Poet /Actor and Playwright, Robert J. Carmack performing original and some poems written by local grassroots poets from Los Angeles.
The evening’s festivities are being presented by Moon Glow Productions , a jazz presenter in Pasadena, in association with the Music Blog, Hipster Sanctuary.Com, celebrating this month, 17 years of writing about jazz and musical icons legacies .
JAZZ SPOKEN HERE: The Dale Fielder Quartet with special Spoken Word performance by Robert J. Carmack
April 18 7PM – 9PM One Night Only
KINGSTON CAFE Just South of Del Mar at Fair Oaks.
333 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 818-3160 more info – Moon Glow Productions
Every April, Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) highlights the glories of jazz as both a historical and a living treasure. Here is one special month to draw greater public attention to the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz and its importance to American culture. Musicians, concert halls, schools, colleges, museums, libraries and public broadcasters are encouraged to offer special programs during this month.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History (which operates the world’s most comprehensive set of jazz programs) leads this initiative in concert with a distinguished roster of federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and broadcasting networks.
The story of America is embedded in the spirit and rhythms of jazz; captured in beats that have traveled through the African Diaspora and a spirit of freedom that has impassioned slave and free-born, immigrant and migrant since America’s founding.
EDITORIAL by Eric WATTREE #wattreechronicles #blues2jazzguy
SAVE OUR LEGACY
As most people in Los Angeles know, the powers that be are in the process of gentrifying Leimert Park much like they’re doing in Harlem, New York. But what many in the community fail to realize is when they pave over communities, they pave over Black history as well. That’s why we have to have a “Black History Month” to recall the contributions that Black people have made to this nation. That shouldn’t be necessary. Black history should be alive all around us seven days a week and throughout the year. Our children should be drenched in it on a daily basis just like White kids.
Washington, D.C. is called Washington, and nearly every street, town, city, and state in this country are named as they are so we’ll be completely immersed in White history. And the fact that those names don’t reflect who we are as Black people is one of the reasons that Black history is so obscure and many of our Black children lack self-esteem. We’ve got to change that. For that reason, I suggest that we mount a campaign to change the name of “Leimert Park” to “Dexter Gordon Park.”
Leimert Park is renown all over the world for being Los Angeles’ principle center of Black art, so before this gentrification takes place, it should be renamed to reflect that reality, and no artist is more deserving, or more perfectly suited for the honor of having Leimert renamed after him than Saxophonist, Dexter Gordon. Dexter, along with drummer Billy Higgins (who played with Dexter), are two of the greatest artists that Los Angeles has ever produced – in fact, two of the greatest artists who’s ever lived. They disseminated Jazz (America’s greatest Art form) all over the world, and they’ve brought our city great notority and recognition as a mecca for genius, beauty, and excellence all around the globe. But due to the tradition of racism inherent to American society, these two great men are recognized virtually everywhere in the world EXCEPT right here in the United States. Elvis has been memorialized, so why not Dexter, and why not Billy? Thus, we shouldn’t just sit quietly back and allow the contributions to humanity of these two artistic giants to be paved over by American history – especially here in Los Angeles.
If we have to fight, so be it. We’ve failed to do that in the past. That’s why the average Black person doesn’t know that the only reason the world can read this message over their computer is because of the brilliance of Dr. Mark Dean, a Black man, who was one of the principle inventors of the personal computer, or Henry T. Sampson, who invented the gamma-electric cell, making cell phones possible. These two Black men have had a pronounced impact on the lives of every person in the civilized world. Our children should know that, because that is a part of their legacy, and they should know about Dexter Gordon and Billy Higgins as well.
I was in Leimert Park the other night, and it made my eyes moist just witnessing the beauty of our people at their best, and at their most artistic. It’s a wonderful thing to see Black people coming together in celebration of who we are, and we should protect that, so we should make Billy Higgins’ “World Stage” a historic landmark, and place statues of both Dexter and Billy in the park itself in recognition of who they WERE, and who we ARE. And we shouldn’t stop there. We should continue on to rename the streets in and around Leimert Park after major contributors to our culture. For example, Vernon Ave., between Alameda and Crenshaw, should be renamed “Dubois Ave,” and Degnan, between the park and 43rd Street, renamed “Eric Dolphy Dr.” Because we are what we think, and that will help our young people, and posterity, to understand our legacy, and our significance as a people.
We always complain about White supremacy, but we never do those things that are necessary to dismantle it, and in order to begin to dismantle it, we MUST do things like this in recognition of the excellence within our community and to bring a sense of pride to our young people. We must leave no stone unturned to make it impossible for us to be depicted as a frivolous people without a past. We’ve got to wake up and get on top of these sort of things – if not for ourselves, for the love of our children, because they too will become what they think.
Neither scholar nor the head of state,
The most common of men seems to be my fate;
A life blistered with struggle and constant need,
As my legacy to man I bequeath my seed.
More fertile, more sturdy these ones than I,
This withered old vine left fallow and dry;
The nectar of their roots lie dormant still,
But through their fruit, I’ll be revealed.
So let us take a moment to think beyond the moment, and think of the dignity and self-esteem of Black children who are yet unborn, just as Dex, and many others, thought about you.
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