On a classic Friday night at the World Stage in Leimert Park , the packed room was spilling over with emotion and spirituality as “Acknowledgement” jazz band led by Ishmael Hunter & Bobby West, Fuasi ,Rick Zunigar,Jeff Littleton,Michael Session, and special invited soloist; Fundi Legohn on French Horn and Robert J. Carmack Poetry. To honor and pay tribute to the group’s trumpet player who passed just last year, Steve Smith .
Acknowledgement is the title of the John Coltrane cut from the award winning album “A Love Supreme” 1965 Album of The Year. Steve Smith was a hard working musician who believed in his dream to become a working jazz musician. Sometime over the years in LA, a group of musicians got together and formed groups one of those groups were Acknowledgement.. & the other, Taumbu International Ensemble. He held two chairs down. His family wanted to do whatever they could to keep his legacy and spirit alive, by establishing a scholarship for community based individuals who have a need for assistance furthering their education regardless of school or who they are. my last time speaking to Steve Smith was last year’s Central avenue Jazz festival in Los Angeles.. He had this really old but high quality leather bag he carried his music in.. Half-hearted kidding, I tried to talk him into selling me that bag. looking him in the eyes, that bag had a story attached to it and that meant NO Way I get that bag. but I soon realized every musician or artist have a point in their life where the little stories that we encounter makes the best fodder for improvisations and composing great music. starting with possessions or treasures of simplistic value. Steve was a great musician, father, brother and community activist. He loved his family and community. That everybody there that nigh remembers well.
The first recipient is Mekala Session,the 2019 recipient of the Steve Smith Music Scholarship. On hand to lead the family presentation was Mrs Jeryl Smith.(wife) However, she spoke of the challenges of having the first one go down without a glitch.. Bobby West, longtime friend & brother to Steve, read a very emotional poem about Steve. Fuasi, another good friend of Steve’s came in from Europe to hang and hit some gigs with the Band. with the Band posturing on not replacing Steve on Trumpet , they elected to add a guitar, a real nice selection came in the person of veteran guitarist, Rick Zunigar.