COMING SOON !! An Interview with International jazz musician, composer , poet, and producer Ghasem Batamuntu .

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Ghasem Batamuntu Musician..Poet..Composer..Producer

A Gift From Trane. As my man Kweli well knew, Batamuntu’s music has my name all over it. The composition “Yellow Moon” features Los Angeles poet Kamau Daaood, who is a good friend and comrade. Kamau and I have performed together in New York, Atlanta, and, of course, L.A. I also tracked down Batamuntu’s website that has four tracks for listening. I include the selection titled “Track 08” on the Mixtape. Although the West Coast in general and both the Bay Area and L.A., aka La-La Land are usually characterized as multi-cultural melting pots, there is also a strong Afro-Centric music community. And by Afro-Centric I don’t mean Jim Crow, or Crow Jim, or any other kind of racial exclusivity but I do mean a strong emphasis on African-heritage culture and aesthetics, especially high-powered jazz. After all San Francisco is home to the Coltrane Church. Jazz stylings that originated in the sixties still flourishes even if recordings are few and media coverage near nil. Additionally, there is a strong metaphysical modality at work side by side with aesthetic concerns about spirituality and cosmic orientations. I am deeply impressed by the ensemble work.

Batamuntu is a good composer, a strong woodwind soloist and he really excels as a visionary bandleader. The twenty-plus minutes of “Track 08” reveal an orchestral sweep and musical depth completely lacking on the majority of today’s contemporary jazz recordings. Assembling a big band is no small feat, and to get them to play at the levels manifested on these selections is astounding. Unless we hit the lottery or have a huge stash of money, some secret endowment, or a hefty trust fund (and I’m pretty sure none of that is the case for Ghasem) most of us wouldn’t even think of taking on the task of putting together a huge production like this. What Ghasem Batamuntu has done is the hard work of organizing people to work together out of love for the music and a commitment to progressive sounds. There is nothing here aimed at BET, MTV or any other mainstream corporate entity. This is music to liberate the mind and sustain an anti-establishment spirit of resistance. BTW, in this case the “people” working with Ghasem is more than solely the musicians. The people also includes an independent record company who is will to front-in the production costs and who probably will not be able to sell enough records to recoup the initial investment. Part of the way Ghasem’s kind of music is kept out of the mainstream is by the production and marketing costs being so high and mainstream media being reluctant to even publicize the existence of the music. Yes, it’s an uphill struggle but when the music is this beautiful, struggle we must. Kudos to both Ghasem and Tahoe Records.



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