THE FIRST WATTS FESTIVAL: LOOKING BACK AT AUGUST 1966


I guess it’s always a surprise to find that another year have come and gone, then you realize that it’s not just another year, but a decade has come and left.

Plight Pixs Robert Rasta hat I’m not naive to believe time should stand still for me,but I was just reflecting with a good friend of mine, who also grew up in LA ,just like I did, he on the Eastside and me in the Watts section of Los Angeles in the Nickerson Garden Projects from 1960-1967, then in January of 1967 we moved to a house in Compton near Rosecrans and Rose Ave.

I remember the Summer of 1966 like it was only yesterday. School let out for the summer in mid June. Now what was I going to do , I had no job prospects , but I had my Music. at the time, I was playing in a bunch of different bands to keep me busy.One day I was lying on the grass in my backyard when suddenly a bunch of people I knew came by and said, hey! If you want a summer job you better go up to Central and 113th street, They’re handing out jobs, free lunches and you have to be at least 15 to get paid. Since I was turning 16 in August I qualified. So I went up and got me a job working with little kids teaching arts & crafts, and basically baby-sitting some little wild kids that never had anybody pay any attention to them or teach them about the arts, have “RAP sessions about life and just growing pains of “being black” in 1960s LA..  All of this just One year removed from one of the worst riots in 20 years , over 34 dead, thousands arrested and over $40 million in property damage. So all of a sudden, a lot of money was flowing into WATTS in general, but L.A. period. This man name ,Ted Watkins founded this Jobs training and youth program, along with the UAW and U.S.Labor department

WLCAC summer jobs 1967 Ted W

Also the local politicians needed to find something to counter-balance what had happened just a year before .(1965 Riots)           A cultural committee was established of community people along with clergy and politicians. They came up with a cultural project concept of a Festival that recognized Black people who were doing things in the community.  Entertainers provided an artistic contribution and artists painted Murals on old or burnt building. Watkins had a full grassroots youth labor movement to clean up the city with paint, brooms, saws, pitch forks , everybody bought-in to chip-in and clean up the city.

Bobby 1966 CentennialNOW

Robert Carmack @15 playing alto sax 1965

To revitalize the area, abandoned buildings became training centers for adults with no job skills, college students,high school students had jobs, Vets returning from Viet Nam found work.    By July ,1966 We had heard a rumour of a planned Parade with a big name Grand Marshall and Queen of the Festival. Ultimately, the Festival Committee selected high-profile individual, Sargent Shriver as Marshall and actress Brenda Sykes as 1966 Queen of WATTS Festival.

1966 Grand Marshall

1966 Grand Marshall

Queen of Festival 1966

Queen of Festival 1966

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was already excited because we were getting ready to do a show in June at Jefferson High school “Alive and Deprived in 65” was the name of the show that featured Our youth band, saxophonist Curtis Amy quintet with Carmello Garcia on Congo. The great Sam Fletcher vocalist and Gerald Wilson Big Band headlining. That was a really big deal to this 14-year-old saxophonist.

So by the end of July 1966, I had two things going for me,  I was going to be involved with the very first WATTS Festival, just 12 months after the whole town was in flames. The youth jazz band was appointed by Gerald Wilson to “open” for the Sunday afternoon program of Jazz under the Big Tent in Will Rogers park , Yay!! That was exciting. but I also worked for WLCAC as an art instructor, and they had selected some of my work on Patio furniture made out of old Redwood logs and broken pieces. Myself and two other youngsters my age had formed this company called CHB ENTERPRISES, a teen company. Our work was so good it was selected to appear on the WCLAC float in the parade.  We had previously appeared on a local (KTTV) channel, Louis Lomax TV show, mainly because we were denied entrance into the Junior Achievement organization, a national youth business enterprises organization  founded to encourage youth to explore business enterprises. They were racist and we exposed them on TV. One year later we got an offer to join them, but we refused and moved on, with dignity intact.

So with all the excitement of being in the very first Festival almost over-whelming to say the least. Two weeks away from the beginning of the new Festival, another rumour started. The new sensational musician that was making waves in the jazz field and on the radio with his new jazz sound on trumpet.

A South African musician named, Hugh Masakela was revising Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island hit on record. Radio stations could not stop playing this guy’s music from an album entitled, The Americanization of OOGA-BOOGA. Man! did this guy  really dominate on radio.. more than Miles Davis, more than Coltrane , more than anybody else on radio including rotation on R&B stations too. He was slated to perform a concert to open  up the whole festival on a Friday night at LA Jordan High school.  Tickets sold out so fast, I never got a chance to buy any. Its been a major part of the folkloric legacy of the very first WATTS Festival.

The Hugh Masakela Group consisted of  Masakela on Trumpet/Flugelhorn/vocals, Larry Willis piano, Henry Franklin Bass, Henry Jenkins Drums and Big Black percussion.  Over the years I have either met, or interviewed some of the band members. Most recently over the last two years, I’ve met and befriended Big Black, a tremendous percussionist.  I always admired and respected his playing. he’s still active as a musician. (Shown in the picture below) I ran into him  on a gig with his old friend and former bandmate, Henry Franklin in Riverside, California.They both sounded very strong some 50 years later. I sometimes wish I had a time machine, since I don’t…I just use the 2nd best method, MUSIC. It always bring you back and take you there too. what a lifetime of great memories through music and travel..the window to my soul.

shown: music journalist/producer Robert J. Carmack with drummer Big Black

Robert J. Carmack with drummer Big Black -2016

 

Harold Johnson Sextet Recaptures Magic In Reunion Concert


posted by blues2jazzguy    Robert J. Carmack

Harold Johnson Sextet Reunion Jan.14, 2016

Harold Johnson Sextet Reunion Jan.14 2016 photos by Leonard Olive

Recently at the jazz club Catalina’s in Hollywood California, a crowd of fans, former schoolmates, neighbors, teachers all came together for a reunion concert by The Harold Johnson Sextet. Johnson is an accomplished producer,writer and arranger whose Jazz group kicked off their early music careers with a “hit album” right out the gate in House on Elm Street released in 1967..the album was not only popular in Los Angeles which is Harold’s native city,but it enjoyed heavy rotation on Jazz and soul radio stations all over California and beyond.

The Reunion concert was an idea spawned from the latest CD released by Harold Johnson Sextet entitled, “Back on Elm Street” Reunion, featuring some of the original members of the band . David Crawford on Flute, and hit-songwriter,producer and highly sought after drummer, Leon Ndugu Chanceler.

Rounding out the Reunion band’s personnel ; Munyungo Jackson Percussionist, Welton Gite Bass, Gemi Taylor Guitar, The Vincent Sisters vocals and Olivia Reese vocals.

There was a particular buzz in the room as the swelling audience began to feel the electricity of the evening that was building as the show’s Master of Ceremonies, Robert J. Carmack , founder and editor of Hipster Sanctuary.Com began to warm up the audience with a little welcome cheer.

After the introduction of Harold Johnson ,the bandleader appeared alone on stage at the piano and began the evening’s festivities with a gospel-tinged solo composition, Pass It On. Johnson then started into another fanfare piece as he brought on-stage each member of the band and vocalists. Upon the first few notes the audience recognized the popular and finger-poppin’ melody of House on Elm Street title-track with original member David Crawford lit into swirling trills,grace-notes and sweet arpeggios on Flute. Crawford’s solo was followed up by the leader Harold Johnson on Electric piano. Over 40 of Harold Johnson’s songs have been recorded by major hit-makers over the years like LTD, Diana Ross, Stephanie Mills, Dennis Edwards,Thelma Houston,Jeffrey Osbourne, OJays,Temptations and many more.

Bobby and Mike Dolphin

L-R. L.A. Central Ave. Jazz Festival Producer-Michael Dolphin, Hipster Sanctuary.Com Founder/Editor, Mike Shead – Jazz Enthusiast  photos by Emmett Williams

We were entertained with a trip down memory lane of jazz and R&B songs from the many hits he wrote for other artists. He also introduced us to cuts from the new CD, BACK ON ELM STREET REUNION, “Main Squeeze” and “Til’ We Meet Again”. In addition to a reunion of band mates were local school alumni who attended school with Harold Johnson or his band personnel.

 HJ Sextet member ,David Crawford- Flute with fellow Centennial High Alums

HJ Sextet member ,David Crawford- Flute with fellow Centennial High Alums

I spoke with Johnson about future projects plans and actions, he mentioned that He’s already in motion for a “Back On Elm Street Reunion Volume 2. we can hardly wait.

Harold Johnson NOW  at the Board

Harold Johnson at Studio

 

 

 

 

David-Crawford

David Crawford

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Gemi Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ndugu-3

Ndugu Chanceler

 

Welton Gite NOW

Welton Gite Bass

 

wozny.com

Darryl “Munyungo” Jackson

 

 

For More information or you want to purchase go to http://www.cdbaby.com and search

Harold Johnson Sextet-Back On Elm Street Reunion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NAT “KING” COLE WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE HIM ON THE SCREEN ??


Nat Cole personality  B:W With all the remakes, and first time Bio-pics being produced at an alarming rate, where is the quality to match the numbers that’s’ due out and those yet to be made? MY VOTE is for Nat King Cole, the Man,  musician,singer, husband and parent. I want to know when will we see the NAT KING COLE story?  I can give a ton of personal reasons I want to see this film on the screen,but Here’s a couple universal reasons everyone should want to see this project brought to fruition. Some background on Nat: Born March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama. Nat King Cole first came to prominence as a jazz pianist.

NAT KING COLE -- Pictured: (l-r) Singers Nat 'King' Cole, Maria Cole at home in 1957 -- (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

NAT KING COLE — Pictured: (l-r) Singers Nat ‘King’ Cole, Maria Cole at home in 1957 — (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

In 1956, Nat became the first African-American performer to host a variety television series, and for many white families, he was the first black man welcomed into their living rooms each nigh

Nat+King+NOW Cole

The Early Years

Known for his smooth and well-articulated vocal style, Nat King Cole actually started out as a piano man. He first learned to play around the age of 4 with help from his mother, a church choir director. The son of a Baptist pastor, He started out playing religious music. In his early teens, Cole had formal classical piano training. He eventually abandoned classical for his other musical passion—jazz. Earl Hines, a leader of modern jazz, was one of Nat’s biggest inspirations. At 15, he dropped out of school to become a jazz pianist full-time. Cole joined forces with his brother Eddie for a time, which led to his first professional recordings in 1936. He later joined a national tour for musical revue “Shuffle Along” by Eubie Blake, performing as a pianist. 1937, Cole started to put together what would become the King Cole Trio, the name being a play on the children’s nursery rhyme. They toured extensively and hit the charts in 1943 with “That Ain’t Right,” penned by Cole. “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” inspired by one of his father’s sermons, becoming a hit for the group in 1944. The trio continued its rise to the top with such pop hits as the holiday classic “The Christmas Song” and the ballad “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons.”

Well In my Opinion, The fact that the record company, Capitol was never the same after signing Nat Cole in 1943. That reason alone is a great story. The long and phenomenal ride at the top of the charts over the many decades leading up to and beyond his death in 1965 from cancer.

Nat Cole in Hancock Park 1950s

Nat and the family in their back yard in Hancock Park a posh neighborhood in Los Angeles in 1950s daughters Carole and Natalie with wife Maria

In August 1948, Cole purchased a house from Col. Harry Gantz, the former husband of Lois Weber, in the all-white Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Ku Klux Klan, still active in Los Angeles well into the 1950s, responded by placing a burning cross on his front lawn. Members of the property-owners association told Cole they did not want any undesirables moving in. Cole retorted, “Neither do I. And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain”

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE PORTRAY NAT COLE?  send us your response! Here at http://www.hipstersanctuary.com  

A Brush With Immortality: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Jackie McLean


BENEATH THE SPIN  Posted by Eric L. Wattree                                via #blues2jazzguy

I went to Shelly’s Manhole with some older brothers to see Thelonious Monk one night, and I noticed that Monk kept looking over at me as he was playing. It made me nervous because I was under age and I thought he was gonna give me up and tell ’em to kick me out. They already knew me at the clubs around town. I knew damn near every waitress in this city. Sometimes they’d let me stay, and other times they’d kick me out – I never did figure out what made the difference. And they’d never serve me drinks, so I’d have to order something non-alcoholic and bring my own. But I wanted to be accepted as a sophisticated adult more than anything in life, so sometime I’d put the bass in my voice and try to casually order Scotch on the rocks. But the waitress would just look at me sideways like, “You’re lucky I’m letting you stay here, so don’t push it, buddy.” T Monk  at Piano plaid jacket .             One or two of the waitresses who’d been around for a while knew my mother when she was working as a greeter at Dynamite Jackson’s, and I think they put the word out on me. So they’d tolerate me, but they just wouldn’t let me be the man who I wanted to be so desperately, because I wasn’t. It’s sort of funny when I look back on it. Had I been sophisticated enough to know what adulthood actually entailed, I would have been more desperate to hold on to those precious years than was I to become an adult. . So I just kept coming back and braving the humiliation, because from the time I was 12 years old I loved everything, and everybody, associated with jazz. I got that gene from my father. As I’ve said many times before, my father thought the only reason the Sun came up was to keep Bird’s reeds warm. I had to fight the preacher at his funeral to have Jackie McLean playing “Love and Hate” in the background. I told the preacher if they don’t have jazz in Heaven, the Pearly Gates would constitute the entrance to Hell for my father. The irony was, when I was done reading the eulogy that I’d written for my father (Blues For Mr. C), with Jackie Playing softly in the background, that very same preacher came up to me and asked me for a copy.    Monk meditating in Cosick Hat . On that particular night, however, after his first set, Monk walked up to me and TOLD me, “Come with me.” He took me back to the musician’s lounge where Nelly was, and asked, “Who does he remind you of?” And she said, “TOOTIE!” – Monk’s son. . He saw me as a young wide-eyed joke, and I was. I was 16 and on a roll (I had just seen John Coltrane a couple of weeks earlier). Monk asked me, “What you know about jazz, boy?” And I started telling him about all the urban legends that I’d heard about him. As he was listening intently to one of my stories he asked me, “Damn! What did I do then!!!?” You have to know how Monk was to know why I look back on that as being so funny, because he was dead serious. He got into the story like I was telling him a story about someone else. I never did find out whether the story was true or not. But When I was done, he told his wife, Nelly, “Shit, he knows more about me than I do,” and they started laughing’ their asses off. . I spent that entire night with them, because I was so young that Nelly was worried that I was gonna be picked up by one of those,”Hollywood perverts.” Monk told Nelly, “Shit,who you should be worried about is (Blank)? ” – his drummer (I’m not gonna give his name because he’s famous and he’s never been outed as gay). But for the rest of the night I sat in the front row next to Nelly, and after the gig I went to their hotel room with them and we grubbed and talked. I told him how I planned on becoming a great saxophone player someday, and I asked him everything I could think of about Bird. I remember him telling me, “Naw, you don’t want to be Bird, unless you like bein’ broke. How much money you got?” I had about five dollars in my pocket. And he said, “Shit, you already richer than Bird was half the time,” and then started laughing’. Nelly said, “Don’t say that, T!” They dropped me off at my mother’s door just as the Sun was coming up. It was a night I will never forget. monk's dream album cover . After that episode, the OGs made me a celebrity in the hood. I’ve never had that much attention before, or since. I had attracted the interest of THELONIOUS MONK. EVERYBODY wanted to know EVERY detail of what went down, and every detail about Monk that they could get – everybody, including Jimmy, the brilliant dope fiend that my father had hired to teach me to play the saxophone. There are a lot of details that I’ve left out of this story, and I remember every detail like it happened last night, but I do intend to write about it, and every nuance of that great man in the most minute detail in the near future, because it’s of historic significance. People STILL don’t realize how great that man was. You can listen to “Ruby My Dear,” or “Round Midnight,” and they constitute a MASTER’S CLASS on what contemporary music is all about. I could appreciate that even back then. So I thank God that I had the sense to know that I was in the presence of immortality. . I also intend to write about an entire New Years weekend that I spent with Dexter Gordon during the 70s. He grew up two blocks from my mother and they both went to Jefferson High School here in Los Angeles. She graduated; he went on the road with Lionel Hampton at 17 years old. During that weekend Dex made a passing comment regarding how I idolized him that ended up becoming the guiding philosophy of my life – “Learn to become your own hero, because you’re the only one who won’t let you down.” He also told me, “Whenever you hear me play a lick, your very first thought should be about how you could go about playing it better.” He was right, and that was the key to his greatness. Lester Young was his main man, and you could hear Lester in him, but he wasn’t Lester – he was Dexter, and nobody did it better. But he was wrong about one thing. He never did let me down. He blew the lights out until his very last breath. But I’ve taken him at his word, nevertheless, and he became my last hero. That’s turned me into a severe cynic over the years, and that very cynicism has been of tremendous value to me as a writer. I don’t trust the word of nobody, so I start off every piece I write by probing for lies.

Eric Wattree

Award-winning writer, Eric L. Wattree

SAYING GOOD-BYE TO A LEGEND: HERB JEFFRIES 1913 – 2014


posted by Robert J. Carmack @blues2jazzguy

RIP HERB JEFFRIES Sept. 24, 1913 – May 25, 2014.   Herb Jeffries is last  surviving  member of Duke Ellington’s early 1940s Band. The Bronze Buckaroo as he was known during his days as a singing actor of early black  cinema.     Herb Jeffries    RIP NOW

 

Read the LA Times  in-depth story on this great man. (click on link)

http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-herb-jeffries-20140526-story.html#page=1

REST IN LOVE & PEACE: JESSICA CLEAVES 1948 – 2014


posted by Robert J. Carmack  @blues2jazzguy

jessica Cleaves   EWF

 

 

 

Singer/ songwriter, Jessica Cleaves Passed away early this morning. at the present time there are no details to share.. a family statement is expected in the very near future.

Born: December 10 1948 –  Transitioned: May 2 2014

The Friends of Distinction formed in 1968 in Los Angeles with original members Floyd Butler, Harry Elston, Jessica Cleaves, and Barbara Love. Butler and Elston had worked together in The Hi-Fi’s in the mid 1960s, often opening for Ray Charles. Other members of the Hi-Fi’s were Marilyn McCoo and Lamont McLemore, who would later co-found The Fifth Dimension.

The Friends of Distinction were discovered by American football player Jim Brown, who also discovered Earth, Wind & Fire, and were signed to RCA Records. Ms Cleaves was also a featured singer in the early days of Earth , Wind and Fire. and , in more recent time she was quite  visible with George Clinton’ & Parliament.     300-px-friends-of-distinction

Jessica was born in Los Angeles. Jessica Cleaves was born to Mary Gladys Cleaves , a librarian, and Lane C. Cleaves II, a U.S. Postal employee.

Jessica’s paternal grandfather, Lane C. Cleaves Sr., was presiding Bishop over Phillips Temple, CME.

Cleaves’ godson filmmaker Armand Araujo , begun filming her life story Jessica Cleaves, My Friends of Distinction in 2013.

 

 

REMEMBERING TWO ECLECTIC ~CONTROVERSIAL PLAYS FROM A GONE ERA


What-the-Wine-Sellers-Buy-03-74-1

Who Remembers these two plays and what were the circumstances in which you remember?  please comment.

WHAT THE WINE-SELLERS BUY- RON MILNER

SLOW DANCE ON THE KILLING GROUND – WILLIAM  HANLEY

Slow-Dance-on-the-Killing-Ground-Playbill-11-64

a young Clarence Williams III  showcases his acting skills – 1964

Veteran  Actor Glynn Turman ,is the only actor connected to both plays.  He made his Los Angeles stage debut in Vinnette Carroll‘s “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.” An impressive 1974 performance in “The Wine Sellers” earned him a “Los Angeles     Critics Award” nomination and a  Dramalogue Award.   images (10) Glynn

The play was also produced on Broadway as “What The Wine Sellers Buy.” He won his first NAACP Image Award for his work in the play “Eyes of the American.” Most recently, Glynn  Turman was honored with his first Emmy Award after 50 years on stage & screen.

 

JAM! CELEBRATE & SUPPORT JAZZ LIVE & RECORDED


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APRIL IS  JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH

Jazz Appreciation Month was created to be an annual event that would pay tribute to jazz as both a living and as a historic music. Schools, organizations, even governments, celebrate JAM with events ranging from free concerts to educational programs. The first year was 2001, and initial funding was provided by the                             Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.

 (Miss Fitzgerald’s archives are housed at the Smithsonian).

Hipster Sanctuary.Com  are proud to sponsor and support organizations , groups and individuals that help carry the legacy of Jazz on Stage, Film, Radio or Television .  in keeping with that noble mission, we highly recommend the following  event(s) below;

Theatre Perception Consortium presents  The Club Alabam   Directed by Tu’Nook

Situated on “The Block” in the heart of Central Avenue, the Club Alabam served as a primary site for the “West Coast Renaissance of Jazz” in Los Angeles.  Previously called the Apex Club, the club opened in the Fall of 1928 and was owned by the drummer Curtis Mosby.  “Mosby’s Bluesblowers” provided the house big band that performed for top entertainers like Duke Ellington.

Mosby’s brother Evan, another Central Avenue fixture, became known as the “unofficial mayor” of Central Avenue . While the Club Alabam faced Central Ave. , competition from other “blues incubators” like the Last Word, the Down Beat, Shepp’s Playhouse, Watt’s Joe Morris’s Plantation and Johnny Otis’s  Barrel House. Locals considered the Club Alabam the classiest establishment on Central Avenue, complete with valet parking and a in-house chorus line . the Club Alabam served mainly the black upper-middle class, but it became a popular spot among the black working class as well.

Alex Lovejoy owned the “Breakfast Club,” the club’s second floor room, which served fried chicken, hot biscuits, and drinks.

On any given night at the famed Club Alabam, only the best of the best performed and sat-in with the house bands over the years ,such as Mile Davis, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge.. Like the Harlem integrated club, Cotton club, It too attracted white high-profile Hollywood entertainers. Even the likes of a very inebriated W.C. Fields who enjoyed frequent visits  accidentally fell asleep inside the adjacent Dunbar Hotel and became the first to integrate the hotel unknowingly.

This hot Jazz musical Revue will take a slice of life at the Club Alabam during the  1940s and 50s ,by presenting a bevy of allstar musicians, singers and actors who portray the likes of  Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge, Ella Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker.

Call 323-552-8283 for RSVP/ Advance Tickets Limited  Seating

Performance Dates: April 27, May 4 and May 11

SUNDAY Afternoons Only at 4:pm

The Performers Corner  214 Hardy Street  Inglewood, Calif. 92509

Media and Publicity: RJC Mediatainment-951-840-7120     twitter:@blues2jazzguy email: blues2jazz2003@yahoo.com