Coming April 20th 2019 a creative, diverse Jazz chamber-like Improvisational music in an all-female band . I will be chatting with the founder and leader of this band of stellar musicians, Ms. Nioka Workman and the Firey String Sistas, they also include the offspring of legendary jazz musicians.. follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com
Robert J. Carmack – KARL LEE the reporter from Ebony Magazine. Robert is a veteran of the theater, producer, writer, poet and musician. Mr. Carmack has over 5 decades in the entertainment field as musician, show producer, promoter or journalist in the genres of Jazz,classic soul, and pop.
Mr. Carmack has worked for, or, with such jazz luminaries as Freddie Hubbard, Doug Carn, Andy Bey, Sonny Fortune, Freddie Cole, Vanessa Rubin and McCoy Tyner. He founded and co-founded the Atlanta International Jazz Society, and SFBAAAM( San Francisco Bay Area African-American Musicians) a forum of musicians that created their own venues to play in the Bay area. Returning back to Los Angeles after 12 years , Mr. Carmack has organized a Charlie Parker 21 sax salute on Bird’s birthday nationwide salute east & west coast. a tribute to Blue note producer & composer Duke Pearson ,Bobby Hutcherson/Jackie McLean in Los Angeles. Last year He re-created his popular character from The Club Alabam in 2014,(ROBBY ROYALE) to a sell out audience of NAACP Award winning musical, North On South Central Avenue. Carmack grew up in Los Angeles, attended Centennial high school in Compton, Graduated B.A – Theater Arts /Communications at Cal State Dominguez Hills. returning later on in life to grab his MFA-Theater Directing/Production Columbia University,New York. Robert co-founded the awarding-winning Paul Robeson Players while still attending under-grad college classes. The drama group went on to represent the state of California at the FESTAC, World Arts Festival, Lagos, Nigeria.
I wrote “Interview” out of frustration with the film version that came out a few years ago. However, I looked at the presentation, not as a traditional play or musical , More of an avant-garde /experimental theater type with music, spoken word and dramatic dialog. No set changes, or curtains . its driven by the power of the actors on stage, Nina Simone’s great social protest songs and her important role in the civil rights era. The most unsung of all the characters who played a role during that period.
We begin the story in real-time August 11,1965 inside the lounge of a Pasadena Hotel…
Jana Wilson- NINA SIMONE, a Los Angeles native, began her thespian adventures on the runways of Los Angeles, donning designer couture fashions. She modeled through college and sporadically, thereafter. Music has always been in her soul, as both parents were talented musicians, in their own right. Her brother plays bass guitar. Her father played jazz piano and her mother continues singing jazz. It’s only likely that Jana would have a love for music, with such rich influences.
Jana began singing in her church choir, then, sitting in on secular band rehearsals, which led to one song, then years of performing three nights weekly, as the featured vocalist, in the 4 Star Award winning Supper Club,The Sky Room in Long Beach CA . Since then, she’s been professionally performing with various local jazz and R&B groups. Her performance interests led to the theater, where she was cast as Billie Holiday, and additional characters, in the award-winning musical stage play, “North On South Central Avenue.”
“Music, performance arts, television… there are so many interests, gifts and abilities to put to good use. The world is a big stage, and I hope to take a few bows, while I’m here!” – Jana
Bobby Pierce, Music Director/Pianist – the former Columbus, Ohio born musician, now a Los Angeles resident is a musician’s musician. Known for his laid-back demeanor and style in personality. He elects to allow his fingers to do his speaking for him. He spent many years in Chicago and New York, working with virtually a Who’s Who in Jazz and Gospel.
Bobby has graced the stage with some of Jazz’s royal members such as Benny Carter, James Moody, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Etta James, and Della Reese along with POP & Soul stars too. Four Tops, Walter Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Joe Williams and Esther Phillips just to name a few. While putting in work at Record labels, Muse and Cobblestone, He was able to garner a Five-star ranking on Downbeat magazine. Pierce is also listed in seven jazz history books including Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of jazz and Listen for Jazz by Anna Bishop.
Bobby is quite proud of his major work with the late Della Reese , where he co-wrote the musical, “The Message is In the Music.”
While the consummate classically trained , Jazz and gospel singer, arranger and composer, Bobby still finds time to go out on a few road gigs, and hitting a few local jazz gigs too. He spends most of his time working with choir groups and just being of community service whenever possible.
Derf Reklaw – Flute,Percussion, has a very positive reputation around the music industry and especially the Leimert Park Village. Derf has worked with this play’s author three times previously over last 4 years. “Derf is the type of musician you don’t have to say much, just let him do what he do” stated Robert J. Carmack Director/Producer. Now we know why Eddie Harris & Ramsey Lewis loved his playing on their group’s recordings and live.
Reklaw moved to LA from Chicago in 1979. He is an artist in residence at several educational institutions including UCLA, Santa Monica College, L.A. Conservatory and View Park Academy. His career has enabled him to play with artists like Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Eddie Harris, Minnie Ripperton, Ahmad Jamal, Sting and Lionel Hampton. Also featured guest spots with drummer Billy Higgins, poet Kamau Daaood and original member of the Pharoahs, Lui Lui Satterfield.
posted by music journalist Robert J. Carmack photos credits: Robert Carmack and Sol Washington
You know, one of the benefits of living in Los Angeles or Southern California period, is the weather. This particular Sunday was no different than the 54 Summers past I have lived in California.But this one was very special though. The World Stage was celebrating 25 years of existence in Leimert Park (Los Angeles).and honoring one of the people wholly responsible for its foundation and support over the many years he was alive. That person was none other than, master musician Billy Higgins.One of the most storied and active drummers for a very long time at the highest level of performance.
Everybody knew he was one of the most recorded drummers in the history of jazz, But not enough knew of his tireless devotion to the community he grew up in and served one hundred fold. That is the real reason he’s being honored. If you are looking for a review of the concert, well.. this is not it! Because I was around the World Stage during its early days of Los Angeles , Post 1992 Uprising in the streets of L.A. I watched Billy in action a lot as he brought his musicians around to the stage, then around to the coffee House known as 5th Street Dick’s (my hang) There he would hold Court on why it was important that whenever they came into town to gig, they had to come to the World stage on an off day to play or teach a youngster about music. I witnessed this on many ocassions and Billy knew a lot of musicians cats.
Once I was in 5th street Dick’s Coffee house working on some poetry and listening to JMD & the Jam Master Band,(a local bad-ass group) when Billy brought in Chick Corea, Bennie Maupin and Larry Coryell to check out the music .. So I started reciting poetry with the JMD Band, all of a sudden Chick Corea got up and took over the Keyboard player’s axe, Larry Carlton cracked out his guitar and before you knew it, we had a “thang” going on.. prov-like all spontaneous… Jazz is suppose to do that to the human spirit. I looked at Billy, and He was just smiling ear to ear.. It wasn’t until much later, at another time, I realized why he was smiling so much that day. He knew then, he knew he had hooked those guys too. And soon, they were coming around a lot ,even if Billy was not there . Whenever Billy was on the road, someone at the World Stage had the responsibility to make sure the musician guests of Billy had no problems getting comfortable helping Kids or playing an afternoon concert on a Saturday before their night gig. That was how it worked for years. Jackie Mclean and Billy had long history as fellow musicians.. but Jackie always checked to make sure someone was holding down a class or something before he settled into his hotel to wait on his gig. No Billy Higgins in the community standing in the Gap, This place or listening space don’t happen! SO, if you want to know why Him??, Ask that long line of young drummers that have learned so much from being around and asking questions to a working drummer/legend. Seek out that long list of drummers and musicians in general who are very prominent Jazz musicians and Band leaders also today. Some of those same drummers could not afford a full set of drums to practice or work.. They got what they needed,, encouragement, inspiration and sometimes money. “Smiling Billy the person, the MAN” was the one being honored and respected by a legion or army of admirers and peers Sunday August 24th. Yes Sir! A Spiritual Experience for sure!!
what better way to honor the man than to allow the fruits of labor performed 25 years ago spawned great talents that was displayed on stage on that beautiful Sunday afternoon beginning with the world stage’s own African Drum Workshop . S.H.I.N.E. MAWUSI Troupe, they were the very first act we experienced. it was electrifying, as it was vivid and sublime.
It was at this point where award-winning Patrice Rushen accompanied veteran jazz singer Carmen Lundy in two riveting duets that in my opinion, should be recorded together and toured. One of the originals was played on acoustic guitar by Carmen Lundy..OMG!!
By the time Dwight was through with his performance,we were all levitating in the audience. I wish I could have sat closer so I would not need the flash. we could not shoot if we had flash .
shown on the left is Kamau Daaood Poet Laureate and John Beasley Music Director/Pianist
Near the end of the evening’s show Hubert Laws came out before his accompaniment. and played a rendition of LUSH LIFE with the most clear & pure tone on Flute with the best and most sublime solo I’ve ever heard on any instrument.
On Billy Higgins: By Lew Tabackin
“Playing with Billy was like heaven. He was the greatest collaborator in the history of jazz. He played exactly right for you at exactly the right time. His dynamics were perfect, he balanced his energy off of your energy. It was the perfect ratio between his intensity and your intensity. I remember one time a friend of mine played with Billy. I said “hey how was it playing with Higgins.” He said, “you know I was expecting more energy.” I said, “no man that’s not the way it works. He plays off your energy. He your energy is low, he’s not going to kick your ass.
I did a month tour with Billy and Charlie Hayden and every night was perfect. There wasn’t one time where you thought; “we’ll he’s not having a good night.” I’ve never experienced anything like that since. That consistently musical swinging creative reality. I could hear the harmony when he would play the drums.”