In a recently held concert on the campus of my Alma Mater, California State University Dominguez Hills, Dr. Teodross Avery addressed a SRO audience on the rare compositions of Jazz icons John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. Avery , a professor of music at the university, curated an eclectic list of compositions by the two masters. Several of the tunes , rarely played on bandstands today, offered as proof of the complexity and challenges of playing compositions by Monk or Trane. a couple of favorites of mine were presented in their full, regal splendor, Trinkle Tinkle by Monk and The Promise by Coltrane.
As a musician, Dr. Teodross Avery stands as one who defines live music—best experienced in front row, and full throttle. His commanding presence, on stage and off, reflects his musical ingenuity and skill. With an outstanding pedigree, both professionally and academically, Teodross is a saxophonist to watch, as evidenced by many of today’s biggest names in music relying on his wide musical reach.
While growing up in Oakland and Vacaville, California, Teodross’ parents exposed him to a wide range of music including traditional Eastern and Western African music, Soul, Rock, and Jazz. Dr. Avery put together a very solid jazz unit for the Thursday night crowd at the school.
In the band with Teodross was, veteran bassist, Henry “Skipper” Franklin, former drummer for Jay Leno’s TV show, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, journeyman pianist, Theo Saunders. Saunders was on fire on several tunes by Monk. (https://www.teodrossavery.com) the rare composition “The Promise” was opened with a Franklin pizzicato solo for a great introduction to this spiritual composition.
The Lighthouse Café is a nightclub located at 30 Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, California. It has been active as a jazz showcase since 1949 and, under the name “The Lighthouse”, was one of the central West Coast jazz clubs from the 1950s through the late 1970s. Purely talking Jazz years, It has been a long time, since I personally use to frequent these digs as a very young budding saxophonist growing up in the early 1960s Los Angeles. Listening to two jazz stalwarts on the radio at the time in KBCA FM 105.1 & the KNOB “JAZZ KNOB” out of Long Beach. hipster Jocks ruled the radio waves back then LA. Tommy Bee, Jammin’ Jai Rich, Rick Holmes, Chuck Niles, Les Carter, Tollie Strode with “Slow traffic to the right” , “while travelin’ in my Electro-Magnetic Bag.”
AllMusic rated the album with 4 stars noting: “Feel is what dictates the material and its execution on this set, without unnecessary attention paid to crowd or recording apparatus. This is one the most intimate jazz shows captured on tape during the 1960s. It gives record buyers the sound of a band in full possession of their considerable capabilities, celebrating them in a relaxed environment, playing their own brand of grooved-out ’60s jazz”. I actually had the opportunity to catch this very lively and “Funky as it wanted to be band” ,to borrow a catch-phrase from the era describing the feel and sound of the times. Borrowing heavily from the fresh pop culture and songs the crusaders were able to marry the hard bop edginess and the approachable groove-based chart-topping style. Jazz Crusaders were starting to dominate the west coast appeal and the young fans like myself. I was all of 17 in the fall of 1967, when this was recorded, but released in early 1968.
The best part about growing up in the early 60s and loving live jazz , You could actually go see who was playing the music you heard on radio. Because of the policy for “under -21” fans who obeyed the rules and “maintained their cool” under the fire of the electrifying bands that appeared at the beach venue.. IMHO, You might as well considered the Crusaders the House band, they appeared hundreds of times over the years, but recorded almost all of their most classic of all records with that great Lighthouse crowd over the microphones too. All of which gave it that “Flavor” like a great Gumbo meal. I would be here all day trying review all the great music from the pen or horns of Jazz crusaders, starting in 1962 , one could catch the very best in music, bar none, and be on the “hippest scene” while doing it at the Lighthouse.
I invite you to pick up a copy of this great album or whatever choice of media format is today vinyl, CD or downloads. GET IT!!
Join me ,along with some very special musicians in Los Angeles June 22 Friday night at 9pm as we turn back the clock 50 years and perform the best of the jazz crusaders: the early years up to late 70s. I have culled simply the best compositions and recordings for the featured band Crusader Legacy 5 Plus.. hand-picked stellar musicians for this event at the World Stage Performance Gallery 4321 Degnan Blvd. L.A. California 90008 – $25 –
WHO are these Musicians and poet that’s stirring up the pot inside the L.A. jazz underground?
Brilliant artists in their own right as band leaders,side-men, producers and actor/writer.. these are the ingredients that make up the performance group,
Elephants Nda’ Park ..L.A. based artists that explore all the areas of the musical spectrum that pushes beyond jazz, or even beyond standards and “roses are red” branded poetry.
They seek to discover and peel back the skin of the genre and expose the meaty-fruits inspired by “improvisational excavation”. It is through this meticulous search for new soil, as once presented by such icons as Jackie McLean, Sun Ra, early Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane,Yusef Lateef, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. the X-factor thats injected into the mix is writer/producer,poet, Robert J. Carmack, whose background presents a smorgasbord of the arts including Jazz saxophone, poetry, drama and promotions/publicity. Carmack’s poetry calls up the spirits of the ancesters and the “pioneers who came before”. inspired and influenced by legendary poets such as Amiri Baraka, Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee) , Last Poets, Watts Prophets,Jayne Cortez, Sonia Sanchez and, Sun RA.
Don Littleton Drummer – has spent nearly 50 years studying and performing music all over the country and in Los Angeles, playing with iconic figures such as, George Coleman, Hank Crawford, Charles Owens, Curtis Taylor, Saxophonist Justo Almario and bassist/poet John B. Williams. An accomplished, much sought after percussionist, Don Littleton has mastered an enticing array of percussion instruments. Don regularly performs all over metro-Los Angeles.
Pablo Calagero – multi-instrumentalist. specializing on flutes,saxophones and bass clarinet
Multi-instrumentalist, composer,New Yorker has played and recorded with a virtual list of who’s Who. including Mario Bauza,Tito Puente, Bebo Valdez,Carla Bley, Jaki Byard, Chico Ofarrill, James Newton, Dizzy Gillespie, Adam Roudolph, Bennie Maupin,Phil Ranelin,Dave Binny, Adam Rogers,Dennis Mackrel, Yusef Lateef,Jerry Gonzales, Andy Gonzales, Papo Vasquez, Patato Valdez, Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro Latin Orchestra, Oscar Hernandez,David Murray, Count Basie Orchestra, Anthony Braxton,John Linberg, Rashid Ali, Bobby Matos,Kenny Burrell,absorbing a broad range of musical styles and methods.
Michael Alvidrez, a “young veteran” of the “bass wars” bounces between acoustic and electric with the same impact. Michael is a very astute musician, looking to make his mark and create his own path in this genre. Along with bringing his A-game each and every time he steps onto the stage, “He’s a student of improvisation.” He’s a constant face on today’s L.A. Jazz scene. Not afraid to sail in unchartered waters inside the harbor of a “Free Music Sanctuary”.
Robert J. Carmack – poet, journalist, producer, musician and actor
Robert J. Carmack , Began his musical journey in music long before he picked up an instrument. According to his late mother he could not go to sleep unless the music was playing on the radio, “Though she did not play she loved music and encouraged us all to study” stated Robert . He played saxophone professionally throughout his high school and college career, later switched majors to study theater as undergrad picking up BA in TheaterArts/Communications. Masters Fine Arts in Theater-directing and productions. He has worked in journalism, music for the theater and films , bob hope USO tours during Viet Nam era and produced several plays , 2018 wrote and starred in original play Interview with the High Priestess: Nina! a jazz musical about icon Nina Simone. Also in Feb. 2018 He performed the eclectic poems of Sun Ra with jazz bass master, Juini Booth, Eclectic Nativity, Free Music band in Los Angeles. Summer 2017, performed with Azar Lawrence and Juini Booth’s McCoy Tyner Legacy band as spoken word guest poet,. Robert has produced stellar Jazz shows with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Andy Bey, Sonny Fortune, Calvin Keys, Hilton Ruiz, Vanessa Rubin, Freddie Cole, Doug Carn and worked as MC or journalist on international shows. Mr. Carmack is residing in Southern California these days, enjoying the direction of the Elephants Nda Park is going.
” After all, Ivory is Not Art…Save the Elephants!” posted by Kamaad Tauhid #@blues2jazzguy