SOLD-OUT PLAY INTERVIEW WITH THE HIGH PRIESTESS:NINA! – MEET THE CAST


posted by Kamaad Tauhid

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…

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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

Pictured L-R: Bobby Pierce – piano, Sonny McBroom – saxophone From the collection of: Arnett Howard

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.

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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.

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Bob Lee Bassist, Music Producer,Composer, photographer, videos,etc.

bio material not available at press time

 

 

 

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Interview with the High Priestess has been sold out for 4 WEEKS.

those with tickets will be watching and listening at the World Stage  4321 Degnan Blvd. L.A., California. 90008 8PM

Doors open at 7PM

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Media:RJC Mediatainment Group/Hipster Sanctuary.Com

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Outward Visions Marty Khan Speaks The Truth About JAZZ And Money


Time For A Reality Check

Jazz funding initiatives are like spending $100,000 for a memorial service
to a musician whose life could have been saved by a $5,000 operation

–  Marty Khan from The MOJO Plan

Face it, Khan. The big problem with you is that you’re a goddam Communist.” This statement was made to me by a former colleague over my criticism of Ronald Reagan’s fiscal formula of benign neglect and trickle-down economics that set in motion the mess we’re in today. It was reiterated to me about five years later when the Performing Arts world “welcomed” Jazz into its hallowed halls with a similar agenda. The answer to the question as to why I had never been brought to the table when the blueprint to “save Jazz” was drawn up by a committee of the standard crowd of advocacy professionals was explained by one of the primo committee members with this criticism: “If you were involved, you would have wanted the money to be distributed quite differently.”

Indeed! And there’s that Communist thing again. Unquestionably, I would not have recommended shoveling 20 mill into a bunch of plantations in the expectation that they would trickle it down into the house, the yard and the field in some vague appropriation of equitability. And now, 20+ years into the hopeless agenda, the results are no different than the results of tax cuts for the rich. No jobs, no growth, no product sales, no nuthin’ for anybody other than those who already have – peppered with a smattering of anointed artist recipients to prove that the system works.

Re that communist thing…in truth, I am a capitalist. It’s just that I don’t see capitalism from a loot and pillage viewpoint – profit over everything and screw the other party if it puts more money in the hands of our shareholders kind of thing. I’m ok with somebody spending 30 grand on a bottle of wine, as long as everybody else can afford a bottle of $3.99 Chianti. So, call me a Socialistic Capitalist if you are obsessed with categorization.

But I’m also a slave to arithmetic – the 10 pennies in a dime; 10 dimes in a dollar type of math. I don’t believe that if you project five million dollars in profits and only make three million that it should be called a loss of two million – as it is by today’s business logic. Likewise, I don’t feel that cultural institutions spending half a million dollars producing a concert that pays the artist $25,000 can legitimately justify it by its enormous overhead (as the former Executive Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center admitted – and to his credit, also lamented).

So that brings us full circle to the reason why I was told I was left out of the planning sessions over 20 years ago when the facility-based funding initiatives for Jazz was launched.

Outward Visions, Inc. is a not-for-profit arts and education service organization founded in 1976 and incorporated in 1980. The common thread that connects the various artistic endeavors to which Outward Visions is committed is the intensity of the human spirit involved and the Artist’s desire and need to expand the potential and awareness of the audience as well as the Artist. The main purposes of this organization are threefold:

1. to increase creative, educational and performance opportunities for innovative Artists
who share this spirit; with a particular focus on those who express themselves
in the profound art of jazz;

2. to increase public awareness and recognition of these Artists;

3. to document and collect works that represent these ideals.

 

The concept was simple. Throw about a million dollars each at 20 presenting/education organizations over five years and something good is bound to happen. The recipients would “undoubtedly” take the network concept seriously, work together to create a context of audience development and performance opportunities and somehow make things better for Jazz. Who needs a plan, when blind hopes are so much easier? The actual result was that rather than seeing themselves as 20 water towers that would collect and dispense water to the fields that needed irrigation, too many of them saw an opportunity to own the water and dispense it in a way that would primarily benefit themselves on their quest to replicate the T-Rex monolith of J@LC. Combine greed and power with the egoistic yearnings of the executives in charge to be the “face on the facility” (a sad development that has run as rampant through the Performing Arts world as acne at an adolescent chocolate eating contest) and only the few will succeed at the expense of the many.

And for 20 years, money has continued to be thrown at these facilities and related programs not even in the blind hope that eventually something will “happen” but rather out of a continuum of unfocused and knee-jerk, non-specific “ideas” developed by the same unfocused individuals whose myopic visions launched the original initiatives.

So, like tax cuts for the rich and smaller government are the mantras of the manipulative right-wing squawkers to fix the economy, pouring unfathomable funds – nearly one billion dollars in the past 20 years – will somehow give jazz what it needs to thrive.

Let’s return to the water tower/irrigation metaphor. Imagine that the nation is starving for food. Some wealthy individuals decide to address the desperate situation by giving 50 entrepreneurial farmers a million acres each to cultivate. From these farms, each of which is producing enormous quantities of food, thousands of smaller farms could be spawned, creating countless jobs and enormous productivity designed to accomplish the lofty goals.

But imagine if these farmers, instead of developing the land for the intended benevolent and pragmatic results, instead decided to focus upon specialty, highly expensive product – Kobe beef, grapes for ultra-expensive wines and champagne, truffles, etc. etc. Or chose an entirely different route, and used the properties to build supermalls, sports complexes, luxury condos, etc. The products could be marketed to the upper levels of world society and make 50 people incredibly rich.

And as of now, there is a capital campaign underway for one of the top recipients of the funding initiatives. The campaign is (as I understand) successfully raising 300 million dollars to build a new facility – club, concert hall, recording and rehearsal studios, offices – in a city filled with clubs, concert halls, recording and rehearsal studios, and office space; all needing to be utilized. What wonderful things might be done with even a fraction of those funds on behalf of those who have been left out of the equation – the musicians (and audiences) for whom they are supposedly being provided?

The “what if” quotient is not simply a “Gee, I wonder what might be a good idea to do instead?” Totally viable, comprehensive and integrated concepts and programs have been created and circulated by highly capable, accomplished and committed professionals in a succession of efforts over those same 20 years. Unfortunately, they have fallen upon deaf ears and blind eyes who instead point to the existing programs as being all that Jazz and its artists need.

These programs would totally alter the landscape of the Jazz business and creative environment – in legacy preservation, audience development, city-by-city scene development, product distribution and performance opportunity. They all contain revenue components designed to make them self-sufficient within three to five years each. If all of them were to be launched simultaneously on a three to five-year plan, they could be done for less than one year of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual operating budget – or 20% of the aforementioned capital campaign. In the next installment, we will outline a number of these programs and their related costs.

I’m not saying that folks should stop giving to these institutions. If they think that they are actually doing something worthwhile for Jazz, that’s fine. However, it’s important to look at the empirical evidence and realize that there is an enormous need that is not being addressed right now…and every year hundreds of millions of dollars are being squandered under the misleading sense that the needs are being addressed. It’s time to face reality and give some new ideas the opportunity to address these issues. Stay tuned.