CTI RECORDS FOUNDER SUCCUMBS


CREED TAYLOR: CTI RECORDS the Next Wave

By Robert J. Carmack

Recently we lost a monumental figure of an era in music, Jazz in particular, Creed Taylor. Taylor pronounced dead in his home in Nuremburg, Germany. It appeared that he was unable to recover from a severe stroke just prior to his death. Beginning in 1950s Taylor excelled in productions and talent scouting. This led to the early creation of the “house that TRANE” built, Impulse Records, circa 1960. Also during the early years at Impulse, he again struck gold by signing saxophonist, Stan Getz. That alliance spawned several hit albums and a “Bossa Nova ,USA movement. In addition to Getz, he also introduced the world to Joao Gilberto. He penned several Bossa Nova hits, none bigger than the Girl from Ipanema, sung in both English and Portuguese by his beautiful and sultry wife, Astrud, a  multi-Grammy-winner for the Getz/Gilberto Album.

One of Creed’s inspiring heroes in music was the creator of Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz. He made monumental concerts and tours in Europe with some of the biggest and brightest Jazz stars out of USA.Taylor easily slipped into that Granz role of A&R/ Producer for Verve Records in Jazz division.

One of his top collaborations in music was with the great conductor and arranger, Don Sabesky. Who’s fingerprints were all over the best of Verve artists on the roster. The other great collaboration and “Gold Strike” discovery was the quite different guitarist, Wes Montgomery. He had a smooth delivery with more of a “thumbing” approach as oppose to strumming with pick. Also, he added a technique which some called a double-stop chording effect. This allowed Montgomery to play clean and still swing hard as required by jazz idioms. This writer was first faced with that sound in early/mid-60s album cuts from album Moving Wes, Bumpin, Tequila, Going Out of my Head, & who could forget the very soulful “Bumpin” on Sunset a multi-award winner cut and composition. It was the “Darling” of the Pop & jazz Radio audiences. Again, Taylor brings in Don Sebesky and his orchestra on the Montgomery sound and popularity. Claus Ogerman was prominent on the Tequila album. Taylor being the talent scout he was, found out “He” was being recruited by a new label in pop and mainstream music. Herb Alpert of Tijuana Brass fame was earning Big buckets of money in his new label via the Tijuana Brass, Baja Marimba band and other POP and novelty records selling like hot cakes to a starved audience. As Creed Taylor was coming over to the Herb Alpert/Jerry Moss label, To develop their new jazz division under the small creative label CTI(Creed Taylor Inc.) the first fruits were an album entitled, A Day in the Life (made popular by the Beatles)other great songs on that album were  Watch what happens, When a Man loves a woman, California Nights and Angel, all anchored by the title track, A Day in the Life.(1967)

It appeared to me, even at the young age of 17, I could draw that, this was a brilliant move by Alpert/Moss label. Ripping-off a keystone artist on his previous label at Verve, and introducing this fabulous guitarist to a new hip and open-minded audiences. An artist who could play jazz at its highest level , while still being approachable by young and older audiences. Heavy pop tunes were selected by Taylor, like the Association, Beatles, other popular young group tunes. They were brought back to life with jazz guitar on not only radio, but by 1968, Wes Montgomery was on Prime-time TV shows produced by Alpert/Moss. Needless to say, this garners TV show awards for the young Record label. Unfortunately for A&M Records, Wes Montgomery was dead by summer of 1968. Reeling from their loss of the Cash cow in Montgomery hits that played on AM and FM stations and network television.

One of the biggest decision made by Creed taylor was to now reorganize his role and position with A&M.. He then crafted a deal where A&M would now be the prime Distributor of CTI Records products.

Taylor went to work immediate putting a plan of action in place by signing big name jazz artists who had recently left other mainstream labels and was being reinvented by Taylor in his new label image of , Young sounds of electronic instruments, and popular compositions recently heard on the Radio in all genres; Soul, POP, Latin and Middle of the Road audiences. `Officially beginning in 1969/70.. you saw Taylor create some new jazz classics with older jazz artists,Quincy Jones,Nat Adderley, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Milt “Bags” Jackson, George Benson, Deodato, Joe Farrell were scattered around the charts in early 70s radio and concerts. Just like Blue Note records grew its roster of players by recording early and often with stars and their friends that they brought with them regardless of stature or standing.

Taylor, like Blue Note records used only the best in Recording and Engineering by bringing in Rudy Van Gelder on most of their choice records. The third leg of this trifecta is vivid grahics & museum quality photography. Some CTI favorites of mine are, Follow Your Heart Joe Farrell, African Cookbook Randy Weston, Straight Life Freddie Hubbard, Also , Creed spun-off even edgyier artists which a had a R&B/SOUL slant to it . KUDU RECORDS, being its answer to contemporary jazz being played with the technology of that day in Keyboards, recording, sounds, adding different rhythms and grooves . Wild Horses Rock STeady Johnny Hammond Smith, Grover Washington, Little Esther Phillips, Eric Gale, and Hank Crawford all Funky and greasy but smooth in the Pocket groove makers playing on Pop record and soul stations all over the country, many Grammy nominations and high record sales from artist who never imagine the type record sales they were now getting after signing with CTI Records.

In a sidenote many years later, Mr Creed Taylor scored again with a veteran artist ,some thought would never compromise on style and approach. He even convinced Nina Simone to record a very successful album Baltimore”. The title track was a Reggae Beat with Strings, written by Randy Newman and arranged by Dave Matthews in my opinion, one of the very best ever by CTI.

Follow this writer on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com / blues2jazz2003@yahoo.com

https://images.app.goo.gl/jHfKixJ1nF83Jpa89

YOUR MAJESTY: WALK SPIRIT TALK SPIRIT!


YOUR MAJESTY GEORGE ~ WALK SPIRIT TALK SPIRIT

By Robert J. Carmack- Hipster Sanctuary.com

I don’t know what it is about Jazz that makes me Astral-travel. My definition of a curated Jazz recording is, 1. Best material 2. Solid musicians 3.Willingness to “Go out on a Limb”(courage). When tackling a tour de force with powerful music and the ilk of McCoy Tyner, Nat Adderley, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, and Lou Donaldson. What makes this project so hip and exciting is GEORGE V. JOHNSON Jr.’s vision and experience as working musician and songwriter.  Right out the gate, is a big splash intro to a moving piece of history by McCoy Tyner. Walk Spirit Talk Spirit (Knarrative Will Set You Free) we lost the great one in 2020.

What George has done is take two of Tyner’s stellar compositions including “Fly with the Wind” and crafted them into masterpieces in sound and “Griot” lyrics, that tell the best stories abound.

I lived with this CD for almost a month before I even attempted to review this project in art and soul. In my humble opinion, given a generous amount of “plays” this can become a #1 jazz hit. For example, Johnson Jr’s remarkable lyrics treatment of Wes Montgomery’s ROAD SONG, a strong cut involving the stories from all around the world while traveling and experiencing life on life’s terms. I can only concur with others, who have experienced the personality and artistry of GVJ. Jr. Be sure to put on your seatbelt when you listen to NO ROOM for SQUARES” (Hank Mobley, blue note) Nat Adderley’s JIVE SAMBA, Lou Donaldson, GRAVYTRAIN (1960s soul jazz classic)

George’s sinewy jazz sound shines on all the cuts in this beautiful session with just electrifying musicianship. Band personnel are; Devonte McCoy Trumpet, Elijah Easton saxophone, Herman Burney on Bass (I met years ago in Atlanta, when he was doing a gig with CEDAR WALTON trio) Allyn John Johnson Piano, Dana J. Hawkins drums, (**Steve Arnold bass). This ensemble brings a perfect balance of Dynamics while breathing new life into these classic, iconic tunes.

George has perfect command of his jazz vocabulary, which is not surprising since, he was mentored by the best, the Grand Pop of vocalese, Eddie Jefferson, and James Moody. Eddie even claimed George was the next in-line for sheer skill and dominance in jazz vocals. Its like having a “Magic Jukebox” that plays all the best tunes and in the right order too.

Recalling the electric pace of NO ROOM for SQUARES. It immediately takes me back to when my dad brought that album home, when I was just learning saxophone. Elijah Easton lit a fire under the Band, as if they needed more fuel, in his searing white hot solo, eating up bop changes like pancakes. ”This followed by a lucid, laser-focused solo by trumpeter Devonte McCoy. Allyn Johnson “brings the pain” on all the tunes he plays on.

It’s Johnson Jr. and him alone, who places you in a cozy Jazz Inn in Western USA or, on stage in a smoky, boozy spot tucked away along the Rhine River in Europe during the 1950s..Magic! Lol!! Whether you were diggin’ Miles, Monk, Trane or Mobley, even when they walked the earth, Or, You are a modern Hipster downloading all you can making playlists.. YOU MUST FIND ROOM for YOUR Majesty! You will Hear and see what the Barons of Bop saw in George going all the way back to 1974. He’s relentless in his attack of these songs, injecting his own personal touch that hangs over you like a Dexter Gordon 32 note phrase in Bopology and swing.

One other thing, what’s up with the “YOUR MAJESTY” thing?? Lol. I’m told it was gifted to him by another mentor John Malachi. When the jazz elders give you a nickname, you wear it with pride, like a “Blue Badge of Courage” and respect.

 George V. is the total package also, backgrounds in music, dance, and theater. Watching him perform onstage or just interact with the masters is a treat all in itself.  www.HipsterSanctuary.com gives this effort, FOUR STARS! My highest rating.  Why not grab two copies, one extra for a Pal or student trying to learn about jazz .. very approachable music even for beginners.

Walk Spirit Talk Spirit: YOUR MAJESTY ~ George V. Johnson,Jr. strikes the right chord with me. Get it at your favorite retail spot for recordings or downloads, or direct at www.georgevjohnsonjr.com

POCKET JAZZ: GRASSROOTS ARTS PROJECT DEBUTS AUGUST 2019

Pocket Jazz is a coined phrase created by Carmack that melds theater,improvisational music and poetry into a big ball of creativity for open minded audiences. If you dig Kamasi Washington or Horace Tapscott or Amiri Baraka, Last poets, Watts Prophets and Sun Ra.. brought to you in an affordable, safe and warm community environments. In the tradition of the Black Arts Movement early beginning of Los Angeles Community Jazz organizations paired with the painters, sculptors and actors creating on demand Art.. Subscribe and follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com  FREE!! FREE!! FREE!!


Producer Robert J. Carmack looks to bring his brand of Jazz,Poetry and Dramatic performances to the L.A. Jazz community.

Pocket Jazz is a coined phrase created by Carmack that melds theater,improvisational music and poetry into a big ball of creativity for open-minded audiences. If you dig Kamasi Washington or Horace Tapscott or Amiri Baraka, Last poets, Watts Prophets and Sun Ra.. brought to you in an affordable, safe and warm community environments. In the tradition of the Black Arts Movement early beginning of Los Angeles Community Jazz organizations paired with the painters, sculptors and actors creating on demand Art.. Subscribe and follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com  FREE!! FREE!! FREE!!

posted by Kamaad Tauhid @blues2jazzguy                                              Blue Note Tribute Logo

Coming in August celebrating the 80th anniversary of the grand Jazz label 

SPIRITS OF THE UNSUNG: HOMAGE TO BABA HORACE TAPSCOTT


SPIRITS OF THE UNSUNG: A Homage to Baba Horace Tapscott

By Robert J. Carmack   #@blues2jazzguy

 One has to keep “YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND” or, listen for the TALKING DRUMS. That will help you to stay on top of who the movers and shakers are in real jazz events of LA.

I’m certainly no stranger to the underground or “Grassroots” happenings of Leimert Park and other venue pockets scattered throughout the city. Japan Town, Highland Park, San Fernando Valley and Long Beach are just the latest cities emerging with new energy.

One of the hottest jazz venues in the city of Los Angeles is The World Stage, an intimate performance gallery for presenting top-shelf jazz, performance poetry and other performing arts and exhibits of some of the finest artisans in the state or world even.

At a recent birthday celebration and Homage to Horace Tapscott held at the World Stage on his birthday (April 6th), I got a chance to briefly speak with a few longtime members of the Pan Afrikan Peoples ARKESTRA.

Bandleader and eldest member in longevity (since 1966) Jesse Sharps-saxes, flutes and miscellaneous woodwinds: Jesse is a L A born musician from Watts who sat-in and listened to the early beginnings of The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra until he earned his stripes and paid his dues as every young musician must do.  “Post-1965 Uprising” a great spot was spawned in the heart of Watts called, the Watts Happenin’ Coffeehouse on 103rd street. Raw talent developed, in the jazz jam sessions, poetry and theater arts workshops, creative writer programs. A real bright moment for us young artists who were part of a revolutionary Black Arts Movement beginning in the mid-late 1960s Los Angeles. That venue was followed by “The Gathering” on Western & Vernon Ave. and formation of UGMAA and other branches to ARK.

Many old school players were a big part of the musical clan that gathered at all the community festivals and churches that opened their doors to Tapscott and his Eclectic group of players. Most “Ark” members are bandleaders themselves or, play on an elite basis with the great ones.

Michael and Mekala Session: Father & son musical team; Michael: “We are especially proud of what happens after experiencing the Blackness, Unity and Creative Magic that made up the sound of the “Arkestra” during the early 1974 to present. The legacy is the community itself and its love and embrace of these musical Griots. “Man..All that sound hitting you , makes you feel like you could do anything creative after that experience” 

Mekala Session; drums,percussion, In the beginning for me when I was just a pup growing up, I did not take it seriously, but as I grew and spent my time embracing the magic and spiritualism of the people surrounding me including my dad..I said to myself, What was it Horace might have been thinking when he was in his early 20s and creating all kinds of great music.”  A Mekela Session 1

“Today in the Ark , Cats closer to my age, I’m surrounded by “crazy musicians” who are trying to represent the ” Hood” in terms of the high bar that was set long before even my Dad joined the band, or Black Arthur Blythe, Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, Troy Robinson, Adele Sabastian, Nate Morgan, etc.

While he was still in his twenties, Horace Tapscott gave up a successful career in Lionel Hampton’s band and returned to his home in Los Angeles to found the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a community arts group that focused on providing affordable, community-oriented jazz and jazz training. Over the course of almost forty years, the Arkestra, together with the related Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA) Foundation, were at the forefront of the vital community-based arts movements in black Los Angeles. Some three hundred artists—musicians, vocalists, poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, and graphic artists—passed through these organizations, many ultimately remaining within the community and others moving on to achieve international fame. Based primarily on one hundred in-depth interviews with current and former participants, The Dark Tree is the first history of the important and largely overlooked community arts movement of African American Los Angeles. Brought to life by the passionate voices of the men and women who worked to make the arts integral to everyday community life, this engrossing book completes the account began in the highly acclaimed Central Avenue Sounds, which documented the secular music history of the first half of the twentieth century and which the San Francisco Examiner called “one of the best jazz books ever compiled.”

Jesse Sharps with Bobby West in rear

Horace Tapscott

I can only wonder what it would be like if.. Horace, Billy Higgins  were still alive to see whats become of their fruits of their labor in the beginnings.. How many practice sessions by Horace at 4:AM in morning at old World Stage building in the dark, running passages and ideas flowing like a fountain geyser. Billy Higgins doing his task every saturday, whenever he was in town bringing top flight jazz musicians to expose the youth to, Guys that were his peers, like Benny Maupin, Jabali Hart, Eddie Harris, Jackie McLean, Barry Harris, Cedar Walton, Charles Lloyd just to name a few , those workshops were classic and memorable. Part of the reason we still celebrate the greatness of the man, but more importantly we celebrate the legacy of the Community because that’s where Horace was coming from on a spiritual note.

 

NYC PIANIST RUDI WONGOZI LAUNCHES LATEST RELEASE: JAZZ FOR R&B LOVERS


The word “Balance” has many definitions, especially as a verb or noun..the ones I chose to use here in speaking about Rudi Wongozi are; an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

OR, a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions , as in “Trying to keep a balance between work and relaxation.   There are remarkable and key points to realize when you talk about the artistry of Rudi Wongozi.

I was honored and elated to write about Rudi Wongozi’s latest CD; JAZZ FOR R&B LOVERS. “the album for After the After-Party”. You see I met Rudi over 12 years ago when I was living in the San Francisco Bay area as a journalist and jazz show producer. initially introduced by a longtime friend of Wongozi, Mr. Duane Deterville, artist, cultural archivist, author and an authority on the African Diaspora. Me being new to the S.F. Bay area then and needing to meet as many new performance artists as possible, I was immediately attracted to Rudi’s whole approach to the piano. even more important, was his attitude about NOT being cast inside the proverbial music box. “Is he Jazz or is he R&B or Pop”?? Neither, what I saw and heard was pure music knowledge , unabridged or, even tainted by labels or categories.

Inside the organization I helped to found, San Francisco Bay Area African-American Musicians Association, we collaborated on a show in Tribute to the great saxophonist Jackie McLean. Rudi tackled the very complex music of Mclean easily as I wanted it to be respectful of the artist, but also I wanted to have lots of creative license. To build upon the original foundation while re-creating new images and patterns through my poetry. And, through the band I assembled to bring the soul and heat.

Rudi Wongozi  has a long standing reputation in the East Bay(Oakland/Berkeley) area of California as a first call pianist and bandleader or recording session player in the genres of Jazz and Pop, Soul and R&B.

The Album for After the After Party

In a brief phone chat recently with the very busy pianist, as he is now living in New York city. We spoke about him being able to carve out himself a nice piece of the grass-roots and underground audiences that are hungry for new voices and sounds.

Wongonzi has valid and “legit” Jazz chops. He also has that eclectic voice that in a subtle kind of way reminds me a little of Gil Scott Heron. his original song lyrics are spot on and most relevant today. Hence, an album for after the After-party..that part of the early morning when no one is sleepy, and don’t want the groove to stop. Rudi Wongozi brings it all home in his new production, Jazz for R&B Lovers. 

Rudi has done a stellar job in marrying the different genres of music and placing it in a funnel and letting it blend to a honeycomb of soul and panache’. Still retaining his remarkable flair for the dramatic entrances.

On the song menu are classics by such notables as Denise Williams,Luther Vandross, Eric Clapton and the great Eddie Jefferson to name a few, plus unforgettable original gems written by Rudi , Precious: when the morning comes.

“Like some of my musical heroes, Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield..they too were hard to put inside a musical label box because their talent was so expansive and universally appealed to multiple audiences” stated Wongozi.

12 tracks of sheer delight and memories, even a straight ahead version of “BAD HABITS” penned by Maxwell, the neo-soul artist.

You have to approach this album with an open mind and heart. then you will quickly get it. and then have a ball at the Party after the After-Party.

“I wanted to write a love song album, but I also wanted to blend in the social in-justice that’s currently happening in our country now. seasoning it with scat, rap and hip hop grooves beats on certain cuts. a recipe for success by artistically integrating multi-genre with the experience of a master musician/songwriter. This record drops NOVEMBER 11 2018… online purchases or at your favorite CD retail outlets

written by Robert J. Carmack, editor in chief, Hipster Sanctuary.com,actor,jazz poet and musician-@blues2jazzguy

press relations or more info regarding concerts or CD listening parties email us at; wongozi@yahoo.com

CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF JOHN COLTRANE~ EILE~ SPIRITUAL JAZZ ENSEMBLE


JAZZ THEMED-PAINTER SAM PACE TALKS HIGH MODES , WET STREETS & DARK SHADOWS


Journalist,Actor/Poet, Robert J. Carmack  sits down for a chat with the powerful Jazz painter, SAM PACE.

COMING IN AUGUST 2018 @ Hipster Sanctuary… 

SUN RA- “Space is the Place”

 

“Fiddler Blue” Not the official title, Just what I call it” -RJ Carmack

MONK- Well You needn’t”- not artist title my name..Lol!

 

 

CHARLES OWENS QUINTET! LIVE AT THE MERC!


The Charles Owens Quintet Live at The “MERC! “~ Temecula California.

In a recent concert in Temecula, California at the famous “Merc” performance venue, veteran Jazz artist and saxophonist, Charles Owens appeared with his Quintet.

Owens, a Los Angeles based musician performed two very stellar sets for a jazz hungry audience. Being familiar with that music space,  I was able to get there early before the first set to grab a quick chat with the quite humble saxophonist. He shared with me many anecdotes and road stories along with who played a major role in influencing his play,style and approach. “As far as influences, Charlie Yardbird Parker and Wardell Gray for sax. The Modern Jazz Quartet and Art Blakey Jazz messengers in how I approach the music as a player or bandleader.” said a relaxed Owens. “But, I enjoy leading my own bands,however, I really loved my experiences playing with two iconic big bands. Duke Ellington’s Orchestra under the direction of his son, Mercer Ellington and the great Count Basie band.”  

This particular evening’s affair was very special to him as he’s performing with some old friends and solid jazz musicians. On the bandstand with Charlie were bassist, Henry Franklin,friends for over 40 years, Pianist Theo Saunders,whom he met in L.A. in 1977, veteran drummer Don Littleton, over 30 year relationship and his old bandmate from the Basie band, trumpeter Scotty Barnhardt, current Director of the Count Basie Orchestra.  

The SRO crowd were treated to a plethora of popular compositions, all performed with Charles Owens unique touch. First set opened with a Owens original entitled Wild Fire , a fiery piece with a great melodic line and solid enriched harmonies. Charlie and Scotty took some blistering solos, especially Barnhardt who weaved webs of delightful, above the line flurries of notes on his custom built trumpet. That was followed up by a lovely version of the perennial fave, Embraceable You. Barnhardt offered great artistry and sublime technique on this classic ballad. The Quintet quickly moved on the moment by playing a Sonny Rollins tune, Airegin (Nigeria spelled backwards) In my opinion, Scotty conjured up memories of icon, Woody Shaw as he peppered a white-hot solo. That song’s conclusion morphed into Ellington’s Take the A-Train! which ended the first set.

Highlights of the second set included equally great compositions by legends like Freddie Hubbard, Billy Strayhorn,Dizzy Gillespie with a surprise finale of the rarely heard cut, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. This was quite the treat for me and the audience as Barnhardt reached into his magic bag of techniques and growled at the audience with his “Plunger” mute and choked notes..

Charlie Owens reputation as one of the most gifted and versatile musician in Los Angeles since 1972. Part of the attention had  to do with his craftsmanship with drummer Buddy Rich Big Band and latin great, Mongo Santamaria. In addition he added stints with English Blues King , John Mayall . Owens told me he was whisked-away from Mayall by music iconoclast, Frank Zappa.  Whether he’s asked to appear in a Oscar-winning film LA LA Land or staying fresh and current by working with young musicians on various bandstands, or teaching a weekly class at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. “During the break of the second set, he told me the reason he chose Frank Zappa. “I found Frank’s music more challenging than Mayall’s,.. I could have easily made more dough, but the challenge was calling me, as Zappa’s music was unique and quite eclectic.

Charles Owens was born in Phoenix, Arizona, grew up in San Diego California. One of his closest friends growing up was ,the late saxophonist Arthur Blythe or AKA, Black Arthur.”

Throughout the course of the evening’s performances I witnessed what most people always conclude, this is a very passionate player and humble almost to a fault. at one point in the second set, Owens and Barnhardt engaged in old-fashioned BeBop playing, to a song by Dizzy entitled the same, BeBop. the tune showcases long arpeggios and multi-note phrasing on top of mercurial-chord changes, played at break-neck speed by the entire band. At times, the rhythm unit of Franklin, Littleton and Saunders were like a giant bellows machine, stoking the coals to unheard of Fahrenheit-levels to the soloists.

Today’s young players can learn a lot from Uncle Charlie Owens. Even saxophone sensation, Kamasi Washington took a class or two at UCLA with Charles while eventually tweaking his already big sound and approach on his horn.  Whether you experience Charles Owens in a Big Band setting or a small combo, one thing for sure is, You will never forget that moment in time.

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JAZZTRACKS SERIES BY EDDIE CARTER ~ STANLEY TURRENTINE


 

 

 

 

Stanley Turrentine with the Three Sounds – Blue Hour

Music Matters Jazz

In the hands of Stanley Turrentine, the tenor saxophone was an instrument of soulful creativity and immense power.  From his 1960 Blue Note debut, Look Out (BLP 4039/BST 84039) through his biggest hit for CTI Records, Sugar (CTI 6005) in 1971, Turrentine’s credentials were second to none as a giant in the genres of Hard-Bop, Modal and Soul-Jazz.  The subject of this discussion places the tenor man in the company of Gene Harris on piano; Andrew Simpkins on bass and Bill Dowdy on drums who were collectively known as The Three Sounds for a program of the Blues.  Blue Hour (BLP 4057/BST 84057), originally released in 1961 is the second of only two records where The Three Sounds would back a saxophonist.  The first LP was 1959’s LD + 3 (BLP 4012/BST 84012) with alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson.  My copy used in this report is the 2015 Music Matters 33 1/3 Stereo reissue (MMBST-84057).  The 1930 song, I Want a Little Girl written by Murray Mencher and Billy Moll leads off the first side.  This infrequently heard ballad opens with an angelic introduction by the trio, exhibiting Harris’ attentiveness to the lyric and melody.  Stanley joins in for the theme with a quiet sincerity in his approach, then delivers a graceful performance which captures the essence of this standard on the initial solo.  Harris’ interlude is brief, but lovely and the closing by the quartet is especially beautiful.

Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You was written in 1929 by Don Redman and Andy Razaf.  The song became a jazz standard in 1943 after Nat King Cole recorded it with his trio.  The Three Sounds provide a nostalgic mood with a pensive introduction, allowing Stanley to deliver the melancholy melody with feeling.  Turrentine starts the solos tastefully, enhancing each verse with subtle lyricism which reaches a peak of sensitivity at its conclusion.  Harris instills the closing presentation of this standard with new life on an interpretation of intimate warmth which is a work of beauty.  The only original on the album ends the first side, Gene Harris’ Blue Riff takes the tempo to a medium beat during the opening chorus which moves with a finger-popping, toe-tapping groove.  The Sounds’ introduction sets the mood for Stanley to create some jubilant phrases on the opening statement with a vivacious spontaneity which builds to a successful summation.  Gene takes the next turn for a cheerful presentation of joyful swinging with a youthful spirit which is also delightful.  Stanley returns for a few final verses of soulful riffs, prior to Gene leading the trio into a fadeout.

The 1945 jazz and pop standard, Since I Fell For You by Buddy Johnson opens the second side.  Johnson wrote both the music and words of this very beautiful ballad, and first introduced that year it with his sister Ella on vocals.  This evergreen is one of the most recorded songs in jazz and pop and has been performed by many of the greatest musicians and vocalists in both genres.  The Three Sounds start the song with a stylishly soft, slow-paced introduction as natural as if the song was written for this album exclusively.  The trio segues into a soothing opening melody by Turrentine who solos twice, delivering tasteful and tranquil restraint on the first interpretation and closing chorus.  Harris contributes a luscious reading which is lovingly stated with tenderness.  Simpkins and Dowdy’s accompaniment is richly satisfying behind Gene as he performs each voluptuous verse.  One of my favorite standards, Willow Weep For Me, written by Ann Ronell in 1932 opens with the exquisitely mellow tone of Stanley’s tenor sax leading the quartet through the main theme for one of his definitive ballad performances on the LP.  Gene’s opening statement is a gorgeous, mid-tempo reading which compliments his colleague’s exceptional groundwork into an alluring culmination.  Stanley’s closing performance starts at a poignant pace with a firm introspective tone, followed by a graceful swing which takes the tune down smoothly into a luscious finale.

Pianist Gene Harris, who was known for his gospel jazz style formed The Three Sounds in 1956 with Andy Simpkins and Bill Dowdy.  The group became a hit with the public and by the time Blue Hour was recorded, the trio was amid a four-year run (1958-1962) recording a total of twelve albums for Blue Note including four in 1960 alone, which is why I believe Alfred Lion didn’t release the additional eight songs available on the 2000 two CD – album after this record hit the stores.  The Three Sounds’ would be together until 1970, when Harris would leave to embark on a successful solo career.  Stanley Turrentine was a veteran tenor saxophonist of the Soul-Jazz style since the fifties and he would record a total of seventeen LP’s for the label as a leader, plus several as a sideman including guitarist Kenny Burrell on Midnight Blue (BLP 4123/BST 84123); pianist Horace Parlan (1931-2017) on Spur of The Moment (BLP 4074/BST 84074).  Three with organist Shirley Scott (1934-2002) who he was married to at the time, Never Let Me Go (BLP 4129/BST 84129); A Chip Off The Old Block (BLP 4150/BST 84150) and Common Touch (BST 84135).  One with pianist Horace Silver (1928-2014), Serenade To a Soul Sister (BLP 4277/BST 84277) and three with organist Jimmy Smith (1928-2005), Midnight Special (BLP 4078/BST 84078); Back at The Chicken Shack (BLP 4117/BST 84117) and Prayer Meetin’ (BLP 4164/BST 84164).

In his liner notes, noted author, jazz historian and journalist Ira Gitler offers one definition of the Blue Hour as that early morning time “when you reach across the pillow where your Baby used to lay” and find to find him (or her) there.  The sound on this LP is stunning, the remastering of Rudy Van Gelder’s original tapes by Record Technology Incorporated is also superb and the gatefold photos of each musician during the session compliments the music marvelously.  What I’ve found the album to be is nearly thirty-eight minutes of blissful jazz by Stanley Turrentine and The Three Sounds that adds weight to any jazzy library and is an LP you can enjoy at any time of the day, the evening or the early morning during the Blue Hour.

I Want a Little Girl, Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You, Since I Fell For You, Willow Weep For Me – Source: Wikipedia.com

Pianist Gene Harris – Source: www.musicmattersjazz.com 

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MUSIC IS YOUR DESTINY: INTERVIEW WITH DESTINY MUHAMMAD~ “HARPIST FROM DA’ HOOD”


posted by Robert J. Carmack ~ @blues2jazzguy -You know its very hard to find a word that describes a person perfectly, but I just may have. what I mean is, I googled the word Destiny and it read, ” the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. Also, “the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate. HOWEVER. Sometimes if you’re lucky and say your prayers, you just might meet a talented, sublime musician who happens to play a very unique instrument in a small community of players within a special genre..the original art form of America, JAZZ.

Destiny Muhammad is a Recording/ Performing Artist | Band Leader | Composer & Producer. Her genre is Celtic to Coltrane is cool and eclectic with a feel of Jazz & storytelling to round out the sonic experience.  The original harp is one of the world’s oldest instrument and toughest to master, even more challenging than the piano its self. when I was growing up in Los Angeles and studying music as a teenager I wanted to learn jazz and sought out all kinds of musicians besides saxophone players to listen and learn from. One of those unique musicians was a lady name, Dorothy Ashby, who played the harp, but not just in a classical music setting,but onstage with jazz hungry fans , in clubs, cultural arts centers and later, concert halls late 1960s through the 1980s.
(Dorothy Ashby August 6, 1930 – April 13, 1986)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Ashby was Destiny’s big influence early on long before Alice Coltrane’s huge shadow loomed large in her life. But what was really a “head-scratcher” for me was when she mentioned in an interview I held with her recently. While as a child watching TV, a man with wild hair and zany behavior. He abruptly stopped and stared at a Harp momentarily, then sat down and begun to play a beautiful solo. She was watching a famous scene from a “Marx Brothers” film. That was just the spark needed in her little head. She went wow! I would like to play that. As a little girl growing up in the Compton community and going to Tibby elementary school. Destiny could only dream, as her mom had very little money and instruments were not in the cards. Even later as she grew up and tried to learn the violin, it did not “cut it for her.” Things were changing at home and her mom moved to San Pedro area projects for low-income, about the time for her to go to high school, she joined a vocal choir and wanted to take piano lessons but again was told they could not afford lesson. Frustrated but not deterred from her dream, Destiny became a barber, a good one too, which gave her independence and decision making power to pursue whatever she wanted.  But before she knew it, she was approaching 30 years old and needed to sink or swim.making up her mind to go for it musically she began her journey as a harp player by beginning with the rudimentary method of mastering an instrument late in life. A very challenging endeavor, but none the less not impossible. She moved to Oakland East Bay area and sought out help, advice, direction. After a tad bit of finding her niche’, she found people like trumpeter Khalid Shaheed, pianist Tammy Hall and the legendary trumpeter Eddie Gale among many others. Now over 25 years later, she is being blessed beyond words. Not worrying about how long it took, but what she is doing now that she has arrived.

Destiny has opened for The Oakland East Bay Symphony and Smooth Jazz Artist Gerald Albright, shared the stage with Jazz Masters Marcus Shelby, Omar Sosa, Blue Note Artist Ambrose Akisemuire, and Azar Lawrence to name a few. She has headlined for ‘Women in Jazz’ Concert series, the Afro Solo/ Yerba Buena Gardens Concert Festival, Sunday’s in the Redwoods Concert, Fest Sundiata, and SFJAZZ Tribute to Alice Coltrane’s epic album Impulse Release ‘Journey in  Satchidananda .

Destiny is the Principal Harpist for the Eddie Gale Inner Peace Orchestra, the Oakland Community Orchestra and performs with The AWESOME Orchestra.

The Destiny Muhammad JAZZ Trio~Following in the footsteps of jazz harp master Dorothy Ashby (who recorded with everyone from Freddie Hubbard and Frank Wess to Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder), the Destiny Muhammad Jazz Trio is a sleek and soulful ensemble designed to showcase Muhammad’s soaring vocals and transporting string work. 

That second and most highly touted Jazz musician, pianist, composer and master harpist, the late Alice Coltrane. A profound influence on Destiny as a musician, composer but, also as a woman in a male-dominated genre. She has been given high praises by her peers and fellow bay area jazz musicians, as well as prestigious arts organization and music societies.

Whether interpreting jazz standards or her original tunes, Muhammad turns every piece into a soulful adventure.      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hora0U6vvDw

 

A plethora of achievements and awards received in a little over 25 years after not even starting until she was 30 years old on her instrument. Governor Emeritus and Educational Chair Emeritus of the Recording Academy, Jazz Heritage Center of San Francisco Jazz Ambassador,  ASCAP Songwriter Awardee, and Judge for The West Coast Songwriters Contest and Northern California Entertainers Music Awards Female Jazz Artist of the Year.

I asked Destiny what was her greatest joy in music? she said with glee, “That I’m still playing after starting late at 30 and taking that leap of faith. You can follow Destiny’s career and keep up with her gigs by going to her website:http://destinymuhammad.com

If you missed her moving tribute to the great Alice Coltrane the first time,  see information below for tickets and or general information regarding the Concert, Alice Coltrane~Sonic Legacy August 26, 2018 – two shows only!

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