OLD SCHOOL R&B LOVEFEST: EVENT IN SEARCH OF AN AUDIENCE


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 Red Marine Entertainment Presents the OLD SCHOOL R&B LOVE FEST
SWITCH , SURFACE , GAP REVIEW  BALL HOOKER. (opening act..)
Real Old School Show: In Search of an audience.. I have been around or involved with the entertainment field for well over 50 years,music in particular. I know a good show when I hear or see one by individuals who really know what to to do with a chord or note. I was pleasantly surprised a few evenings ago as I sort of bumped into a great show. Just helping out my sister as a vendor at the California Education & Performing Arts Center in Ontario California,  11255 Central Avenue. Ontario,Calif.
RED Marine Entertainment recently presented an Old School R&B Lovefest… an evening of solid entertainment by classic Old School groups, Switch , Surface, The Gap Review(Tribute Band) along with opening act Kimball Hooker, male vocalist with some chops.. tagging and paying homage to artists like Keith Sweat.
DYNAMICALLY hosted by LA’s very own, ANGEL BABY – DJ Radio Host.
when you’re a vendor at these productions, you have to arrive early to load-in and get setup . get out of the way of artists moving in equipment, doing sound checks for next two hours. While I had lots of time on my hand, it also gave me an opportunity to move around , be curious as a journalist, as to who and what and why.
I chatted it up with some members of the various bands, production crews and VIP guests , who also arrived early for publicity pictures, video interviews and miscellaneous activities one does before show begins.
At first when my sister told me an old school show, my head automatically thought some mediocre wanna-bees. NOT!!
Listening to sound check of the various groups and singers/musicians, I quickly got a sense of “Oh Wow”, I just wish I had known about this show in advance.  I have my own opinions about that, but, leaving that to the side . Looking inside the cavernous hall with so many empty seats once the show began, I was shocked. Its like you and your lady or gent are all dressed up but no where to go. You just focused on how you looked and not how you were going to get there.
During the early to mid-’70s, Bobby DeBarge, Eddie Fluellen, Phillip Ingram (brother of James Ingram), Jody Sims, and Gregory Williams were in the Ohio-based White Heat, which subsequently morphed into Hot-Ice, an outfit that featured DeBarge, Sims, and Williams, as well as DeBarge’s brother Tommy. That band released an album on Polydor in 1977. Shortly thereafter, Jermaine Jackson helped them secure a contract with Motown offshoot Gordy. All of of this after a very awkward meeting in the Motown building in Hollywood.

As Switch, the band proved to be popular in clubs, as well as within the quiet storm radio format. Their singles There’ll Never Be” (1978), “I Call Your Name” (1979), and “Love Over and Over Again” (1981) reached the Top 10 of Billboard’s R&B chart. Throughout the 2000s, the band’s recordings were sampled by the likes of De La Soul (“A Brighter Tomorrow”), Ne-Yo (“It Just Ain’t Right”), Rich Boy (“Throw Some D’s”), and Erykah Badu (“That Hump”). Ingram, Williams, and Fluellen reunited, added new members, and have been bringing down the house ever since!

The Gap Band Review pays homage to The Gap Band, which is one of the most popular funk groups of the late ’70s, ‘80s to present time.  15 Top Ten R&B singles ranging from ferocious funk anthems to gorgeous slow jams. Many of their hits, such as “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” featured instantly memorable, rippling synthesizer bass-lines.

The Gap Band’s  run of hits spanned nearly 20 years, from 1977 through 1995. Their hits continued with “Shake”, “Open Up Your Mind”, “Don’t Stop the Music”, “Yearning for Your Love”, “Early in the Morning”, “Outstanding”, the title song to Keenan Ivory Wayans’ “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and more!

I wanted to catch the SURFACE show but was too busy by the time they were onstage. the little I did hear, was simply off the charts.. They performed without a band just DAT and  Flute with strong vocals.. my cut Get Closer ..The ’80s soft soul vocal trio known for such lush ballads as “Closer Than Friends” and the million-selling singles “Shower Me With Your Love” and the number one pop hit “The First Time” had one of its first charting records as artists signed to dance music pioneer Salsoul Records. “Falling in Love,” co-written by Surface member David Conley, doesn’t have much in common with the aforementioned titles other than the group name and a (presumably) Conley flute solo. The single made it to number 84 R&B in summer 1983 and the U.K. pop charts. Singer Bernard Jackson who grew up in Stamford, CT, got into the music business through his cousin who lived in New York.
Seizing the opportunity, he relocated to New York and began performing around the city. While doing a show in Stamford, his godfather suggested that he contact his nephew David Townsend who was also in the music business. Townsend, a former touring guitarist for the Isley Brothers, was the son of singer/songwriter/producer Ed Townsend who had a hit with “For Your Love” in summer 1958 and wrote the Impressions‘ “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” and co-wrote Marvin Gaye‘s “Let’s Get It On.” Around 1973, Townsend joined a band called the Port Authority where he met David “Pic” Conley. Townsend, whose father shared hit songwriting tips with him, began writing songs with Conley. After Townsend and Conley met Jackson it was decided that they’d write songs together. The trio became staff writers for EMI Music. Their songs were covered by New Edition (“Let’s Be Friends” from their 1985 MCA LP All for Love) and Sister Sledge (“You’re So Fine”). The trio became performers using the name Surface and moved to Los Angeles. An EMI Music executive brought one of their songs, “Let’s Try Again,” to the attention of Larkin Arnold of Columbia Records. Arnold‘s previous successes include Natalie Cole and Peabo Bryson. He signed the group to Columbia and their first single “Let’s Try Again” charted number 80 R&B in late 1986.
The debut album Surface included the smooth and sweet “Happy,” which hit number two R&B for two weeks in early 1987, “Lately” (number eight R&B), and the reissued “Let’s Try Again.” The next LP, 2nd Wave yielded “I Missed” (number three R&B), “Closer Than Friends” (number one R&B for two weeks in early 1989), the wedding standard “Shower Me With Your Love” (gold, number one R&B/number five pop), “You Are My Everything” (number one R&B for two weeks), and “Can We Spend Some Time” (number five R&B). Jackson brought the sheet music to a song he had written in 1986 to his friend, songwriter Brian Simpson, who had a recording studio in his garage. After listening to the finished demo tape, Jackson thought that he had a hit. Hiring a mobile 24-track recording studio truck to capture his vocal in the best professional conditions, Jackson sang “The First Time” in Simpson‘s house. “The First Time” was the first single from Surface’s 3 Deep album and went gold hitting number one R&B and holding the number one pop for two weeks in early 1991. While “The First Time” was topping the charts, Surface was one of the presenters at the American Music Awards and were enthusiastically congratulated. The hits continued with “All I Want Is You” (number eight R&B, early 1991) and “Never Gonna Let You Down.” “You’re the One” billed as Surface featuring Bernard Jackson made it to number 24 R&B, summer 1991. The group’s last charting single was “A Nice Time for Lovin'” included on their 1991 greatest hits LP The Best Surface: A Nice Time for Loving. Conley and Townsend also produced sides on Rebbie Jackson (“Reaction”) that are on The Rebbie Jackson Collection from U.K. label Expansion distributed by Sony/3MV. 

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SAXOPHONIST TEODROSS AVERY QUARTET EXPLORES MONK & COLTRANE


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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ARETHA FRANKLIN QUEEN OF SOUL ~ THE END OF AN ERA ~1942 – 2018


 

As a baby boomer, I grew up 1950s-60s, being only 8 years behind Aretha. I was digging on all that good music from those people my parents liked, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Brook Benton, Dinah Washington, BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Lloyd Price. Then the Motown thing hit L.A. starting with a group from Detroit named the Miracles (Shop Around 1960).

but, I also begun to get into jazz as I got older and started playing an instrument. From early 1961 to 1963, this Motown sound was picking up steam and other entertainers from Detroit, Chicago and New York were spawning new and younger acts. A couple more years passed with no acts “jumping out” there like Motown was producing at the time. Hits from Mary Wells, The Marvelettes and The Temptations really shot out there with My Girl (1964), that was followed by the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Streets” & “Heat Wave”. This was the phenoms from Motown that was eating up all the airwaves on the radio back then.  But, by 1966, other “Acts” started to come into sharp focus.

The Impressions, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and even Soul Brother #1, James Brown was sounding different. One evening, I was watching a local TV dance show, and this young spunky, bouncy  singer came on with this big bellowing voice.. WoW!! Who is that?? I never heard again from her until 1967, when she came on the radio with “Respect”… Man-o-Man!  I immediately recognized that voice from only a year past , this was different. She sounded like she was speaking truth, had pain from her experiences and I was relating big time.

Before  I could get to school that morning,  I heard that song about 5 times in less than an hour, by 3:pm  after school, it was all over the radio. It was on the lips of older and young people..R_E_S_P_E_C_T, Take care , TCB!! It was on like popcorn then . Her song made it to #1 in the US in 1967. This song charted to number 2 in Canada, number 10 in the UK, number 11 in the Netherlands, and number 15 in Australia. This was the beginning of a musical legend. As far as I was concern , and many of my peers agreed with me, she was as big as James Brown.. Finally we had a Queen of soul go with the King of Soul ,JB. The consistency and relentless  energy and ability to take you to church whether you wanted to go or not.

She had all that stuff inside her playing and singing you would hear in Church coming up in the black community. She had that extra gear. Her signature “hollers” was like saying “Amen to what she was putting down on the record”. That even transferred over to her live shows on TV’s Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffith and the Johnny Carson shows.

Rolling like a runaway train with hit after hit, leaving high water marks everywhere she appeared…as part of the black political and social experience, we adopted Aretha’s phrases from her songs, TCB, RESPECT, a Do Right Woman or Man. 1968 rolled into place with a plethora of hits like Dr. Feel Good, Think, Chain of Fools, and Ain’t No Way. Included in that was a song she sung at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

I know I will never forget about Aretha Franklin. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that, she will never grace a stage on earth again. I feel like I’m the lucky one, because I saw the Queen “blow-away” all comers, top shelf entertainers and anybody, male or female from that perch multiple times, over decades. 40+ Grammy nominations with 18 Awards in her quiver. Masterful achievements.

As I get ready for my 50th high School reunion, I know we will be playing lots of Ree-Ree from her debut hit, “RESPECT” to her last recordings unreleased yet. There are only a handful of miracles, not the Motown kind, but could include them also on another level. But, artists like Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder..well there’s your handful. ha ha ha!! The mold was broken and never again will there be another.  Good bye Queen, I salute you with my favorite “Retha” cut…ENJOY! 

JOSE RIZO’S MONGORAMA LATIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA~ BAILA QUE BAILA!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Latin Jazz in the Park, Saturday  August 11 was headlined by Jose Rizo’s Latin Band, “MONGORAMA

Pots and Pans were being “cooked-on” and at a high temperature in my opinion. The mood was set just right as the Weather was low 80’s degrees. Sponsored by LACMA Programs  and KKJZ FM 88.1FM. I have seen this wonderful band many times over the years, in various city-wide festivals. But somehow this particular day was special. I was still celebrating my birthday from August 7th which fell on a Tuesday. I was ready with my light snacks and beverages . Jose Rizo hosted the afternoon sets by introducing the band and tunes that were being played , most of which were from the new CD , Baila Que Baila!  Featuring young violinist, Dayren Santamaria, and Justo Almario tenor sax  Vocalists & Conguero Alfredo Ortiz & James Zavaleta lead vocalist.. They were the jet fuel of this band for two hours of Latin soul and pyrotechnics.  the X factor all afternoon were the dancers who were relentless, never stopped, never gave in an inch . as long as the band played , dancers had A-game moves on the dance floor. At one time the floor was so pack , They just started dances in aisles and pathways. Beautiful people of Southern California (Los Angeles) were out in droves with babies, Pets and, even the eclectic and bazaar! All of this added up to a wonderful day of fun and eye candy.

Dayren Santamaria on Violin with Christopher sitting in with band

Jose Rizo’s Mongorama 

Justo Almario
Vocalists James Zavaleta & Band Leader Jose Rizo

 

 

 

photos taken from Jose Rizo’s MongoRama Page-  https://www.facebook.com/JOSE-RIZOS-MONGORAMA-122415531112929/

 

 

 

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!

 

 

TWO HIPSTERS CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN AUGUST~ ROBERT J. CARMACK & EDDIE CARTER


Robert J. Carmack ~ August 7th  Editor in Chief & Founder
Our Newest Contributing Southern Region  Jazz Editor Mr. Eddie Carter of Atlanta August 4th  

 

 

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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