posted by Robert J. Carmack #blues2jazzguy
Danny “Big Black” Rey got its nickname “Big Black” from an older brother because of his interest in drums. During his high school years on the radio, the Conga in the Cuban music had heard he was interested in the instrument and traveled to Florida and the Bahamas , where he spent five years. There he played with Lord Fleas Calypso band met at Fish Ray and Johnny “Slick” Engraham and looked at Calypso Eddy Trio with Sam and Role . In Miami, he worked at Jack Contanzo, Moe Koffman and the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, before he formed a band with trumpeter Billy Cook and found private access to the fusion of Caribbean and Jazz rhythms.
In the early 1960s, he moved to New York City, where he worked in the bands of Freddie Hubbard (Night of the Cookers) and Randy Weston and also played with the likes of musicians Ray Bryant, Johnny Barracuda, Junior Cook and Eric Dolphy was heard. In 1965 he was in the Caribbean Pavilion of World Expo. Also, in that same year, he performed with Dizzy Gillespie at the Newport Jazz Festival. He got a record deal and produced four of his own albums prior to 1972, where he partially pushed the envelope in the area of African rhythms in music. He had a short stint as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band . Big Black even spent sometime as an actor of supporting roles in TV shows and films. A tremendous musician and sideman,eclectic icon in Jazz, performed many times outside the mainstream as Sun Ra, B.B. King, Charles Tolliver , and even played music during the World Cup campaign with Muhammad Ali. Big Black worked as musical director on several projects by Randy Weston african themed recordings. But my favorite of all Big Black collaborations was his work with Hugh Masakela starting in the mid 1960s(1966) Masakela, Big Black ,Henry the Skipper” Franklin, Larry Willis and all appeared in a historic Concert in WATTS(LA california) as part of the very First WATTS Festival in August of 1966, coming just one year later after one of the worst Race riots in LA history.
This writer was there to witness that concert as a young 15-year-old budding jazz musician. Masakela was making his West Coast debut in Los Angeles with tremendous success to follow after that first concert at a local high school. It was good to talk over old days with one of the all-time greats on percussions. He still enjoys the passion & skills to elevate the room with precision-like rhythms and cadences.
more info on Big Black: http://www.bigblackmusic.com/