SOUTH AFRICAN MUSICIAN HUGH MASAKELA JOINS THE ANCESTORS-RIP 1939-2018


posted by Robert J. Carmack

It seems that a bevy of greats have left the stage and building since January of 2017. I realize that’s just life as we know it. Nothing to say about it case closed. However, I did not want to allow the sudden death of a great man and musician go by without saying anything about it. First, my exposure to Hugh Masakela goes back beyond 50 years(1966). I lived in Los Angeles and was studying music in high school and two off campus jazz bands  too. Soon summer 1966 arrived and I was quite anxious because, word had it, the very first WATTS FESTIVAL was coming to reality.  Heavy announcements of Music, Art and Pageantry to replace all the violence and melee that happened only one year prior.

The opening act was this new guy we had been hearing about from Africa that was making a lot of noise in New York.

Hugh Masakela was the Kick-off concert at Jordan High school gym that launched the 1966 Watts Festival & Cultural events. I can remember like yesterday as me and a group of guys who loved jazz, was quite excited about the possibilities and the fact it would be my first time seeing anyone from Africa that was not a cliché of Hollywood racists attitudes about portraying ,anyone from the motherland. That night was very special in more ways than the obvious. I was 16 and thought I was a grown man…the other was coming from a sociopolitical viewpoint. Black people were making a transition from being negro or colored people to Black people or Afro-American (first popped up as a description of black people at this time). Anyway, back to the music, Hugh was every bit an image and role model for us young men. he had a very interesting hair-style  or “Natural”, wore full African regalia, including “NO Shoes” as he went through the recently released album cuts of 1966 “The Americanization of Ooga-Booga.” Which I know now, was a title given and sanctioned by the marketing department at the record company. I assure you, mine and most of us were concentrating on the musical style of his trumpet playing and the rhythms being crafted by the unit led by Hugh. Larry Willis on piano, Henry Jenkins on Drums, Henry Franklin on Bass and Percussionist Big Black pounding out the beats on African drums and Congas.

Hugh was a master of blending the American style of jazz bop and blues idioms juxtaposition with African Rhythms. The eclectic mix of originals showcased his masterful composing skills . He introduced a whole generation of black folks and others to “South-Africanized” jazz. which was quite different in what we had heard by Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakeley or Randy Weston and their  interpretations. He was bringing it “Straight with No Chaser”.

Some of the highlights of the evening’s performances was a composition by Herbie Hancock, Cantaloupe Island. Two other originals jumped out at the crowd which spawn several standing ovations when they ended.. Hale Se Di Li  Kanna(the Dowry song) and Bajabula Bonke (the Healing Song).

The influence of Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard can be heard, along with McCoy Tyner in the playing of pianist Larry Willis, and he shows his debt to John Coltrane as an inspiration on “Mixolydia” as well as his affinity for Brazilian music on “Mas Que Nada.” But the core sound was what Masekela called “township bop” — his short trumpet bursts, sometimes seemingly approaching micro-tonal territory, are engrossing celebrations of the melodies of his repertory, which is mostly of South African origin. The buzz after the concert was so loud  and the cultural wave became a Tsunami of positive vibes for brother Hugh as he was affectionately called after that night.

 

 

 

 

By the fall ,I was still hearing rumblings about that summer concert.. only to find out that the very same group was scheduled to perform at our school sometime before the Christmas break. Man! what a blessing! Twice in less than two months. By the time they appeared  at our school, most of us was sporting Naturals and wearing sandals, some even wore  traditional Dashiki garb and begun learning more about the continent of Africa, particularly, South Africa. I became a life long Hugh Fan, even as he became more and more commercial in his albums, he always brought it back home with a solid menu of fan favorites like Bajabula Bonke, and Cantaloupe Island at the Live concerts.

I will always believe to my dying breath, he believed he was put here to bring joy from the motherland and  shine a light on freedom and respect for every one. His Nelson Mandela anthem (Bring him back Home) was globally huge and played a strong role in keeping the fire to the feet of the world powers. I know I will miss him and his musical spirit, but the whole world will miss his humanity. Rest in Heavenly Peace Brother Hugh!

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MARK de CLIVE-LOWE STRIKES THE RIGHT CHORD


posted by Robert J. Carmack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you gamble on checking-out Friday night jazz in Los Angeles and get Buptkus and, then sometimes  you bump into a real gem! Friday night was just such a find. I ventured into Downtown Los Angeles’s “Neuvo Urban” Jazz spot, The Blue Whale , I was quite surprised and pleased that among the musicians I was not familiar with, were two veteran Jazz artists in saxophonist Teodross Avery  and vocalist Dwight Trible. Both are well known within the jazz community and beyond.

 

 

 

 

I found Friday evening’s selections is sublime order. some of the highlights of the night for me were Colors, Hum Allah, The Creator Has a Master Plan, , Love is Everywhere, just to name a few. I particularly were impressed with the prowess of Teodross Avery, who brought in his own flavor and approach to Pharoah Sanders. It’s all too easy to just come in and focus on playing “note for note”  or cliché licks by the great tenor player, but Avery was not having it. It was like watching a great painter paint from a stark canvas, only offering the obvious when necessary. Thembi went over big and Astral Traveling brought the crowd to their feet ,spurred by Mark’s Ensemble of stellar musicians. The vocalized  lyrics and non-lyrics by Dwight Trible were beyond words because I can’t quite say. Church comes to mind… But, If you never heard him before, You are definitely hooked now.Dwight took a word like “Freedom,” he wanting Freedom Now.  It reminded me of when I was checking out the great Sonny Rollins, who swung violently on One note for 15 minutes. Not comparing him to Sonny Rollins, but my point is obviously “On Point!”

Mark de Clive-Lowe is a brilliant pianist, composer, producer and creative genius when blending the jazz classics with the neuvo soundscapes of today’s jazz artists & turntablist . His mastery use of electronica and acoustics went through your soul and back out your heart as you listened deeper. He did a delicate balancing act of bringing the best of Pharaoh’s music, but definitely stamped with his signature. All of this added up to me staying both sets and following up with the leader afterwards for some closing comments. If you are lucky enough to have tickets already to the sold out Saturday night’s performances then, Dilly-Dilly!! If Not Sorry! Anytime you hear this young man’s name in your town, Run to the ticket box and grab a few, You will want to share this experience with a friend or two.

 

For this very special two- night engagement at downtown LA’s Blue Whale jazz club, Mark de Clive-Lowe pays homage to and celebrates the music of the great living legend Pharoah Sanders.

One of the defining voices of 20th Century jazz and improvised music, Pharoah came to prominence in the band of John Coltrane, and after Coltrane’s death went on to establish himself as a carrier of the torch and musical leader of minds and spirits. His Impulse Records catalog alone defines him as one of the most important voices in jazz, exploring the breadth of spiritual jazz and raw improvisation.

For these two nights,Mark de Clive-Lowe  explores Pharoah’s music joined by Teodross Avery (sax), Dwight Trible (vocals), Carlos Niño (percussion), Corbin Jones (bass/sousaphone) and direct from Italy, Tommaso Cappellato, plus Carlos Niño also spins DJ sets before and in-between sets!

follow Mark at this link:http://www.mdcl.tv/

What they say about Mark de Clive-Lowe….

“an underground phenom…” – Okay Player

“a timely reminder that some of the greatest producers,in line with the likes of Quincy and Stepney,are also musicians with chops as well as smart adventurers in sound.”

Echoes (UK)   Tonight’s Show kicks off at 9pm/doors open at 8PM http://www.bluewhalemusic.com/

 

 

FAREWELL JAZZ SAXOPHONIST MEL MARTIN: PRIDE OF THE S.F. BAY AREA 1942-2017 RIP


 

 

 

 

 

 

Mel and wife waiting in green room to go onstage at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society -Half-Moon Bay – Todd Barkan’s Keystone Korner 45th anniversary July 8 2017-photo by R.J. Carmack.

jazz saxophonist Mel Martin and Herbie Hancock

jazz saxophonist Mel Martin and Herbie Hancock

COMING SOON: Profiles in Jazz;MEL MARTIN- Reeds & Flute

posted by Robert J. Carmack  @blues2jazzguy

MUST SEE JAZZ EVENT~ AZAR LAWRENCE EXPERIENCE HOTTEST TICKET IN L.A.!!


“ZAR” is celebrating his release on Concord Records, ”Bridge into the New Age” Sunday November 12 8pm-10pm Only!  Zebulon Café Concert in Los Angeles ~ 2478 Fletcher Drive L.A. 90039. Buy tickets:$25  https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1582784-azar-lawrence-experience-los-angeles/    

Saxophones ~ Leader – Azar Lawrence

Special Guest vocalist – Windy Barnes-Farrell

Bass-Henry Franklin

Trumpet-Michael Hunter

Roy McCurdy – Drums

Munyungo Jackson-Percussion

Theo Saunders-Piano

 

 

LADY KRISTINA AT LARGE IN NEW YORK: JAZZ AND GENTRIFICATION


 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Kristina McBride ~Int’l Jazz Editor at Large   I recently ventured to NYC to go see the legendary Pharaoh Sanders in Brooklyn. I hadn’t been to New York in around 13 years, so I wanted to take my time and see the city and experience it all over again, taking in the old with the new. It felt wonderful to walk the streets again, block after block. I considered the fact that I had never been to Harlem and wanted to get off the beaten trail, so I got on the A-Train and got off at 125th and Malcom X Blvd. I was overcome with a sense of peace and excitement simultaneously.

I had arrived in the cultural mecca of Black Americans. Legends had walked these streets: Langston Hughes, Malcom X, Zora Neale Hurston, Amiri Baraka, Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, Miles Davis…I can go on and on. I was hearing Gregory Porter’s “On My Way to Harlem” on a loop in the musical soundtrack of my mind.  I gazed at the buildings surrounding me.  All the goings-on was a sensory wonderland, displaying mothers pushing their babies around the corner while on their cellphones.. a young man rushing toward the subway, perhaps he won’t be late to his shift.

Wow..the Nigerian grandmothers sitting at their stalls with their wares for sale, fanning themselves from the impossible heat of a New York Summer.  And, of course I walked past the Apollo Theater, snapped a few pictures of myself, Then I sauntered in the vibes and wisdom from the vendors selling their body oils, shea butter,black seed soap and Dashikis.

I finally met up with a long-time friend, both of us were hungry,  we decided to stop by a café for some grub. On the way, he pointed to the left and said, “There it is…that was the Lenox Lounge.” I paused abruptly on the sidewalk, taking in the sight in front of me. It was a massive, hollowed space flanked by two buildings with awnings.  I stood in front of the empty lot where the Lenox Lounge once stood, now filled with bulldozers that will go back to work demolishing what remained that following Monday. Including a massive, blue metal removal bin, I wonder what was in it. Could it be any of the chairs or light fixtures, or maybe pieces of the beautiful, honeycomb tile floor? Not even the marquee was there. One would never know that the place ever existed.

Rumors are a Sephora is being constructed in its place. Another frivolous, over-priced store in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Or at least they’re trying to. Only just a few weeks before my visit there, was a vote to stop the renaming of a section of Harlem to “SoHa” (short for South Harlem). Harlemites wouldn’t stand for that nonsense.

I wish this could have been the case in D.C. where this is happening all over as the “brown folks” are being moved out to attract younger, richer, and incidentally more white people into the city. “The sight of a Whole Foods at the Corner of Malcolm X Blvd and 125th befuddled me as I came out of the subway station.” Such an odd place for a store like that for that neighborhood, but it’s a sign of things to come.

So many of our cultural landmarks and venues that was home to Black America’s music and its artists over generations are rapidly disappearing: Bohemian Caverns and HR-57 in Washington, D.C.; in Philadelphia, although they have been long-gone are Pep’s and The Showboat, and it’s even worse nowadays according to some long-time Philadelphians.

Older Philly Jazz fans into their 80’s now, feel the new spots  aren’t hosting any jazz whatsoever. In  Los Angeles, the home of Leimert Park’s World Stage, they too have been bullied by the threat of gentrification. Presently preparing to put up a staunch fight for culture and legacy . We now have to hear jazz in these sterile environments, where the band has to fight with the noise of people chatting-away as musicians create Living Art right in front of them.

Absolute worst..annoying people practically standing on the bandstand just to capture video and pictures to post to FB, and insta-gram, trying to prove how hip they are .

Most aren’t really into the music anyway.  Even worse than all that , if you do love the music and want to go out to hear a good gig, it’s a small fortune sometimes, $15 and up covers plus $20 food/drink minimum is not uncommon. Good luck if the gig is in a city that requires pay to park! The venues aren’t paying anything decent for the band to play, so musicians aren’t working.

Kristina on Sax

The artistry and music are suffering because of it all, Hopefully, there is an urgency to remedy this situation.

I contemplated this as I walked away from the empty, hollow shell where the Lenox Lounge once stood, looking back several times,searching deeply for a sense of hope. ### by Kristina McBride

Next Up Nov.1:They Called Him Morgan:My Spin on the Movie

 

 

 

 

PATRICE RUSHEN: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY FINGERS!


Patrice Louise Rushen (born September 30) is quite the  jazz pianist and R&B singer. She’s also a composer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and music director. Her 1982 single, “Forget Me Nots“, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Rushen had great success on the R&B and dance charts. “Haven’t You Heard” went number 7 on the R&B charts, with “Forget Me Nots” as her only top 40 pop hit. Patrice is held high within the Jazz community as one of the Best of her generation on piano.

In her teens, she attended south LA’s Locke High School and went on to earn a degree in music from the University of Southern California.  Respectfully known among her legions of fans as  “Baby-fingers,” a reference to her small hands. Berklee School of Music bestowed on her, a Doctorate in Music. She is currently holding down an important academic post at the University of Southern California in their school of Performing Arts. all the while being a wife,a mom, and still taking first-calls for recording and production assignments in Television and Films. There are rumors floating around ,she may have been selected to be part of an ambitious Television project involving children and the jazz legacy of Hazel Scott. Who by the way, was a child prodigy just like Patrice. According to unnamed sources,we found out, there’s a new children’s book series(Little Melanie) being developed for Television involving British and American kids in the cast.

Ms. Rushen will supervised the musical aspects. a London-based production studio. London-5-Studios are the executive producers. #LittleMelanieMyGrandPiano, #London5Studios

L.A. CLUB PAYS TRIBUTE TO McCOY TYNER WITH EXPLOSIVE JAZZ CONCERT


posted by Kamaad Tauhid #@blues2jazzguy

McCoy Tyner Tribute Quartet photo RJ Carmack

 

Roy McCurdy Drums photo Chuck Loton

 

Theo Saunders Keyboards with Juini Booth in background photo C. Koton

 

Robert J. Carmack Emcee/Spoken Word Poet photo A. Scott Galloway

 

A. Scott Galloway Music journalist

 

Re-posted from Facebook Post July 6th ..

Had the pleasure of taking in some smokin’ live jazz with fireworks as a backdrop for my 4th of July at a new REAL Jazz spot in Glendale named Zebulon. The quartet on deck equally featured saxophonist Azar Lawrence, drummer Roy McCurdy, keyboardist Theo Saunders and bassist Juini Booth paying homage to McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane and Elvin Jones. The emcee for the evening was Robert J. Carmack who also got in two powerful spoken word pieces with these giants at his back.

Try to make it out to this fine new venue which has a bar/lounge in front and a nice sized room for live music in the back. Also has valet parking and limited adjacent free parking on the streets behind it…on Fletcher Drive just north of Riverside Drive. Consider yourself hip tipped!