posted by #@blues2 jazz guy
“Profound Simplicity”- A Glimpse of Dwight Trible” by Kristina McBride
I’ve been spinning quite a bit of music lately, listening to the inner urge of Joe Henderson’s tenor sax, Lee Morgan’s blistering trumpet solo telling it like it is, Black Arthur breaking down Lenox Ave on my new Rega RP3 with a fantastic vintage Scott 382-B amplifier and speaker combination. The music and sound combination that comes at me is sensational, bringing me closer to the music more than ever. I’ve begun to listen to and feel music more deeply over time. Through music I travel freely through time and space, exploring my inner-most emotions and dreams. In the spellbinding voice of Dwight Trible, I embark on a musical voyage, exploring new depths of musical consciousness.
He is a vocalist-songwriter, poet and musical healer. That he is so shamefully under-acknowledged in the music world is especially contemptible considering how badly the world needs his music. He successfully fuses jazz, blues, and gospel while also being known to reference opera and Gregorian chants during his presentation. He’s collaborated with contemporaries such as J-Dilla, Kamasi Washington, and John Beasley. I stumbled upon his music on a balmy Florida afternoon while I listened to WPFW in Washington, D.C. I heard Trible’s sonorous voice laced on top of the lush, romantic piano, string and percussion ensemble of Quasimode as he sang “Midnight Flower”. I was captivated straight away, my body becoming warm and I became aware of the sensual arousal I felt as I listened. His voice beckoned me, touching my soul with the immediate force evoked by the supernatural allure of his voice.
Trible is a full-bodied baritone that can ascend to a soul-stirring falsetto that is unwavering at any tempo or volume. His profound connection to music is present in each song he approaches. Trible’s masterful interpretation of Andy Bey’s “Celestial Blues” is the epitome of spiritual jazz singing, where he showcases his masterful, soul-stirring vibrato and vocal range. Trible’s singing is evocative of vibrant colors and textures, of romance, peace, and happiness. It has healing power, a unifier, a beacon of hope and light.
Trible grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio with three siblings and both his parents. He began singing as a young child, inspired by his mother. “I remember sitting on the couch when she cleaned up, and I couldn’t have been more than two or three years-old. But I would just sit there and listen to my mother sing, mesmerized, almost in a trance. So, I guess she was probably my first inspiration for singing. Judging from my personality and my makeup perhaps I really didn’t have a choice in the matter, because when I look back on what else I could have done had I not been involved in that…for the most part I cannot think of anything else that it would be,” he remembered.
“From my perspective, I try to get to the core of what it is…I look at it as profound simplicity. For something to be profound it doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be something that nobody understands what it is. Be who you are. And you be the most Dwight Trible you can be. And that’s all it is.”
when I asked him how he began singing, and what he aspired to be when he grew up. His mother would send them to the local theater after church every Sunday, and to keep from growing bored while watching the film, he began improvising to the music.
“I wonder what your siblings thought of you doing that,” I asked him, laughing as I imagined him with his then short legs dangling from the chair as he crooned to the music.
“Oh, they would be so angry with me. I remember once, my brother coming home and telling my mother, ‘Dwight was in-there singing again! He was in-there singing again!’” he recalled with a boisterous laugh. “’Cause God knows how loud I was singing. I guess I did it so much and it probably used to get on their nerves, but it was my nature to do it.” Surely these early singing experiments brought him a long way to becoming a master of his craft.
Trible was saturated with music throughout his childhood, drawing inspiration from Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, and Linda Jones, who had the 1967 hit “Hypnotized, tune that had a major influence on his singing style. “I was a Linda Jones freak! She was somebody that really resonated with me, and I would say that I was influenced by her more than anyone else, “ he remembered. He later sang with local R & B and gospel groups before outgrowing the Cincinnati music scene. He deeply felt he had to go abroad in order to grow as an artist, and was encouraged by his peers and fellow musicians.
He set his sights on Los Angeles, California, arriving at an extremely fertile time, and was quickly ushered into the L.A. music community by the late legends pianist Horace Tapscott (whom he later dedicated a whole album to) and drummer Billy Higgins. When I asked him what it was like being mentored by Tapscott, he was full of enthusiasm in his response and gave a funny anecdote: “Everything that I thought I knew about music, when I heard this guy play for the first time, it just blew my mind in such a way that, everything I knew, had to go, because I’d seen the light! And, it was strange because when I first saw him, he would come to the club where I was performing, and I’d be on stage and he’d be at the door watching. I would close my eyes and sing a few bars, and by the time I’d open my eyes, he’d be gone! He always did this. It was something else, man… and then one day, he told me to come to his house. I showed up and he had all these plans laid out for me to join The Ark (the nickname for the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra). And I was stunned because I didn’t think I was ready for all of that. I guess he felt I was.”
Tapscott appointed Trible to vocal director of the Pan-Afrikan People’s Arkestra shortly after, a move that would boost his confidence as a musician and would expand his profile throughout the music scene.
He later had the fortune of meeting the great Billy Higgins, who thrusted him out of his shyness and exposed his immense, unique talents to several giants of the jazz world: Pharaoh Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, Charles Lloyd, and Mulgrew Miller. Although he and Pharaoh were familiar with each other, their musical collaboration didn’t come until after Higgins passed away. “Higgins was a guy who made everybody that he played with sound better. He had this way of sizing you up really, really quickly. He had this sort of telepathy where he knew, when you first started playing with you, he could get inside you, find out who you were, and what you needed. Then he would give you that “thing” to take you over the top. He just had that magic.
That’s why everybody, from Herbie Hancock on down, loved playing with Billy Higgins,” he reflected with nostalgia and deep affection in his voice. He later met the late vocalist Betty Carter, and was impressed by her artistry and professionalism, and would go on to incorporate a great deal of her style in his own singing. “And I would say that’s really it for me. And all the rest is me and the spirit working together, “he says optimistically. This writer could feel the peace he had within himself in his words, brimming with optimism.
The Leimert Park arts scene in L.A. is a significant part of Trible’s identity and purpose as an artist and community advocate. He has served as the musical director of the World Stage for the past five years and has worked with the numerous grassroots organizations to fight against the threat of gentrification that targets the historic black cultural epicenter of the West Coast. He can often be found performing at the Blue Whale or The World Stage with a stellar lineup of musicians.
When he’s not singing in L.A. he can be found on a trans-Atlantic flight to London, as he recently did to cut a record with Matthew Halsall titled “Inspirations” (Gondwana label), released in June. He travelled across the pond to London to record with Halsall, as well as touring several cities throughout Europe.“Everywhere we went, you know…the people really, really loved it. Every house was completely packed, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house every time we finished,” he told me when I asked him about the tour. I can see how that could totally be the case. His voice stirs something inside you when he sings. No matter what language you speak, where you’re from, your age, it reaches you. Sadly, he’s not well-known here in the U.S. where he has been singing for nearly 50 years.
It is beyond comprehension that he could have sung and collaborated with heavy-hitters such as Kenny Burrell, Harry Belafonte, Harold Land, Patrice Rushen, and Kenny Garrett, yet still be low-profile. When I asked him his thoughts about this low-profile in the music world, he replied, “Yeah, it’s kinda interesting how I can go over there and probably work as much as I want to, whereas here, in this country, it is probably more difficult for me to get work here than it is over there.”
“It’s kinda sad,” I replied to him solemnly. “A hard time to be an artist. Too many musicians are struggling to find work here and there’s nowhere for them to play anymore. All the venues are drying up because of rising rents for venues and the cost of living for the artists, and widespread gentrification in the places where the music is popular. And the musicians hardly get paid anything on a gig most of the time. It’s a travesty and a great disservice to the music.”
His optimism and beautiful spirit radiated in his reply:
“Well, you know, I don’t look at it as sad really. I just think that it’s just the way things went, and the beautiful thing is, again, every day I get the opportunity to wake up and do what I love to do. And that’s the main thing. So as long as that can happen, I don’t think of any of it as sad. It’s all good, as far as I’m concerned.”
The album title came from the feeling that the world needs inspiration to carry on in these dark times, in the era of Donald Trump and uncertainty, hopelessness, and anxiety felt amongst many people right now. He delivers a spellbinding version of “What the World Needs Now”, a swinging waltz much like the feeling and style of Coltrane’s signature tune “My Favorite Things”. This writer wondered, if he got inspiration from Coltrane to record this song in this manner, with him as a being a major influence on Trible. The addition of a harpist (Rachel Gladwin channeling a bit of Alice Coltrane in this tune) gives the song an ethereal, jubilant feeling that propels your spirit forth into an ocean of good vibes. Trumpeter Matthew Halsall executes a soulful, yet melancholy solo calling for hope and love for humanity through his horn. Trible finishes out the song and takes us to church, getting down and gritty with his gospel-styled ad-libs. He puts his trademark on several standards throughout the album such as “Feeling Good” and “Ooh, Child”, but you will not get bored hearing them again. Dwight put his signature style on each and everyone of them.
There are many vocalists out here singing, yet Dwight Trible stands-out on an island of his own. He’s truly an artist with such versatility that has something for everyone, and plenty to give. He has an ingenuity that is clearly present in his singing… and that radiates from his spirit. He’s not in this for the fame or fortune (if only!!), but in my mind, be a messenger of love and peace, which are common themes of many of the songs he sings.
He broke down his philosophy for me and outlook on life: “From my perspective, I try to get to the core of what it is…I look at it as profound simplicity. For something to be profound, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be something that nobody understands what it is. Be who you are. And being the most Dwight Trible I can be. And that’s all it is.” ### (follow Kristina Mcbride on this blog)
Cosmic- (2011, Katalyst Entertainment)
Living Water- (2004, Ninja Tune)
Inspirations- (2017, Gondwana Records)
Quasimode Sounds of Peace- (2008, Geneon)
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