I’ve been around music since I was a pup. I been around jazz since 1963, musician, actor, producer and poetry. MAIA.. is a woman, and a group of very talented ladies that hit all the marks for me. I have not seen anybody that bring the soul, from the grassroots level like this group in a very long time. First off, You got to acknowledge the leader’s organic approach to jazz improvisations. a very percussive Vibist, but sweet melodic flute player as well, and gutsy vocals. all of their rich harmonizing skills were on display last Saturday (March 2)night. at least 4 ladies sing from lead or duets, to background. I was blown away by the “Sweet Honey in the Rock ” type version of Nina Simone’s song , Four Women”. Their jazz chops are beyond reproach, along with their arrangements harkens me to wonder, Why aren’t we hearing more about this “ladies-only group releasing spiritual jazz and potent vocals. one of the highlights of the group is, they have several generations of musicians including the leader’s granddaughter on vocals and piano. .
Members are MAIA- Vibes, Flute, Vocals, sometimes Harp, Shanta-Bass, Mbira and vocals, Aankha Neal-Vocals/Piano, Tamina Johnson- Vocals /Piano, and Aisha Gaillard Drums/percussions
Coming soon, a sit down with MAIA! leader, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. In April 2019…
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.
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.
Jose Rizo’s Mongorama
photos taken from Jose Rizo’s MongoRama Page- https://www.facebook.com/JOSE-RIZOS-MONGORAMA-122415531112929/
IT was announced recently by producer Robert J. Carmack that the show, Street Life: Magic & music of The Jazz Crusaders is cancelled until further notice. Carmack sited health issues as reason for postponement . no other announcements will be forthcoming. all parties regarding tickets sales online have been contacted and remedied. those that were purchased from direct sources have been contacted also. again, we apologize for the abrupt cancellation, but it could not be avoided. We will contact those groups and individuals when we are able to direct them to a new date or venue. Thank you for your understanding and support. #@blues2jazzguy
WHO are these Musicians and poet that’s stirring up the pot inside the L.A. jazz underground?
Brilliant artists in their own right as band leaders,side-men, producers and actor/writer.. these are the ingredients that make up the performance group,
Elephants Nda’ Park ..L.A. based artists that explore all the areas of the musical spectrum that pushes beyond jazz, or even beyond standards and “roses are red” branded poetry.
They seek to discover and peel back the skin of the genre and expose the meaty-fruits inspired by “improvisational excavation”. It is through this meticulous search for new soil, as once presented by such icons as Jackie McLean, Sun Ra, early Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane,Yusef Lateef, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. the X-factor thats injected into the mix is writer/producer,poet, Robert J. Carmack, whose background presents a smorgasbord of the arts including Jazz saxophone, poetry, drama and promotions/publicity. Carmack’s poetry calls up the spirits of the ancesters and the “pioneers who came before”. inspired and influenced by legendary poets such as Amiri Baraka, Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee) , Last Poets, Watts Prophets,Jayne Cortez, Sonia Sanchez and, Sun RA.
Don Littleton Drummer – has spent nearly 50 years studying and performing music all over the country and in Los Angeles, playing with iconic figures such as, George Coleman, Hank Crawford, Charles Owens, Curtis Taylor, Saxophonist Justo Almario and bassist/poet John B. Williams. An accomplished, much sought after percussionist, Don Littleton has mastered an enticing array of percussion instruments. Don regularly performs all over metro-Los Angeles.
Pablo Calagero – multi-instrumentalist. specializing on flutes,saxophones and bass clarinet
Multi-instrumentalist, composer,New Yorker has played and recorded with a virtual list of who’s Who. including Mario Bauza,Tito Puente, Bebo Valdez,Carla Bley, Jaki Byard, Chico Ofarrill, James Newton, Dizzy Gillespie, Adam Roudolph, Bennie Maupin,Phil Ranelin,Dave Binny, Adam Rogers,Dennis Mackrel, Yusef Lateef,Jerry Gonzales, Andy Gonzales, Papo Vasquez, Patato Valdez, Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro Latin Orchestra, Oscar Hernandez,David Murray, Count Basie Orchestra, Anthony Braxton,John Linberg, Rashid Ali, Bobby Matos,Kenny Burrell,absorbing a broad range of musical styles and methods.
Michael Alvidrez, a “young veteran” of the “bass wars” bounces between acoustic and electric with the same impact. Michael is a very astute musician, looking to make his mark and create his own path in this genre. Along with bringing his A-game each and every time he steps onto the stage, “He’s a student of improvisation.” He’s a constant face on today’s L.A. Jazz scene. Not afraid to sail in unchartered waters inside the harbor of a “Free Music Sanctuary”.
Robert J. Carmack – poet, journalist, producer, musician and actor
Robert J. Carmack , Began his musical journey in music long before he picked up an instrument. According to his late mother he could not go to sleep unless the music was playing on the radio, “Though she did not play she loved music and encouraged us all to study” stated Robert . He played saxophone professionally throughout his high school and college career, later switched majors to study theater as undergrad picking up BA in TheaterArts/Communications. Masters Fine Arts in Theater-directing and productions. He has worked in journalism, music for the theater and films , bob hope USO tours during Viet Nam era and produced several plays , 2018 wrote and starred in original play Interview with the High Priestess: Nina! a jazz musical about icon Nina Simone. Also in Feb. 2018 He performed the eclectic poems of Sun Ra with jazz bass master, Juini Booth, Eclectic Nativity, Free Music band in Los Angeles. Summer 2017, performed with Azar Lawrence and Juini Booth’s McCoy Tyner Legacy band as spoken word guest poet,. Robert has produced stellar Jazz shows with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Andy Bey, Sonny Fortune, Calvin Keys, Hilton Ruiz, Vanessa Rubin, Freddie Cole, Doug Carn and worked as MC or journalist on international shows. Mr. Carmack is residing in Southern California these days, enjoying the direction of the Elephants Nda Park is going.
” After all, Ivory is Not Art…Save the Elephants!” posted by Kamaad Tauhid #@blues2jazzguy
It was announced early today by actor,journalist and playwright, Robert J. Carmack, he’s been tapped to recite highly-tauted select poems of iconic jazz legend, SUN RA. ” I’m going to love this gig, as I’m appearing on stage with some of the best musicians in “Free Music” on both coasts. East & West. Carmack is poised and ready to take on the task of blending great works by one of his jazz heroes with the colors and sounds of improvisations. All in the spirit of the inter-planetary one, SUN RA.
Fresh from writing his new hit play about Nina Simone, “Interview With the High Priestess: Nina!” It will be debuting in Los Angeles at the World Stage, founded by Jazz legend , Billy Higgins. Scheduled for March 3rd,the One Night Only performance is Sold Out. Carmack appears in the play starring Jana Wilson as Nina.
Master bassist Juini Booth and Violinist Kathleen Kim are gracing the stage at Zebulon Cafe in Los Angeles with a plethora of unique and eclectic musicians.
Juini Booth and friends with supporting performances by Guillermo E. Brown and L.A. Fog. and DJ Xandão bringing the Brazilian funk.
On this special celebration of Juini Booth’s 70th birthday, friends of both coasts converge for an improvisational performance of cosmic proportions. Reflecting the influence of Juini Booth’s dynamic musicianship, participating artists draw from shared inspirations from Improvisations, soul, R&B, Funk,World Music and Spoken Word.
FEBRUARY 21, 9PM -1AM @ ZEBULON CAFE Great Music Great Drinks and great Food too… come early & stay late!
Eclectic Nativity includes Guillermo E. Brown, Wynne Bennett, Corey Fogel, LA Fog, Jon Leland, Mira Billotte, Helga Fassonaki and more. Opening performance by Guillermo E. Brown (solo)and L.A. Fog. plus surprise guests appearing.