Tag: Rhythm and Blues

NYC PIANIST RUDI WONGOZI LAUNCHES LATEST RELEASE: JAZZ FOR R&B LOVERS


The word “Balance” has many definitions, especially as a verb or noun..the ones I chose to use here in speaking about Rudi Wongozi are; an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

OR, a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions , as in “Trying to keep a balance between work and relaxation.   There are remarkable and key points to realize when you talk about the artistry of Rudi Wongozi.

I was honored and elated to write about Rudi Wongozi’s latest CD; JAZZ FOR R&B LOVERS. “the album for After the After-Party”. You see I met Rudi over 12 years ago when I was living in the San Francisco Bay area as a journalist and jazz show producer. initially introduced by a longtime friend of Wongozi, Mr. Duane Deterville, artist, cultural archivist, author and an authority on the African Diaspora. Me being new to the S.F. Bay area then and needing to meet as many new performance artists as possible, I was immediately attracted to Rudi’s whole approach to the piano. even more important, was his attitude about NOT being cast inside the proverbial music box. “Is he Jazz or is he R&B or Pop”?? Neither, what I saw and heard was pure music knowledge , unabridged or, even tainted by labels or categories.

Inside the organization I helped to found, San Francisco Bay Area African-American Musicians Association, we collaborated on a show in Tribute to the great saxophonist Jackie McLean. Rudi tackled the very complex music of Mclean easily as I wanted it to be respectful of the artist, but also I wanted to have lots of creative license. To build upon the original foundation while re-creating new images and patterns through my poetry. And, through the band I assembled to bring the soul and heat.

Rudi Wongozi  has a long standing reputation in the East Bay(Oakland/Berkeley) area of California as a first call pianist and bandleader or recording session player in the genres of Jazz and Pop, Soul and R&B.

The Album for After the After Party

In a brief phone chat recently with the very busy pianist, as he is now living in New York city. We spoke about him being able to carve out himself a nice piece of the grass-roots and underground audiences that are hungry for new voices and sounds.

Wongonzi has valid and “legit” Jazz chops. He also has that eclectic voice that in a subtle kind of way reminds me a little of Gil Scott Heron. his original song lyrics are spot on and most relevant today. Hence, an album for after the After-party..that part of the early morning when no one is sleepy, and don’t want the groove to stop. Rudi Wongozi brings it all home in his new production, Jazz for R&B Lovers. 

Rudi has done a stellar job in marrying the different genres of music and placing it in a funnel and letting it blend to a honeycomb of soul and panache’. Still retaining his remarkable flair for the dramatic entrances.

On the song menu are classics by such notables as Denise Williams,Luther Vandross, Eric Clapton and the great Eddie Jefferson to name a few, plus unforgettable original gems written by Rudi , Precious: when the morning comes.

“Like some of my musical heroes, Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield..they too were hard to put inside a musical label box because their talent was so expansive and universally appealed to multiple audiences” stated Wongozi.

12 tracks of sheer delight and memories, even a straight ahead version of “BAD HABITS” penned by Maxwell, the neo-soul artist.

You have to approach this album with an open mind and heart. then you will quickly get it. and then have a ball at the Party after the After-Party.

“I wanted to write a love song album, but I also wanted to blend in the social in-justice that’s currently happening in our country now. seasoning it with scat, rap and hip hop grooves beats on certain cuts. a recipe for success by artistically integrating multi-genre with the experience of a master musician/songwriter. This record drops NOVEMBER 11 2018… online purchases or at your favorite CD retail outlets

written by Robert J. Carmack, editor in chief, Hipster Sanctuary.com,actor,jazz poet and musician-@blues2jazzguy

press relations or more info regarding concerts or CD listening parties email us at; wongozi@yahoo.com

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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! 

KIRK ANDRES WILSON XMAS SHOW OF SHOWS!


posted by Robert J. Carmack @blues2jazzguy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-instrumentalist and singer, Kirk  Andres Wilson showed up and showed out last Thursday evening (December 28) at Hollywood’s Catalina Bar and Grill on Sunset.

The almost two-hour set was plumb full of music for every taste and style. Starting the evening off with a series of solo ballads and New Orleans funky-traditional piano styles. that was quickly bolstered by his added band mates.

Lofty musicianship was on display that evening as Kirk was joined on-stage by Professor Harvey Estrada,electric bass and acoustic string bass, Munyungo Jackson percussions, Louis Van Taylor sax/flute, Edell Shepard keyboards/piano, and Donnell Spenser on drums. Wilson was magnificent as the band navigated through everything from Professor Longhair, to Antoine “Fats” Domino(RIP) to Funk & Groove beats of today, Kirk sung hard and long, but also did not disappoint on his mastery of the guitar as well .

This was easily the Show of Shows for 2017!

I highly recommend seeing live, this talented entertainer, producer, writer and master musician. Pick up a copy of his latest CD MY LOVE.  follow him on https://www.kirkandre.com/

 

NORTH ON SOUTH CENTRAL AVE. THE MUSICAL SWUNG HARD TO A TRIUMPHANT NIGHT!


posted by Kamaad Tauhid  @blues2jazzguy

North on South Central Avenue, the jazz and dance musical took their audience in a time machine and harkened it back to 1940s/50s Los Angeles . Back to the days of a thriving economy spurred on by lot of wartime jobs and plenty of vice to loosen up some of that money.. the scene was a stretch of town that took you from Downtown-north all the way south to Watts/Compton on a street named Central Avenue. This wonderful musical was completely the total package in every respect. Oh you had your great Musical numbers , sung by professional singers cast as not only singers but actors as well. The multi-award winning play was directed by multiple award winning Director ,Carla Dupree Clark, in which up to now has amassed 14 nominations and 7 awards, as director,co-writer or co-producer. This includes this 2017 project’s previous run in the mid-2000s which garnered 14 nominations and four awards. Clark is quite the able-bodied director that Hollywood should be calling soon.  Supported by the partnership of TPC(Theater Perception Consortium) Mr. Larry Robinson Producer/actor/writer & set designer. as well as Tu’Nook( Barbara Alexander) Producer/Writer  and casting director for the company.  This crew has consistently nailed hit plays or musicals for the last decade or more.(ARE YOU LISTENING HOLLYWOOD!)  First, Clark created a brilliant approach to opening the play by having a truth-teller or “Griot in a Tux” (Robby Royale aka Robert J. Carmack) comes out and tell you what you’re going to see, and how it was done, then, where.. after getting a few “Amen” on relating to the Black Hollywood moniker that was given the “L.A. Jazz scene” going back as far as the 1920s and 30s.

Blacks had their own way of “livin” and swingin”  and going to Church… With a rich cast of characters, NOSC, opens in today’s time with an old man sitting at a bus stop, when a  young man rolls up in a wheel chair .The story centers around the most famous and “notorious” club in LA history, The Club Alabam.. the West coast  equal to New York’s Cotton Club. Glamorous patrons and famous black celebrity entertainers appeared night in and night out.

Clark’s piece offers a glimpse into what it must have been like as a person living during the days of gangsters; Mickey Cohen, or a Bumpy Johnson like figure in a character known as “Black Dot” , a man who owned lots of businesses and kept the small time hoods in line to keep the Cops away from the real gravy.  Carla Clark’s production juxtapositioned the great music of the times with strong vocals and acting like lead actress,Windy Barnes . Barnes portrayed owner of the Alabam along with Larry Robinson as husband and wife team, Eloise and L.C. Lomax.  A stand out scene from the play ..the Lomaxs are in a pickle, when gangsters are blackmailing them to gain control of their very popular and profitable club. She absolutely nails a song penned by her & co-writer, Andre Washington entitled, “Hold On”.

Robert J Carmack /Robby Royale Windy Barnes/Eloise Lomax

Barnes, a veteran actress from the musical stage beginning with her California debut in the national touring company’s The Wiz. Eloise character provided glue to the story of the Alabam’s plight and the overall story of the Jazz scene in Black Hollywood. All the greats were present in this magnificent showcase of glamour and Soul. Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, (brilliantly portrayed by jazz vocalist Pat Sligh), along with special guest cameo performance by jazz and pop singer/actress Ms. Eloise Laws… performing a blistering rendition of “Dinah Washington’s What a Difference a Day Makes. 

Also appearing on stage was a electrifying performance by Larry Robinson’s portrayal of Little Walter and Dr. Richard Sanders as Muddy Waters on guitar and Robinson “trading fours” back and forth on Harmonica(They Jammed hard). Its rare to get all of the feel of a real life club and the soul and panache to boot. But Clark’s  production North on South Central is in my opinion, Fully Copacetic!

Hopefully this play is Broadway bound or at least national tour.. I also must mention the great music playing band, Conducted by pianist Duane Laskey.

RIFFIN’ IN HOLLYWOOD WITH MARCUS MILLER at CATALINA’S


Posted by Robert J. Carmack-All Photos by Chuck Koton

Marcus Miller on Bass Clarinet
Marcus Miller on Bass Clarinet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Shutter Bug, Chuck Koton was just able to eek out the last set at Catalina’s Jazz Bar & Grill in Hollywood recently. Miller was in town for a short stint to promote his latest effort entitled Afro Deezia. the Band seemed to  push out a mix of Originals and covers. Miller was just in town last month for two big concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.  The talented multi-instrumentalist was showcasing all his skills as jazz musician and bandleader. Often Marcus found himself trading licks with alto saxophonist, Alex Hahn and Atlanta-based Trumpeter Russell Gunn. One of his tunes that stood out during the last set was a thunderous bass-thumping version of Papa Was a Rolling Stone. also, a special tribute to “Goree” was highlighted by his mastery of the bass clarinet. Thanks Chuck for the pictures.

 

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