One of the reasons I love covering jazz artists and groups that last long enough to see growth as a group , not just the individuals. I’ve worked with Don Littleton as a spoken word artist, MC and Promoter.. This group is a can’t miss act.. Right out the gate, Elephants nda Park dug into a Monk classic ,Bye-Ya.. A 32 bar ditty with added afro cuban Clave. Powerful playing by full band, but Pianist Mahesh Balysooria, demonstrated why he is becoming a first call jazz musician in Los Angeles..Mahesh is a USC music major alum and a busy pianist around town.
Great foundation laid-out by Mahesh on piano.. He then busted into,IMHO, a cross between McCoy Tyner and Omar Sosa intense solo, followed by drums and congas trading fours before returning back to the melody. A most improbable tune I didn’t see coming was, Giant Steps by John Coltrane, into massive bullet-trains of ideas moving through those Coltrane “changes” on saxophone by Pablo Cologero, Don’s right hand man in arrangements and directions for the band musically.
Another great tune the band tackled was a doozy by George Coleman, Amsterdam After Dark.
This ditty works its way around a great bassline and simple melody, but the Clave took over and had the electric audience up and on their feet. They were warned in the beginning that a stampede or house on Fire might come over the evening’s activity. This band has started to raise a lot of eyebrows in So. Cal region and is open to going on the road to showcase this great group of musicians. The Bandleader , Don Littleton , a jazz veteran on percussion and traps. He was mentored by Billy Higgins, played with George Coleman, Hank Crawford and a who’s who in music, jazz in particular.
Don dropped his latest group recording last year, Don Littleton and Elephants Nda Park ( see CD baby or your favorite download database under Don Littleton & Elephants Nda Park) https://youtu.be/e5tfvno-29k
Jazz lovers in Temecula California , have been enjoying great straight ahead jazz at the Merc for the last 12 + years, hosted and curated by Ms. Sherry Williams, Vocalist/jazz presenter. Everybody loves to see her smiling face in the house, because you know it’s going to be great.
Sherry and her winning personality and smile, as she goes about the business of curating some of the best musicians jazz has to offer locally. The Merc has Jazz every Thursday evening @7:30pm ..for the rest of 2021. KEY concerts: Sept. 16th. Benn Clatworthy quartet.. Sept 23rd. “SOLD OUT” Al Williams for more info go to The Merc’s Website http://www.temeculatheater.org 866-653-8696
Producer Robert J. Carmack looks to bring his brand of Jazz,Poetry and Dramatic performances to the L.A. Jazz community.
Pocket Jazz is a coined phrase created by Carmack that melds theater,improvisational music and poetry into a big ball of creativity for open-minded audiences. If you dig Kamasi Washington or Horace Tapscott or Amiri Baraka, Last poets, Watts Prophets and Sun Ra.. brought to you in an affordable, safe and warm community environments. In the tradition of the Black Arts Movement early beginning of Los Angeles Community Jazz organizations paired with the painters, sculptors and actors creating on demand Art.. Subscribe and follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com FREE!! FREE!! FREE!!
posted by Kamaad Tauhid @blues2jazzguy
Coming in August celebrating the 80th anniversary of the grand Jazz label
SPIRITS OF THE UNSUNG: A Homage to Baba Horace Tapscott
By Robert J. Carmack #@blues2jazzguy
One has to keep “YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND” or, listen for the TALKING DRUMS. That will help you to stay on top of who the movers and shakers are in real jazz events of LA.
I’m certainly no stranger to the underground or “Grassroots” happenings of Leimert Park and other venue pockets scattered throughout the city. Japan Town, Highland Park, San Fernando Valley and Long Beach are just the latest cities emerging with new energy.
One of the hottest jazz venues in the city of Los Angeles is The World Stage, an intimate performance gallery for presenting top-shelf jazz, performance poetry and other performing arts and exhibits of some of the finest artisans in the state or world even.
At a recent birthday celebration and Homage to Horace Tapscott held at the World Stage on his birthday (April 6th), I got a chance to briefly speak with a few longtime members of the Pan Afrikan Peoples ARKESTRA.
Bandleader and eldest member in longevity (since 1966) Jesse Sharps-saxes, flutes and miscellaneous woodwinds: Jesse is a L A born musician from Watts who sat-in and listened to the early beginnings of The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra until he earned his stripes and paid his dues as every young musician must do. “Post-1965 Uprising” a great spot was spawned in the heart of Watts called, the Watts Happenin’ Coffeehouse on 103rd street. Raw talent developed, in the jazz jam sessions, poetry and theater arts workshops, creative writer programs. A real bright moment for us young artists who were part of a revolutionary Black Arts Movement beginning in the mid-late 1960s Los Angeles. That venue was followed by “The Gathering” on Western & Vernon Ave. and formation of UGMAA and other branches to ARK.
Many old school players were a big part of the musical clan that gathered at all the community festivals and churches that opened their doors to Tapscott and his Eclectic group of players. Most “Ark” members are bandleaders themselves or, play on an elite basis with the great ones.
Michael and Mekala Session: Father & son musical team; Michael: “We are especially proud of what happens after experiencing the Blackness, Unity and Creative Magic that made up the sound of the “Arkestra” during the early 1974 to present. “The legacy is the community itself and its love and embrace of these musical Griots. “Man..All that sound hitting you , makes you feel like you could do anything creative after that experience”
Mekala Session; drums,percussion, In the beginning for me when I was just a pup growing up, I did not take it seriously, but as I grew and spent my time embracing the magic and spiritualism of the people surrounding me including my dad..I said to myself, What was it Horace might have been thinking when he was in his early 20s and creating all kinds of great music.”
“Today in the Ark , Cats closer to my age, I’m surrounded by “crazy musicians” who are trying to represent the ” Hood” in terms of the high bar that was set long before even my Dad joined the band, or Black Arthur Blythe, Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, Troy Robinson, Adele Sabastian, Nate Morgan, etc.
While he was still in his twenties, Horace Tapscott gave up a successful career in Lionel Hampton’s band and returned to his home in Los Angeles to found the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a community arts group that focused on providing affordable, community-oriented jazz and jazz training. Over the course of almost forty years, the Arkestra, together with the related Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA) Foundation, were at the forefront of the vital community-based arts movements in black Los Angeles. Some three hundred artists—musicians, vocalists, poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, and graphic artists—passed through these organizations, many ultimately remaining within the community and others moving on to achieve international fame. Based primarily on one hundred in-depth interviews with current and former participants, The Dark Tree is the first history of the important and largely overlooked community arts movement of African American Los Angeles. Brought to life by the passionate voices of the men and women who worked to make the arts integral to everyday community life, this engrossing book completes the account began in the highly acclaimedCentral Avenue Sounds, which documented the secular music history of the first half of the twentieth century and which the San Francisco Examiner called “one of the best jazz books ever compiled.”
I can only wonder what it would be like if.. Horace, Billy Higgins were still alive to see whats become of their fruits of their labor in the beginnings.. How many practice sessions by Horace at 4:AM in morning at old World Stage building in the dark, running passages and ideas flowing like a fountain geyser. Billy Higgins doing his task every saturday, whenever he was in town bringing top flight jazz musicians to expose the youth to, Guys that were his peers, like Benny Maupin, Jabali Hart, Eddie Harris, Jackie McLean, Barry Harris, Cedar Walton, Charles Lloyd just to name a few , those workshops were classic and memorable. Part of the reason we still celebrate the greatness of the man, but more importantly we celebrate the legacy of the Community because that’s where Horace was coming from on a spiritual note.
posted by Robert J. Carmack #@blues2jazzguy #Precious:For Lovers & Dancers
I can hardly remember but, over the last 5 -10 years we’re missing a lot of male jazz vocalists input. Rudi Mwongozi is constantly moving up the chain of new faces and voices on the scene.. Rudi, now based in New York from Oakland, California. I’m coming at this for a second bite. After living with this latest CD of pianist/vocalist Rudi Mwongozi, I can fully appreciate what he’s doing musically.
In my opinion, of the twelve cuts on this project, I like them all. Part of this recording has some very popular songs by elite artists Like, Eric Clapton, the gold record Free by Denise Williams/S. Greene. He really gives this song a jolt of Mwongozi(ness). the arrangement opens with a similar intro, followed by a very classy bridge and vamp. Then he breaks out in a Afro-latin rhythmic vamp which sets up an extended solo in piano wizardry and percussive rhythms. Another favorite is his strong harmonic approach to a syncopated piece called, Whole Steps to the House of Light, filled with musical trap doors and breaks,that swings and jumps like the pioneers use to do. I got a big kick out of the eclectic cut, the James Moody Story . a Be-Bop swinger. harkens me back to the James Moody and Eddie Jefferson style of vocalese and scat singing by Rudi and Friends. Rudi takes on a brave arrangement of a Luther Vandross composition and handles it with delicacy and panache. He’s rolling 7s on this tune. He chose not to do what many so-called smooth jazz artist do in regurgitation of the original song,by performing it note for note instrumentally. I was amazed at his treatment of vocalizing with his very fine jazz piano chops added, he really soars on this song like no other male Jazz artist out there.
Knowing Rudi from my days living in Oakland, California and producing jazz shows with unique themes of legendary artists works. we performed on a show paying homage to the great saxophonist, Jackie McLean compositions. A wide plethora of unique compositions in various meters and styles which paid respect to Jackie’s legacy. Be sure to cash in on a Rudi’s originalPrecious:When the Morning Comes and Bad Habits.
I had to push you closer to this prized project, The Music for After the After Party. what a concept, so early in the morning and then again, very late too. so the perfect menu of music for that romantic part of the morning where you listen to some swing, followed by some slow romantic tunes to Hug your “sweetie” to. Follow Rudi MWONGOZI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rudi.mwongozior, right here at, http://www.hipstersanctuary.com
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…
posted by Kamaad Tauhid @blues2jazzguy concert photos by jazz archivist Chuck Koton
“The Stage, (pun intended)” was set 9:pm on Feb 9th 2019 in Los Angeles, where the bass master, Juini Booth landed for his WORLD STAGE DEBUT. Booth a jazz icon starting when he sprung on his own for New York in mid-60s as a teenage bassist for Sun Ra and a host of other greats. later iconic performances and recordings with McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw and Gary Bartz’s Ntu-Troop just to name a few.
Booth powered into the world stage as part of the World Stage Black History month loaded schedule of Jazz greats. featured on spoken word and dramatic performance in the select works and poetry of SUN RA , Mr. Robert J. Carmack-MFA ” BLACK as 1000 Nights: The Artistry and Poems of SUN RA.” Carmack reflecting on his work with Booth over the last couple of years as poet, MC and journalist said, ” It has blown by so fast, I hardly noticed its been almost 3 years since I appeared with Booth and another McCoy Tyner alumnus, AZAR LAWRENCE in a fast and powerful group of musicians performing compositions of McCoy Tyner. (Roy McCurdy, Theo Sanders,Azar, Juini and Robert)
Last year we did another Sun RA project focusing on mostly all of his “Space is the Place” material and music. carmack added, This time as part 2. I went deep on his Berkeley sessions at the University’s Artist-in-Residence, 1971,period of writings. Black nationalist views on African-Americans, politics and culture.” Carmack, a jazz journalist, actor and writer that focuses on the legacy of this genre called, jazz or American Black Classic Music. Along with Carmack and Booth, were L.A. based sidemen, Mahesh Balasooriya on Piano, and Guillermo E. Brown drums. Brown performed last year with Booth and Carmack at the Club Zebulon, along with improvisational group, L.A. FOG and Kathleen Kim.
The audience not only heard rare Sun Ra Poems to improvisational interlude phrases by the group, but heard the band play pieces that they all favored in performing, like Jackie McLean’s “Melody for Melanie” and “Angels and Demons” by Sun Ra. A very powerful, moving solo bass, plus Loop were performed by Juini Booth to a standing ovation.
Carmack was able to navigate and sail around the writings with the ease of a skilled actor performing Shakespeare’s greatest montages of prose and poetry. There were certainly fireworks with Juini Booth eclectic playing and melodic approach to double bass. Balasooriya treated the surprised audience to a searing piano solo on an unnamed piece he interpreted.
Carmack is based in Southern California and Juini Booth in New York. Carmack is setting up plans now as everyone gets ready for Spring and Summer events in both thriving cities. We want to redo this show in New York and San Francisco bay area as well. There are current calls for more study at the academic level for the writings of Baba Sun RA, along with his music and lecture series too.” said a jubilant Carmack, as he spoke to more collaboration projects that involve Booth and other Jazz icon’s music and writings.
Robert J. Carmack is launching this summer, a new series of Art based cultural programming involving improvisational music, drama, poetry/spoken word and fine arts(painting,sculpting and assemblage) POCKET JAZZ 2019 presented by http://www.hipstersanctuary.com
Many thanks to the World Stage and Executive /Artistic director Dwight Trible and staff for making the group feel at home.
ONE NIGHT ONLY! Saturday February 9th 9:pm $25 at Door for a rare west coast appearance by Bassist/Composer. Arthur”JUINI” BOOTH former bassist for the man himself Sun Ra and his Afro-Futurists Arkestra. featuring the Spoken Word voice of SUN RA by actor/writer/producer/musician, Robert J. Carmack-MFA.
Robert J. Carmack fresh off his production of original play 2018 :Interview with the High Prietess:NINA! a Sold out performance at the WORLD STAGE. 2015’s two events at World Stage A Tribute to Composer & Blue Note producer DUKE PEARSON – Charlie Yardbird Parker “21 Toot Salute” on Birds 95th birthday.
The content from the selected poems of Sun Ra are curated from the highly touted works from his days and weeks spent as artist-in-residence at University of California Berkeley circa 1970s.
“His widely eclectic and avant-garde music echoed the entire history of jazz, from ragtime and early New Orleans hot jazz, to swing music, bebop, free jazz and fusion. His compositions ranged from keyboard solos to works for big bands of over 30 musicians, along with electronic excursions, songs, chants, percussion pieces, and anthems. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall Allen, John Gilmore and June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the Space Age.”
“SUN RA is Music & Poetry is Theater at Its Best” The Hipster Sanctuary
Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal nameLe Sony’r Ra.. May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was a jazz composer, bandleader, piano / synthesizer and Poet. Renown for his experimental music, “cosmic” philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances. For much of his career, Ra led “The Arkestra”, an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up. Later on new audiences found SUN RA Music & POETRY was not only hip but spoke to their lens of how they view today’s world and actions.
Born and raised in Alabama, Blount became involved in the Chicago jazz scene during the late 1940s. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Le Sony’r Ra, shortened to Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun). He developed a complex persona and an idiosyncratic, myth-based credo that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism. He claimed to be an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life. He publicly denied ties to his prior identity.
The Players for the evening’s performances
Juini Booth-basses/keyboards – music director (formerly played & recorded with SUN RA, Tony Williams Lifetime,Gary Bartz, Woody Shaw, and McCoy Tyner, to name only a few;
Robert J. Carmack – spoken word/actor/musician~ performed with Azar Lawrence, Juini Booth, Dale Fielder,producer/writer 2018’s successful work in progress Interview with the High Prietess: Nina! original play by R.J. Carmack.. Encore coming 2019 for extended run. Creator of Pocket Jazz 2019! melding of jazz, poetry,and theater with painters and sculptors.
Guillermo E. Brown -Guillermo E. Brown pays his bills by playing drums with Reggie Watts’s band on The Late Late Show with James Corden, but he has a long history in the avant-garde. Brown has collaborated with jazz giants such as Matthew Shipp, David S. Ware, and Vijay Iyer; eclectic electronic musicians such as DJ Spooky, Jamie Lidell, and Spring Heel Jack; and boundary-pushing hiphop artists such as El-P and Antipop Consortium
Mahesh Balasooriya – former pianist/keyboards for Natalie Cole, Waberi Jordan, David S. Ware , also the great Aurturo Sandoval and the late saxophonist Zane Musa..