LOVE IT WHEN A GREAT JAZZ CONCEPT COMES TOGETHER : THANKS UNCLE DUKE


posted by @blues2jazzguy concert photos only by Jerone Myles

One of the best feeling in the world is when you plan,execute and get back a return on your effort in double spades..No, I’m not playing cards, even though I am using a card game metaphor. On August 22,last saturday night, a group of master musicians, two vocalists! and a poet came together in a show entitled,The Genius and Music of DUKE PEARSON: Thank You Uncle Duke

DUKE NOW CIGARETTE
Blue Note Arranger Producer,Composer 1960s photo by Francis Wolff

Working with Jon Williams to secure the World Stage with our idea to honor a man, most deserving equally,as the man who founded the world Stage, Billy Higgins. Higgins was one of the most recorded drummer in jazz history. Pearson had his hands on many of the classic albums ever produced by Blue Note Records, many of which was backed by Billy Higgins on drums,

Robert Carmack Poet
Robert Carmack Poet

The evening’s program kicked off with producer/host, Robert J. Carmack introducing the band,The Uncle Duke Legacy Band,which featured the piano stylings of Jazz veteran pianist, Bobby West. Before the music began,Carmack presented a letter from the Duke Pearson family. Which in short thanked the The World Stage,and their staff, Jon Williams and Sister Renee for their efforts. Also, Robert J. Carmack and all the Band members and vocalists participating. They also invited the the audience and fans alike to visit and join the Duke Pearson Tribute page on Facebook. The letter was signed by Mr. Gerald R. Ford( no relations) the nephew, Greetings and thanks from his mother and Duke’s sister,Myrtle(81)last survivor of Pearson’s direct family members.

Several choice Pearson compositions were played by the Band, including two non-Pearson tunes but were either recorded by or worked with the production and arrangements.  First set jumped off without a hitch with Jeannine ,using a version arranged by Cannonball Adderley’s band . This classic allowed the band to show out and up with Bobby West taking the lead line on piano with Derf Reklaw Flute in harmonic tag-along, driven by the bass and drum duo of Ishmael hunter and Reggie Carson.  West was able to really stretch out and flex his well honed skills to task on a blistering solo, followed by  Derf Reklaw “take no prisoners” balancing between Flute lines and accents on Congos & bongo. In an effort to give balance and unique presentation , we added voices on certain songs , such a rich vocal arrangement of UGETSU/Fantasy in D, sung by the mother, daughter team of  Pat Sligh and Jana Wilson. its a well known composition by Cedar Walton, a sessions player on many Blue Note recordings including Joe Henderson and early on in 60s with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers . Sometimes , you have to go and dig out some strange-named titles to really appreciate Duke Pearson’s mind. Especially his sense of humor with this composition the band tackled with all their might, Big Bertha. a bright uptempo ,kind of funky, driving tune. Makes you wonder what your experience would have been like meeting the infamous “Big Bertha.”  Later in the evening The band decided not to perform a fast tune to open the next set , they went with a sublime composition written by Duke and dedicated to his mother, On Mother’s Day This Year (wear the brightest rose) “we wanted the audience to feel the lyrics that was also in the composition” stated Robert J. Carmack ,producer. “but we had no male vocalist to sing it, so we used Derf Reklaw  flute’s  mid range and low tones to bring out the richness of the very harmonic laden tune. we followed that up with another smooth swinger in Gaslight, taken from his mid-60s period.

San Jose based music educator/transcriptionist,arranger James Armstrong
San Jose based music educator/transcriptionist,arranger James Armstrong

“Many of these Pearson compositions were quite complex in their original form, and sometime they was not available to get the charts I needed , I had to rely on my associate and friend James Armstrong , who helped me immensely on many of the complex melodies, James was instrumental in breaking down a lot of the music theory I did not know, to even select the compositions we used in the show was quite difficult,” stated Carmack. James was invaluable on this project.

Carmack surprised the audience with a riveting poem written by Eric Wattree ,a family friend of Dexter Gordon, It’s called A Swinging Affair, another Blue note gem, that also included Billy Higgins on Drums at that 1964 session under the watchful eye and ear of Mr. Duke Pearson, though not credited as producer or arranger on a lot of Blue Note records, his fingerprints were all over a plethora of big records by the label, under a special arrangement between Duke and Alfred Lions , whose name appear as Producer very suspiciously on too many “hits”. It was technically his money paying for sessions ,but we all know whose creative energies were prevalent on the albums themselves.  The evening’s last two compositions played by the Uncle Duke Legacy Band was just stellar, starting with Amanda, a bouncy,latin-tinged call and response ditty between West’s piano and Reklaw’s Flute.  Reklaw took no solace in having to bounce between Flute and accented 4s between drums and bongos, followed by more fire from the flute as he played an extended flute solo that conjured up James Spaulding. Spaulding by the way, played flute and alto on the original 1966 “Wahoo ” album. The finale was just indescribable, Cristo Redentor, featured all members of the band , the two female vocalists and poetry by Robert Carmack.  The flute’s voice was mixed with the angelic voices of the female singers , that set up a choir like sound as in the original Donald Byrd piece with piano by Bobby West’s alternating the hymn -like melody with the flute’s voice, follow in the second part by a Harmon muted trumpet by Jon Williams of the World Stage staff, this set up a mood as the band lowered its sound and vamped as Carmack recited an original poem call Let Freedom Ring Now!, aptly titled after a Jackie McLean Blue Note record from the mid 60s, this all culminated in bringing down the house  with a standing ovation by the fully engaged audience at the World Stage. Robert Carmack’s next and last show of the Pocket Jazz series for August concludes Saturday,August 29.  NOW’S The Time: Spirits of Our Ancestors     7:30pm doors open   8pm showtime.  Venue: World Stage 4344 S. Degnan Blvd. L.A. 90008  951-840-7120 RSVP /Tickets info $15 tickets until 8pm $20 ATD after 8pm

Derf Reklaw congos,bongo & flute , Ishmael Hunter drums
Derf Reklaw congos,bongo & flute, Ishmael Hunter drums
Ishmael Hunter Drums & Reggie Carson Bass
Ishmael Hunter Drums & Reggie Carson Bass
Vocalists Pat Sligh & daughter Jana Wilson
Vocalists Pat Sligh & daughter Jana Wilson

Robert J. Carmack , collaborated with Billy Higgin’s World Stage in order to try to capture in one evening, one man’s most compelling compositions of the 1960s at Blue Note Records.

Bobby West pounding keys
Bobby West pounding keys

MORE ABOUT DUKE PEARSON

“This was most challenging, said Carmack , How does one select from the multitudes of compositions he’s written, produced,or arranged while having an impact. Not just on the album sales at Blue Note, but also the genre itself as Blue Note made its transition from well-known A&R man, Ike Quebec, a mainstay at the label coming out of the swing era,bebop period , then latching on at Blue Note as an arranger, and facilitator for new music and artists. IMHO, the label’s quite volatile roster of talent began to come up a little stagnant and needed new & fresh ideas to drive the label as the 1960s was upon them. Unfortunately by 1961, the death of Ike Quebec left a gaping hole in Lion & Wolff’s ability to attract new talent and fresh musical ideas. Hence, the hiring of Duke Pearson by Alfred Lion put them squarely on the right path as history played out, from 1962 -1970 Blue Note Records had its best and most profitable times, including having some of the best in artist signings and record productions in Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Kenny Drew, Stanley Turrentine, Dexter Gordon, Bobby Hutcherson,Joe Henderson, to name a few artists.  Two of the biggest albums during his tenure was, New Perspectives by Donald Byrd featuring Cristo Redentor and The Sidewinder by long time Blue Note staple,Lee Morgan. IMHO, If there were no Duke Pearson’s Vision, Those records among others never gets made.

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NIGHT JOURNEY REWIND JAZZ RADIO INTERVIEWS WRITER,PRODUCER ROBERT J.CARMACK


http://www.nightjourneyrewind.com/home/archives/08-2015

(click on the link above to access the radio program)

Radio programming produced and hosted by James Graves

McCoy Tyner with Robert J. Carmack
McCoy Tyner with Robert J. Carmack

Robert J. Carmack Editor in Chief,Hipster Sanctuary.Com.
Robert grew up in Los Angeles (Watts & Compton) and has spent almost five decades in entertainment as musician, actor,producer ,writer and photo/journalist across many genres including Jazz, Soul/R&B and Blues. Co-founded The Paul Robeson Players, The Atlanta International Jazz Society, The SFBAAAM (San Francisco Bay-Area African American Musicians)works as publicist,promoter and producer for live concerts and awards shows.

An expert in Jazz & blues history, Robert studied Music, Communications and Theater Arts in college. He holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree from California State University Dominguez Hills. A passionate patron of Youth in the Fine Arts & Education.

DWIGHT TRIBLE SPELLBINDS LARGE L.A. ART MUSEUM AUDIENCE


posted by Robert J. Carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

Dwight Trevor  Def
Jazz Singer Dwight Trible, Trevor Ware Bass, & Derf Reklaw, Flute & Percussions photo-Lorraina Marro

On Friday the last day of July , Dwight Trible hit the stage at L.A. County Museum of Art on Wilshire. The capacity outdoor crowd cheered and chanted along with Trible as he engaged them with classics like Its Strange and Little Sunflower.

Band Personnel:

Dwight Trible  Vocals, Derf Reklaw Percussion/Flute

Trevor Ware Bass, Paul Legaspi Drums, John Beasley Piano

WORLD STAGE HONORS BILLY HIGGINS WITH HEAVENLY LEGACY CONCERT


posted by music journalist Robert J. Carmack   photos credits: Robert Carmack and Sol Washington

TWS_2014_Summer_Concert_Poster

You know, one of the benefits of living in Los Angeles or Southern California period, is the weather. This particular Sunday was no different than the 54 Summers past I have lived in California.But this one was very special though. The World Stage was celebrating 25 years of existence in Leimert Park (Los Angeles).and honoring one of the people wholly responsible for its foundation and support over the many years he was alive. That person was none other than, master musician Billy Higgins.One of the most storied and active drummers for a very long time at the highest level of performance.

Everybody knew he was one of the most recorded drummers in the history of jazz, But not enough knew of his tireless devotion to the community he grew up in and served  one hundred fold. That is the real reason he’s being honored. If you are looking for a review of the concert, well.. this is not it! Because I was around the World Stage during its early days of Los Angeles , Post 1992 Uprising in the streets of L.A.  I watched Billy in action a lot as he brought his musicians around to the stage, then around to the coffee House known as 5th Street Dick’s (my hang) There he would hold Court on why it was important that whenever they came into town to gig, they had to come to the World stage on an off day to play or teach a youngster about music. I witnessed this on many ocassions and Billy knew a lot of musicians cats.

Once I was in 5th street Dick’s Coffee house working on some poetry and listening to JMD & the Jam Master Band,(a local bad-ass group) when Billy brought in Chick Corea, Bennie Maupin and Larry Coryell to check out the music .. So I started reciting poetry with the JMD  Band, all of a sudden Chick Corea got up and took over the Keyboard player’s axe,  Larry Carlton cracked out his guitar and before you knew it, we had a “thang” going on..  prov-like all spontaneous… Jazz is suppose to do that to the human spirit. I looked at Billy, and He was just smiling ear to ear.. It wasn’t until much later, at another time, I realized why he was smiling so much that day. He knew then, he knew he had hooked those guys too. And soon, they were coming around a lot ,even if Billy was not there .  Whenever Billy was on the road, someone at the World Stage had the responsibility to make sure the musician guests of Billy had no problems getting comfortable helping Kids or playing an afternoon concert on a Saturday before their night gig. That was how it worked for years. Jackie Mclean and Billy had long history as fellow musicians.. but Jackie always checked to make sure someone was holding down a class or something before he settled into his hotel to wait on his gig. No Billy Higgins in the community standing in the Gap, This place or listening space don’t happen!  SO, if you want to know why Him??, Ask that long line of young drummers that have learned so much from being around and asking questions to a working drummer/legend. Seek out that long list of drummers and musicians in general who are very prominent Jazz musicians and Band leaders also today. Some of those same drummers could not afford a full set of drums to practice or work.. They got what they needed,, encouragement, inspiration and sometimes money.  “Smiling Billy the person, the MAN” was the one being honored and respected by a legion or army of admirers and peers Sunday August 24th. Yes Sir!  A Spiritual Experience for sure!!

Billy Higgins Koifi hat

 

what better way to honor the man than to allow the fruits of labor performed 25 years ago  spawned great talents that was displayed on stage on that beautiful Sunday afternoon beginning with the world stage’s own African Drum Workshop . S.H.I.N.E. MAWUSI  Troupe, they were the very first act we experienced.  it was electrifying, as it was vivid and sublime.

stage drum  wrkshop

bennie maupin  u don't know what love is
Multi-Reed specialist Bennie Maupin gets loose on, You Don’t know what Love is  

 

 

baby fingers & carmen  Lundy

It was at this point where award-winning Patrice Rushen accompanied veteran jazz singer Carmen Lundy in two riveting duets that in my opinion, should be recorded together and toured. One of the originals was played on acoustic guitar by Carmen Lundy..OMG!!

Poetess Jaha
Poetess JaHa spreading Love around through her poetry
dwight & Leroy downs
Vocalist Dwight Trible and Jazz host/MC Leroy Downs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JaHa & Trevor
POETESS JaHa Photo by Sol Washington

 

 

Dwight Trible, Trevor Ware & Miguel  Photo by Sol Washington
Dwight Trible, Trevor Ware & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Photo by Sol Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time Dwight was through with his performance,we were all levitating in the audience. I wish I could have sat closer so I would not need the flash. we could not shoot if we had flash .Kamau Daaood      Poet Laureate

shown on the left is Kamau Daaood Poet Laureate and John Beasley Music Director/Pianist

 

 

Hubert Laws  alto Flute

 

 

 

 

 

Near the end of the evening’s show Hubert Laws came out before his accompaniment. and played a rendition of LUSH LIFE with the most clear & pure tone on Flute  with the best and most sublime solo I’ve ever heard on any instrument.

art Farmer   Cedar walton  w Billy
Biilly Higgins shown on Drums with the Art Farmer-Cedar Walton Quartet @ Concerts by the Sea-1977 Los Angeles

On Billy Higgins: By Lew Tabackin

“Playing with Billy was like heaven. He was the greatest collaborator in the history of jazz. He played exactly right for you at exactly the right time. His dynamics were perfect, he balanced his energy off of your energy. It was the perfect ratio between his intensity and your intensity. I remember one time a friend of mine played with Billy. I said “hey how was it playing with Higgins.” He said, “you know I was expecting more energy.” I said, “no man that’s not the way it works. He plays off your energy. He your energy is low, he’s not going to kick your ass.

I did a month tour with Billy and Charlie Hayden and every night was perfect. There wasn’t one time where you thought; “we’ll he’s not having a good night.” I’ve never experienced anything like that since. That consistently musical swinging creative reality. I could hear the harmony when he would play the drums.”