504 MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 5
Welcome to the New NEW ORLEANS
W W W. 5 0 4 M A G . C O M
Poncho sanchez 504TVMAGAZINE COMING SOON
ALSOfeaturing: Esperanza Spalding Andrea Gomez NikWest Bill Summers Alexey Marti Leroy Jones PeterVarnado Eugene Harding Carlos E Rivas
COMING 2013 SUPER BOWL NEW ORLEANS L0UISIANA
504MAG CelebratES NEW ORLEANS CONTRIBUTION TO LATIN JAZZ
Photo by: Andrew Eveans
ONE DAY I WILL SING
WITH MY DADDY
Photo: Doc Jones
THE NEW NEW ORLEANS “This magazine is dedicated toward building the New NEW ORLEANS” - Doc Jones -
Interview with the great Bill Summers
Latin Jazz is alive and well in NOLA thanks to Cuba 504mag chat’s with Alexey marti
504mag introduces Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding
A tribute to the next generation of great Drummers Pete Varnado
For customer service, change of address, and subscription inquiries, please visit www.504mag.com
One-on-One with the God Father of Latin Jazz Poncho Sanchez
Andrea Gomez, one of NOLA’s fINEST CELLO AND BASS PLAYERs FROM COSTA RICA
Treme Award winning producer David Simon
all content and photograph’ material are copyrighted to their respected owners. to contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Photo by: Andrew Eveans
One on One with Poncho Sanchez
5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 4
Bill summers percussionist New Orleans-born Bill Summers is a world-renowned percussionist primarily conga drums, and a master of behind-the-scenes film scores. And he can certainly standout above the crowd, with a showing of his awesome vocals mixed with the berimbau, balafon, marimbula, conga drum, bongos, agogo, cowbells, djembe, guiro, log drum, maracas, shekere, caxixi, percussion, sleigh bell, and the gong, all instruments he juggled on his latest CD released in March 2012 – “Survival of the Fittest/Straight from the Gate – with “The Headhunters.” Prior to this popular release, Bill Summers’ genius can be clearly heard on his collaboration with Irvin Mayfield on the album “A Love Letter to New Orleans,” from 2011, or you might have heard his Congas, percussion on “Jazz Loves Marvin Gaye,” or how about Jazz: ‘The Smithsonian Anthology,’’ all recorded in 2011. And there’s more. 504mag is more than anxious to portray more than a laundry list of this extraordinary musician’s unusual yet super impressive history.
504 Mag Interviews Basin Street Recording Artist percussionist Bill Summers
If there was ever a name synonymous with ‘heartbeat’, that name would be Bill Summers. In the literal sense, this percussionist has provided a rhythmic beat for a myriad of fellow musicians and artists for decades. Figuratively, his mere presence in the world of music has proven to be a steady pulse, in the genre of Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz Funk. Mr. Summers’ early education commenced at the Detroit Conservatory of Music and culminated at the prestigious University of California at Berkeley. With such a solid musical infrastructure, it comes as no surprise that he has worked with the likes of Quincy Jones (Roots mini-series), Anita Baker, and Stevie Wonder but that’s a fraction of his collaborations. The arms of his drumsticks have been far reaching. Multi-platinum selling artist Pebbles was introduced into the industry as his back-up vocalist. Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters” features the innovative and progressive sound of Bill Summers. The score of the legendary film, “The Color Purple” is laced with his powerful musicianship. Continued on page 8
5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 5
CREOLE CHOIR OF CUBA
Photo by: Michael Baptiste
“WE ARE THE FUTURE, YOU ARE THE ANSWER.” - Bill Summers Flip the coin and above the Latin phrase ‘E. Pluribus Unum’ you’ll find Los Hombres Calientes, Mr. Summers’ most notable solo band and collaborative effort. Alongside trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, the group has a unique Latin sound that will have your back and hips jousting for the attention of the rhythm. Bill’s influence was equally as heavy in the funk era of the 80’s. The classic hit, “Call It What You Want To” (#16 US Black Singles chart), drips with the harmonious ‘stank’ that characterizes funk music. Many a blue light has swayed back and forth above the sweaty domes of pleasure seeking party-goers to the beat of this song. Music is as music does with Bill Summers. He reveals a diversity that stems from as far back as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. And that was just the beginning - 504mag willingly chooses to expound upon many of these accolades by way of Summers’ awesome back story. Summers’ skills are not confined to just one instrument, nor to one genre of musicians. He is respectfully well known for playing anything from traditional African instruments to pop bottles. He is a cultural visionary who brings diverse people and ideas together. Summers explicitly explains his rendition of Kwanzaa holiday via his magnificent “The Essence of Kwanzaa.” He is for sure, cognizant of his heritage and its many contributions to world culture. Take for instance, the way Summers brought together Kim Provost and Bill Solley, winners of the 1999 BET Jazz Discovery Competition. The duo made their acquaintance at one of Summers’ late-night sessions and, recognizing their alchemy, Summers asked them to join his Summer’s Heat tour. From 1972 through 1980, Summers toured and recorded with Herbie Hancock on all USA & World Tours, recorded on his Headhunters Albums. He recorded solo albums; Feel the Heat, Cayenne, Straight to the Bank, and Walking on Sunshine in 1977-1980.
8 stylus magazine
From 1981 to 1986, Bill served as featured percussionist on Dianne Reeves’ world tour. During this period, he also toured with EWF, Kool & the Gang, Frankie Beverley, Teddy Pendergrass, Herbie Hancock and Barry White. His Solo albums (Call it what you want, Jam the Box, Seventeen and London Style ) were also released during this period. Summers was the featured percussionist on Anita Baker’s 1988-1989 World Tour, the featured percussionist who arranged, composed and performed on ~ Perri’s “Tradewinds. His percussionist genius can be heard on George Howard’s United States National Tour. In the early 90’s, Bill Summers arranged and performed sound score on Eddie Murphy’s popular movie, “Boomerang,” and wrote and performed on sound score for “Leap of Faith,” and featured Steve Martin. Summers also performed on sound score for Steve Martin’s “House Sitter.” As well, he is known for his arrangement and performance in Michael Jackson’s popular “Remember the Time.” And the beat goes on, y’all….Summers produced, arranged and coordinated the entire project for “Dis is Da Drum.” He directed and performed for Herbie Hancock’s 1993-94 World Tour, acted as Percussionist on Stanley Clarke’s “East River Drive”, on Epic Records, was percussionist on George Benson’s “Love Remembers”, Warner Brothers, and displayed his percussion skills on Nina Simone’s “A Single Woman” Album.
Photo by: Michael Baptiste
Bill Summers All night jam sessions at Bill Summers’ home clearly resulted in the overnight sensation in New Orleans and the rest of the world in 1998. Los Hombres Calientes was born at another of Summers’ late-night sessions at his home, eventually resulted in the formation of Los Hombres Calientes, which blasted its way on the scene almost overnight in New Orleans, and inevitably featuring their crafts worldwide. Los Hombres Calientes tore the roof off Snug Harbor, the House of Blues, and ignited the stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with its searing dance music, it has also produced numerous CDs. Studying for decades, African, Cuban and Latin percussion rhythms, the success of multi-award-winning Los Hombres Calientes gives just due to the gifted knowledge of the seasoned Summers, R&B star (with “Call It What You Want” in 1981), and who knows literally hundreds of African, Cuban & Latin percussion rhythms from decades of study. Moving forward, LOS HOMBRES CALIENTES quickly graduated to the World Tour 1999 ~ 2000 featuring Bill Summers, Irvin Mayfield and Jason Marsalis (To the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and the United States of America), spawning albums: Los Hombres Calientes ~ Audio Volumes One, Two, Three and Four. Summers produced Los Hombres Vol 2 for Basin Street Records. He also produced “The Rhythm of Music” Series with Co-Producers Herbie Hancock & Joe Manalakakis and co-starred with George Segal & Sherry Lewis on ~ Sherry Lewis & Charlie Horse Pizza Factory ! produced ~ “Private Collection” for Monkey Hill. contiue to page 68
Publisher / CEO William “Doc” Jones Senior Writer / Chief Editor Shirley A. Jones Senior Writer/ Editor Cynthia Gill Mitchell Staff Writer Douglas Berry Chief Design Layout Wm. D. Jones Associate Editor / Asst. Layout design Patrick Gilder Chief Photo Editor Doc Jones Assistant Photo Editor Fredy Garcia Mitchelle Williams Photo & design Editor ©504 Multi MEDIA LLC. All Rights Reserved
Meet The Publisher
Welcome to 504 Mag. As Publisher & CEO, I’m proud to introduce our new staff writer Mr. Douglas Berry.We would also like to introduce my assistant photo editor, Mitchelle Williams. also, special thanks to our senior writers, Cynthia Gill Mitchell and Shirley Jones . We hope you enjoy reading about the future of Latin Jazz in NOLA,
Photo by: Kerry Campbell
Publisher, Doc Jones & Poncho Sanchez at NOLA’s 2012 Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo by: Kerry Campbell
“Congratulations to Poncho Sanchez for being named God Father of Latin Jazz by 504mag readers” Once you meet him, you’ll remember him. Dr. William Jones (lovingly referred to as Doc) is Founder, CEO and Chief Editor of the pulse of NOLA’s 504Magazine. Doc Jones brings a high level of energy, excitement and hands-on involvement to anything he believes in. Doc’s motto for a love of people and their talents is ongoing - “if you believe in it, you should be a contributing factor to it.”
Doc is excited about the restoration of New Orleans, and is spearheading an all-out effort to bring an influx of new, ready-to-run contributors to the area armed with current information by way of 504Mag.com. He recently stated, “It’s not the remaining rubble, but the devastation of Katrina that remains vivid in my mind, not to mention the beauty of the people, the succulence of the food and the throngs of happy tourists I once performed for on Bourbon Street.” “504Mag comes to give and not take from the history of the culture
within that makes NOLA so unique, we are here to give, in our efforts to help towards the complete restoration of New Orleans
Doc Jones has been a music educator and professional musician /restaurant owner for more than 35 years. Everywhere Doc has lived; from Chicago to Arizona and now New Orleans, he has left a trail of happy and fond memories. Though there will always be a special place in his heart for Chicago, Doc Jones is quoted to have said New Orleans is, “His Kind of Town.”
Latin Jazz in New Orleans is Alive and Well Thanks to
Alexey Marti percussionist Publisher’s choice
By : Shirley A. Jones
eeping you informed 504Mag presents to some and reintroduces to others the world renowned Alexey Marti. Alexey was born in Havana, Cuba and began playing congas when he was just seven years old. Actually, what started his journey was his grandparents including Alexey in their in-home Yoruba religious ceremonies. The Yoruba religion or Irunmole is based on reverence of African ancestry.
hen he was 16 years old, he started to study the congas and other percussion instruments under the rigorous guidance of Master Oscar Valdés, percussionist and singer of the famous Cuban group “Irakere.” With that training and his innate rhythm abilities, Alexey started to play professionally, with national artists such as
Juana Bacallao, Cuban singer of son and guaracha rhythms. He became part of the group “Clave Cubana,” a musical formed by the American record company “Ahí Na’ Ma Music.” As the percussionist of this band, he recorded several CDs, such as “Canto a la Amistad” and “Babalú” (Carmén Flóres.)
n 2002, Alexey helped found the Cuban Salsa group “Gardi y Su Orquesta” during 2002. He toured nationally and internationally with “Gardi y Su Orquesta.” He also recorded several CDs: “Gardi” (2004) y “Lo Que Tú
o his credit among the many notable individuals, groups and organizations Alexey has performed and/or recorded with are Diákara,” Cuban Jazz group formed by Oscar Valdés (“Irakere”), and by invitation from Miguel Núñez (Pablo Milanés’ musical director), he recorded the percussion for the Portuguese Luís Represas in his CD “Olhos Nos Olhos” (2008). Pablo Milanés (Cuba) and Simone (Brasil) recorded on this CD. Alexey Marti recorded with Demetrio Muñiz, former musical director of Omara Portuondo (“Buena Vista Social Club”). He has performed in several festivals: Varadero-Cuba International Festival (2008), New Orleans Jazz Fest (since 2009), at the German embassy of 5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 1 4
Havana Cuba, Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic!!
iedersachsen in Berlin for the “Jazz in the Gardens of the Ministries” music festival (2011), and Ascona Jazz Festival in Switzernd (2010, 2011, and 2012), among others. Alexey Martí continues his musical career in the greaestt City of live music - New Orleans, since 2008. Not as a name dropper, 504 Mag is merely reports the facts that Alexey has shared the stage with numerou legends in the music industry. To name a few, Ellis Marsallis, Herlin Riley, Nicholas Payton and the Thelonious Monk students. He also participated in the concert in honor of Harold Battiste with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The web publication “Breath of Life,” described the participation of Martí as one of a couple of “extraordinary moments.” According to the article, “(…)Alexey Marti on timbales provided “a deft rhythm bed for an expanded arrangement” of Harold’s composition “Marzique Dancing.” Alexey has also played many times with the great Bill Summers. Together they are by far one of the strongest Latin percussion sections in the country. 5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 1 5
Eugene T. Harding, Editor’s Choice
By: Cynthia Gill Mitchell
his man, Eugene Harding, literally moves to the beat of a “different” drummer – his own. He didn’t begin his career until the age of 28, but clearly has no regrets. There were probably methods to his musical madness that few would approach in his many moves forward, but Eugene positively believes that his “attitude” probably garnered him more jobs than his instruments. And when you hear this deep baritone stake claim that his “positive can overpower your negative,”- believe him! his popular drummer currently hosts “New Orleans Super Jam,” a set featured every Monday night on Frenchman Street at Maison. From 9:30 p.m. to as late as 3:30 a.m., “Super Jam” packs the house with jazz greats like Kermit Ruffin, Trombone Shorty, James Andrews, Kirk Joseph, and Walter “Wolfman” Washington, among other notables. But in this set-up, I imagine everybody is “special.” You may see locals who file in just to be heard, and/or just to sit-in to listen – feeling proud to just be a part of this phenomenal musical setting. “If you don’t sign the list, says Harding, “we assume you just want to chill. ”The house band, “Gene’s Music Machine” of course includes; Harding on drums, Norman Caesar on Keyboard and Matt Clark on Guitar, Will Repholtz and Larry Vogel serves a memorable performances on bass with Robin Clabby on Sax. First up, Harding and his
crew work to get the crowd stirred up with 2 to 3 songs, then with little coaxing, other musicians among the mix anxiously make their way up on stage to showcase their talents. On any Monday night, 508 Frenchman is known to house as many as “40 to 50 musicians at best,” according to Harding. This “hot spot” even welcomes poets/spoken-word artists, and if you choose, dancers - feel free. With the stage performances, however, no tracks are allowed, and every act has to perform live.
ugene is proud of this ingenious getaway, when he anxiously spear-headed “Super Jam” a year or so after “Katrina.” It was his way to help uplift and encourage musicians and the people of New Orleans post-Katrina. “I wanted to make a point to let them know that I loved them and appreciated their craft,” says Harding. It would seem Harding’s gracious motives and that of the other gifted musicians most definitely add to the ambiance of one of NOLA’s most popular jazz venues. Born and raised in New Orleans in Uptown 17th Ward of Pigeon Town, Harding’s family moved to the 9th Ward when he was 11 years old. Eugene Harding has 3 brothers, and is the only musician among them.
At St. Augusta High School, Eugene played the trumpet alongside one of the best, Russell Batiste. But that was short-lived when he got side-tracked by football. Eugene Harding says “I didn’t pick up another instrument until 1996.” That was when after one year of saving, he was finally able to afford to buy his own drums. The decision to take up the drums came almost immediately at a Jazz Fest, where he was “blown away” by the performances of Wilbur “Junkyard Dog” Arnold, drummer for Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and the late, famed drummer Herman Ernest onsider that Eug e n e Harding wasn’t swayed by the fact that he was 28-years-old when he finally developed his skills on the drums. However late, he managed to bloom and undoubtedly realizing he had a lot of catching up to do, Eugene forged ahead with his own brand of diligence and non-stop tenacity. Eugene knew he wanted to continue playing, regardless of the roadblocks he experienced. Keeping his “eye on the prize,” he never lost sight of where he knew he wanted to be. Moving slow, but steady, he worked some gigs, and gave himself one year to “get it right,” even “walking up and down Bourbon Street” where he sought to be heard by whoever would listen. Continue on page 64
5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 1 6
Eugene Harding , a musician of many talents, hosts New Orleans, Monday Night Super Jam on Frenchman St. at the Maison
Photo by : Doc Jones
Photo by: Doc Jones
Tribute to Latin Jazz
Photo by Sandrine Lee
A LEADER AMONG FEMALE BASS PLAYERS
By: Shirley A Jones You may think Esperanza Spalding became an overnight sensation when her name became synonymous with “Best New Artist,” earned at the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011. The Recording Academy had never awarded this honor to a jazz artist prior to that tume. To anyone in attendance at the 53rd Grammy Awards, you might have heard whispers such as. “Esperanza who?” “Who is that?”; or “Where did she come from?” After all her name was listed for the Best New Artist category amongst better known hopefuls, such as Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons. However, that evening would be one to remember. Esperanza became the first jazz artist to win Best New Artist; how about them apples. Her name alone sparked interest as she became famous and a first of a kind award winner in the hour. An overnight sensation Spalding is not. She was introduced to mu22 stylus magazine
sic by her mother early on and was inspired at the age of four while watching a television show. Esperanza was born in 1984 to a Welsh/ Hispanic/Native American mother and an African-American father. The couple divorced when Esperanza was just a little girl. Esperanza’s mom raised her and her brother as a single parent in Portland, Oregon. Vivid memories still haunt Esperanza as she describes her childhood neighborhood as being “pretty scary.” and play her the stuff that Mom’s teacher had been teaching during class. Although she acknowledges being influenced by a performance of classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma, during a segment of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, at the tender age of four, Esperanza credits her mother the most for laying the foundation to her interest in music. Mrs. Spalding not only encouraged her daughter to enter music schools but also studied music herself.
Photo Credit: Syndey rd
Esperanza taught herself how to play violin and joined her mother when she enrolled in a college to study jazz guitar. “Going with her to her class, I would sit under the piano. Then I would go home Her skill in instrument-playing expanded when she found other options such as the oboe, cello and clarinet. But it was bass which caught her attention the most. She said, for her discovering the bass was like “waking up one day and realizing you’re in love with a coworker.” As if you’ve been around this person daily, but never really recognized them. Then in her mid-teens, Spalding started to shape her skill in writing and singing. She provided lyrics and the voice for a local indie group calling themselves Noise for Pretend. By 16, she completed high school and enrolled in a music program at Portland State University via a scholarship. Although she was the youngest bass player in the program, Esparanza gained the attention from her teacher who encouraged her to apply for Berklee College of Music. Stricken by money, she started performing live in clubs in Portland on a regular. She admitted later on that these years allowed her to stretch as a musician. One thing lead to another, connections landed her a job as a supporting singer at Ella Fitzgerald tribute tour “For Ella”. She also studied under several experts, went on a tour and absorbed music like a sponge. “I am surrounded by prodigies everywhere I go, but because they are a little older than me, or not a female, or not on a major label, they are not acknowledged as such,” she said. Meanwhile, she began recording her music, releasing her first album in 2006 under the title “Junjo”. It was followed by two others in 2008 and 2010, the latest, titled “Chamber Music Society,” which re-entered the Hot 200 Chart after her Grammy win. Spalding never thought that she would land a nomination, let alone win it. “I certainly did not expect to even be considered for that type of nomination, me being a little old jazz musician and everything,” she told EW in December after the nominees were announced.
it in a way that will end up on the radio without compromising the soul and the core of improvised music.” A nouveau ambassador of jazz might seem alien to an audience fed on the music. Since Esperanza Spalding beat Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy last year, she has lived up to her name (which means “hope” in Spanish). Spalding released “Radio Music Society” in late March, her postGrammy follow up to “Chamber Music Society.” The collection of 12 loosely-knit songs touches on pop, soul, hip-hop, straight-up jazz and cover songs intended to simulate the near-forgotten art of meandering through the radio dial. As she explained to Jon Stewart, Spalding thinks “Society” members “have the ability to be willing to turn on the radio, and open themselves to what comes out.” Spalding seems tailor-made to introduce jazz to the modern masses. Her exotic name, extensive jazz resume, sensual music, modern style and hair that just can’t quit all lend to her imminent success. Spalding developed a penchant for weaving her bass (electric or upright) into orchestral, straight jazz or modern fusion. Radio Music Society is intended as a pop companion to Chamber Music Society, which blended chamber music with jazz upright bass. Spalding pulls from pop sounds and blends them into her existing style. That steadfast independent spirit might make it fall flat as a crossover album. For all its nods to modern music, Radio Music Society fits almost too nicely within a tradition of fusion from Miles Davis’ Bitches’ Brew, Ornette Coleman’s “Tone Dialing”, or Cassandra Wilson’s Craig-Street produced work. Anyone eager to dismiss Spalding will find ample reason. It has been said by some critics who do not agree with aspects of her performance as being stellar, that it’s better to say she’s a jack of all trades with a remarkable sense of self — not to be confused with selfishness or ego. Before Spalding is an ambassador, she is a stylist still developing her fluid playing.
By February 2011 she was in the middle of recording her fourth album which would be released at the end of the year. She stated, “I want to take a lot of the players that I know that are really phenomenal jazz musicians right now, put them in these songs, and format
stylus magazine 23
2012 Kenner Hispanic Summer Fest
Photo By: Doc Jones stylus magazine 25
Issue11ISSUE / Vol / 6 6 VOLUME
Welcome to the New NEW ORLEANS
W W W . 5 0 4 M A G . C O M
OBAMA WITH MUSIC ON THEIR MIND IT’S NO TIME FOR CRIME ALSO featuring: TIPITINA’SFOUNDATION NOCCA TRUMPET NOT GUNS ORG. N.U.M/BillSummers HELP US STOPTHE VIOLENCE THROUGH MUSIC EDUCATION
Join 504MAG AND BARACK OBAMA TO REDUCE CRIME WITH MUSIC ED.
504 Mag presents The taste of New Orleans 2013 Jazz&BluesFestival TM
BARACK OBAMA 504Magazine Next Issue Cover ... New Orleans Musicians Stand With Barack Obama and his Support of Music Education
New Orleans is one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond, it’s brilliant mosaic of culture, food and music. You’ll find brimming bowls of gumbo, late nights in jazz clubs, strolls through historic neighborhoods and tantalizing festivals throughout the year. Come down and experience one of America’s most culturally and historically rich destinations.
stylus magazine 27
“WITH MUSIC ON THEIR MIND Irvin Mayfield (NOJO) The Big Beat
IT’S NO TIME FOR CRIME” Doc Jones / 504mag
Photos By: Doc Jones
Article with #3 MEET ONECollage OF THE NEW GENERATION OF DRUMMERS! PETER VARNADO
By: Doug Berry What does Peter Varnado share with jazz greats Wynton Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, and Harry Connick Jr.? They are all graduates of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA). I’d say Mr. Varnado is positioning himself for an awesome career in music. Enter Peter Varnado, an up-and-coming percussionist reared and trained in the great city of New Orleans, began his percussionist journey at 7-years-old. He has embraced the privilege of studying under the great jazz drummer Jason Marsalis. At the tender age of 18, Peter’s “arms” have already stretched as far as France as he personally trained would-be drummers to follow his footsteps. Born with a natural ability to mimic and create sound and rhythm, Peter has enhanced his gift by developing a work ethic that seasoned artists would marvel at. He plays just about every genre of music created, from Gospel to Hip-Hop… Jazz to Afro-Cuban. A few of his noteworthy performances include: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Kennedy Center, Mahalia Jackson Choir, St. Louis Cathedral Christmas concerts, St. Sernin-duPlain, and France: Les-Nuits du Mont Rome Concert Series In 2010, Peter recorded via the NPR airwaves, NPR Program, “From The Top.” This one-hour program is designed to reveal the heart and soul behind extraordinar young musicians. Peter was one of the lucky teens given the opportunity to perform with other young talented musicians from New Orleans. Hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, Peter and his cast of fellow musicians performed “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” musicians from New Orleans. Hosted by acclaimed pianist ChristopMost recently, Peter completed a stint with “The Jazz at the Sandbar” student ensemble for the spring 2012 Inaugural Concert. UNO Sandbar Series (Lionel Loueke, Steve Masakowski, Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown). “Kid Wonder” One of Peter’s most prestigious awards was that of the “Ellis Marsalis Jazz Scholarship Award” presented to him at “Jazz at the White House, sponsored by Mrs. Michelle Obama. Add to that, his film credit to date: the popular PBS children series, “Postcards from Buster: Back to the Bayou.” If the former is any indication of what’s to come, 504mag believes that great things are bound to happen for this young percussionist. So, watch out world, Peter Varnado is drumming to a different beat and he’s coming. 30 stylus magazine
All Photo’s By: Doc Jones
Photo By: Doc Jones
PONCHO SANCHEZ LIVE IN CONCERT
JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2012
Photos By: Fredy Garcia
stylus magazine 33
CARLOS RIVAS MEX-SAL
stylus magazine 35
Article with Banner
504Mag WITH carlos rivas By: Shirley A. Jones I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Carlos Rivas one-on-one. My encounter left me with “Wow, a genuine headliner in the music realm who is not ego tripping.” Of course, he’s proud of his accomplishments and speaks of future endeavors with a level of confidence that certified his genius. Carlos Rivas possesses a level of confident musicianship that not all good or even great musicians achieve in their lifetime. During our conversation he spoke of home, grandchildren, many his travels, recent tours, future tours and an upcoming recording in Costa Rica. Though I knew I was speaking with an icon, our conversation was very low key, as if Rivas did not realize the importance of his music to the Latin community; or to the world in general.
Over the years Carlos Rivas’ flavor and voice has captivated passionate salsa lovers. The singer was born in San Miguel, El Salvador, and the age of 9 hestarted playing the guitar as an amateur in his homeland. By 14 he hadreached professionalism. His first professional contribution tothe music was at age 15 with the legendary “Trio Chaparrastique”, ledby the great maestro, Jorge Araujo, in El Salvador. It was clear to everyone who heard him that music was inside him. From there, the singer formed a concept and discipline of music, which has led him to the success he enjoys to day in his career.
Rivas told me “In my childhood, not having much to play with, creating my own instruments out of any objects available to him, helped set the tone for learning to play several instruments including guitar, bass and drums all that, but my favorite is the requinto.”
To encourage other young musicians out there, Carlos said he dreamed of sharing his music and singing with great artists around the world. That dream reiterates itself over and over in reality by Carlos having worked with performers such as Oscar de Leon, Grupo Niche, The Titanes de la
Salsa, among other notable artists. Further, Carlos has and continues to experience his dreams of sharing his music. Just a few days ago, he told 504Mag, his music is being played in Russia and that it’s being played daily on six, count them, 6 radio stations in China! Carlos just completed headlining a tour of Italy and Barcelona Spain! With a total of 12 completed productions under his belt, listeners can hear his music throughout Latin America, the USA and Europe. His latest promotional single entitled “Ingrata” by Puerto Rican composer Raul Gonzalez has already become a worldwide success. He is currently working on lucky number 13, a recording he will soon travel to Costa Rica to finalize recording the vocals.
Although his music is in high demand, Rivas finds time to spend
36 stylus magazine
with family, “Family is very important to me and I recently became a grandfather.” Obviously a spiritual person, Carlos told me it’s “The dedication and discipline that makes you fulfill any dream that is proposed in this life, that’s the key to success in my career.” Just a down to earth creative personality.
Carlos Rivas is also The Founder and Director of “Mex-Sal”, one of the most prestigious musical groups in Arizona. The organization was founded in 1981, and prepares to celebrate 30 years of success; a big party is planned for October 2012. Carlos Rivas and “Mex-Sal” has become a tradition foryears. “Let’s celebrate with all our hits live, and make people dance and enjoy with the whole orchestra,” he stated.
Carlos Rivas music can be found on Amazon.com, and other information can be found at: firstname.lastname@example.org- email@example.com - www.facebook.com/mexsalmusic - www.facebook.com/carlosrivasymexsal and on www.youtube.com/cmexsal
Poncho Sanchez THE GOD FATHER & LEGEND OF LATIN JAZZ
Publisherâ€™s note: 504Mag is honored to bring to its readers the one and only Poncho Sanchez. Sanchez is a world renowned percussionist and band leader. Before we get in depth with the article, let me tell you how 504Mag came to the conclusion we needed the phenomenal Poncho Sanchez to grace the cover of our latest edition. In April of this year, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona on assignment with a member of my research team covering an Irvin Mayfield performance at The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. While covering the Mayfield performance at the Center, I discovered that Terence Blanchard would be performing a short time later at the University of Arizonaâ€™s Centennial Hall in Tucson.
. It was then I determined Terence Blanchard should be the face of 504Mag’s fourth issue. Little did I know that getting to speak with Terence would not be an easy task. After countless e-mails, phone calls and text messages to the Blanchard “camp,” I learned that due to his tight schedule, a moratorium had been placed on all interviews. By the time I was informed of the restrictions on interviewing Terence, I had already instructed my Marketing and IT Departments to layout the cover of the Terence Blanchard issue. What I thought would be Terence Blanchard’s U of A concert, we later learned (me and my contributing writer/photographer), would be “a two-for!” Finding out that Terence Blanchard was not the headliner, but the “featured artist,” we moved forward with our interview plans. Kerry Campbell, a buddy of mine, as well as freelance writer/photographer for 504Mag did what he does to get the ball rolling. Upon learning Poncho Sanchez was the headliner and Terence was the “featured artist,” Kerry informed me he had performed at the same venue as Sanchez early in his own music career. A saxophone great in and of himself, Kerry knew Sanchez would remember him. We got word backstage to Poncho that Kerry and I were out front at Centennial Hall representing 504Mag and seeking an interview with Terrence Blanchard. Hence, the start of our “two-for” photo opt and interview. Wow, two great performing artists on the same stage at the same time. A writer’s dream, Terence Blanchard and Poncho Sanchez . . . so this issue was born. Without Poncho’s help, we would not have gotten to Terence as soon as we did. And without Kerry, we probably would not have gotten to meet with Poncho. The rest is history! William “Doc” Jones Photos By: Fredy Garcia
Article with Collage #2
CONCORD RECORD’S RECORDING
ARTIST PONCHO SANCHEZ
Photos By: Fredy Garcia
504 MAG Interviews Poncho Sanchez, Conga Player & band leader. By: Cynthia Gill Mitchell
` but just long enough for him to experience a teasing pluck on his now cherished, trusty guitar. Armed with enough of what Benny afforded this would-be genius, Poncho took at least 1-year to create his own sounds, and eventually mastered these new chords emanating from this second-hand guitar. He was a full-fledged musician now, since he had previously become adept at playing the flute, drums and timbale. To this day, Poncho and Rodriquez remain friends and more than likely occasionally take looks back to remember the days of their first “working” band.
ho could have imagined that adding a 50-cent guitar to his collection of self-taught instruments would lead the way to Poncho Sanchez’s magnificent and anticipated musical journey, not to mention a Grammy Award win in 1999. As far back as the 6th grade, he probably had his own adolescent epiphany, while embracing his purchase of a lifetime. Benny Rodriquez, his long-time friend and early mentor, sold this infamous guitar to Sanchez, months prior to making him an offer to join his rock and roll band. Since he lived directly across the street from Rodriquez, it made it easy for Sanchez to peer through the window where he and his band rehearsed. This all transpired in the 60’s, when spinning tops, yo-yo’s and the Hula-Hoop were among the toy phenomena, but Poncho had his sights set on the music, including the sounds of Motown, which was just peeking through with its soulful music mania.
Sanchez’s Mexican-born parents met in Laredo, Texas. There, they raised Poncho, the youngest, and his 6 sisters and 4 brothers. At the urging of Poncho’s uncle, who had moved there earlier, the family soon picked up stakes and moved to Norwalk, California as well. Poncho’s uncle encouraged the Sanchez family to relocate with their dry cleaning business because of the high volume of available work.
Benny Rodriquez would allow Sanchez to join their midst,
Mr. Sanchez, his wife and their 11 kids moved back to Laredo,
5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 4 0 40 stylus magazine
Photos By: Fredy Garcia
Photos By: Fredy Garcia
Relevant to Poncho’s music and the tribute to Chano & Dizzy Project Texas to run their dry cleaning business located at the back of their house. During this period, Poncho was a junior high school student, but continued to help out his parents, while working hard alongside his siblings. One sister ran the front desk, while Poncho and his brother made deliveries on their bikes. Soon after, the kids pleaded with their dad to let the family move back to California. Within a year, they returned to Norwalk. Though Poncho is the only musician in the family, his siblings were into the first wave of mambo and cha-cha-cha music which came to Los Angeles via New York City. The genre is also known as salsa, Cuba music or Latin jazz. “My brothers and sisters danced and were great admirers of this music.” They were also exposed to R&B which they loved as well, and since he listened intently to their mix of music, Poncho developed a love for it all. Upon his family’s return to Norwalk, Poncho soon realized that Ralph Velasquez, his best friend and mutual friend of Rodriquez, and who also learned his guitar craft from Rodriquez, discovered that the
two of them had formed a band called “The Halos.” “I went into the rehearsal and I was shocked. They were actually playing and they had a list of songs and a couple gigs coming up,” Poncho says. Obviously excited and overwhelmed, no doubt Poncho was anticipating jumping on board with his guitar, and ready to go to work with his friends. However, according to Poncho, they had something different in mind. Their goal was to bring him on board as a singer. He reminded them that “he was a guitar player.” With little coaxing though, they convinced him to “give it a try.” When Poncho surprised them with his best James Brown imitation, there was little hesitation as they brought him on as their lead singer. But the band didn’t stop there. Believing in their new lead singer, the band elected Poncho to act as their spokesperson. Poncho reflects that this added responsibility also helped him to learn how to speak into the microphone. So, with a stack of 45 records in tow, and lyric sheets to practice from, Poncho was hit with yet another surprise – they had a gig scheduled for the following Saturday. Continue Page 46
stylus magazine 41
Article with photo
Publisher’s Note: In this issue, as in the past, 504mag goes out of its way to introduce up-and-coming artists. Throughout my travels, and especially in New Orleans, I somehow always manage to happen upon a potential musical icon. This time, while walking down Frenchman Street, I could not help but overhear the sounds emanating from the low end of the band. This sound was obviously the “bass”. It was a driving beat that made me pause and wonder, “who is this guy holding down this groove?” Well, to my surprise, it was a tall, attractive young lady instead. Reveling in this surprise, I of course stopped and soon discovered that she had the band on back, and carried them all night. Now, I have heard some of the best bass players in the world; including Rufus Reed, Charley Mingus, and Esperanza Spaulding. Now we introduce and add Andrea Gomez to the line-up of fine musicians “on the rise.”
In a world where classical music seems to be exclusive to the bourgeoisie, Cellist Andrea Gomez keeps us grounded with her approach to the eclectic art of the “string & bow”. Cello, and close cousin to the violin, viola, and double-bass, happens to be Andrea’s instrument of choice. Upon examining her performances up close, one can’t help but to become enthralled by her grace and superb skill. It soon becomes obvious the passion and work ethic she has for playing
Like a sylph, she becomes the cello and the bow- a mere extension of her limbs. Her left hand vigorously caresses the four strings in a manner that would invoke envy from any self-respecting masseuse. The sum of all the physical motion equals a sound synonymous with pure relaxation. Her rendition of “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla is exquisite. http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=ph4S9J-tbmY Andrea has performed at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and the Sala Santa Cecilia in Rome. She has played in the chambers with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, and the Loyola Symphony Orchestra in Puerto Rico. She’s no “one 42 stylus magazine
trick pony” as she has also played the electric bass with Rumba Buena, Javier Olondo & Asheson, and master percussionist Bill Summers. In the New Orleans area, her presence in major festivals has become expected like a Po Boy hoagie to a hungry sailor
Ms. Gomez has been the delightful host and content producer for the weekly TV show “Que Pasa New Orleans” airing on Telemundo T42 and WDSU channel 6. She holds a Master degree in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans and she majored in Music Industry Studies at Loyola University, New Orleans LA.
Coupled with her unique musical style and on-air related skills, Andrea easily coordinates public relations and press releases. Some of her content highlights include the coverage of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, Latin Billboard Awards, the Crescent City Classic, Doug Casey Research Summit, Interview with singer Alejandro Sanz, Rumba Fitness, Health and Wellness segments, Simba and Friends “Paws for a Cause” Benefit, among others Delving into the realm of this gifted young lady’s treasure trove of education and business prowess, 504magazine discovered that Andrea obtained a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from the University of New Orleans, not to mention a degree in Music Industry Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. Probably complex to most of us common-folk, not to mention the average musician, Andrea is certified in Six Sigma, a quality control methodology that utilizes data to define, monitor, analyze, control, and improve operational performance by eliminating and preventing defects in products and associated processes, including management, service delivery, design, production and customer satisfaction. But wait, Andrea also specializes in providing business owners with advice on improving business results through improved utilization of advanced marketing and management tools. Her background in performing arts and her understanding of Hispanic culture gives her a competitive edge in the creation of marketing strategies for the Hispanic entertainment market.
If ever given the opportunity to witness Andrea Gomez perform live- I would advise to literally JUMP at the chance.
Photo by: Chef Overall
By Doug Berry
stylus magazine 43
Andrea Gomez was one of the most sought after side musicans at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. She played with, Bill Summers, Jazalsa, Riccardo Crespo, Rumba Buena, Ashes贸n and Anders Osborn. Photo by: Ramon Madrid
Latin Jazz Article with photo No. 2
GodFather of Latin Jazz By: Cynthia Gill Mitchell
In high school, Poncho set his young sights on a set of conga drums. “I hit them and it felt quite natural.” Soon after, Poncho chose to save the monies he earned from his singing gigs and purchased his first set of conga drums, continuing to practice diligently in his garage. He honed his skills to the music of Machito, Tito Puente and Cal Tjhader. Later, and ironically, it was under vibraphonist Tjader’s tutelage that landed him his first “real” conga gig.
Having mastered his conga skills by the age of 17, and additionally while listening to Cal Tjader recordings, it was at the age of 24 that Sanchez finally met Tjader after being introduced to him at one of his shows in Redondo Beach, California. Another unlikely fluke found Sanchez invited by Tjader to join the band on stage to exercise his conga skills.
When Poncho played his first song to Tjader’s liking, he was then asked to do a solo performance. “I got a big reaction from the crowd and Cal introduced me.” Poncho said that he could have “bragged about that the rest of my life.” When preparing to leave the stage, Tjader then asked Poncho to `stay with us the rest of the set.” Poncho played four more songs before Tjader asked for his name and phone number. Poncho took it as just a polite gesture, and didn’t really think he would hear back from Tjader. But he did, and Poncho was invited to perform with the band on New Year’s Eve in 1975 at the Ambassador Hotel’s legendary Coconut Grove. This gig also featured Carmen McRae Tjader hired Sanchez for a week before making him an official, fulltime member of the ensemble. Sanchez played a crucial role as conguero for seven years until Tjader’s death in 1982
“I learned a great deal from Cal,” says Sanchez, “but it wasn’t as though he sat me down and taught me lessons like a schoolteacher. Mostly it was just a matter of being around such a great guy. It was the way he conducted himself, the way he talked to people, the way he presented himself onstage. He was very elegant, very dignified, and when he played, he played beautifully. The touch that he had on the vibes – nobody has that sound. To me, he was – and is, and always will be – the world’s greatest vibe player. 46 stylus magazine
Some might call it bitter sweet, but before he died, Tjader had already suggested that Concord Records’ founder Carl Jefferson sign Sanchez and his soon-to-be formed group under the Concord Picante Label. The record company honored Tjader’s wishes. That same year, he signed with Concord and released Sonando. This album was the beginning for this collaboration and has continued for more than 25 years and produced more than 24 recordings. Chano y Dizzy is the most recent addition to this ongoing whirlwind of magical hits. It’s little wonder that Poncho Sanchez is viewed in the music business as one of the top percussionists of present day Latin performers.
Now, with over 30 years in the business and just as many albums, Poncho Sanchez seems to be streaming easily to the beat of his own conga drums.
All of this background and early influences finally earned Poncho his first Grammy for his album, “Latin Soul”, as Best Latin Album of 1999. A vast array of other fine works include Soul of the Conga (2000), Latin Spirits (2001), Out of Sight (2003), Do It (2005), Raise Your Hand (2007), and Psychedelic Blues (2009), not to mention, a couple dozen others to add to the mix.
“In 2011, he paid tribute to the innovative Afro-Cuban recordings of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo by teaming up with trumpeter Terence Blanchard for Chano y Dizzy! “Chano y Dizzy,” which honors the Legacy of this pair of jazz greats, has hit the charts running. Poncho describes that “these two musicians were the pioneers of what is now known as “Latin Jazz.” “Chano Pozo was a genius. He’s considered the Godfather of conga drummers, and he’s someone whom I respect a great deal. And of course, Dizzy Gillespie was an iconic artist in American jazz.”.
Poncho and 5-time Grammy winner Blanchard has carried this amazing show on the road beginning in January 2012 up to now, consistently blending their individual sounds at venues all over. Most would agree that this collaboration is probably one of the best ever to depict Latin Jazz in such a unique form.
With its “zesty,” smooth sounds, and the musical aid of Poncho’s long-time friend and fellow icon, no one would expect anything less from this duo. They make the usual “beautiful” music together this time around as partners on an album that is topped with a combination of “zesty” sounds from the past, coupled with unique renditions all their own. Poncho and Terence Blanchard are definitely making an impact with this 11-song set, which features songs written and performed by Pozo and Gillespie, and interjected with compositions by other writers that expound on the flavors of traditional Latin jazz.
Over the years, Poncho has been recognized as one of the most influential conga players and percussionists in Afro-Cuban Jazz. Coupled with his stance as a solo artist, his work has been featured on the albums of some of our most notable in the business. This list includes The Jazz Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Dianne Reeves, Joey DeFrancesco and of course, one of his long-time friends and collaborators, Terence Blanchard. On the heels of his collaboration with the late Tjader and his Band, and during their vacations, he would perform with his own group. During this period, Poncho’s many talents included his role as a bandleader. Also during this period, Poncho recorded his solo albums, “Poncho” in 1979 and “Straight Ahead” in 1980.
A Latin jazz superstar, Poncho Sanchez’s musical veins have been steeped in jazz and Latin styles since early childhood. Surprisingly though, his older brothers and sisters listened to all types of popular music and even introduced him to their favorites, but Sanchez is the only sibling who caught “the bug” and stuck with his multifaceted passion. Packed with his 30-albums and a package of success stories, he still remembers the rough climb. Sanchez never shunned the realization that in betwixt and between gigs, he still had to support his family. His passions never wavered, however, for he knew it was all just a part of the process.
Poncho has never been ashamed of his work ethics. Since the beginning, when he worked with his family in the cleaning business,
he also worked in an aluminum foundry in Southgate Holding on to the adage that you “don’t quit your day job,” he continued his factory job for five years and continued to play with the band on weekends. Everything seemed to come just in the nick of time with Poncho, for when he was finally laid off his job, it was then that he became a professional musician. However, still not feeling quite secure enough, Poncho also worked as a truck driver for 4 years until his career took off to his financial satisfaction.
Poncho married his wife, Stella, fresh out of high school at the age of 17. He and Stella have two sons, Xavier Mongo Sanchez, an astrophysicist; and Julian Tito Sanchez, a real estate loan officer. These young men found their own creative niche.
504mag can safely say that Poncho Sanchez is probably the ultimate “family man,” not only because of his devotion to his own, but his “common folk” mindset also brings out the domestic side of him. No place like home with Poncho. An interviewer reported that upon a phone call to Poncho, who happened to answer the phone himself, didn’t brush him off, but instead, Poncho politely asked him to “call him back in a few minutes.” Poncho wasn’t busy working on another album though, nor was he rehearsing for his next big show. He was cleaning his own pool, and even took a few minutes before reconnecting with the interviewer to do some work around the house. He was preparing for a photo shoot.
With his long history of world travels in the business, Poncho remains cognizant of past struggles in the business as well. He’s humble enough to not explain why he gives back, it should be obvious when he displays his usual exquisite performance just as passionately at a small venue as he would at the larger concert halls and jazz fests around the world. He is also no stranger to workshops and colleges, since he studied music at Cerritos College and played with the jazz stage band and the fusion rock group there.
On March 17th of this year, Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band played the Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Florida at the 6th annual 2012 Festival of the Arts. The Schmidt Family Center for The Arts, a celebration of music, literature, film, art and dance at the Mizner Park Amphitheater and the Cultural Arts Center.
The 6th annual festival of the arts BOCA 2012 MARCH 7TH – 18TH AT THE Mizner Park Amphitheater and the cultural arts center
Most recently, on July 7th, Poncho and his band made their debut appearance at the 40th anniversary of the Stanford Jazz Workshop. SJW, which was founded in 1972, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to jazz education and appreciation. For nearly four decades, SJW has been bringing the best jazz performers and educators together with students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, in two summer programs: the Stanford Jazz Festival and the Stanford Jazz Camp and Jazz Residency. Artists mingle with the students at Jazz Camp and Residency, while passing on their experiences, techniques and artistic visions to the students. SJW’s faculty has included jazz greats such as Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Ray Brown, among other famous jazz participants. Many emerging jazz stars are past participants of SJW programs, including Joshua Redman, Larry Grenadier, Bill Stewart, Sasha Dobson, Taylor Eigsti, and Jenny Scheinman.
Says San Francico Magazine, “The Stanford Jazz Workshop’s summer festival traditionally ranks among the best—from the cross-cultural incisiveness of Jon Jang to the Dixieland of cornetist Jim Cullum, there’s not a sour note in the bunch.”
With all that precedes him, Poncho admits that, “I don’t know how to write music myself, but I can tell you if it’s right or wrong.” Sanchez clarifies, “I just hum them all my ideas, I want the horn players to do this, I want the bass player to play this line, and they write it out for me. They sit at the piano here at my house and I’ve got a conga drum and they sit there and physically start writing out ideas. You work off of a skeleton first version of the tune, just a draft, an idea and then you fill it in and the next thing you’ve got a tune.’
Poncho Sanchez has written about 25 songs, but he feels that the main writers in his band are David Torres, his musical director, and Francisco Torres (no relation) trombone player. They are both good arrangers.
While the road to Poncho’s happy trails of success weren’t easy, he still refuses to take the obvious final thrill of it for granted. The simple life is one of his greatest pleasures. “What I really enjoy nowadays is waiting for my family to come over. I have a grandson now and
I love them to come over, make a barbecue, get in the pool and enjoy like regular people. I also love to go deep sea fishing. I go deep sea fishing once a month,” says Sanchez. He especially likes to fish off of Catalina Island. He adds that he used to have his own boat, but sold it and is considering buying another one.
Regarding today’s music scene, Sanchez feels the styles change faster than in the past. He doesn’t listen to present day music, but he has a library of videos, and DVDs, as well as 5,000 albums and 5,000 CDs. He has a collection of music from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, of jazz, Latin jazz, salsa, doo-wop, soul, and old Gospel. He can still remember the days of ode that claimed the sounds of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Wilson Pickett and James Brown, all music legends who continue to inspire him and his music.
Sanchez offers sound advice for today’s aspiring artists. “It’s a long, hard road, and offers that “ it ain’t the easiest thing to do, but if you really feel it in your heart…..”stay true to yourself, and your music.” …”Set a goal in your life, what you want to do with your music and your business, and don’t take your eyes off of that. Always zero in on that, what you want to do with it. I’m a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the Lord has His hand in this with me.’’
Taking heed to his own advice, 504mag is not surprised that Poncho Sanchez has the most record sales in Latin Jazz (today); has had the highest consistency of record sales in Latin Jazz for the last ten years, has won a Grammy for best Latin Jazz album within the last 10 years, has consistent longevity (over 10 years) as a bandleader performing Latin Jazz, and has a history of honoring past masters and the tradition of this music.
This “King of Latin Jazz” will be around for many years to come, not only because he has no immediate plans to retire, but also because of his love for the music that seemingly gets better and better with each new recording. At the rate he is going, and the amount of speed with which he puts out each album, 504mag agrees with what’s been stated more than once, that “Poncho Sanchez is a storyteller.” As leader of the most popular Latin jazz group in the world today, it’s his congas and seasoned ensemble that do the talking.
stylus magazine 47
504 Mag. is proud to introduce to some and re- introduce to others...
David Simon award winning Producer Publisher’s choice
Who is David Simon? David Simon is piloting his road-worn Volkswagen Passat through the streets of New Orleans, his mind on the city. As we roll from one filming location to another of his HBO show Treme, he points out landmarks: the Industrial Canal that burst its banks during Hurricane Katrina; the Lower Ninth Ward that was drowned as a result; the former site of a studio where some of the city’s most important musicians cut their first records. “We want the show to be about New Orleans,” he says. “It’s about what New Orleans means, about why it matters.” Simon is best known as the creator of The Wire, HBO’s sprawling but intricately intertwined saga of crime, justice, politics, and the press in a terminally decaying Baltimore. In person, he’s garrulous and aggressively intelligent, sociable without exactly being friendly. He has rounded features and an ursine frame clad in sneakers, jeans, a Kangol cap, and a hoodie that seems barely adequate protection from the damp, biting wind on this December day. After thirteen years as a crime reporter at the Baltimore Sun, Simon abandoned the sinking ship of newspaper journalism in the mid-1990s to write for Homicide, the NBC series based on his nonfiction book about Baltimore cops. In 2000, he adapted another book he authored into The Corner, an HBO miniseries focusing on the dealers, addicts, and civilians enmeshed in the drug mar-
ket of a West Baltimore street. That netted Simon three Emmy awards, and was the seed from which The Wire’s five-season run grew. Though The Wire never drew a huge audience, critics drooled over its multifaceted structure and nuanced portrayal of the lives of those cast off, forgotten, and fucked over by the post-industrial American economy, from petty drug dealers to inner city schoolteachers to laid-off dock workers Treme, the second season of which premieres April 24, is in some ways a similar meditation on post-Katrina New Orleans. But Treme is not another cop show. Even though police, drugs, and prisons figure into Treme’s several braided and branching storylines, the show’s central concern is a unique segment of New Orleans’s working class: musicians, and what they mean for the city. Over the course of a working afternoon and a gumbo and po’ boy dinner, Simon explains why.
arrangements of Kerry Campbell, celebrated saxophonist from the Detroit. Kerry not only worked with the aforementioned groups, but he was also a principal saxophonist and soloist, while providing his expertise as a contributing arranger bringing many of their songs to life. After leaving the soul scene, Kerry Campbell recorded for Fantasy Records in Berkley, California on its Contemporary label under the direction of famed producer Richard Boch. Rich Boch recorded John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Ritchie Cole and many others.
By: Vince Beiser
Q: You’ve said Treme is not The Wire set in New Orleans. But it is a similar kind of animal. It’s a many-sided, many-charactered, novelistic examination of a badly damaged American city. Is there a common theme between them? David Simon: Well, in terms of governance or institutions, the New Orleans of Treme may be as problematic as the Baltimore of The Wire. Even more so, because 80 percent of it went under water a short time before. So, it’s clearly the same backdrop. But it’s saying something different using that backdrop. If you have ever enjoyed the Dramatics, The Manhattans, Marvin Gaye, and WAR, then you have enjoyed the extraordinary saxophone work and
5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 4 8
DAVID SIMON CO-CREATER & PRODUCER OF TRMEME
Article with photo No. 2
50 stylus magazine
FENDER MAKES HISTORY
Photo by: Ashlie West Thompson
stylus magazine 51
Article with photo No. 2
Photo by: Tracy Rasinski. 52 stylus magazine
“JUST IN THE NIK OF TIME”
Nicole “NIK” WEST By: Cynthia Gill Mitchell
Nik West released her first CD, “Just in the Nik of Time” on Valentine’s Day in 2011. If you haven’t experienced the smooth sounds of this straight-A high school student, 3-time record holder in track and field star, popular fashion model, college-honored engineering student-turned world-renowned bassist and singer, then 504mag suggests you be enlightened and entertained by first pulling up her website. Listen to this young lady’s genius. Be engulfed in what has been aptly termed “Prince Meets Erykah Badu with a funky bass line!” says Seattle Times. Take a short journey as well to You Tube…. you won’t be disappointed.
Take heed in how far she has come since her musician father, T. West, peaked her interest in the ”rhythm guitar” at the age of 13. Marvel at this left-handed genius and all that she’s done up to now. Giving up numerous scholarships in order to follow her dream, she has since shown no missteps in her decision.
In speaking to this young icon, this writer found in her a wealth of pleasantries, an infectious laugh, and a genuine humbleness that sometimes escapes other show biz personalities of her like age and comeuppance. No one would expect anything less from her when you discover her unique and amazing background, not to mention the love and support she has received along the way. Were it not for her dad’s encouragement and her best friend’s coaxing, she might never have pursued her real passion. However, had she decided to take a different path, there were certainly other great opportunities she had available to her. Like a thriving modeling career, or reaping world-renowned accolades as a 3-time track and fielder, or maybe after completing her chemical engineering studies at The University of Arizona Honors College; who knows, she might have ended up on the cover of one of those chemical engineering magazines, or at best a major contributor. But Nik West stuck to her laurels, and thank goodness for true mu-
sic lovers everywhere.
Be informed that as the middle child of 5, she most certainly hasn’t suffered from that “middle-child” syndrome! Nik West had her life planned since before she was born, when her dad conveyed that she was “destined for greatness,” and “mark his words, this one is going to be a genius.” Looking at what she has accomplished, no one would dare reflect back to deny him that vision.
Nik (Nicole) West miraculously transitioned from her sports and modeling career. She told this writer that “she doesn’t really miss sports that much,” but does still have a penchant for modeling. But I don’t think she’s too disappointed, especially since she still chooses to model “on her own time.” Suffice it to say, when looking at her “still” photographs, her “model” face/figure displays easily as the “artist endorsement” for the famous music company, Fender. She was also one of the first musicians to display Fender’s first 6-string bass. Nik’s photograph was also appropriately hand-picked by iconic bassist, Marcus Miller, to endorse SWR’s Black Beauty Amplifier.
Showing much promise at the age of 4, her musician dad revealed to her the magic of 3-part harmony with her sisters, as he backed it up with his guitar. Later, he introduced each one to an instrument and taught them how to play together. Nik chose the bass after hearing a Michael Jackson song in her father’s car and decided that she had found her niche.
Besides Michael Jackson’s “You Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’s” inspiration, “Prince is her all-time favorite musician.” She also “loves Kim Burrell” and is a “huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald.”
I asked Nik if she felt her male counter-
parts to be competition or a challenge. To her, “you do your thing, I’ll do mine.” She appreciates everybody’s talents, and is in competition with no one. She’s not fearful of her counterparts, either - male or female, though she almost gave up early on. “Thanks dad,” is what she quips, when thinking back to how she almost gave up when she was shunned by some of her fellow male musicians in Church and his advice to ignore them and their insecurities.
Nik recently made a move to Los Angeles on the heels of her recent collaboration with Dave Stewart, and his management company, Weapons of Mass Entertainment. Dave Stewart is a famed musician, music producer, author, entrepreneur, filmmaker and philanthropist. He has produced for many well-known artists like Katy Perry, Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Joss Stone, Aretha Franklin and Alanis Morrisett, just to name a few. She caught Stewart’s eye while working on her album, “Just In the Nik of Time.” During this period, Stewart no doubt impressed, offered Nik to work with him on several projects.
Most would agree with 504mag that Nik’s album release, and her joining Dave Stewart’s “winning” team, is simply the icing on the cake, and to this honor, adds, “God is good! “A lot of good things are going on.” Her previous credits include work for Coca Cola, Apple, and MTV, George Lopez, The Tavis Smiley Show, and numerous MTV commercials, among other appearances. This bassist, singer and songwriter, of course, is much more than just another pretty face, and remarkably humbled by her appearances on screen and the stage. Consider her deep love for music and an amazing voice to back it up .
continue page 63 stylus magazine 53
Article with photo No. 2
54 stylus magazine
Photo By: Elsa Hahne
Jones Preferred Choice of
By: Cynthia Gill Mitchell Referring to Leroy Jones’ astounding 2009 CD release of “Sweeter than a Summer Breeze”, famed Grammy winner and New Orleans trumpet great, Terence Blanchard, reported that “Through it all, this CD is one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I’ve had in a long time.”
Blanchard also goes on to say that “to know Leroy Jones is to know a musician who has always been in search of finding a way to express himself with honesty that is very rare amongst musicians of his generation. I’ve known him for many years. In fact, he was my hero when we were growing up in New Orleans. He was the guy that was well ahead of his time. He played with a command and maturity that is still unmatched. When I listened to him play, I always imagined myself having that tone, or his sense of phrasing, and definitely his sense of rhythm. “He was and still is my hero.” . A beautiful tone, with a restrained romantic sense of phrasing sets the tone for the entire CD.
And how about the kudos cited from Jacques Aboucaya of “Jazz Magazine” (France). Check out the accolades he shares .about the “Sweeter…….” CD,. “The gracefulness of the arrangements contributes in a profound way to the success of this homogeneous and balanced CD, rendering justice to a musician who has been able to give New Orleans music a flair of modernity.”
“Bad, Bad, Leroy Jones!” Like so many jazz greats out of New Orleans, this icon was born to play at an early age. So, it is no surprise
Harry Conick Jr that he proved to be similarly gifted when he taught himself to play the guitar at 8-yearsold. However, upon entering St. Leo the Great Parochial School, bandleader, Sister Mary Hillary, advised Leroy’s parents to allow him to begin his musical studies with the trumpet instead of the guitar. She encouraged the trumpet, mainly because St. Leo’s band was a wind ensemble, and she also had a mild fear of him becoming a “flat-out” rock n’ roller with the guitar. Thanks to the school’s wind ensemble, and Sister Mary Hillary’s obvious foresight, Leroy has moved on to become one of the most prolific jazz trumpeters of his era.
swiftly to begin a phenomenal career that included playing with as many professional jazz bands that were able to recognize and embrace him and his gifts.
Leroy Jones took to the trumpet, and quickly advanced to playing gigs at age13. During this time, this young jazz trumpeter was overheard practicing by his neighbor, the legendary New Orleans string man Danny Barker. He enlisted young Leroy to be one of the first musicians to cut his teeth in his Fairview Baptist Church Christian Marching Band. Leroy quickly advanced to become “leader of the band” of this infamous brass ensemble. They played all over New Orleans, including Social Club events, and Second Line Parades throughout the city. This young band was also skilled enough to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at the Smithsonian Institute Festival of Culture & Folklore. Eventually, this popular band became known as the Hurricane Brass Band - soon to be cast as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Jones completed his studies at the Jazz Studies Program at Loyola University’s Conservatory of Music. Shortly thereafter, he obtained his musician’s union card. Embracing this new “professional” status, Leroy continued on
Photo by: Doc Jones Photo By Doc Jones stylus magazine 55
FENDER MAKE HISTORY
Article with photo No. 2
56 stylus magazine
Leroy Jones in concert
stylus magazine 57
隆Fiesta Oto帽o! De
FRIDAYS 7:00p 10:30p
Dinner with Fredy Omar con su Banda Javier Olondo & AsheSon
SUNDAYS 3:30p 7:00p 10:00p
Fuego Fuego Latin Party! DeeJay Carolina
Brazilian Music with Riccardo Crespo La Tran-K Band Salsa! Salsa! with DJ Cruz
437 Esplanade at Frenchmen 504.252.4800 | www.mojitosnola.com
Disfrute las influ c贸ctele ambien hist贸ric
e de la cocino inspirada por uencias caribeña y criolla con es hechos a mano en un nte de jardín tropical en la ca called de Frenchmen.
Cena al aire libre Platos Fuertes y pequeños Más de 50 rones Domingo Jazz Brunch ¡Música en vivo todeas las noches!
SHELL OIL HAS SUPPORTED THE NEW
504 Mag. is proud to introduce to some and re- introduce to others...
David Simon award winning Producer Publisher’s choice
Who is Daviv Simon? David Simon is piloting his road-worn Volkswagen Passat through the streets of New Orleans, his mind on the city. As we roll from one filming location to another of his HBO show Treme, he points out landmarks: the Industrial Canal that burst its banks during Hurricane Katrina; the Lower Ninth Ward that was drowned as a result; the former site of a studio where some of the city’s most important musicians cut their first records. “We want the show to be about New Orleans,” he says. “It’s about what New Orleans means, about why it matters.” Simon is best known as the creator of The Wire, HBO’s sprawling but intricately intertwined saga of crime, justice, politics, and the press in a terminally decaying Baltimore. In person, he’s garrulous and aggressively intelligent, sociable without exactly being friendly. He has rounded features and an ursine frame clad in sneakers, jeans, a Kangol cap, and a hoodie that seems barely adequate protection from the damp, biting wind on this December day. After thirteen years as a crime reporter at the Baltimore Sun, Simon abandoned the sinking ship of newspaper journalism in the mid-1990s to write for Homicide, the NBC series based on his nonfiction book about Baltimore cops. In 2000, he adapted another book he authored into The Corner, an HBO miniseries focusing on the dealers, addicts, and civilians enmeshed in the drug mar-
ket of a West Baltimore street. That netted Simon three Emmy awards, and was the seed from which The Wire’s five-season run grew. Though The Wire never drew a huge audience, critics drooled over its multifaceted structure and nuanced portrayal of the lives of those cast off, forgotten, and fucked over by the post-industrial American economy, from petty drug dealers to inner city schoolteachers to laid-off dock workers Treme, the second season of which premieres April 24, is in some ways a similar meditation on postKatrina New Orleans. But Treme is not another cop show. Even though police, drugs, and prisons figure into Treme’s several braided and branching storylines, the show’s central concern is a unique segment of New Orleans’s working class: musicians, and what they mean for the city. Over the course of a working afternoon and a gumbo and po’ boy dinner, Simon explains why.
arrangements of Kerry Campbell, celebrated saxophonist from the Detroit. Kerry not only worked with the aforementioned groups, but he was also a principal saxophonist and soloist, while providing his expertise as a contributing arranger bringing many of their songs to life. After leaving the soul scene, Kerry Campbell recorded for Fantasy Records in Berkley, California on its Contemporary label under the direction of famed producer Richard Boch. Rich Boch recorded John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Ritchie Cole and many others.
By: Vince Beiser
Q: You’ve said Treme is not The Wire set in New Orleans. But it is a similar kind of animal. It’s a many-sided, many-charactered, novelistic examination of a badly damaged American city. Is there a common theme between them? David Simon: Well, in terms of governance or institutions, the New Orleans of Treme may be as problematic as the Baltimore of The Wire. Even more so, because 80 percent of it went under water a short time before. So, it’s clearly the same backdrop. But it’s saying something different using that backdrop.
504 MAGAZINE / TV Show If you have ever enjoyed the Dramatics, The Manhattans, Marvin Gaye, and WAR, then you have enjoyed the extraordinary saxophone work and
5 0 4 MAGAZI N E 4 8
ORLEANS JAZZ COMMUNIITY FOR YRS.
“best tourism season in years”
SUPPORTS SHELL OIL “Still Working & Committed towards Recovery in the Gulf”
Article with photo No. 2
BAD-BAD Leroy Jones Leroy Jones has also released a series of highly regarded CDs including “Props for Pops” his tribute to Louis Armstrong, “Back to My Roots,” “Mo’ Cream from the Crop”, “Soft Shoe” and “Sweeter Than A Summer Breeze”. He has appeared on numerous recordings with other artists such as Dr. John, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Anders Osborne, Chuck Carbo, Spirit of New Orleans, John Boutté, Lillian Boutté, Paul Sanchez, Danish Radio Big Band, Guillaume Nouaux and many others. He has appeared on numerous recordings as a featured soloist and sideman.
Leroy Jones’ television appearances include Good Morning America, Late Night with David Letterman, The Today Show, Arsenio Hall, Conan Obrien and T.V. icon, Oprah Winfrey. Leroy also played on the soundtrack for the hit movie, “Sleepless In Seattle.”
In the 1980’s, Jones formed “The Leroy Jones Quintet” , stating “they sum up all the great experiences and influences, and gives me a chance each night to make sure that the great music of New Orleans is performed authentically and with great respect for the artists who came before me. Not in an old-fashioned way, but with a modern swing that comes from our love of bebop and other forms of modern jazz.”
The band’s first real international exposure came when it opened for Harry Connick, Jr.’s “She” tour. The Quintet has toured the United States, Australia, South America and Canada. The band eventually began touring on their own, performing at festivals and clubs dates throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Prior to the tour, they managed to release two critically acclaimed recordings on the Columbia label. They have also appeared on NBC’s, “Tonight Show,” and, of course, have made countless appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
The Leroy Jones Quintet’s credits include performances at the world famous Village Vanguard Jazz Club in New York; and for international festivals in the United States, Switzerland, Spain, France and Scotland. The Quintet also brought down the house at the Storyville Jazz club in Helinski, Finland. Their 62 stylus magazine
world travels seem non-stop, as they continue to stand by their mission to “expose audiences everywhere to the authentic music of New Orleans, the music of Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, and Danny Barker. They continue to pay tribute to those who have “helped create the rich gumbo that is the sound of New Orleans, he says, while putting our own more modern stamp on it.”
In most of their sets, it is typical of the Leroy Jones Quintet to include traditional numbers like “Bourbon Street Parade,” “Sleepy Time Down South,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Do You Know What it Means (to Miss New Orleans),” “Dinah” and “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” along with Leroy Jones’ own compositions like “Soft Shoe,” that are played and sung impeccably by Jones with the kind of swingstyle that only a musician of his uniqueness can deliver consistently night after night.
In 2006, Leroy was featured on more than ten CDs; among them; again with Harry Connick, Jr Orchestra, the Bordeaux Big Band, Antti Sarpila Orchestra, Guillaume Nouaux Quintet, and the Spirit of New Orleans. Jones’ other CDs include, Soft Shoe (2007), New Orleans Brass Band Music (2005), Wonderful Christmas (2003), and Back to My Roots (2002)
Leroy Jones has emerged as a “sly and thoughtful player who easily blends a mastery of tradition with his own signature touches.” His unique approach to music is clarified by the influences he claims, which range from modern jazz mavericks, to traditionalists like Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Jack Willis, Freddie Hubbard, Thomas Jefferson and other artists who put their own stamp on the sound. Leroy says, “The reason why these are my favorite players and have been an influence on me is because each of them had their own musical voice and command of their respective instrument. When I heard them play or when I listened to a recording of any of them, I felt something that goes beyond explanation. Their music, their sound and spirit speaks to my spirit and to everything I love and appreciate about music, about jazz.” A member of the New Orleans Jazz Hall of Fame, Jones’ playing has been described as a blend of two of those favorites; Louis Armstrong and bebop virtuoso Clifford Brown, both of whom are
critical figures in the history of New Orleans music
Since the 1970’s, Leroy Jones has proven his stance as a central figure in New Orleans’ jazz scene, and continues to expand and refine his musical prowess in ways that manifest his multifaceted talent. He has and continues to work with brass bands, traditional and modern jazz outfits, big bands, R&B and Top40 groups. He is even drawn closely to gospel and blues ensembles. In addition to his gift as an amazing trumpet player, Jones also composes, arranges and sings
Jones is also a member of the prestigious Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Jones remarked that he was honored to be asked to join the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. “Many legends of New Orleans jazz have graced its carpet. Being a native of New Orleans and a jazz musician, I feel it is important and practically a duty to keep the flame of the music that made this city famous burning.”
“The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band travels worldwide and spreads “their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans’ Jazz.” Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British Royalty or the King of Thailand, this music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues with a deep reverence and consciousness of its greatest attributes in the modern day as a venue, band, and record label.” This band began touring in 1963. Many of its charter members performed with the icons who invented jazz in early twentieth century, and included the likes of Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Bunk Johnson. Throughout Preservation Hall’s history, they were graced with bandleaders that included the brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey, husband and wife Billie and De De Pierce, pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, and modern-day bandleaders, Wendall and John Brunious. These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to the younger generation
who now follow in their footsteps. .
Leroy Jones says he remembers as far back as 4-years-old, and how intrigued he was by music in general – “all types of music.” Jones says that his parents were not musicians, but that they loved music and that “usually on the weekends there would always be something nice spinning on the turntable.”
504mag obviously appreciate Leroy Jones, including and especially Publisher, Doc Jones [no relation], an audible fan, who was especially honored when Leroy agreed to be featured. Doc’s worthy praise has been matched with so many of Leroy Jones’ peers and jazz media alike.
From Harry Connick, Jr.: “I remember Leroy Jones years ago in New Orleans. He was always regarded as the greatest. No one could touch him.
For young Musicians like me, he was exciting, intimidating. For the older ones, he was the “keeper of the flame, but Leroy did more than keep the flame, he started a forest fire.”
The Times Colonist reported: “Unlike fellow Crescent City trumpet greats, Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard, Leroy Jones has never garnered appropriate national or international attention. He unleashes a series of smoldering, soulful horn readings that are Zen-like:………”
Now, we had to include one of this writer’s favorites from Chris Rose of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: “It was really early in the day and Leroy Jones was playing trumpet. I don’t know what he was playing but it was achingly beautiful. I literally felt my body responding. It was so soft and melodic and catchy and just right, an my eyes welled with tears and I was pretty sure if I died right then
Photo by: Doc Jones
and there, it would have been a life worth living.”
Can it get more candid than Mr. Rose’s testimony, people? For all of his fans, including 504mag, our media peers, Leroy’s peers who play, listen to and truly appreciate “real” jazz, we can all certainly relate and agree without a doubt, that “Bad, Bad, Leroy Jones will be around for an awful long time.
continue: Nik West With her popular album being recognized internationally and receiving rave reviews from critics, her songwriting and bassist skills, blended with that soul-stirring voice, greets us with “Black Beauty, (“inspired after I became the face for SWR’s Black Beauty Amp and co-written by me and D. Scott”), ”Eyes Closed” (“a song that was inspired by me closing my eyes when I play my bass. I was told that when I close my eyes I play even better”) and her personal favorite, “Forbidden Fruit, offers that real music is still alive and well. I guess this is why Nik doesn’t mind me referring to her as an “old soul.”
Capturing a “mantra” penned by her dad, Nik embraces that which keeps her motivated: “TALENT is the ability to hit the mark no one else can hit. GENIUS is the ability to hit the mark no one else can SEE.” 504magazine hears you “loud and clear,” Nik…and we concur!!
Photo by: Ashlie West-Thompson stylus magazine 63
EUGENE’S MONDAY NIGHT
Super Jam Of course, in this steady climb Eugene knew he also had to work at a “normal” job. When I queried him about his job history, he eagerly quipped that he has worked as a fry cook, did roofing, construction, electrical, and plumbing. Between 1999 and 2000, Eugene moved to Washington, D.C. There he worked for TMobile and in Internet sales. He quit! He soon found himself on the Odyssey Glass boat, performing 3-hour stints for the lunch and dinner crowds. He quit! .After performing one of his first gigs in D.C., someone told him at the end of his performance “not to come back until you listen to Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and EU (Doin’ the Butt).” he said, “don’t come back until you learn to play the go-go.” He complied, and “honed his go-go skills by playing a lot of timbales and cow bells - while playing the drum beat.” “Now,” Eugene says, “If you hear me play, especially go-go or Latin, I can make it sound like three people.”Along the way, he became quite skilled at the trombone, tuba, Euphonium horn, and the coronet. Eugene also combines these instruments while playing with other acts. After 9-11 hit, Eugene moved to Dallas, Texas. In Dallas, he worked for Nextel for about a year, where he was promoted to corporate sales. Soon after, he gave Nextel a 2-week notice, because by then he had saved up
enough money to resign. This was his pattern at previous jobs as well, including one in Pre-Needs Cemetery Sales (grave plots) and as a waiter. Eugene obviously sought no permanent position with either of these jobs. And he took risks. “I was always good at whatever area of work I found.” He said that after each position, he would “save enough in order to pay my bills for a while so that I could devote all of my free time to my music. Interestingly, Eugene Harding originally played the drums left-handed. Three uncles were south paws, so naturally he patterned himself after them. Little did know, that these unusual skill sets would work against him. He went to a jam session: “I saw a left-handed drummer getting no love.” “Most folks frowned because they had to switch the drums around.” Naturally leading with his left, a lot wasn’t working for him. “It took me a long time before everything started to fit – like a jig-saw puzzle.” He says “he finally learned to fit the pieces.” “Most right-handed drummers cross their hands with right hand on the cymbals and left hand usually on the snare drum (playing the back-beat) He plays either way…. left hand on the high hat, left hand on the snare. He got to the point that almost any hand can hit anything at any time. Got that, fellow-lay people? In addition to his Monday night set, Eugene travels with Mem Shannon & The Memberships, a famous New Or
leans R&B/Soul/Funk Blues band that has been active since 1991. Though he has been with the band for at least 5 years, he has known Mem most of his life, when he worked as a waiter at the age of 14 or 15 on Bourbon Street, and Mem worked the same strip as a cab driver. Eugene says that the band travels a lot together and recently toured Worchester, Massachusetts. About 10 other New Orleans’ bands played on this tour, including Bonerama, Royal Southern Brotherhood and Honey Island Swamp Band. Eugene enjoyed this tour and others like them, where they switch up and sit in for each other. He marvels at how they “naturally embrace one another, especially since we have all played together at one time or another at other venues.” In 2009, Eugene Harding had the honor of playing drums on Glen David Andrews’ popular live DVD soundtrack, “Walking through Heaven’s Gates,” at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Treme. Eugene plays often with jazz, blues and R & B singer, Sharon Martin. Eugene and Sharon Martin just recently performed together in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He also gets frequent calls from James Andrews, Brass-a-holics, and Chuck Perkins and The Voices of The Big Easy.
. In June, he and the Brass-a-holics performed at the 23rd Annual AT&T Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food Festival In April through May of this year, Eugene appeared in Interact Theater’s .”Hot Jazz at da Funky Butt.” Hot Jazz at da Funky Butt recreates the myth behind the rise and fall of “King” Buddy Boulden, the man credited as the first musician to embody the sound of jazz, that would ultimately help destroy Jim Crow. Eugene multi-tasked in this play, “running from scene-tomusic - “I’d act, or play drums, the tuba, the coronet, sing and act again.” Eugene loved working with Interact, especially since they honor their reputation known for working with the handicapped. A group of these same young folks also acted in the play. For his stage/theater acting, Eugene was presented with a memorable coronet – the same coronet he played on stage. Another gift, and one that is God-given, is Eugene Harding’s voice. There was no mistaking the deep baritone when Eugene answered his phone. Eugene laughed, not at all surprised by my initial reaction before we carried on with the interview. Though it startled me a bit, it also prompted me to ask the obvious – “did you ever do voice-overs?” Of course he had! Eugene admitted that he “literally” walked into the popular radio station WWOZ/90.7 in New Orleans after much persuasion from his peers who collectively had the same feelings as this writer. “I walked in, they liked my voice and I was hired almost immediately.” Since coming on board with WWOZ, Eugene has done 4 commercials for the New Orleans Hornets, Chuck Perkins and the Voices of the Big Easy, and Mardi Gras Indians, among others.
Giving back also seems to be a favorite pastime of Eugene’s. He occasionally plays with Irving “Honey” Banister, and First Mardi Gras Indian groups. They visit camps and local YMCA’s to play for the kids, explaining the music, different instruments and giving them the history of the Black Indian during the days of the Underground Railroad. “I love to hear the younger cats coming up now,” I can definitely admire them.” There was a lot of admiration shown for Dave Greg, when Eugene performed with him. “I mean this dude plays 4 instruments at once: playing bass with his feet, one guitar in front of him facing one way and the other guitar behind him facing another way and then he plays the harmonica.” –“He’s the reason I started playing Daisy.” The first tune I played “Daisy and the drums at the same time, Mo Betta Blues.” Eugene says, “I found Daisy while cleaning a house after hurricane Katrina. This guy told me I could have anything left in the house. “I chose a Euphonium horn that hung on the wall. Why did he name it Daisy? “2 years after Katrina, I played a festival with the Reggae group, the Revealers. During this stint, we all dressed up. I dressed up as a Daisy. My whole body was green like a stem, with leaves of daisies painted across my face. Initially painted black, white daisies were painted around the outside of the bell. An oddity brought about only from Eugene Harding. Eugene’s adrenaline never slows down. He was pumped when relaying how he may get together to practice with as many as 10 drummers every week. “We feed off of one another.” This writer got the impression that Eugene has to do this to keep going
– to stay fit in his element – and probably one most musicians don’t find unusual. Undoubtedly his adrenaline rushes come regularly, especially since he lives next door to the popular “Sweet Lorraines Jazz Club,” marvels at the second-lines passing his house all the time, and welcoming famed trumpeter, Mario Abney and jazz drummer, Julian Addison as his neighbors. With all of this constant, joyous activity, it certainly explains why this multi-talented entertainer gets very little sleep. .In his words, “As long as the musicians continue to come together, stick together, show each other love….not getting caught up in the trap, they’ll be fine.” And “if we don’t use the tools in front of us, and it fails, it is the musician’s fault.” Eugene says his agenda just keeps getting bigger and better, and he looks forward to the next projects heading his way. 504mag will be watching as Eugene Harding’s beat just continues to go on and on!
BY: Cynthia Gill Mitchell
Yehosheba “Bass Girl” Yisrael
Article with photo No. 2
Yehosheba “Bass Girl” Yisrael is a 16 year old bassist and visual artist currently residing in New Orleans, LA. Born in Orlando, FL, she also called Rochester, NY and Atlanta, GA her home where she resided with her mother. In 2008 at the age of 12, she moved to Birmingham, AL with her father Dr. Lud Yisrael. It was at this point where she tapped into her musical bloodline. Her dad was the musical director the regionally acclaimed youth ensemble The Neo Collective and the bass player for his family trio with included her two brothers. She then fell into tradition of her brothers by adopting and mastering one of the many instruments their father played. Needless to say, she then replaced her father as the bass player. Some of her musical influences include Jaco Pastorius & Esperanza Spalding. Genres that influenced her style of playing include jazz, funk and reggae.o Being member of The Neo Collective and The Yisrael Trio has enabled her to perform major festivals such City Stages, Taste of Fourth Avenue Jazz Festival, The Preserve Jazz Festival, BAAMFest and featured in the 2011 Jazz In the Park series Birmingham. They opened and performed with great national acts such as Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, SF Jazz Collective, Herbie Hancock and Gerald Albright.
66 stylus magazine
â€œMy perspective on being a bass player is all about time, rhythm and support. Without a solid foundation the music will collapse. So as a bass player, my role in the band is the support as well as the rhythmic bottom. Therefore; over the course of three years (playing bass) my musicianship developed into stability and solidity!
stylus magazine 67
Article with photo No. 2 Alexey & BILL
Bill Summers continued on to arrange, compose and perform for HBO Koi & the Koala Nuts.” He also arranged, composed and performed on the track of Kenny Loggin’s Grammy Award winning album “Leap of Faith.” Oh, and then betwixt and between it all, this master percussionist kept on this magnificent journey and continued on seemingly non-stop, and still well into the 90’s, Summers collaborated with George Duke, Howard Hewitt and Phil Perry. He joined forces with George Howard, where he composed produced and recorded “A Whole Lot of Drum in Me.” Garnering the opportunity to collaborate with Stanley Clarke and John Singleton, he arranged and performed with each on “Higher Learning.” And Stevie Wonder was also among the mix, along with George Duke’s “Jazz Explosion” Tour. Ceasing for now with this exceptional list of performance collaborations, we simply cannot deny the reader Summers’ history of TV and movie accolades. Beginning with “Salsa” The Motion Picture ~ A Canon Films Production, and, of course, “The Color Purple,” where he scored portions of the soundtrack, under the guidance of Steven Spielberg & Quincy Jones, as well as “Smokey & the Bandit,” which Included one of Summers’ original compositions – “It’s Over.” “Roots,” where he served as concert master, arranger, and writer, and underscored for Quincy Jones. And then there were other film soundtrack performances; “Death Wish,” starring Charles Bronson, “The Greatest,” The Mohammed Ali Story, and “The Wiz” with Quincy Jones. One would assume that most of Summers’ musical wealth began in 1953 to 1963, where Summers attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music, and the Michigan Conservatory of Music, where at each, he studied Piano, Composition and for 5 years, 68 stylus magazine
theory. During the period from 1970 through 1974, Summers attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in Ethnomusicology. This wealth of knowledge can be heard in Summers’ inspired playing on the Volumes 1, 2, and 3 CD releases of Los Hombres Calientes, as well as musical ventures with other groups that cross musical boundaries. In 1998, Summers established “The Summers Multi Ethnic Institute of the Arts” (SMEIA). This unique organization has serviced the New Orleans artistic community for over a decade. Its many activities include counseling services, legal services, establishing music-publishing companies for young artists, mentoring, music, dance and art classes. The institute also provides the New Orleans community access to its library, which includes films as well and written material from around the globe. Many artists such as Billboard Magazine Music Award winner Irvin Mayfield, world-renowned drummer Jason Marsalis, Grammy award winner Nicolas Payton, Master Drummer Chief Hawthorne Bey & Funk legend George Clinton have all participated in activities sponsored by this Institute. SMEIA has taken students to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban music. In 1999, Bill Summers and several of his students were initiated into the prestigious Yoruba order of sacred drummers by Estaban “Cha Chaa” Vega, the most revered drummer in Cuba.
“We are dedicated to the task of bringing about global peace & harmony through the arts. Our main goal is to build a major facility on a 100-acre parcel of land located on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the state of Louisiana. The vision is spectacular. A campus that physically represents 6 continents, including Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Australia & Europe. Each continent will occupy its own separate plot & buildings, their facades and surroundings will mirror that of the area of the planet it represents. Classrooms, cafeterias, dormitories, libraries & study halls will dot the campus. Botanical gardens, athletic pavilion, transit system, and a multi media center, “Q World,” named after Quincy Jones will be aspects of this dream. The purpose for this institution is to give those who seek a career in the arts not just a place to study art but a place to create art in a truly multi-ethnic environment. “
Bill Summers has not allowed his awe-inspiring back-story of successes to mar his vision, drive and ability to help others, especially today’s youth. He continues to give back. When he isn’t working on film and television scores or playing percussion in the Latin Jazz Ensemble Los Hombres Calientes, Bill Summers is out there scouting young talent. This past July, Summers hosted a talent hunt at Irvin Mayfield’s I Club in the J.W. Marriott in New Orleans. Bill eventually touted this chosen young talent On Thursday at the IClub in the JW Marriott, Summers will be showing off some of this young talent with the New Urban Music Movement, a show that gives undiscovered artists a chance to perform for music industry professionals. The winner gets 10 hours of free studio time and a wealth of connections.
And speaking of the “youngins,” and other up and coming musicians, not only has Bill Summers developed a music curriculum for New Orleans’ Public Schools, but back that up with his background as an author. With so much extended education and decades of study in his wake, Summers no doubt knows literally hundreds of African and Cuban percussion rhythms. So to that, add him to the list of authors of music education. “Studies in Batá,” (including book and CD) an advanced study of the Yoruba-derived bata drums, was written and published by Bill Summers. This publication’s premise is “Learn to Play with top Professionals.” In the book’s “introduction,” Batá are described by Fernando Ortiz as being “Closed bimembra-
phones, ambipercussive with clepsidrically formed wooden body. The Batá have had a long history, and are sacred to ‘Sango’. ‘Sango’ was the third Alaafin, (owner of the palace) to rule over the ancient city of Oyo. The first two ‘Alaafins’ were Oranmiyan & Ajaka. ‘Sango’ ruled in the middle of the fifteenth century, before any written accounts of Oyo history. ‘Sango’ would put fear into his enemies by spitting fire from his mouth. The Batá drums are sacred to ‘Sango’. There seems to be more rhythms, on this particular drum for ‘Sango’ than any other Orisa. The Batá are similar to the dundun family of Yoruba Drums in several ways. In Nigeria ~ West Africa, where the Yoruba people are found, there are many families of drums played. Ipese drums are connected to and played for ‘Ifa’. ‘Igbin’ drums are played in honor of ‘Orinsanla’ or ‘Obatala’ and others. ‘Agere’ Drums are associated with ‘Ogun’. The Batá drums that accompany masquerades, particularly ‘Egungun’, are official drums of ‘Sango’. The dundun families of drums have no restrictions and are used in many ways, and they accompany various religious and social activities.”
Summers’ music has undoubtedly become his ultimate calling card and the most important weapon he possesses among this genre. He seems to be alert to a musical rapture that has offered him the right to forge bonds, breaking the ice with many, and steadily moving at an unbelievable pace. The reaction from audiences and peers results in a euphoria that, while elusive to some, is totally under his control. Hence, 504magazine would like to commend Bill Summers, a veteran musician whose works of art have harmoniously escalated to timely heights that have allowed him to ultimately keep up with and blend quite well with this generation of new musicians.
By: Douglas Berry
Caribbean influenced, Creole inspired cuisine Latin Jazz and Salsa on Fridays and Sundays Courtyard dining and live music every night on Historic Frenchmen Street!
Article with photo No. 2
THIS BUD’S FOR YOU KERMIT FUFFINS SPREAK EASY
Welcome to New Orleans 504mag.com 74 stylus magazine