Gathering great men musicians together and getting their music heard by multitudes! Spring 2021
Men Who Pluck Strings spring 2021
Dr. Joan Cartwright, Executive Director Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. 954-740-3398 Men supporting women musicians!
Dr. Joan Cartwright Editor-in-Chief
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Publisher: Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. Founder/Executive Director: Dr. Joan Cartwright – firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director: Dr. Joan Cartwright Executive Administrator: Mimi Johnson – email@example.com Social Media: Mimi Johnson; Marika Guyton; Libra Sene Editorial Staff: Dr. Joan Cartwright, Cheryl Wooding Creative Team: Lydia Harris, Jodylynn Talevi, Mimi Johnson, Melton Mustafa, Jr. Contributing Writers: Alvin Carter Bey, Dr. Joan Cartwright, Gail Jhonson, Veronica Johnson Melton Mustafa, Jr., Erin Peng, Rob Scheps, La Quetta Shamblee CONNECT General Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Sponsorships: firstname.lastname@example.org Musicwoman Podcast : www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman Social Media: www.wijsf.org www.musicmanmagazine.com www.issuu.com/joancartwright/docs/musicman_magazine Submissions: www.musicmanmagazine.com DISTRIBUTION For sale at Publix Super Markets, Barnes and Nobles Bookstores, and at wijsf.org Complimentary issues can be found year-round at select high-traffic locations and high-profile events through South Florida. Check our website and fb pages for up-to-date lists of events. Cover photo: All photos of Sons of Mystro are by Luke Ballentine
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First published in 2020
Dr. Joan Cartwright Editor-in-Chief
From the Editor Our first two issues of Musicwoman Magazine featured women musicians, exclusively. Then, in 2020, we printed the first issue of Musicman Magazine. In this second issue, we feature some of the unsung string players in the country. Conquest Graphics in Pennsylvania came through for us, once again, with a $2,500 Free printing grant! As fortune continues to smile upon us, we ventured into this magical issue to feature Men Who Pluck Strings! With the help of Melton Mustafa, Jr. in Miami, Rob Scheps in Oregon, and Gail Jhonson in L.A., we present Ralphe Armstrong, Chuck Israel, and the Sons of Mystro, a dynamic violin duo. This issue will engross our readers in the stories of these musical icons. This issue shines a light on men who have stood the test of time in the world of jazz, blues, and R&B. I trust you will discover new talent that you, no doubt, will explore on social media. Enjoy the read and join us in our quest to promote women and men in music, globally, by sharing this issue of Musicman Magazine with your family and friends. Sincerely,
Dr. Joan Cartwright Editor/Publisher
Table of Contents b From the Editor by Dr. Joan Cartwright 6 b Sons of Mystro by Melton Mustafa, Jr. 9 b Mel Bolton by Erin Peng 11 b Ike Woods and Lady Val by Melton Mustafa, Jr. 15 b Three Bassists: Moore, Essiet & Israels by Rob Scheps 19 b Ralphe Armstrong by Veronica Johnson 25 b Chuck Webb by Alvin Carter Bey 27 b Bobby G by Gail Jhonson 29 b Nils is by Gail Jhonson 31 b John B. Williams by La Quetta Shamblee 33 b KC Quarantine by Rob Scheps 34
ONS OF MYSTRO 8
Sons of Mystro
by Melton Mustafa, Jr. genres. He embraced it and allowed us to be creative. For our 8th grade show, we played a song that two friends and I created as our signature song. I still play it, today, before every show. Mr. Miles taught us to be free and that exploring our musicality doesn’t have to be restricted to one genre or method to improve ourselves, musically. Mr. Byrnes was another interesting teacher because he was the gateway to classical literature. He taught me proper technique. He corrected so many things that I did wrong and helped refine my technique and that of our classmates. He was by far our toughest teacher. He yelled and was tough. That was necessary for a growing musician. So, we wouldn’t be thin-skinned when faced with challenges in our life. Because of Mr. Byrnes, my violin playing started to form an identity. Our last teacher Mr. Dorsey taught me the most as a musician. I attended Dillard High School for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. What I learned from Mr. Dorsey was musicality and how to be a musician, not just a violinist but to be a musician. He taught me how to be a leader and take responsibility for my actions and my music. The most important thing I learned from Mr. Dorsey was to have pride in what I believe in and my music and what it stands from my perspective. MM: Why did you pick your instrument and was it your first choice? UM: At the elementary school we attended, we were allowed the freedom to choose what we wished to do whether it was music, singing, or acting, among many other artforms we had the liberty of choosing from. I picked the violin because my brother decided to play it. But I wanted to play the viola but ended up playing the violin because everyone in my class said they wanted viola as soon as I said it and our class needed more violins so I decided to play that instrument instead. MM: What is your favorite song or original composition to perform and why? UM: My favorite composition to perform isn’t exactly a song but rather an improv session we do where we create a beat on stage using a device called the ”Akai mpc live”. I really like using this device because there are so many possibilities to choose from as far as what we can do and allows us to have free reign over what we want to do without the pressure of playing to make sure our audience loves it but at the (con’t on page 36)
MM: What is your stage name? UM: The group is my brother Malcolm and me. Our stage name is Sons of Mystro. MM: Who inspired you to become a musician and how long have you been performing? UM: My inspiration for becoming a musician was when my brother brought the violin home, for the first time. I was intrigued by what this instrument was and what it could do. At the age of five, I decided that I wanted to play an instrument. What really caused us to really devote ourselves to be musicians was our experience watching black violin perform for the first time. It was a moment where everything we thought was possible was debunked and we saw new heights that were able to be reached from that point I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. MM: Did you learn music in school? If so, tell us about that experience? Who was your music teachers(s) and what impact did they have on you? UM: We had several teachers that imparted their wisdom to us and we are thankful we had them in our lives to teach us certain skill sets and lessons. As I reflect back on it, each experience was invaluable to shaping the perspective and career we have. Ms. Treer was the first teacher that introduced us to music. It was a wonderful experience and taught us that people can come together and make a beautiful form of art, no matter how different they are. She was nice to everyone and no one in the class acted up. She was cool enough to accept our different backgrounds and support us. I brought a Black Violin mixtape with hip hop songs that they played over. Ms. Treer listened to it with acceptance and excitement. My next teacher was Melton Mustafa, Jr., a strict instructor. Although we studied with him for a short time, he taught me that if you really want to achieve greatness, you need to be tough and have conviction for your dreams because good things do not come easy. That was the first time we experienced competition. Mr. Mustafa did not have favorites. He recognized good behavior and talent in his class. Mr. Miles was an interesting teacher with a long history and background as an instructor. He and Mr. Mustafa saved the orchestra program in my school. It felt as though Mr. Miles wore his emotions on his sleeve. He had such a cheerful temperament that we would mistake him for Santa Claus, sometimes, because he was really good to us. He saw the other things that we would do with our music to improve and play other
Mel Bolton by Erin Peng
Pandemic affects musicians From early 2020, corona virus wiped all over the world. It affected local businesses and all industries in every corner of the world. The entertainment business was hit hard. Fewer travelers and less international activities meant less need for entertainment. It seems like we are all living this new normal life, now. Here is the interview of bassist Mel Bolton. How did you come to music as a child? Did you study music theory? There was always music in my house my mother played the guitar and most of my uncles. Do you compose? Do you write music? If so, how many songs have you composed? Yes, I composed so many songs. I know it’s up in the thousand. Do you have a publishing company with ASCAP or BMI? I have a publishing company and with ASCAP and BMI. Have you worked with women musicians? Are you aware of the challenges woman face in the male-dominated music industry? Yes, I have worked with many women musicians, including the Waters Sisters. I am aware of the challenges women face in the male dominated music industry. But it is getting better. What advice do you have for younger men and women entering the world of music performance? The advice that I can give to the Young Generation that’s trying to enter into the world of Music performance is to work hard. Do not give up on your dreams. Please tell me something about your survival techniques during the pandemic. The only thing I can say about the pandemic is that I pray that it goes away so people can get back to their normal life. I pray for all the ones that lost their loved ones during this pandemic. I have lost in my family. My wife had family members that had the virus. My grandson got it but he got over it. I thank the good Lord for everything. I will keep praying for our world to be strong, again.
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the USA. Ma d
mitch talevi & bill keis
FEATURING usi c
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for his philosophical inspiration and for mapping the route to Live Again.
Special thanks to L. Ron Hubbard
Musician Support Services you’re always there for us.
You, me, we are forever Making it last, no end in time He, she, they are forever We’re making it last, no end to this ride No end to your life You only live once, is a lie
you got us together again.
You, me, we are forever Baby Boy, didn’t care much for his toys He could draw, before he could crawl He would be another Rembrandt But mamma had other plans Thirty years a lawyer, like he wasted every breath No it’s not over, don’t think that it’s the end In the end, you Live Again
featuring mitch talevi ~ electric & acoustic guitars, vocals bill keis ~ electric & acoustic keyboards
Baby girl, sweet music was her world She could sing before she could talk She would be another Diva But mamma had other plans Thirty years at the ofce, and she never sang again No it’s not over, don’t think that it’s the end In the end, you Live Again
musicians tom walsh ~ drums (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11) adam cohen ~ electric & acoustic bass (3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11) steve billman ~ electric bass (1, 6) bill keis ~ keyboard bass (2, 5, 10, 12) bill & mitch ~ drum programing (2, 5, 10, 12) ric erabracci ~ electric bass solo (9)
Can t am ar 4. G
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That you only live once, it’s a lie Only live once, it’s a lie That you only live once, it’s a lie Only live once, it’s a lie That you only live once, it’s a lie
Power Jazz logo, cover design & graphic artist - Jodylynn Talevi Artist photography - Rita Keis
6. ence nisc em i
for their constant support & encouragement.
Our wives, Dori T & Rita K
for their amazing performances.
Tom, Adam, Steve & Ric
We’d like to thank:
Produced & arranged by Mitch Talevi & Bill Keis - ℗ & © 2011 Bill Keis Music, Inc. - All rights reserved. -. Manufactured by Bill Keis Music. - Printed in USA. - 1259 Bruce Ave. Glendale. CA 91202
Live Again 1 201
www.billkeis.com/powerjazz Produced & arranged by Mitch Talevi & Bill Keis - ℗ & © 2011 Bill Keis Music, Inc. - All rights reserved. - Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. - Manufactured by Bill Keis Music. - Printed in USA. - 1259 Bruce Ave. Glendale. CA 91202 Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a ne of $250,000.
mitch talevi & bill keis
FIESTA - 5:25 SEASIDE SAMBA - 5:42 CANTAMAR - 5:54 GIGI - 4:12 REMINISCENCE - 4:21 SUNDAY DRIVE - 4:33 THE BLUES - 5:40 SUNBIRD - 5:39 CALM BEFORE THE STORM - 4:58 HABARA GHANI - 4:47 ONCE AGAIN - 5:39 LIVE AGAIN - 4:28
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
1-Fiesta 2-Seaside Samba 3-Cantamar 4-Gigi 5-Reminiscence 6-Sunday Drive 7-The Blues 8-Sunbird 9-Calm Before The Storm 10-Habara Ghani 11-Once Again 12-Live Again
power jazz - m talevi & b keis -
mitch talevi & billjazzz keis
COLOR: PRINTS: 1 of 3 COLOR: PRINTS: 2 of 3 COLOR: PRINTS: 3 of 3
PASTE OFA TAG HERE
1-Fiesta 2-Seaside Samba 3-Cantamar 4-Gigi 5-Reminiscence 6-Sunday Drive 7-The Blues 8-Sunbird 9-Calm Before The Storm 10-Habara Ghani 11-Once Again 12-Live Again
produced & arranged by Mitch Talevi & Bill Keis recorded, mixed, mastered by Bill Keis at 1st Choice Studio, Glendale, CA assistant engineer - Mitch Talevi
,I r gp tracks 1, 5, 9, 12 co-written by Mitch Talevi & Bill Keis Talevi Music/K-Lis Music (BMI) nc. A rdin ll r tracks 2, 4, 6, 7 written by Mitch Talevi Talevi Music (BMI) ight reco s re this tracks 3, 8, 10, 11 written by Bill Keis K-Lis Music (BMI) serve g of d. Un lendin lyrics for Cantamar & Habara Ghani - Bill Keis & Mitch Talevi authoriz ed duplication, hiring and/or lyrics for Live Again - Mitch Talevi, Jon Magnicent, Bill Keis, Ravay Snow-Renner, Natasha Talevi
NOTES: prod master: sales order: acct mgr: artist: bus. rel.: contact: ofa date:
bill and mitch 6 panel templategraidents orange.indd 1
mitch and bill cd face.indd 1
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Original SONGS for placement with Artists, film, streaming, TV & commercials.
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M MOJO IKE & LADY VAL
We are Mojo Ike & Lady Val by Melton Mustafa, Jr.
Ike: I play blues gospel, jazz, country. Put them all together that's me. Val: I agree. Our style is a little of every genre blended with a lot of Mojo Ike and Lady Val.
Stage name and where are you from? We are Mojo Ike and Lady Val. I was born in Miami and raised in Hollywood, Fl. by my parents, Rev. Willie and Mrs. Emma Woods. Val was born in Santa Monica, Calif. and raised in Overtown, Miami by her grandmother, Mrs. Ollie McCoy. Who inspired you to become a musician and how long have you been performing? Ike: My dad inspired me and I've been playing for 56 years. Val: It's more of what than who inspired me to become a singer. The love of people and being able to touch their hearts with my singing and words makes me happy. Did you learn music in school? If so, tell us about that experience? Who was your music teacher(s) and what impact did they have on you? Ike: Before 9th grade, my Dad taught me three cords. I practiced and I grew from there. In 9th grade, I learned to play the clarinet. In 12th grade, I joined the McArthur High School jazz band playing guitar. Mr. Desobow was the band leader. A fellow musician and friend, Leon Dixon taught me to read music. Val: I was in the Booker T. Washington's chorus. Mrs. Mable Glover was the director. I always admired her talent and discipline. Mr. Leroy Washington, our beloved drama teacher was a great inspiration, also. Why did you pick your instrument and was it your first choice? Ike: My mom and dad always said that I was born to play the guitar. As soon as I could hold one, I began to play it. Val: I've always enjoyed singing. As a child, I would sing in the bathroom and the whole neighborhood would hear me. Everybody seemed to enjoy my singing. What is your favorite song or original composition to perform and why? Ike: My favorite song to perform is "Butterfly" an original song. I love the simplicity and the intricacy of it. Val: One of my favorite songs to perform is "Angel in Disguise", another original. I love this song because it's the story of my being raised by my grandmother. How do you describe your playing or compositional style?
What are some the challenges you face in the music industry? Ike: Getting our music played on radio. What are you doing to inspire the next generation of musicians? Ike: Through teaching guitar, I've helped a few generations of musicians. Val: We have also held workshops. And we both agree that it is always important to give words of encouragement and love during every performance. Who is your favorite male and your favorite female artist and why? Ike: Marvin Gay and Nancy Wilson because they're smooth. Val: It's hard to pick two. There are so many talented artist. But, if I must choose, Chris Brown and Etta James because of their soulfulness. Who are you listening to? Ike: I am listening to Andres Segovia. Val: I am listening to African artist, Sona Jobarteh. What’s your greatest accomplishment? Our greatest accomplishment was winning the 2006 Battle of the Bands in Monterey CA., and opening for Buddy Guy, Jerry Butler and others. We got a record deal with Sony Records just before coronavirus. Where can we buy your music and how can we keep in contact with you? Our music can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon and all of the digital stores, wherever Sony Music is sold. Like us on Facebook: Mojo Ike and Lady Val Website: www.MojoIkeandVal.com Also, please view our videos on YouTube. God Bless! Ike Woods and Lady Val email@example.com
Kui Peng (aka Erin) was born and raised in Shanghai, China. She is a logistics professional with international experience in purchasing, import/ export, warehousing, security, facilities planning, staff management, and cost controls. After college, she worked as a logistics manager in a multi-international company in Shanghai, before moving to the USA to pursue her career. She received her Bachelor’s in Transportation and Logistics and an MBA from the University of North Florida. She is a member of Certified in Transportation & Logistics from the American Society of Transportation and Logistics. She developed and implemented a Department of Transportation driver’s compliance program which brought the company from 0% to 100% compliance. Erin is intelligent, energetic, outgoing, and easygoing with a great love for animals. She is a licensed accountant, customs broker, and entertainment agent. With her wide range of work experience from logistics and retail to relocation of companies, she started a new career in the entertainment business. She is the coowner of World Entertainers Booking Entertainment Specialist Team Agency, LTD. based in Hong Kong, China (www.webestagency.com). Melton Mustafa Jr. Discography, Stage, and Film Credits • • • • • • • • • • • • •
More Than Words - Mr. Sax Butterfly St. Louis Blues Sea B Marrah Betty Pageant Ike and Val Woods Live at Tobacco Road Pieces of a Pisces Jesus Was A Capricorn Guest Artist for the show By Kids for Kids The Language of Music -Tom Dowd (Film) The Buddy Holly Story Actor’s Play House (Off-Broadway) Apollo Theater (Striker dance troupe) Scenes from Miami Vol. 1 The Traveling Man
Melton Mustafa Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Miami, Florida, where he started playing music in high school under the direction of Mr. Frank Neal at Miami Carol City HS. He is the son of international jazz trumpeter and composer Melton S. Mustafa. He is honored as a two-time GrammyNominated Educator and has been featured at Jazz in The Gardens in Miami. Mustafa holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Ed from Florida A&M University where he served as section leader of the saxophones and head of the Dance Routine committee for the legendary Marching 100. Mustafa performed with the FAMU Strikers at the Apollo Theatre and traveled worldwide with the Marching 100. Mustafa’s Master’s Degree is in Education from FIU, where he is working on his Doctoral Degree in Leadership. Melton works as Professional Music Educator at Parkway School of the Arts and is an Adjunct Professor at Florida Memorial University. As a director, Mustafa conducted the Star Spangled Banner for the Jr Olympics, directed a show for the Super Bowl entitled Global Rhythms Local Beat, served as the musical director for the From the Porch, featuring Danny Glover, directed the band and choreographed the featured Marching in Master “P” and Little Romeo’s music video, Two Way, on BET TV show Access Granted, the making of the video. Mustafa received a grant to start a community band at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.
Three Bass Hit By Rob Scheps Essiet Okon Essiet
3 Bass Hit: Three of the finest bassists open up about their views, journeys, and wisdom by Rob Scheps Chuck Israels is from Portland. Glen Moore is from Arizona, and Essiet Okon Essiet is from Omaha and based in New York. All three made their mark excelling in different styles of jazz.
Glen Moore is a founding member of the band Oregon with Ralph Towner and Paul McCandless. Moore plays bass, viola, piano, and flute. He plays a Klotz bass with a dragon head that has a rich full sound and his own style of unusual tunings. Good humor and storytelling pervade his playing. His solo CD, Nude Bass Descending a Staircase is a quartet affair with Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, and Arto Tuncboyacian. He is featured on over 30 records with Oregon. He has performed in intimate duos with Nancy King and Rob Scheps for many years. After decades of living between Portland, Oregon and New York City, Glen and his wife reside in the Arizona desert, where he continues working in a music shed that she built for him. RS: How did you come to music as a child? GM: I grew up listening to the radio and records. At the end of WW 11 there were many great singers with big bands. My mother, Lillie grew up in a musical house. I learned the lyrics of the songs from the thirties which she sang as she danced around the kitchen of my house. When I finally began playing jazz bass, I already knew the bridges to most of the songs that were jazz standards. When we enlarged our house and bought a piano my younger sister Roberta started lessons with a neighbor woman. I began playing the piano and soon I would sit in the piano room in the dark and make up little songs. My parents decided that I should have lessons as well. RS: Did you study music theory? GM: I did not really study music theory until I began playing the Bass in college with very talented piano players. I listened to recordings and copied the playing of Ray Brown, Red Mitchell and Paul Chambers. When I heard Scott LaFaro and Bill Evans, I began music theory in earnest to learn to reharmonize standards. And I had the friendship of Ralph Towner whose piano and guitar playing were an enormous influence. RS: Do you compose music? GM: I began composing by making little etudes to use materials I was learning. This is still how and why I compose.
RS: How many songs have you composed? GM: I have composed dozens of songs often times as answers to questions from students. RS: Do you have a publishing company with ASCAP or BMI? GM: I joined ASCAP and eventually GEMA. RS: Have you worked with women musicians? GM: Yes, I have, my very first gigs were with a very talented accordion player named Niki Stewart. I worked with a pianist Serena Wright in college at the University of Oregon. I played with singer Nancy King and made several recordings with her as King & Moore. I performed with singer/pianist Terri Spencer; pianist Jessica Williams; violinist Hollis Taylor; pianist Joanne Bracken; singer Flora Purim; singer Jay Clayton; singer Lorena McKennit; singer Susan McKeown; saxophonist, Jane Ira Bloom; singer Annette Peacock and I taught several young women who became very successful. Most of these students were already quite advanced by their school music teachers. In 1984, at the New Westminster, BC high school jazz camp I taught: jazz trumpeter Ingrid Jensen; singer/pianist Diana Krall and pianist Renee Rosnes. At Portland State University I taught bassist/singer Esperanza Spaulding who had been in several great programs since the age of 5 in Portland, Oregon. Two of my very
persistent students in Portland, OR, Tina Frost and Laura Quigley, have been quite successful. I also had the opportunity to teach Joan Jeanrenaud in a class I gave in Bloomington, Indiana. Joan became the original cellist with the Kronos Quartet. RS: Are you aware of the challenges women face in the male-dominated music industry? GM: I am very aware of the challenges that women face in a male-dominated world. I treat men and women the same.
Essiet Okon Essiet: His name shows his Nigerian lineage but he was born in Omaha and raised in Portland, after a peripatetic childhood that accustomed him to frequent travel. Today, Essiet lives in New York but he is a world citizen. Early important gigs with Don Moye and Abdullah Ibrahim set the stage for his tenure with Art Blakey’ s Jazz Messengers, perhaps his most visible gig. Since then, Essiet has toured the world with jazz greats Gary Bartz, Donald Brown, Victor Lewis, and George Cables, staying in demand in NY and beyond.
RS: What advice do you have for younger men and women entering the world of music performance? GM: I show them everything I can about the music they are interested in and introduce them to techniques that can enable them to enlarge their perspective. Accepting the challenge of different styles is very important. I played with a folk singer at the Woodstock Festival and it led me to life changing opportunities.
He leads his own band, IBO, which made a cd entitled “Shona”. His life partner is excellent drummer Sylvia Cuenca - they frequently work together in each other’s bands. RS: How did you come to music as a child? EE: My mom, Arit was my first influence on my musical path. She loved music and wanted me to play violin so at the age of ten I started taking lessons and four years later, I switched to bass. RS: Do you compose music? EE: Yes, I compose. I’ve written more than thirty songs. RS: Do you have a publishing company with ASCAP or BMI? EE: Most of my songs are on BMI but I have a few on ASCAP. RS: Have you worked with women musicians? Are you aware of the challenges women face in the male-dominated music industry? EE: I’ve worked with many female musicians. My fiancée’ is an accomplished world-renowned drummer, Sylvia Cuenca, whom I’ve worked with many times. I’ve had discussions with her about the challenges females face in the music industry and am well aware of the hardships they face. RS: What advice do you have for younger men and women entering the world of music performance? EE: I tell young up and coming musicians to never stop learning, don’t give up, have a burning desire for the music and just have fun with it and life in general.
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Chuck Israels is a seemingly ageless at 84. He garnered worldwide recognition with the Bill Evans Trio, succeeding Scott LaFaro upon his passing. He stayed for six fruitful years. Other credits include John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins, Kenny Dorham, Stan Getz and Cecil Taylor. Chuck founded The National Jazz Ensemble, a model for Wynton Marsalis’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Band. He is a prolific, clear-headed arranger, writing the whole book for his current project, a 9-piece big band. He is based in Portland, OR, his adopted home, after long stints in Boston, NYC, and retiring from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. He is an articulate sage whose wisdom is tempered with a youthful inquisitiveness. Chuck stays active as a bassist and bandleader. RS: How did you come to music as a child? Did you study music theory? CI: I come from a musical family. My stepfather, Mordecai Bauman was a fine baritone and an early performer of Charles Ives’ songs. Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson (my kid brother, Josh’s godfather) were often in our home. I played the cello in my Jr. high
school and high school orchestras and in chamber music groups with Jerry Rosen (3 years my junior) who became associate concertmaster of the Boston Symphony, Ruth Laredo, later a well-known pianist specializing in Rachmaninoff’s music, and Bill Rhein, who went on to become associate principal bassist in the BSO. I played guitar and banjo too, as a kid, and took up the bass when I went to MIT in 1954. I studied music theory in high school and later at Brandeis University. My education as a composer / arranger happened later, after I left the Bill Evans Trio in 1966 and began studies with composer, Hall Overton. RS: Do you compose music? CI: Yes. RS: If so, how many songs have you composed? CI: Haven’t counted. More than 20 — fewer than 50. Many hundreds of arrangements and some compositions that go beyond the description of “song”. RS: Do you have a publishing company with ASCAP or BMI? CI: ASCAP. RS: Have you worked with women musicians? Are you aware of the challenges women face in the male-dominated music industry? CI: Yes, a few. Too few. And I’m well aware of both the great challenges and the far more rare, occasional advantages seen by those who are perceived as “different” from the norm. A few women musicians I’ve worked with have been singers, and they’ve been more easily accepted. Some have been extraordinary musician/performers: Billie Holiday, Joan Baez, Rosemary Clooney. There’ve been some fine women instrumentalists too. They generally have a harder time. RS: What advice do you have for younger men and women entering the world of music performance? CI: I’m not sure I am in position to give much advice. Playing music, what kind of music you choose to play, and whether or not you choose to depend on it for a living, are all such personal choices that I’m not convinced my choices, in the very different environment in which I made them, offer useful examples. Educationally, culturally, and politically, the world, is so different from the one in which I grew up that the forces acting on individual choices have changed significantly. If one chooses to follow a path governed by durable aesthetic values, the contemporary price is a steep one. ~ Rob Scheps
Alex Layne (1949-2019) Alex Layne was born in New York in 1949. His musical career as a bassist began in 1959 at Count Basie’s Night Club in Harlem. After attending the High School of Music & Art, the 20-year-old landed a job with Steve Pulliam and the club’s house band. Layne graduated with honors from Bronx Community College and studied music major Queens College. He studied privately with bassists Stuart Sanky, Ron Carter, and Alvin Bhrem.
Chick Corea (1941-2021) The music world is saddened by the passing of one of the true jazz giants, Chick Corea, who died this week at the age of 79. Corea, who continued to astound audiences for more than half a century with his unique jazz-rock fusion, was one of the most renowned keyboardists in music history. Having cemented his standing playing and recording with Miles Davis in the 70’s, Corea also worked with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Mongo Santamaria, Sarah Vaughan, and countless others.
From Basie’s Night Club, Layne went on to be a major player on the New York scene. He performed with Coleman Hawkins, Max Roach, Freddy Hubbard, and Cedar Walton. However, the bulk of his career was with top vocalists Billy Eckstein, Carmen McRae, Gloria Lynn, Johnny Hartman, and Miriam Makeba.
As a bandleader himself, most notably of his band Return to Forever, all of his albums earned critical praise with several considered classics soon after their release. During his storied career, Corea, who was named a Jazz Master in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor bestowed upon jazz musicians, skillfully displayed his talent on nearly 90 albums and amassed an almost record-breaking 23 GRAMMYS. He will be missed and remembered with fondness by all of his fans.
His knowledge of music theory and its application to solo and group performance is of the highest order. He is a formidable performer as a soloist and a member of a jazz rhythm section. His skills are evident on the upright double bass and the electric bass guitar. Layne played in several genres including folk, blues, and rhythm and blues. Josh White, Jimmy Witherspoon, Little Anthony, and Imperials, are some of the artists that he performed with. He was employed by the Jazz Foundation of America, performing in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. He worked with his own group in prominent jazz clubs in New York.
Ralphe Armstrong by Veronica Johnson With over four decades as a musician behind him, the affable and outspoken jazz bassist Ralphe Armstrong feels he’s earned the right to speak out publicly or privately on subjects dear to him, and to school young musicians on what’s required to succeed in the music game. His work history is legendary, having performed with a mix of famous musicians such as Carlos Santana, Frank Zappa, Aretha Franklin, JeanLuc Ponty and Herbie Hancock.
sessions. I just did a recording with Carlos Santana. It’s on YouTube, called Quarantine Blues with John McLaughlin, Cindy Blackman, and Narada Michael Walden. VJ: You come from a musical family. When did you first get interested in music? RA: Oh, yeah. I was born into a musical family, that definitely played a part since my whole family, everybody played an instrument. My Aunt Ravi played guitar. My mother’s sister, Aunt Ruth played the piano. On a Saturday night, they would have one hell of a jam session. My uncle L.C., Lee Crockett, was the one that got me to play the bass. The coolest thing I ever saw was that big gold bass he had. My dad kept trying to get me to play the violin, but I hated the violin. When I saw uncle L.C. play that bass with that low sound, I wanted to play the bass! I was seven and my dad made me a bass. That’s what got me into playing the bass. I wanted to be like uncle L.C., who drove a Cadillac. VJ: Did Uncle L.C. play professionally? RA: Oh yes, he played in Paradise Valley, and all over. He was better at the guitar than the bass, but he was a bass player. My dad played bass too. VJ: What part of Detroit did you grow up in? RA: I grew up on Belvidere and Forest near Indian Village. It was a beautiful neighborhood back then. VJ: You come from a legacy of Detroit bassists such as Ron Carter and Paul Chambers. Who were your musical influences? RA: My biggest influence was the man who taught me and mentored me, Ron Carter. Ron Carter taught me at the age of 14. Also, the great James Jamerson was the reason I got my big break out of Detroit. He was a big part of it because he introduced me to the fretless electric bass. Then, I auditioned for John McLaughlin, who was instrumental in getting me a break. John McLaughlin just went crazy and the next thing I knew, I was in London, England, five months later, recording for George Martin and the Beatles. VJ: You had an affiliation with the great James Jamerson of the Funk Brothers. Did he connect you to other musicians? RA: When I met Jamerson, I was already playing with Motown. I played with Smokey Robinson and The Miracles when I was 14. My counselor told my mother I needed a therapist because they didn’t believe me. My mother went to the school with the airplane ticket and the check.
No matter how vast and varied his resume is, Armstrong’s natural habitat is jazz, which can be heard in his work with saxophonist James Carter. Whenever Armstrong desires to transform from sideman to the stars he fronts his own ensemble. He built his name on Detroit’s music scene. Because of his devotion to craftsmanship and his deep musical acumen, he is as well-respected the world over as other renowned jazz bassists Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, and James Jamerson. He released numerous solo records including the Grammy-nominated album HomeBass (2013) and is working on a follow-up to his album Detroit Rising (2015). Musicman Magazine caught up with Armstrong, recently, and picked his brain about a variety of topics, including musicians navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, growing up in a musical family, touring with Motown acts as a pre-teen, his preference for collaborating with female musicians, and other matters he was in the mood to discuss. Veronica Johnson: Being a musician, you are in one of the many professions impacted by the pandemic. How are you doing and how have things been for you since gigs have slowed down? Ralphe Armstrong: Well, mentally, I’m hanging in there. It is really bad right now because there is nothing going on. In the spring, musicians played outside, under tents. At the Dirty Dog, a jazz club in Detroit, we played under glass. VJ: Yeah, especially with the weather changing, it was easier to perform outside over the summer. Now, it’s impossible to do anything outside. RA: I can practice but there’s nothing like playing. I’m okay financially. I’m old and I invested some money. But a lot of my colleagues are in bad shape. I am on the executive board of the Detroit Federation of Musicians. I do stuff like that and I have been doing
(Con’t on page 37)
by Alvin Carter-Bey Chuck Webb is a tall, slim man known as the Uncrowned King because of his authority on the bass. Webb was born into a family with no instrumental or musical knowledge. His father was a store manager and his mother was a social service employee. He tried various instruments including clarinet, bass clarinet, and violin, before settling on electric bass. In the 1980s, he became a regular on the Chicago circuit. Webb was born in July 1960, the year that Miles Davis presented Sketches of Spain (1960) to the jazz public. John Coltrane left Miles and released Giant Steps (1960) with his favorite bassist, Charles Mingus, who released Blues & Roots (1960). Chuck was the only child of his upper middleclass family. Whatever he wanted he got with no hesitation from his family. His first bass clarinet was purchased by his mother for whom he wrote Mo-Mo’s Grove (2014). At ten years old, Chuck got the idea of becoming a musician, after seeing Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson Five who was a bassist and singer. He was fascinated by Monk Montgomery (1921-1982), whose music inspired Chuck to dig Jazz music. Chuck’s professional musical career began with those he admired, as a teenager, including pianist Ramsey Lewis (1990-2000). He played gigs with vocalist Marlena Shaw, saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., who died as a young giant among his contemporaries, guitarist George Freeman, and pianist Ken Chaney. Chuck was a first-call bassist for many great musical artists.
Al Carter Bey born in Chicago, when Bebop was new. He studied and played piano, but it is as a radio disc jockey and show producer that he is significant. Al is one of few blacks to make an impact in an otherwise overwhelmingly white critical establishment, jazz radio. The groundbreaking works of It Was Jug I Dug, a short book about tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons, is his most important work as a jazz writer. Al Carter Bey, known in and around Chicago as the “Impresario” works as a radio jazz D.J. at WDCB 90.9fm. On Chicago Jazz Spotlite, Al features artists who are native to or resided the vicinity of Chicago, past and present. His Jazz awareness dates back to the mid-1940’s, and Jazz at The Philharmonic (JATP). His cousin was a saxophonist JATP. Listening to his cousin playing the melodies of beautiful music, caught his ear and remain until the day. Alvin enjoys airing jazz, the original classical art music of America, Jazz, that is collective creativity, a music of swing, bop together, in the ears and minds of listeners from Al Carter Bey.
Chuck’s education has been an asset to his musical success. He attended the University Lab High School and the University of Miami. Music education enabled Chuck to teach at the Chicago Columbia College and conduct private lessons in the Midwest. His marriage to another musician-singer Margaret Murphy, a retired Chicago Police officer who collaborates with Chuck musically. For Chuck, their marriage is the best thing to happen to both of them for many reasons, including the Jazz in them both. For sure, Chuck Webb is the Uncrowned King, above par. https://chuckwebbmusic.com
B BOBBY G
Bobby G Interview by Gail Jhonson
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most and is steadily developing new instructional material. High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” In addition to hosting his own popular YouTube (Psalms 91:1) channel, he has also published instructional guitar courses on Soundslice.com. Bobby Griffin Jr. a/k/a Bobby G | Professional Guitarist and Music Educator As a recording artist, Bobby Griffin Jr. has enjoyed success at radio with his single, Dearing Avenue in Bobby Griffin Jr. specializes in gospel, R&B, and jazz. 2019. His follow up offering, Samba Heights, promises He is a guitarist for various music ensembles and not to disappoint, by elevating his fans to his savvy churches in the Fresno area alongside instructing guitar samba nuances. Produced by Gail Jhonson, guitar courses. of the Jazz in Pink and Grammy winning guitarist, Norman Brown fame. This single is sure to be well Bobby was born and raised in Fresno, California in 1959, received; for she brings her piano chops, producer to Ruthie and Bobby Griffin. In 5th grade, his father skills and smooth jazz celebrity from Shanachie gifted him with his first guitar with which, under the Entertainment. Bassist Sekou Bunch, and Drummer instruction of Larry Hudspeth, he developed his craft Tony Moore rounds out the ensemble. Mixed by and learned to play gospel music. Over the course of London’s own Mike Parlett, delivers a jam packed and his youth, his love of music grew immensely and in energetic groove. Samba Heights is set for release in 1980 he studied under the guidance of Gospel guitar late February 2021. legend Chalmers “Spanky” Alford, an experience he regards as his “most prized possession.” Greetings MusicMan Magazine Readers! I recently connected with guitarist Bobby Griffin Jr., in Fresno In 1981 Bobby moved to Los Angeles, California, CA, and here is my interview with him… initiating his noteworthy career onstage with R&B legends Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Gladys Knight, and How did you come to music as a child? Did you study Dionne Warwick, as well as gospel icons like Kirk music theory? Franklin, Andraé and Sandra Crouch, Kurt Carr, and As a child I grew up listening to various styles gospel, the L.A. Mass Choir. Prior to this, he served under jazz, blues, and soul music. My dad bought me my Howard McCray, Patrick Henderson, and Judith first guitar and I had taken two lessons on it. Well the McAllister; as well as gospel projects for Keith Pringle, following week someone broke into our home and Norman Hutchens, and James Cleveland. stole my guitar while I was at school. Well as blessings would have it, my friend not knowing it was mine During his career, Bobby has performed across Europe bought it on the streets for $5. I had gotten a tip from with the Harlem Gospel Singers and has ventured to a friend that this guy was joining our high school Dubai, playing with the R&B Group, We Have Evolved band with my guitar! So when I confronted he kindly Together. His musical success further permitted him allowed me to purchase my guitar back for $5! So my to accompany Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, Byron musical journey began first playing gospel and R&B. Cage, Bishop Paul Morton, Tye Tribbett, Martha Then I attended Fresno City College and took theory, Munizzi, and Tramaine Hawkins, to name a few. guitar, and piano classes. I also played in several Jazz In 2001, he studied music formally at Fresno City combo groups and Jazz ensemble groups. College. Since then, Bobby has become a dedicated Do you compose music? If so, how many songs have you music educator teaching lessons in-person and composed? virtually for international students. Yes, I compose music. My first single “This Christmas” Bobby has served as the Minister of Music for various was recorded in 2010. My second single “Dearing Ave churches, and local bands in Fresno. He was also was recorded in 2019. Now “Samba Heights” will be recognized as a performing artist at Kevin Wilson’s my 3rd single. And many more in the hopper! International Musicians Summit.
Do you have a publishing company with ASCAP or BMI? (con’t on page 38)(con’t from page 29, Bobby G) At present, Bobby Griffin Jr. continues to play regularly
Nils is #1 on SmoothJazz.com and Billboard Charts Interview by Gail Jhonson
How did you come to music as a child? cast. For musicians in a band, I can only go by my own I was always into music as long as I can remember. I experiences and there is no man who could do what took my first guitar lesson when it was offered in high Clydene does in my band. school as an after school class. I was about 13 years old When it comes to being an artist, I like to think that Did you study music theory? talent, looks, and work attitude are more important I studied theory in Munich at a music school than gender. But I have to admit that looks are probably before I came to the US. Then at Guitar Institute in heavier weighted in a female artist then a man. Hollywood. But then the real deep stuff I got at Dick Grove School of Music, where I went after guitar What advice do you have for younger men and women institute and studied Composition and Arrangement. entering the world of music? There we covered everything I know about theory Find your own sound or musical voice. thus far in just the first week and kept going at that pace for a whole year. We were writing arrangements If you are serious about making a living with music, for big bands, small ensembles to Orchestras and had approach it like a business. Be disciplined and to conduct and perform them every week. organized. Don’t wait around for opportunities to knock on your door. You have to create them yourself Do you compose music? If so, how many songs have you composed? Tell our readers about your current project. Thinking back at my musical journey I was always a I always have several projects I am working on. I am writer. I wrote songs when I was a teenager. I would producing five artists: a rock singer, Ayline, and four plaything with my friends when we hung out, then contemporary jazz artists. I am writing, recording, when I joined a band we played covers as well as and mixing. The record label just released the third originals. As an artist I was always more interested in single of my current CD Caught in the Groove. The writing and performing original material as opposed first two singles went to #1 in the Billboard chart for to covers. Contemporary Jazz. I have written hundreds of songs of which about 250 have been published, broadcasted and/or sold.
I just finished mixing and editing a live concert I recorded with my band, last fall. I will to release it as a pay-per-view event. I am supposed to go on tour with the guitar all-star band, Guitar G-Force, if the COVID situation permits.
Do you have a publishing company with ASCAP or BMI? I am with ASCAP
Nils is online at nilsmusic.com and nilsguitar.com. He hosts weekly shows on Facebook Live. Follow and Like Facebook.com/nilsguitar to watch live every Saturday at 6 p.m. PST. My YouTube channel is YouTube.com/ nilsguitar. It has live concert videos, official music videos and instructional and behind-the-scene material.
Have you worked with women musicians? Are you aware of the challenges women face in the male-dominated music industry? I work with several female musicians. Clydene Jackson is regular member in my band on keyboards and vocals. I am also producing a rock artist, Ayline Artin, who’s band I joined as MD and guitarist. Further I work regularly with composer/artist Kathryn Bostic. We worked on scores for films like "Dear White People”, “Escape from Compton - the Michel’le story” and the Tony Morrison documentary to name a few.
Please tune in every Saturday evening at 6 p.m. and follow/like at facebook.com/nilsguitar
I know that as a back female composer, my friend Kathryn has more challenges to deal with than a white male counterpart getting hired and not type
John B. Williams 32
John B. Williams
by La Quetta Shamblee John B. William is the handsome bass player who recited his poetry on the Arsenio Hall Show each weeknight from 1989 to 1994. This musician’s journey is filled with adventure from Harlem to Hollywood fit for the big screen. John is the youngest of five and the only son in a family with talent imbedded in their DNA. His four sisters sang, danced, and played instruments under the watchful eye of their father who was their musical director.
surrounded by friends who were Puerto Rican, West Indian, Irish, and from other cultures. Diversity contributed to the development of his musical interests. He emphasized, “I was inspired, musically, by Latin percussions, bongos, congas, and timbales.”
While millions have read about the Harlem jazz scene, John B lived it. Saxophonist Sonny Rollins lived in the apartment above the Williams’ and came down for jam sessions with the J Sisters. John B sat His sisters were professional entertainers in their in on the drums. John’s adolescence was colored by teens, performing at upscale Jewish resorts on the the knowledge that he lived within walking distance Borsch circuit in the Catskills. The Williams’ family of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, the Health would load up the Packard and hit the road from Brothers, Milton Jackson, and other architects of jazz Washington Heights, bordering Harlem. The J and blues. Sisters donned to the stage with Jackie on sax, Joyce and Jean on piano, and June on accordion, in outfits Harlem was a jazz mecca and John B was one of the made by their mother. The siblings opened for Jewish few teenagers interested in being a jazz musician. performers on the circuit, including Danny K, Danny Eventually, he found like-minded neighbors who Thomas, and other emerging icons. formed a band with the goal of performing at Apollo Amateur Night. When they hit the stage, they won, The J Sisters were into jazz and listened to the radio DJ three weeks in a row. John B considers it luck that Symphony Syd, who played nothing but jazz. When one of their performances occurred when Miles John B got a phonograph for his birthday, he was Davis performed at the Apollo for a week, which put familiar with the genre. The first record he purchased the teens on stage for a serious jazz audience. Their had four 78” albums that predated the double-sided 33 fourth week was derailed when John B’s sister found 1/3 LP’s. Stan Kenton and Charlie Parker were two of his out he was smoking weed and threatened to tell their favorites. In his teens, John mastered chord changes to mother. The association with jazz musicians and drugs popular songs on the piano. He was introduced to the emerged in the 1940s, giving her reason for concern. upright bass in the corner of the room where it leaned She did not want her brother to get sucked into the against the wall. June brought it home on weekends abyss of that lifestyle. to practice for the school band and John gave it a try. In 1960, John B and Billy Goodwin enlisted in the U.S. John’s youngest sister June studied ballet at a Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Many performing arts school. She convinced their mother enlistees were musicians making money playing in that John B should join her to steer him away from bands off duty. There was a surplus of drummers but neighborhood gangs. Although this was not the best a shortage of bass players. One day, he went into town option in Harlem for a Black male with a reputation and saw a bass hanging in the window of a pawn shop to maintain, John went and said, “I loved it!” As for $100. He thought, “I can get some work and make president of her ballet class, June got free tickets to extra money.” He used his military I.D. to purchase it cultural events that included classical music. John on credit and got permission to store it in the band B was introduced to a broad repertoire of art forms, barracks, where he practiced when not on guard duty. including the music of Leonard Bernstein and the On weekends, the musicians drove to New York for New York Philharmonic. June Middleton is John’s gigs. John took lessons with bassist Alex Lane. He got only surviving sister. hired at the Officers Club on base, the largest on the east coast and home to more than 19,000 Marines. John B’s primary interest was the drums fueled by the rhythms of his father’s Caribbean roots. He was (con’t on page 39)
KC Quarantine: Keeping Jazz Alive During A Pandemic By Rob Scheps
of time. These are unpredictable and scary times for all, to put it mildly. I experienced disappointment, sadness, anger, and anxiety like many people. I was stuck in Kansas City, one of my favorite places and a pretty good place to be stuck. But I had to find some alternatives. Fortunately, I was staying with good friends in Kansas. I was hired to write two big band charts for guitarist John Stowell. Taking a deep breath, I told myself, “This is your job, right now.”
In March of 2020, I was busy touring, performing jazz in various places. After a string of gigs in Hawaii, Seattle, and Portland, I was traveling East in March as the pandemic worsened and spread. Following my itinerary that was set months beforehand, I went to Denver CO to play a weekend at a club with a great quartet that I’ve been working with for about two years with world class trumpeter Greg Gisbert. The COVID-19 spread was getting bad nationally, but to my surprise, the Denver shows were not canceled and went off without a hitch and with a lot of sanitizer. Dutifully following my schedule, I drove from Denver to Kansas City, MO. I arrived in KC Sunday night, ready to record over the next four days. Virus news was coming in, but the recording studio was in a private home, so we went recorded a quintet cd and a septet cd, featuring KC jazz star Bobby Watson on alto saxophonist. We recorded some exciting, swinging music and basked in the satisfaction of a job well done. Then, in a flash, Kansas and Missouri went into lockdown and we all went into quarantine, immediately. This was mid-March, and my bookings in Kansas City, New York, Memphis, Indiana, and Massachusetts were canceled. The gigs fell like dominos, nationally, in rapid succession, for all of us.
I promised John one arrangement by Memorial Day. Both arrangements were done by April 10th! I threw myself into the writing without knowing what would occur later. After finishing the charts and feeling proud of my work, I felt depressed. Now that these arrangements were done, what would I do? This was a crossroads for me, as it was for many musicians. During the lockdown, I became friends with Herschel McWilliams, a local saxophonist and webmaster who had started a site, Live Jazz KC, which provided a thorough calendar of live jazz in Kansas City. We discussed interviewing Bobby Watson live on the site. Bobby is a singular alto player and one of jazz’s most memorable and prolific composers. We’ve been friends for ages and I had been wanting to interview him for a while. This seemed like a good time to bring that idea to fruition. So, we set a date to stream a live Zoom interview on Facebook through LiveJazzKC.com. I had planned to cover Bobby’s whole life and career in 90 minutes. However, at the end of the allotted time, Bobby was still in college and hadn’t even joined Art Blakey yet! The solution, was to do Par 2 at the same time, same Bat channel, the following week. Before the live broadcast, I quickly named the show Convo Improvvo, a silly title that implies an enlightening, yet casual interview about jazz and life between friends. The shows with Bobby Watson were successful and fun. We modulated, as improvisers do, into a mode of presenting weekly shows with a panoply of jazz greats. We stuck with Convo Improvvo as the series title. I curated and conducted the interviews, while Herschel or drummer Jim Lower operated the sound and video, remotely.
Shock set in and I realized two simple but unfortunate facts: I wasn’t going to be working for quite a while and I needed to stay put for an unspecified amount Once the ball was rolling, we realized how many
fantastic living musicians we had to draw from, all with amazing career, journeys, and stories to tell. Funny, touching, sad, wild - these stories are now an archive of the Convo Improvvo episodes, posted on the website and Facebook page Live Jazz KC and viewable at any time for free.
Rob recorded over 35 albums with the Rob Scheps Core-tet, including the critically-acclaimed Comencio (Steeplechase Records, 2019) and Live at Smalls (Smalls Records).
Rob continues to perform and record internationally, working with his contemporaries and leading his own We have booked and anticipate Future Convo with groups, Magnets! with Kim Clarke, The Rob Scheps interviews with Mike Agene, Alex Nipagin, Kim Big Band, and the Rob Scheps Core-tet. Visit www. Clarke, Billy Harper, John Stowell, Jamie Saft, Billy robschepsmusic.com Drummond, and Bryan Carlotta from 2020, and in 2021, George Cables, Alex Norris, Jay Clayton, Kirk Lightsey and Mike Clark. In the ensuing weeks, we tore through an amazing list of jazz musicians This archive will be a valuable jazz library with Bassists first-person accounts of the incredible lives of the • Glen Moore participants. This archive contains fun history lessons • Mark Egan for many generations. No one knows how or when • Essiet Okon Essiet the pandemic will end, or what the music scene will • Chuck Israels be like when it does. These are scary, unanswerable • Mike Richmond questions. However, I will always look back and muse • Cameron Brown that in this painful, unknowably difficult period of • Jon Burr history, Convo Improvvo was born in the eye of that • Matthew Garrison hurricane. Drummers • Bill Goodwin • Victor Jones Rob Scheps began studying the tenor saxophone at • Eliot Sigmund nine. He grew up on Long Island, New York. After high • Bruce Cox school, he attended the New England Conservatory Baritone Saxophonists of Music for his B.A. in Jazz Studies with Honors in • Roger Rosenberg Performance. In Boston, Rob led groups, including • Alex Harding his True Colors Big Band. In 1988, he moved to New Trumpeters York and formed the Rob Scheps Core-tet and the • Tony Kadlec Bartokking Heads, establishing himself on the jazz • Shinzo Ohno scene. He formed new bands on both coasts. • Greg Gisbert • Scott Winhold Rob was a faculty member at the Mannes College Trombonists of Music. He worked with contemporary music • Robin Eubanks ensembles, while performing with noted big bands, • Dave Taylor including the Gil Evans Orchestra and Vanguard Jazz • Curtis Fowlkes Orchestra. Singer • Sheila Jordan Rob has been an active part of the classical, theater, Pianists and popular music communities. For 13 years, he was • George Colligan Principal Saxophone with the Oregon Symphony. He • Renee Rosnes was part of the national tour of Porgy and Bess with • Francesca Tinsley the Charleston Symphony and the New York City Opera orchestra for Wonderful Town. He worked on Gil Evans’s sons Miles and Noah Broadway on CATS and Miss Saigon. He appeared Balta Sax, saxophonist/performance artist with Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, and Linda Ronstadt.
(con’t from page 9, Sons of Mystro) same time creating a space in which people can see truly what Sons of Mystro Sounds like. MM: How do you describe your playing or compositional style? UM: I would say our style of playing is a strange mix of classical, reggae, and jazz. Rather than hearing those genres standing out in our playing, it melded together to make something new. Our father instilled in us the determination to play the music with fine detail, even in the nuances of the voicings. The approach we take is to make our instruments vocalize the songs we play. When we compose, we make tracks that sound like a song but the lyrics are notes. It feels like someone is singing to you. MM: What are some challenges you face in the music industry? UM: Boy, this year has been the biggest challenge we had for our industry. The limitations may stunt the growth and efforts of many individuals. But there is a silver lining and a light within the abyss of darkness that tries to consume us. Although we aren’t performing live, we are doing virtual shows. We have more time to work on projects that portray how we want to elevate the characteristics of our show through our video presence. The biggest challenge creatives face is moving forward when you feel like there’s nothing to move forward to. MM: What are you doing to inspire the next generation of musicians? UM: My experience of being inspired was through someone living their life, working on their career, and doing what they love to do, which is what we do on a regular basis. Children are always inspired when they see us perform and it warms our heart. We inspire others by remaining humble and kind, and holding to a standard that we set for ourselves and that our parents set for us as well. Concretely, however, we perform for organizations like the Nat King Cole Foundation and do workshops for the children there. We perform for numerous organizations and charities that we have come in contact with over the years. [The Sons of Mystro performed for the fundraiser for Women in Jazz South Florida in 2011, at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale.] MM: Who is your favorite male artist and your favorite female artist and why? UM: Currently, my fav male artist would have to be this talent named Masego. He has this creative vibe that doesn’t constrict him to current genres and forms
of music. He blends different things together. One EP he has is a genre he labeled Trap House Jazz. Aside from this, his stage presence and showmanship are revered and respected. My fav female artist is Sinead Harnett. She has a great voice and a contagious personality. That’s something I appreciate from artists, a personality that shows through their music. I am impressed by the type of music they choose to write about. Sinead gives you something that you can have a normal conversation with this person and connect with them. MM: Who are you listening to? UM: Currently, I am listening to Keytranada. He has this fluid song where his production as a producer makes absolute sense, when you piece what you are hearing together. It’s like he has a formula that has been well-crafted and tested to become a gateway of expression of what his vision is. His tracks have a great groove that makes you want to dance and have fun. MM: How can we keep in contact with you? UM: My ladies and gents, you can check us out on all social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter @Sonsofmystro
Contributor Melton Mustafa, Jr.’s bio is on page 14
(con’t from page 25, Ralphe Armstrong) I was a fanatic about it. But you know what bothers me, today? I need people to know if you want something you have to put your time into it. People don’t want to put time into nothing. I played the bass at home practicing so many Saturday nights!
Geri Allen had to fight with some musicians for respect. They always wanted to challenge her. I feel that we are all equal and some men are just chauvinistic. Geri Allen was a bad woman. I miss her so much. She always called me “my Ralphie.” I gave Geri Allen her very first job at Dummy George’s in Detroit and she I’m going to tell you something that is not in any always reminded me of it. magazine. I was playing the bass one night. It was a Thursday about 11:40 at night. My mother kicked in VJ: What advice would you give to young musicians getting my door and said, “If you don’t stop playing that damn started in the music, particularly jazz? bass, I’m gonna take the strings off of it!” RA: Study as much as possible. When it comes to the physics of the instrument, know how it functions and I said, “OK, OK!” But I was a fanatic for it. She had to the technique of playing it the right way. Don’t start tell me to stop playing it. playing it the wrong way and then start playing it the right way. That’s important. Listen to all genres VJ: What made you want to stay in Detroit and continue of music. I play all genres - jazz, rock. I played with your career here? Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, and even opera. I played RA: I like the standard of living here. That’s what kept orchestral music. Never be closed-minded. me here. I lived in New York for a while. But the place VJ: Are you working on any new material at the moment? I have, here, if I was in New York it would be three RA: Yes, I’ve already finished half of the album. I’m or four thousand dollars a month. That’s what I like going to be working with the great Narada Michael about Detroit. It’s cheap to buy a home here. Walden to produce it with Carlos McKinney, Frank Martin who plays with Santana, and, hopefully, I will There’s a lot of talent here. It’s something in the water. have Carlos Santana on it, too. We’ve got more and more talent. I’ve got students VJ: Are you planning to release it this year? that I teach at Cass Tech that are coming up and we RA: Once the pandemic is over, I will release it. This churn them out like cars. And it’s a lot less stressful is a business. So, once the country gets back to some here. Case in point, if I lived in New York right now, I normality, I will release it and get on airplanes. couldn’t afford it. VJ: How long have you been a music educator? RA: I teach at Cass Tech through the Detroit Jazz Foundation two days a week. Also, I teach at the University of Michigan under Bob Hurst and Dennis Wilson. I love the University of Michigan. I have been teaching a long time. I used to teach at Oberlin Conservatory for three years. I taught at Tri-C College in Cleveland and Michigan State University when Rodney Whitaker had me up there. So, I’ve been blessed. VJ: What’s been your experience working with female Veronica Johnson is a music journalist from Detroit. musicians? I know you are definitely supportive of them She has written for several Detroit-based publications having had them in your bands. including Metro Times, Real Detroit Weekly, Model RA: I worked with the greatest female jazz musician D, and The Michigan Historical Review. Currently, she in the world, Geri Allen, for years. We went to Cass writes for the national jazz publication JazzTimes. Her High School together. I love female musicians. work on Detroit hip hop was published in the book They add another thing to the music and they are A Detroit Anthology (2014). Veronica holds a Masters very professional. Actually, I prefer to have a female of Library and Information Science Graduate, Wayne drummer. State University. Visit her blog:
My publishing company is BG Entertainment and my Give us your contact, website and sales information PRO (performance rights organization) is BMI. Contact info: Bobby Griffin Jr. mobile (559-260-7272) email: email@example.com. The current Have you worked with women musicians? Are you aware single will be available at all digital outlets: iTunes, of the challenges women face in the male-dominated music Amazon music, Spotify & YouTube. My website industry? Bobbygriffin.com is (under construction) Yes, I have worked with women in the industry. I was under the directorship of Dr. Judith McAllister at Social Media sites: West Angeles Church of God In Christ for 17yrs where www.facebook.com/bobby.griffin.98499 I served as the lead guitarist. www.youtube.com/channel/UC1BWFoBy the way, my current project “Samba Heights” is played and produced by Gail Jhonson. I first met Gail when she was the Musical Director for “Tambourines to Glory,” a stage play by Langston Hughes; it was a musical play production where I was hired to play guitar in the band. What advice do you have for younger men and women entering the world of music? The advice I would give the young people today is very clear and simple…Go after your dreams, put in the work to accomplish your goal and never give up! Set your practice time, find mentors, save money, and invest in yourself! Tell our readers about your current project. It’s funny how this project got started. I was on Facebook Live just messing around on my guitar, playing a Latin type vibe, and I was getting quite a few “likes” and “comments.” Later that day, Gail chimed in on the comments and she says ”This going on your record??” and the rest is history. Thanks Gail!!!
Guitar Instructional courses: www.soundslice.com/store/beginning-gospel-songsand-licks www.soundslice.com/store/must-know-fake-bookchords-progressions
This project is very uplifting. Samba Heights is a happy, feel good song. I was blessed to collaborate with some of Los Angeles top session players, namely: Gail Jhonson on keys, founder of the female ensemble Jazz in Pink, with touring credits including Jonathan Butler, Peabo Bryson, Bobby Womack, and yes Milli Vanilli! Sekou Bunch on bass whose credits include Tom Browne, Quincy Jones, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, and too many to name. Tony Moore on drums and percussion, has played on many recordings and performances with Jeff Lorber, Bobby Caldwell, Euge Groove and various smooth jazz notables.
(con’t from page 33, John B. Williams) In 1964, John B completed his military duties. He wrapped his upright bass with blankets, strapped it atop his car, and embarked on his lifelong career as a musician. Drummer Billy Cobham referred John to Ron Carter, his bass instructor for three years. In 1967, Billy and John joined the Horace Silver Quintet. Times and the music were changing, and Horace was on the frontier of jazz exploration. He urged John B to get an electric bass but John B thought jazz and the electric bass did not mix. However, at the 1968 NAMM show at the Conrad Hilton, Horace took each band member to vendors who endorsed them with free musical gear. John B’s deal with National came with a brand-new electric bass and amplifier. His deal with Juzek included an upright bass. “I started playing electric bass and loved it,” John admitted. When bassist Bob Crenshaw saw John B perform, he said, “I like the way you play and you can read?” Crenshaw shared his workload with John. They played for the daily taping of Sesame Street. John B played electric bass on the album Louis Armstrong and Friends. The word about his talents and work ethic spread. He auditioned for Doc Severinsen and landed the gig in New York. He relocated to Los Angeles, in 1972, when Doc’s orchestra became the house band for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In the 1970’s, Nancy Wilson’s manager, John Levy, invited John B to join her trio. He was her bassist until she retired. At a gig with Nancy Wilson, in Cleveland, Ohio, the band was introduced by a nervous comedian, Arsenio Hall. Apparently, it was the first time Arsenio opened for a star of Nancy’s magnitude. The band embraced him as one of the guys. “He was so funny. He had Nancy and all of us laughing,” said John B. Arsenio told us, “When I make it big in Hollywood, I’m going to hire you guys as my band.” John Levy invited Arsenio to Los Angeles and the rest is history. But the history of John B. continues to unfold on the jazz scene, as he plays his electric and upright basses. He shares the history of jazz through his music, passing along valuable information to emerging artists, and continuing to make history with his contributions that distinguish him among jazz royalty.
In June 1998, LaQuetta Shamblee produced the Women in Jazz & Gospel Extravaganza Benefit Concert in Los Angeles for women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS. This production evolved into the Instrumental Women™ Lady Jazz concert series. In May 2000, the inaugural concert was presented at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences theatre in North Hollywood and made the Los Angeles Times year-end list of Best Live Jazz Performances. LaQuetta produced the Annual Instrumental Women® Lady Jazz Concert Series in Hollywood, California, for eight years. For three years, the series was selected as the L.A. Times Best Bets weekend jazz event. She created and produced cultural and entertainment events including the MADCatfish™ Blues Festival at Santa Anita Race Track, in 2015, and a jazz theatre series at Sierra Madre Playhouse. In 2014, she premiered her first short film at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. She is founder of The Instrumental Women Project, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public that “Some of the best jazz musicians, happen to be women.”™ Her production company MADCatfish Media Group, LLC is sponsoring the first Instrumental Women recording scheduled for release in 2021. She is the author of The Grantbuilder: Step-by-Step Guide to Grantwriting Workbook, which she used to teach in the Nonprofit Certificate Program at UCLA Extension. She resides in Phoenix, AZ and teaches accounting and finance courses at Grand Canyon University. La Quetta M. Shamblee, M.B.A. LaQShamblee@gmail.com or (626) 806-9264
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Men Who Pluck Strings