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James Spaulding The Master The Gentleman
JazzWoman Black Swan Records
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African American Classical Music
Summer 2012 Volume 6 Number 2
Publisher / Editor & Chief Jo Ann Cheatham -Senior EditorFikisha Cumbo -EditorAgneta Ballesteros -Contributing WritersJo Ann Cheatham Ed Dessisso Williard Jenkins Tony Vollo GraphicsDwight Brewster
Cover Story James Spaulding The Master, The Gentelman ............ 16
-MarketingDanyelle Ballesteros -ConsultantsEunice Lewis Broome Jim Harrison Greer Smith Ed Stoute Randy Weston
Features Black Swan
This magazine was made possible with public funds from BAC the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Let Me Touch Your Mind Flowers For You, Babe
Space is the Place ....... 26
Vinyl Man Spins JazzWoman One on One Fab 5 Freddy
............... 5 ......... 10 ....... 14
Pure Jazz is published quarterly with editorial and advertising head quarters in Brooklyn, NY. Tel/ 718.636.9671. All rights reserved. The authors and editors have taken care to ensure that all information in this issue is accurate. Nevertheless, the publisher disclaims any liability loss or damages incurred as a consequence directly or indirectly of the use and application of any contents.
With The Music In Mind We’re in the summer time it’s here with all its glory. Music everywhere on the radio on the roof tops converts. We internetters are setting up our schedules to list all the concerts everywhere Pure Jazz Magazine was fortunate to spend time with our historian-advisor at large Jim Harrison has he shared with us some of his valuable collection that. He has been collection with his late wife Fannie books posters CD DVD and items we need to keep this history strong. Jim has been gathering these items for the past Fifty years. What an honor. We are sure as Hard and wonderful continue to print our issues. We will be able to use these items usefully. The tradition of jazz and its history is long and hard maybe that’s why the fans that are purist treat it gingerly. Can you image the stories and time that not only what Jim has in his head but all the music and that what this publication continues to do write the history of the music. What an honor to tell these stories. This issue it is James Spaulding Master alto tenor player and a Gentleman to boot We approached him while he is finishing up his autobiography, we talked about some times he had to wet your a appetite about what’s to come just from the interview along I am waiting for his history. Thank to him and his family. About ten year’s ago ran a story which was entitled the forgotten Story of Black Swan Records. What hit that story was, it ran for two parts written by Jitu Weusi. From time to time people still ask about the story we so decided to re run it a Black Swan Records, the same story by Jitu but with new graphics. It’s a story to behold. One On One with Fab 5 What started out as a two part story is now a three part story we still have another part to go written by Willard Jenkins The importance of this story is the relationship that comes about in the relationship of Fab 5 and Max Roach. Thank you, Jo Ann Cheatham Publisher
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Black Swan Records By Jiti Weusi He viewed himself as a sort of expert on Black history and culture. In 1980 he earned a Master’s Degree in Black Studies at the Africana Studies and Research Center of Cornell University. So when he was asked on the TV quiz show to name the first Black-owned and operated recording company he answered with assurance: “Motown Records”. “I’m sorry”, the announcer said, “you’re wrong. The correct answer is Black Swan Records”. For weeks he was stunned. Then he snapped out of it and hit the books at the Schomburg Center, The Brooklyn College Music Library and the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. He reviewed books, watched hours of microfilm and researched old magazines and catalogs. Within days he uncovered the magnificent and fascinating story of the meteoric rise and fall of the Black Swan Recording Company.
In the first quarter of the 20th century the musical ideas of Blacks, but were (1900-1915) the great migration of reluctant to allow Blacks to make rethe African-American people took cords by themselves. By 1920, the shape. They left their rural habitats only Black voices to be recorded by a of the southern states of the U.S. and major company were Bert Williams relocated in the northern cities of an on Columbia and Mamie Smith on emerging industrialized America. O.K. Victor. One man in particular, They brought with them their taste Harry Herbert Pace, was acutely for music, which was a staple of aware of this fact and he decided to their spiritual and earthy lifestyle. act. He said, “Companies would not With this musical impact, combined entertain any thought of recording a with growth of capitalist America, colored musician or colored voice, I you produce an urban industry therefore determined to form my own entertainment for the masses. company and make such recordings Names like Scott Joplin (Ragtime), as I believed would sell.” W. C. Handy (Blues), Eubie Blake (Dixieland) and Louis Armstrong Harry Herbert Pace was born on (Jazz) produced a lucrative and thriv- January 6, 1884 in Covington, Georing music entertainment industry gia. His father, Charles Pace, was that continues to prosper in many a blacksmith who died while Hardifferent formats. The technology of ry was an infant, leaving him to be this industry was almost totally in raised by his mother, Nancy Francis the hands of White Americans. The Pace. Light-skinned and extremely making of records in its beginning bright, Pace finished elementary years, 1900-1920, was a discrimina- school at age twelve and seven years tory process. White producers took later graduated valedictorian of his Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 5
class at Atlanta University. He was a disciple of his college teacher W. E. B Dubois and his concept of the talented tenth. After graduation, Pace worked in the printing, banking and insurance industries, first in Atlanta and later in Memphis. In various junior executive positions, he demon-
Handy was part of Pace’s company. Handy stated, “To add to my woes, my partner withdrew from the business. He disagreed with some of my business methods, but no harsh words were involved. He simply chose this time to sever connection with our firm in order to organize Pace Phonograph Company issuing Black Swan Records and making a serious bid for that market. With Pace went a large number of employees. Still more confusion and anguish grew out of the fact that people did not Harry Herbert Pace strated a strong understanding know that I had of business tactics and had a reputa- no stake in the Black Swan Record tion for rebuilding failing enterprises. Company.” During his sojourn in the South, two significant things happened that would impact his future. In 1912 in Memphis, he met and collaborated with W.C. Handy generally recognized as the “Father of the Blues”. Handy took a liking to Pace and they wrote songs together. Later they would develop the Pace and Handy Music Company, which would bring Harry Pace to New York City. Secondly he met and married his wife Ethlynde Bibb, who became a great inspiration in his life. In 1920, Pace resigned his position in Atlanta, moved to New York, purchased a fine home on “Strivers Row” in Harlem and settled in to manage the Pace and Handy Sheet Music business. The enterprise using Pace’s business knowledge and Handy’s creative genius was very successful. Though the company was profitable and artistically effective, Pace was frustrated. He observed that White recording companies bought the music and lyrics from Pace and Handy and then recorded them using White artists. When they did employ Blacks they refused to let them sing and play their own authentic style. Pace resolved to start his own record firm. Many scholars for years believed Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 6
During the 1920’s in New York, Harlem was ushering in a Negro renaissance of art and culture. Marcus Garvey (of whom Pace was a severe critic) was leading the largest Black mass movement for pride and economic redemption in twentieth century American. Even the Negro middle class of which Pace was an undeniable member, was feeling the call to control the destiny of their lives, set up companies and manufacture products, employ and sell products to their own people. Pace was impacted by the wave of Black Nationalism sweeping the U.S. in the early 1920’s post World War I period. In March of 1921 under the laws of the state of Delaware and using about $30,000 in borrowed capital, Pace organized the Pace Phonograph Corporation, Inc. With a Board of Directors that included Dr. W. E B. Dubois, Mr. John E. Nail, Dr. Matthew V. Bouttle and Ms. Viola Bibb. The company’s first office was his home at 257 West 138th Street, New York. The AfricanAmerican newspaper, New York Age, reported that “of the business organizations recently established by Negroes in New York, one of the most important is the Pace Phonograph Company”. This Company was
incorporated in January 1921, under the laws of the state of Delaware, based on assets of $100,000. The board of directors of the organization was composed of some of the most able colored businessmen. Pace did not have an easy time entering the recording business. White record companies threw up obstacles to exclude him. When he attempted to use a local pressing company, a large White company purchased the plant to keep him out. He was able to get a local studio to record, but had to send the master to be pressed. Finally, in about six weeks with all the preliminary work completed and all the necessary elements in place, from recording laboratories to wrapping paper and corrugated board, Pace was ready to manufacture Black Swan Records The name Black Swan was chosen by Pace to honor the accomplishments of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (18091876), a remarkably talented Negro singer known as “The Black Swann”. Pace had designed their logo as a handsome black and gold label, with a swan in gold against the background of the banner. In his advertising in African-American newspapers Pace stressed the race issue saying, “The only genuine colored records, others are only passing for colored”. Among the earliest employees for Pace was Fletcher Henderson, the pianist and band leader who became the record-
ing manager and William Grant Still, the classic composer and orchestra leader, the musical director. The first 3 records probably recorded in April of 1921 and released in May of 1921, featured: C. Carroll Clark, a Denver born baritone known to sing a fine ballad with a generally good reputation among high class Negro patrons ; Katie Crippen, a vaudevillian who sang blues and Revella Hughes, a soprano and vocal teacher who was very popular among the highbrow New York area patrons at that time. The Chicago Defender of May 7th, 1921 carried a press release of three paragraphs listing Black Swan 2001, 2002 and 2003 as May releases. Fletcher Henderson was the pianist of record on all Black Swan releases from the start until the fall of 1921. Other musicians employed regularly during that period included: Joe Smith, cornet; George Brashea, trombone; Edgar Campbell, clarinet; Cordy Williams, Charlie Dixon, banjo; “Chink” Johnson, trombone/tubas; William Grant Still, who also doubled as manager and played several instruments (oboe violin, cello, clarinet, saxophone, banjo and others). All were available for recordings.
End of Part 1, Part ll next issue Jitu Weusi, is co-owner of For My Sweet, premier Jazz club located in Brooklyn and vanguard writer
Black Swan Records would have had a short and unremarkable existence if it had relied on the sale of its earliest records. Even Fletcher Henderson stated that these early releases were “straight songs or novelty numbers in the “raggy style”, which was the heritage of the Europe Brymn-Dabney School; the one blues, had not been done in blues style.” The music was not being produced to appeal to the taste of the masses of AfricanAmerican people. This change suddenly in the Summer of 1921.
Robin Bell Stevens Executive Director 154 West 127th Street New York, NY 10027 Tel: 212-866-4900 Fax: 212-666-3613 Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 7
Let Me Touch Your Mind Tony Vozzo
I wanna poet to you Direct your energy While you close your eyes and dream I wanna touch your mind Undress you with my creativity Produce your only child-woman Let me touch your mind I wanna poet to you I wann make love to your bodies and mind Not just your body I wanna poet to you Thyme Sonnet Free Verse Your romance eyes speak A Language of their own Once more before the night ends Let me touch your mind I wanna poet to you
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Vinyl Man’s Spin
album by writing: “This is the source of pride for me, that we Latinos got together and played some Jazz.” Some points of special interest about THE OTHER ROAD is the fact that all of the other tunes were band member compositions, the fact that Billy Cobham, the great Jazz drummer, holds the pocket along with Barretto on the album and the fact that every cut is a smoker. There is no fat to trim and if you can find a copy of this vinyl gem, your life will thank you along with everyone who hears it.
Something Old, Something New… The next ‘something old’ I want to examine is a Jerry Gonzalez pearl that I found on Muhammad The LiBy Ed Dessisso brarian’s table of used books and records at his spot on Lenox Ave. THE RIVER IS DEEP is a recording of the Afro-Cuban Jazz has been a part of Fort Apache Band at the Berlin Jazz the language for decades; since the Festival on Nov. 5, 1982. As is only 1940’s for sure. The thrilling rage be- correct, they inaugurate their set gun by Chano Pozo, Machito, Mario with a salute to ELEGUA, the deity Bauza, Prez Prado and a pantheon of the crossroads, and then proceed to of Hispanic virtuosi is healthy and do an eleven minute homage to Dizzy evolved in its existence today. The Gillespie with his tune “Bebop”. That Latin brothers have retained their is merely consistency when you think sacred commitment to the beauty about the fact that it was Dizzy who of the sound, the therapeutic value first heard and accessed the talents of the dances encoded in the precise of the Latin Masters, Bauza and rhythms and the sexy, ritualistic en- Pozo. Speaking through the univergagement between the genders that sality of music and a shared love of continue to make Latin Jazz both rhythms, Gillespie and Bauza opened ethnically and universally relevant. a road that still leads to emotional reThis Vinyl Man’s Spin is dedicated to lease, musical transport, virtuoso opa look at the joy to be found in the portunity and the merged landscape Afro-Cuban vein of the music. of African/Indio/Spanish sensibilities. Gonzalez is accompanied by a veriBeginning with something old, I call table ‘Bembe’ of master musicians: your attention to a 1973 cooker by Velez, Turre, Vasquez, Dalto, BerriRay Barretto entitled THE OTHER os, Golden, Hernandez, Marrero, MiROAD. For a long period, this album randa, another Gonzalez, and sealed was my wake up music at the start by the vocals of Frankie Rodriguez. of my day. The title cut puts “gut in The Fort Apache workup on the Bud your strut and pride in your stride”. Powell classic “Parisian ThoroughBelieve it. The entire band is a Pan- fare” is no less than speaking Jazz in Latin America collection of all stars Spanish. Jorge Dalto’s piano keeps working under the leadership of the chord progression flying while the ‘Mr. Hard Hands’ for the Fania la- rest of the members cook along. This bel. Barretto has the distinction of is seminal Bebop interpreted from being the ‘conguero’ for giants the the Latin heart. There is so much size of Gene Ammons and gracing the going on in the music, it qualifies as legendary cuttin’ sessions at Minton’s Anthropology (the academic disciwith Monk and the fellas. The second pline, not the Parker recording). THE cut on the album is “Round Midnight” RIVER IS DEEP is working with the and in the liner notes, after itemiz- same profundity as the rivers Langsing the Spanish pedigree of his band ton Hughes refers to in his famous members, Mr. Barretto christens the poem. The musical confluence in this Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 10
festival presentation is the perfect example of the internationality of the Jazz as well as the beauty of the particular regard the Hispanic ear lends to the music’s execution. No one is fooling around on this album. The business of the regard is in place and spot on. As a result, the alchemy of the sacred is rendered in Jazz. Jerry Gonzalez is to be praised for continuing to maintain the same intensity, the same devotion to the music that is presented for sale in foreign venues. His understanding of the music is a blessing. It retains the vitality and brilliance of Jazz, in the idiom of “Clave” and places everything neatly at the feet of sacred ritual. One cannot experience the Gonzalez sound without knowing exactly who we are and have been. Here again is another album to get up with. As a rule, my column is composed of musical antiques worthy of your attention. My next offerings are departures from the norm in that they are new presentations worthy of your attention. I consider them classics in the making, to such a degree that I am willing to predict their success before they have been in the public domain for very long. Both CD’s have recently arrived and both are noteworthy to the disposition and future of Afro-Cuban Jazz. While each is different from the other, they both share a powerful regard for the Jazz in the music and make that regard felt specifically. Dr. Mambo and The Experience Ensemble recently released their independently produced CD. It is pure refreshment. Dwight Brewster (Dr. Mambo) identifies the group as Afro-Cuban in its soul but plays comfortably across the spectrum of modern music. The CD is a study in eclecticism and a thrilling display of musicianship. To hear “Salseros,” jamming in fusion, reggae and fatback, is to be immersed in ‘experience’ of a high degree. The group is composed of graduates from places like Dr. Buzzard’s Savannah Band and the many freelance avenues that compose a New York musician’s background. The Experience Ensemble is ‘big fun’ and you can hear that these
guys have played with everybody. I support their initiative to produce themselves and play the gamut of music that excites them as a unit. I found myself starting the day with this CD after first hearing it. There is plenty of easy float to the tunes; just the kind of stress-free swing to step into whatever has to be accomplished. The CD is full of original material with the exception of “Beseme Mucho” which they do as a salute to the beauty of that great Bolero. The CD features, to quote Art Blakey, “no one in particular”; they’re all cooking! What strikes me most about their sound is the tight interplay no matter the genre of the tune. Each member of the group belongs whether it’s West African zhoucou or a jump blues riff. While their repertoire is not your father’s “typica”, the strength of their clave is such that you want to travel along, wherever they’re going. I find it delightful that the usually restricted and formal borders of Afro-Cuban music making, can loosen to include forays into other disciplines with the same sense of precision and swing as any mambo. I happily report that each cut is special; the “industry suits” didn’t get to ruin this one. Another plus is the fullness of the sound quality. There is real production value in the presence recorded on the CD. The mix is as good as anything out there. Lock yourself away with this CD and a good set of earphones and just listen. I challenge you to not hear the joy of Jazz throughout every cut. It speaks volumes that a New York Salsa band can, when they feel like it, play the soundtrack under your life in every relevant genre. Ed Dessisso is a Free Lance writer and is the author of Vinyl Man, which is regular column in this publication.
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Flowers For You, Babe Tony Vozzo
I’ve been walking, Singing a song to; Night and day I’ve been Talking, talking about this new love affair. I’ve been walking and talking, singing this song to youNight and day Flowers for you Babe, and all you said was “take’em away, Baby Can’t stay. I’ve been walking= Singing this song Struttin the avenue Walki, talkin’ Singing my song to you Night and day and all you had to say was Baby can’t stay” I Can’t Take it no more Walkn out the door on you -on my way to San Jo-se, Maybe L. A. By the boy on a sunny day – Walki, talkin singin this song to youNight and day now it’s your turn to say “ Baby please stay – a- don’t go -. a-bye, byeA-fare. well, my love Tony Vollo created the delightful book “Creatively Speaking” from which these poems come.
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The music is about whatâ€™s going to happen next! Surprises sometime subtle at times explosive and always passionate.
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JazzWoman 10 Years Later
By Jo Ann Cheatham
Can you imagine conducting a structured Jazz Concert for as many as 55 people every Sunday in your living room? This weekly task could give New York restaurateur B. Smith the jitters. Why in the world would a person perform such an awesome feat each Sunday come rain or shine for nine years? It all began in 1994 when Marjorie Eliot was visiting her son Philip in the hospital. He was there because of a serious kidney ailment and they both know he did not have long. “My mission every day was to go into the hospital with something fun to talk about. He was very optimistic always smiling, so I wanted to make every Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 14
day a pretty day.” She told her son “You can sit in the parlor and listen to some music on Sunday.” Philip was an actor and played the piano as did her four other sons Rudel, Michael, Shaun and Alfred. He said he liked the idea. Marge as she is affectionately known is accustomed to having music in the parlor because that’s where she took piano while growing up. Sundays after church people would come over to her house and the family would ask her to play the tunes she had learned. “Those little tunes that you know that you can play well.” When brainstorming a project she notes you go to your own resources.”
As soon as Marge got home she started contacting the musicians she knew and asked them to come and play that Sunday, And her pool of music people was extensive; besides her own piano activity she is married to Al Drears . The music has been flowing ever since. The musicians who come are serious musicians well known well known in their own right. “This is not a jam session: this is a paid gig for them.” she says, she says, and sometimes this is difficult because admission is free. Each Sunday is different; the musicians have a rare opportunity to play without restriction of pleasing a club owner in order to be rehired, they let the mu-
sic flow freely. If a well-known figure in the jazz community makes their transition, the life and works of that person is celebrated. What started as a promise has evolved into a musical tribute to her son? It is fitting that these concerts are held on Sunday because this is the sacred day of the week and this is the celebration of a life, the most sacred thing we have. Every Sunday her couch is removed and replaced with folding chairs. In the beginning her family complained” you’ve taken every comfortable chair out of here.” My idea was to have a concert stage and have the audience meet the artist. When I first started, it was Jazz and theatre Sundays, every other Sunday it would be a play and I was crazy because I’d be writing all Saturday night.” The audience is comprised of her regulars plus people from around the world. Marge has a collection if articles written about Parlor Entertainment from the New York Times Daily News and many papers in Europe. In days gone by when Jazz enthusiasts came to New York, the firsts place they would want to visit was 52nd Street. Today it’s Parlor Entertainment. The people are true jazz lovers, not just tourists. Someone who has been there will spread the word about Parlor Entertainment. “These are people who really want to come to Harlem. They find a treasure trove here and they come back.” One guy from London told Marge that when he informed his mother he was coming back to New York, his mother said. “I know where you will be on Sundays. You’ll be at that nice woman, Marge Eliot; s house, Marge continued, she had also read about us in the papers in Europe. It’s an embarrassment of riches really, because the New York Times goes everywhere. I had a lot of people calling me from Europe about the articles they have read. A man came Sunday who later hugged me and said ‘Thank you for celebrating Philip: we lost our little girl too’ and there he was in tears and all. We just hugged, so if I never see him again, we‘ve bonded. People come here because they get a chance to see great musicians. This is a quite celebration
of tie life,” Marge concludes. “I don’t want it to be anything else. It is not surprising that she gets no complaints from her neighbors, given the roster of former tenants who were well known jazz musicians: Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins. Andy Kirk and actor/singer Paul Robeson have called this building home. The landlord lives upstairs in Andy Kirk’s old apartment. “The community celebrates it and I‘ve never had any real complaints. Anyone who doesn’t love this, there is something wrong with them. People come and embrace the idea and legally. I can do this, I can have a party.” When asked, if that’s the reason there is no charge, she says, “I don’t want to merchandise my kid.”
Marge feels that music is the diving rod that brings us together “I thank this audience each Sunday for helping to create this miracle.” Parlor Entertainment is located at 555 Edgecombe Avenue. For information call 212-791-6595 It should be noted that this was the first Jazz Woman and Marge Elliot continues her work with Parlor Entertainment, gathering great artists for a swinging Sunday event. Please support by stopping by on a Sunday.
Jo Ann Cheatham is the publisher of Pure Jazz Magazine
Marge is an only child whose father played the trumpet and worked in a laundry to support his family hails from Philadelphia. Piano lessons began at the age of five and she started playing for her church when she was twelve. A few years later, she moved to New York to study drama. As a resident of the Washington Heights area for over twenty years, she was inducted into the People’s Hall of Fame) located in the Museum of the City of New York) by City Lore. A non-profit organization that recognizes living individuals deemed cultural treasurers. Marge was honored for keeping alive a unique expression of Harlem’s Jazz legacy. That mission is furthered enhanced by her yearly outdoor concert at the Jumel Mansion, a historic site dating back to revolutionary times. In addition, Marge is the Founder and Artistic Director of Children’s Theatre and Music Workshop. “I write plays for them and Jazz is the music I use. I talk about the neighborhood and what African American classical music has had to go through. It’s an academy without walls,” The young actors rehearse and perform during their vacation breaks from school. “I want children to know the musicians I know. It is important that we embrace the children. And I love it. I love working with children, she states.
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The Master, The Gentleman By Ed Dessisso
This interview of James Spaulding began in a ‘corner pocket’, Brooklyn jazz club by the name of “Sista’s Place”, during their concert season for the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium (CBJC). Mr. Spaulding fronted a very baritone, straight-ahead ensemble that displayed heavy cooking in the traditions of Blakey & Silver, Thad & Mel, Hubbard & Spaulding, to a concert crowd of advanced jazz heads. Building on the tight rhythm section of George Gray, Eric Lemon, Sharpe Radway and Sabor, Spaulding served up “le Jazz Hot” in authentic blues metrics from ‘Second Line’, to Swing, to “Salt Peanuts”, to ‘sheets
of sound’, to absolutely ‘free’. With generous graciousness, there was even room for a ‘nobody planned it’ jam session with free-style singing by TC3 and Vanessa Rubin. You say you want Jazz? Try channeling vintage Jean Carn and Leon Thomas inside the signature Spaulding anthem, “Ancestral Chant”. With all the jazz testosterone from ‘back in the day straight- ahead’, the joint was on fire! There is graciousness to the Spaulding sound. He floats on a real classical vibe as he enters, penetrates and brackets the music. His horn is everywhere but never in the way. Mu-
sicians who can permeate the music with their presence convert tunes into events. Jazz fans have many examples of this form of musical genius. It is the alchemy that allows artists to become one-name identities: Pops, Miles, Dizzy, Sun Ra, Parker, Monk, The Duke. Spaulding is there, where he justly belongs. I am fortunate in that I get to interview a talent like Mr. Spaulding as a so-called job assignment. No amount of ordinary living would normally afford me the opportunity to hang out with a musical genius of his rank. You don’t find the James Spauldings of the world on ‘open mic night’; nor should you. Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 17
I view his hosting of PURE JAZZ MAGAZINE for an afternoon’s conversation on the shape of his career and some commentary on where the music is now, as an extension of that same musical graciousness. That Mr. Spaulding took time away from the writing of his autobiography to share insights and events with me, Jo Ann Cheatham and you the readers is a further testament to the generous, giving nature of a truly humble and gifted reed virtuoso.
business intimidations, courageous, plain speakers of all kinds who know what they are talking about, deserve support. I commend without reservation, whatever amount of time you can afford yourself of James Spaulding; for truly, if he has been traveling under your radar…. your radar is not on. Not to give away too much, but as James Spalding prepares the manuscript for his autobiography, we sit down for a chat about his life and times. These are edifying stories which will prepare you for what’s to come in CHORD CHANGES.
I recommend James Spaulding and look forward to supJAMES CHATS WITH PJ porting CHORD CHANGES when James Spaulding’s autobiography is published. The authenticity of its JS: I was the third child. During that voicing and the insights from the mu- time, it was 1937, my father was sical life lived at the apex of the Jazz traveling with his music and would Era that accounts for personalities bring home records of Charlie Parklike Sun Ra, Art Blakey, Freddie Hub- er, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach. bard, Horace Silver, Rashid Ali, Art By the time I got to be 10, from lisTaylor, John Coltrane and so many, tening to Charlie Parker and Dizzy, many others is a much needed relief that’s when I fell in love, you know, from the hype and the noise of what with that sound, the alto. There was has chased jazz from the airwaves Johnny Hodges with Duke Ellington, nationally. I guarantee a trip on the Sonny Stitt… all those alto players. Web to www.speetones.com will re- Cannonball! Look out! When he fresh more than just your sense of the came on the scene, I got a chance to Spaulding sound. It will revive (as it meet him in Brooklyn. He was there did mine) your faith in the viability with his group and was playing flute and timelessness of the music. It will with his brother (Nat Adderley). give you intimate contact with an art- Freddie (Hubbard) and I were workist at the peak of his skills, who is in ing some place and we were hanging personal control of his artistry and is out with Wynton Kelly and we ended filled with the musical commentary up meeting the Cannonball. ‘Wine for which he is famous. Creating on tones’ we used to call Wynton, he was the same entrepreneurial path as something else. Charlie Mingus, Michael Jackson and The Artist Known as Prince, James PJ: Who among those influences Spaulding publishes his own works was most meaningful? Did you know and markets to the world under his these folks? own imprint. I find his business acumen yet another facet of his talent JS: Listening to their records. You to admire. In these times of careful get to know them by their records. wording, advertising hype and fascist Charlie Parker: When I heard CharPure Jazz Magazine - Page 18
lie Parker, he knocked me off my feet. I told my dad, at ten years old, ‘Dad I want to play that instrument’. He said “well okay, we’ll have to get you a horn.” I had a friend named Walter at grade school. He loved instruments. He was getting rid of his alto. He didn’t want to play anymore. I asked him ‘are you selling it? How much do you want for it?’ He said “give me ten dollars.” PJ: Your first horn? Huh? JS: Yeah, my first horn. I learned my fingering from another friend of mine who played the saxophone and piano. His parents afforded him music lessons. We lived in different areas of the ghetto. I’d always visit him and you know how boys would always be playing in the dirt, but he would be in the house playing his saxophone. He would show me the fingering of the instrument, so when I got one of my own, I tried to teach myself and he would help me. He had a ‘C Melody’ saxophone that he would lend me and I used to practice with that up until I got my own. We were both going to Chrispus Adducts High School, so we would get together and rehearse for the band. Our band teacher would allow us to rehearse down there in the band room all the time. We put together a school Jazz band. We were only teenagers but we got good enough that we were playing around Indianapolis behind various artists that came to play the town; people like Bull Moose Jackson. PJ: You played pick up behind Bull Moose Jackson? He had tours all over the Midwest, famous tours. JS: Oh yeah! We could all read music; we had good horn players and a good drummer. All he had to do was pull out his horn and have the charts. In fact, one of the places we played is still there in Indianapolis, the building built by Madame C.J. Walker, right there on Indiana Avenue. Yeah man, they would come there to Indianapolis and they would ask for us. PJ: How large of a unit are you talking about? This was not a big band? JS: No. We were a combo. This would have been around 1953. All this is in
my book. I’m almost finished with it. PJ: What’s the title of it?
PJ: So tell me, was Indianapolis like a hot music scene?
the alto and the clarinet are hard to play.
JS: Back then in school, everyone JS: CHORD CHANGES. I’ve got to JS: It was hot once but has since who wanted to play the saxophone get my little P.R. campaign going be- cooled down. It was affected by the would first have to learn to play the fore I put it out here. We’ve got the racism in the country. To hear the big clarinet. I was committed to playing cover. My wife and daughters are named acts you had to go downtown, the alto, so I had to get out my little proof reading it and we’re getting to- outside of the neighborhood. Whites practice book and that clarinet and gether all of my publishing to include controlled all of the downtown area go to work. Of course the fingering is in it. You know all that legal stuff and they subscribed to segregation. different, the keys are completely difthat you need to They had Louis ferent; clarinet is a B flat instrument protect yourself; com- and the alto an E flat instrument. I “You could learn about other Armstrong copyrights and ing to the down- worked on it until I got good enough to bar codes and musicians from talk among the town theater pass my tests and began on the alto. such. I’ve got with a big picture I played the clarinet in the marching elders at the barbershop. That’s of his beautiful band, then later on I got together on about 500 pages right now at the real meaning of hearing it smile on a poster my alto and my flute and from there home. that advertised, I got good enough to play flute in the through the grapevine.” “For Whites senior orchestra. I was able to read PJ: You were deOnly”. music. That’s what saved me, being scribing the combo that used to string able to notate and read music. I unbehind Bull Moose Jackson. How JS: My earliest influences in the mu- derstood the value of notes, even at many people was that? sic came from my father, who was a my young age. I was a sophomore in musician and my grandmother who the senior orchestra playing the flute. JS: It was a quintet: bass player, sang in the Baptist church. Also you drums, guitar, trombone and me on could learn about other musicians PJ: So you taught yourself the flute? reeds. from talk among the elders at the barbershop. That’s the real meaning JS: I’m self-taught on the flute. I PJ: Have you played with any of those of ‘hearing it through the grapevine’. was also a member of the woodwind people since those days? The talk of elders was another way to quartet: flute, French horn, clarinet learn. I learned music from my father and bassoon. We had a young sister JS: Melvin Rinds (an organ player), who was a musician. My mother was on the French horn and my friend Al he’s still back there in Indianapolis. very supportive and played the bassoon. It was James Spaulding He won’t leave. He didn’t like New she sang at church evamazing to see him handle York. Blue Note wanted to sign him. ery Sunday. that thing, We were all listening to Grant Green So I had the especially and Melvin would duck and hide. He experience of because didn’t want to get involved with the being blessed the claribusiness side. He just wanted to be and baptized net was free. He’d be turning down gigs. He in the church. kicking my played back in our high school band. She never disbutt. We Back then, he’d be turning down gigs; couraged my got togethhe played drums and piano. In fact, playing and er my last we called our group “The Monarch practicing. I semester Combo.” taught myat Chrisself the flute. pus AtPJ: So the billing would read “Bull The school let tucks High Moose Jackson and The Monarch you take the School and Combo.” instruments played varhome, to be ious dates JS: Yes and there were others too. r e s p o n s i b l e throughSingers would come there. I can’t re- and bring out Indiamember everybody. Johnny Ace came them back. napolis, through there. Do you remember even on him? PJ: I undertelevision. stand that the EventuPJ: Sure. Sure. ‘Forever My Darling, embouchure ally, they I’ll Always Be True…’ for the alto is asked if we particularly could play JS: He had a good career with a trag- difficult. I’ve in the reed ic end. been told that section of a Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 19
big band with older musicians. I said okay and they hired me. PJ; So, you’ve been gigging since childhood literally? JS: We even had a Shrin e r s Band and I played for them too.
Pleasure. I got a chance to meet him in Indianapolis when he had Eddie Jefferson in his band. They would gather during breaks and sit around telling stories of their travels, just like I’m doing here with you. PJ: What kinds of stories?
PJ: You marched for the Shriners? JS: Yeah m a n ! In my fez and apron, it got me together for basic training in the army, blowing that flute and marching.
PJ: Did you blow in the Army Band? JS: Yeah, after 8 weeks of basic training. My father got me hooked up with the Army Band at the time I signed up. He told them “my son is a musician. They need to consider him for the band”. They signed me up there and put me on the road to basic training and after they shipped me to California to audition for band training at Fort Hood. I auditioned for a spot in an all white band. There was one other brother in the band but he was on the edges of getting thrown out. He wasn’t handling the pressure of being the only Black in the band. He was a nice brother but the experience was driving him to drink. I passed the audition on alto and they let me stay. I was ready for anything if it allowed me to play. PJ: You must have been pretty young then. How old were you? JS: Fifteen. I was getting by, playing my little recorder and my records: “Moody’s Mood for Love” by King Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 20
JS: Stories of uptown and downtown, ‘Black-town’ and ‘Whitetown’, stories about the work, stories about Harlem and the road. They would talk the kind of stuff you could see on Gil Noble’s LIKE IT IS. I collected all of his shows. I could start a school with all of those stories.
JS: I left Chicago for a job with Freddie Hubbard here in New York. He was staying in Slide Hampton’s brownstone in Brooklyn. Eric Dolphy was staying there too at the time. I had about $80 when I got off the bus. I hurried and called Freddie right at the bus station and he said come on through but I wanted to see Birdland at 52nd Street first. I stood a long while at the door to Birdland, just starring. I was also afraid to confront the subway out to Brooklyn. I had to go to Carlton Avenue. I stayed there about a week as I tried to enroll in the Manhattan School of Music. It didn’t work out because they didn’t have a Jazz program. It was all ‘Classical’ music. Of course, now they have a fine Jazz program, but not then. PJ: I think it is interesting that it took your generation of musicians to educate the whole world about the fact that Jazz is America’s Classical music. From Charlie Parker on, we have your generation of musicians: Miles, Blakey, Silver, Hubbard, Sun
Ra, Mingus, Timmons, The Adderleys, Durham, Evans, Coltrane and all the others, to thank for extending the understanding of Jazz as a worldclass music. JS: I think you’re right. I have to agree that America came to that conclusion. PJ: They woke up. Look for CHORD CHANGES by James Spaulding.
Ed Dessisso is a Free Lance writer and is the author of Vinyl Man, which is regular column in this publication.
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Fab 5 Freddy
A Jazz Up-Bringing at the Roots of Hip Hop Part Two By Willard Jenkins Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 22
In part one (scroll down or check
the archives) of our lively conversations with Fab 5 Freddy, the graffiti artist who was one of the pioneers of what has become the global pop phenomenon known as hip hop, we discussed the heavy jazz influence on young Fred’s Brooklyn upbringing, which included the significant influences of his godfather, NEA Jazz Master Roach. One course correction: the crib Fab described in part one, as Roach’s home on Gates Avenue, where Max, his dad Freddy Braithwaite, Sir and other Brooklyn Jazz ‘heads’, chess players and advanced thinkers would gather for their “jazz sets”, was actually rented by Fab’s dad and several members of his crew. It was a kind of hipsters’ clubhouse. “It was not Max’s but he surely was there often,” Fab corrected. “It was known and always referred to as 212 Gates Avenue.” In part two we explore the continuing influence of Max Roach and his encouragement of Fab’s early forays into what was then known as “rap” music and has become the broader global phenomenon as hip hop Wj: Is it safe to say that some of Max’s early consciousness of what was going on in early hip hop culture came from you? Fab: Oh yeah. One day Max came to visit my dad and asked what I’m into and my dad said ‘oh he’s into some rapping thing’. This was before (hip hop) blew up, this was the early 80s when we were having street block parties and what not (in Brooklyn). I was already making my moves on the arts scene and I was never trying to be a rapper but I had a few rhymes that I could get on the mic at a block party and do my thing. There was a DJ across the street who had built a nice system in his crib, so I would go over there and rap a little bit. So my dad was aware of this, unbeknownst to me; my father was never into much contemporary music - - with the exception of James Brown. So one day I came home and my father said Max had been there and “I told him you’ve been doing this rap thing with your man across the street”… Right away I get kind of nervous be-
cause I never at that point considered anything music with the developing rap scene. I knew we weren’t playing instruments, we were making sounds and we were energetic and I knew this was a new thing that I dived into full speed ahead, but I didn’t consider it music-------- as in musician. My father said, “Max wants to check it out”, so I said OK. So we arranged a time a week or two later and he came through on my block on Hancock Street between Lewis and Summer (Brooklyn)-------which is now Marcus Garvey Blvd… which is very appropriate.
now making moves on the art scene and people knowing that I’m doing my thing on the downtown scene in New York, graffiti, introducing people to the beginnings of this hip hop culture, that a guy who promotes a lot of things with performance artists says, “Man, I found out that Max Roach is your godfather… We were talking with him about his M’Boom group…’” And he says, “Man, I feel like why don’t you do something with Max together…” And I’m like thinking, ‘huh, how the hell…?’ Next thing I knew Max says “yeah, let’s do it…” So then I started to have these conversations with Max, and Max says “yeah, you’re in charge, put this stuff together…”
I prepped my DJ and we worked out a little rouThis is the kind of tine. Once enthusiasm he had again the and how eager they music is were to check out not formusomething new, lated – the which is the point four-minMax made to me. ute rap He explained how song is not Bird and the guys developed, were about checkit’s just ing out new things; an “in the about how when streets” Olatunji came equivaaround and they lent to just all jumped into the jamming, African thing and no real they were the first structure. [generation] to take Max comes African names. He Fab 5 Freddy by and I’m rhyming and was saying this also to exmy DJ is cutting up; plain how a lot of cats wanted he’s scratching… Max just peeped it. him to continue playing the stuff that We did a little 20-minute thing and they architected back in the 40s and when we’re walking back to the house 50s, but Max was always saying ‘I’m I’m thinking ‘what the hell is Max always about checking out that new gonna think of this shit?’ Max said, thing…’ Obviously Max was able to “Let me tell you guys something, that put that in full effect. Max had hipped shit that you and your man were do- Miles to my show “Yo MTV Raps” and ing was as incredible as anything [Miles] was checking it out. This was that me, Bird, Dizzy and any of us an extension of how Max would alwere doing…” I’m thinking to myself ways bring me up when the hip hop [skeptically], ‘that’s so nice, trying thing came up. to placate a young teenager…’ But that’s how Max was, always very en- Another key thing that Max said to couraging, but I’m thinking to myself, me after I gave him that demonstra‘yeah, right…’ Because I’m not seeing tion with DJ Spy, Max said, “…You know western music has for a long pethis as music, this a hip hop thing… riod of time been a balancing of three “Rapper’s Delight” was probably out different things: melody, harmony as a big record at that point, nothing and rhythm in equal ways. As black really breaking crazy like it is now. folks have been involved in music It wasn’t long after that through, me we’ve added an increasing emphasis Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 23
on the rhythm element throughout the development of this music.” And Max, when he would have a conversation like that would always say, “… from Louis Armstrong up until…” He said, “What you guys are doing is just totally rhythm…” Now that’s one thing that when he broke it down I said, ‘…oh shit, yeah…’ just grabbing a piece of the music and having a way to manually manipulate the record to have this extended rhythm was something Max heard clearly. He also told me, “Man, if you don’t know it, this is so big what you guys are doing…” I’m like ‘yeah Max, great…’ [still skeptical]. It was the early 80s when I had this conversation with Max. By 1988 I’m the host of the first nationally televised show to focus on this rap music [«Yo MTV Raps»] and go around the country interviewing the different people who were defining this culture – everybody from Tupac and Snoop to Will Smith and Run D.M.C., etc., etc. It would all become so much bigger than I ever, ever could have imagined… I’m talking like on a global basis – where people who speak other languages could adopt this thing and make it theirs in a unique way. I thought back to what Max had said and how he was right, and how when we get into it, we were just gonna embrace this whole rhythm thing, and how just the verbal, this whole rapping thing was interesting.
At what point did the light go on and you realized that this was part of a continuum – that what your father and Max and those guys were into… there was a straight-line continuum to what you and your contemporaries were getting into in the 80s? Fab: It was during that time that it blew up. I’m hosting “Yo MTV Raps,” which just came out of nowhere, that was never an intention of mine to be on camera doing things… I always wanted to do things culturally to help stir it up and create these bigger platforms. A lot of my ability and understanding of that were things that I absorbed around my dad and his friends; knowing that Max Roach and these musicians were loved more Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 24
so around the world than here… The fact that I knew people who were big in Paris, and Italy, and Japan was just amazing to me, it gave me a sense of the world as a very young kid. Hence key things that I would make happen or launch or instigate in hip hop were motivated by these ideas – knowing that, wait a minute, this stuff that we’re doing in the ‘hood’ – in the Bronx or Brooklyn – is not happening anywhere else in the world. To me that was interesting and I knew it would be at least accepted in other places around the world because these people had embraced and understood the music we were making and put musicians like Max and them on a pedestal on a par with the greatest European musicians ever, and I felt that these people would at least appreciate the things we were doing, because at that time it was not in any way appreciated by mainstream culture here in America. And that led me to then do things which would become very significant. The first film on hip hop culture, “Wild Style,” I starred in, I did all the music for, I collaborated with a guy named Charlie Ahearn on the film. The initial idea I had was to make a film that showed that there was a link between this music, this rapping and DJ’ing, this break dancing and this graffiti art… there were no links [established previously]. I felt that they were all very similar and if we could put it together in a movie, in a story that depicted it as such, it would create a much more cohesive cultural picture and a look at what we were doing in the streets and the ghettos of New York. There was no positive press or mentions of a young
kid with sneakers on and his hat to the side… you were made to look like you were one of those criminals that was destroying the city. So “Wild Style” the movie became this first look that many people around the world had and a spark that ignited them to get busy, and I’m proud of that. Those ideas came directly from the experiences I had being around those kind of individuals [like Max Roach] and knowing that they made global moves.
Fab 5 Freddy Willard Jenkins is a Jazz Journalist his blog is www.openskyjazz.com
BARRY HARRIS (Doctor of Arts)
Tel. (201) 863-2358
Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 25
Where the Music & the Universe Meet photograph) are alive; I did the research on the living members. Let’s both do the research to find out who they are.
The Internet is a great place for Jazz aficionados to learn more about the music they love. In this issue we provide you with two sites that show Jazz at its best. Over the years the name has been changed from www. harlem.org. The original address was misleading because this site is not about the village of Harlem. The new address is http://www.a-greatday-in-harlem.com because the site in question is about a photograph, which is now shown. A Great Day In Harlem now provides you information about the Jazz musicians shown in this photograph. Ten years later the new site provides you with the information and then some.
Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 26
When you click on the face or body of one of the persons in the photograph, a detailed profile of that person comes up, including a small list of their rec o r d i n g s . The site provides you with a variety of links to investigate; when you click one of the links you will discover additional sites to visit. There is a wealth of information here, so be prepared to spend some time. Only four members (in this
You hear it all the time when listening to the radio –the website address of your favorite Jazz program. You probably think, “I don’t need to visit the site because the program is so good.” Not so; www.Jazzset.org is more than an appendage to WBGO’s popular Jazzset. Not only do you get and overview of the program, but you also get a short biography of each person involved in the show. As you explore the current program information, you see a listing of up and coming shows. It also includes different categories. In addition, you can visit their archives. There has been a change on the “set”. As of October 2001, Bradford Marsalis stepped aside as host. The new host is Dee Dee Bridgewater for the site and the programs. What a bargain. Dee Dee Bridgewater has been a vibrant host for many years and has innovating programming.
The World of Jazz radio program is on WBAI radio 99.5 FM NYC Sundayâ€™s @ 11PM. Featuring the best Jazz from its inseption to the performers of today. Join us for an exciting evening of music, interviews and information.
This issue it is James Spaulding Master alto tenor player and a Gentleman to boot We approached him while he is finishing up his autobiograp...
Published on Aug 16, 2012
This issue it is James Spaulding Master alto tenor player and a Gentleman to boot We approached him while he is finishing up his autobiograp...