Aretha franklin biography
She is both a 20th and 21st century musical and cultural icon known the world over simply by her first name: Aretha. The reigning and undisputed “Queen Of Soul” has created an amazing legacy that spans an incredible six decades, from her first recording as a teenage gospel star, to her most recent RCA Records release, ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS.
Her many countless classics include “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain Of Fools,” “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”; her own compositions “Think,” “Daydreaming” and “Call Me”; her definitive versions of “Respect” and “I Say A Little Prayer”; and global hits like “Freeway Of Love,” “Jump To It,” “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” her worldwide chart-topping duet with George Michael, and “A Rose Is Still A Rose.”
The recipient of the U.S.A.’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal Of Freedom, an eighteen (and counting) GRAMMY Award winner – the most recent of which was for Best Gospel Performance for “Never Gonna Break My Faith” with Mary J. Blige in 2008 – a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement and GRAMMY Living Legend awardee, Aretha Franklin’s powerful, distinctive gospel-honed vocal style has influenced countless singers across multi-generations, justifiably earning her Rolling Stone magazine’s No. 1 placing on the list of “The Greatest Singers Of All Time.”
Marking a glorious reunion with music industry legend Clive Davis (Chief Creative Officer for Sony Music Entertainment) – with whom she worked for the longest period of her recording career, twenty-three years at Arista Records (1980-2003) – Aretha continues her time-honored tradition of creating new music that is innovative, vital and fresh. With the 2014 release of ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS, Aretha put her indelible stamp on ten songs previously recorded by other female artists – and in her own inimitable way (as she has time and time again), she makes each one her own.
Working with hitmaking producers Clive Davis, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, André “3000” Benjamin, Eric Kupper, Harvey Mason Jr. and Chicago DJ/producer Terry Hunter, co-producing and doing all the vocal arrangements for the project, Aretha put her personal and ever-soulful stamp on both contemporary hits and time-honored pop, soul and jazz standards, reimagining certain cuts with the inclusion of cleverly-created musical blends such as “I Will Survive” which includes an interlude from Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and “I’m Every Woman,” featuring her 2014 take on her own timeless anthem, “Respect.” An all-star musical cast on ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS includes special guest sax great Kirk Whalum, longtime friend and musical associate Cissy Houston alongside background vocalists Fonzi Thornton, Tawatha Agee, Vaneese Thomas and Brenda White-King who regularly accompany Aretha in live performances.
The result is simply stunning: introducing her brilliant gospel-fired makeover of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” (with a wonderful musical bridge from the Motown classic, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”) on The David Letterman Show, Aretha received an immediate standing ovation and within a week, the track had received over two million views on Vevo.
“Mr. Davis came to me with the idea,” says Aretha. “He suggested some of the artists and songs which included many that I myself enjoyed. We both agreed that there was a whole new generation who may never have heard the original recordings.”
Noting that she is “absolutely thrilled with the whole CD and very happy with the work I put into it,” Aretha shares her thoughts on the ten tracks that comprise her remarkable 45th album (excluding compilations):
Celebrating having her 100th R&B-charted single with “Rolling In The Deep (The Aretha Version),” making her the first woman and fourth artist in history to have done so, Aretha says, “I recorded it in between doing shows on the road so it was hectic – and I’m very happy with everything on this project. Working with Mr. Davis again – well, there’s nothing like it. We’re a perfect match: he’s very genuine and there’s mutual respect. He’s not just another chieftain – he cares. The producers were all great.
Adding another magnificent jewel to her crown and her catalog of timeless music, Aretha expresses the kind of joy usually experienced by first-time recording artists, noting: “I’m truly having a lot of fun and I’m bowled over by the response to this album. It’s truly very, very, very exciting!”
When the anesthesia wore off, Pat Martino looked up hazily at his parents and his doctors. and tried to piece together any memory of his life.
One of the greatest guitarists in jazz, Martino had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. After his operations he could remember almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents. and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed, ... naked."
In the following months. Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, Pat managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became "an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest." This recovery fits in perfectly with Pat's illustrious personal history. Since playing his first notes while still in his pre-teenage years, Martino has been recognized as one of the most exciting and virtuosic guitarists in jazz. With a distinctive, fat sound and gut-wrenching performances, he represents the best not just in jazz, but in music. He embodies thoughtful energy and soul.
Born Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in 1944, Pat was first exposed to jazz through his father, Carmen "Mickey" Azzara, who sang in local clubs and briefly studied guitar with Eddie Lang. He took Pat to all the city's hot-spots to hear and meet Wes Montgomery and other musical giants. "I have always admired my father and have wanted to impress him. As a result, it forced me to get serious with my creative powers."
He began playing guitar when he was twelve years old. and left school in tenth grade to devote himself to music. During Visits to his music teacher Dennis Sandole, Pat often ran into another gifted student, John Coltrane, who would treat the youngster to hot chocolate as they talked about music.
Besides first-hand encounters with `Trane and Montgomery, whose album Grooveyard had "an enormous influence" on Martino, he also cites Johnny Smith, a Stan Getz associate, as an early inspiration. "He seemed to me, as a child. to understand everything about music," Pat recalls.
Martino became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars like Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Darin. His first road gig was with jazz organist Charles Earland, a high school friend. His reputation soon spread among other jazz players, and he was recruited by bandleader Lloyd Price to play hits such as Stagger Lee on-stage with musicians like Slide Hampton and Red Holloway.
Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the "soul jazz" played by Willis “Gatortail” Jackson and others. He previously had "heard all of the so called “white” jazz. “I’d never heard that part of our culture," he remembers, until the Montgomery Brothers. The organ trio concept had a profound influence on Martino's rhythmic and harmonic approach. and he remained in that idiom as a sideman, gigging with Jack McDuff and Don Patterson. An icon before his eighteenth birthday, Pat was signed as a leader for Prestige Records when he was twenty. His seminal albums from this period include classics like Strings!, Desperado, El Hombre and Baiyina (The Clear Evidence), one of jazz's first successful ventures into psychedelia.
In 1976, while performing internationally with his fusion group “Joyous Lake” Martino began experiencing seizures, which were eventually diagnosed as AVM, a condition he was born with. After surgery and recovery, he resumed his career when he appeared in 1987 in New York, a gig that was released on a CD with an appropriate name, The Return. He then took another hiatus when both of his parents became ill, and he didn't record again until 1994, (after their death) when he recorded Interchange a nd then The Maker.
Today, Martino lives in Philadelphia again and continues to grow as a musician. As the New York Times noted, "Mr. Martino is back and he is plotting new musical direc tions, adding more layers to his myth." His experiments with guitar synthesizers, (begun during his rehabilitation) are taking him in the direction of orchestral arra ngements and they promise groundbreaking possibilities. Musicians flock to his door for lessons, and he offers not only the benefits of his musical knowledge, but als o the philosophical insights of a man who has faced and overcome enormous obstacles. "The guitar is of no great importance to me," he muses. "The people it brings to me are what matter. They are what I'm extremely grateful for, because they are alive. The guitar is just an apparatus."
Biography courtesy of DL Media
A Brief Resume
Pat began playing professionally in 1961. He has performed with a wide variety of artists including Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Richard Groove Holmes, John Handy, Bobby Hutcherson, Chick Corea, Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, Stanley Clark, Eric Kloss, Trudy Pitts, Willis Jackson, Lloyd Price, Woody Herman, Chuck Israels, Charles Earland, Barry Miles and Joe Pesci. Since 1967, Pat has been touring as a leader.
He has been a Recording Artist for Vanguard, Prestige, Warner Brothers, Muse, Columbia, King, Paddlewheel, Evidence, Sony, 32 Jazz, High Note, Milestone, Polydor, Concord, Fantasy, House of Blues, Mythos, Mainstream, Cobblestone, Atlantic and, most currently, Blue Note Records.
Pat has given Guitar and Music Therapy Seminars, Clinics and Master Classes throughout the world, at locations including North Texas State University, G.I.T., Berklee College (Boston and Perugia, Italy), Duquesne University, Teatro Rasi (Ravenna, Italy), LeCentre Culturel (D’Athis Mons, France), University of Washington School of Music, Skidmore College, Musicians Institute, National Guitar Workshop, New York University, Pennsylvania University, Stanford University, The University of Missouri, Roosevelt University (Chicago), Patti Summers Jazz Club (Seattle), Music Tech College (St. Paul), The New School (New York City), Southern Illinois University, The Conservatory of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Cork Festival (Cork, Ireland), Washington University (St. Louis, MO), Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Musictech College (St. Paul, MN), Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at NYU (New York, NY), Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts (Hartford, CT), and the University of Maryland.
Pat is currently on the adjunct faculty at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA.
Since the mid 1990s, Pat has received the following awards:
With over ten recordings as a leader, vocalist, businessman and educator Kevin Mahogany has been the standard setter for jazz vocalists for three decades.
His broad baritone was forged in his hometown: the legendary jazz metropolis known as Kansas City; where he learned to swing like Charlie Parker, shout the blues like Big Joe Turner, and cry a ballad like Lester Young; while, extending, elaborating and refining the jazz vocal legacies of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Eddie Jefferson and Al Jarreau into the myriad, interwoven dimensions of music – from gutbucket, the Great American Songbook, and gospel, to Mingus to Motown.
Mahogany played the piano, clarinet and baritone saxophone before he started singing in high school. He played saxophone on his first professional gig with Eddie Baker’s New Breed Orchestra. Mahogany studied with local jazz legend Ahmad Aladeen at the Charlie Parker Academy, and matriculated at Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas, where he formed a jazz vocal choir and earned a BFA in Music, English and Drama in 1981. He returned home and joined a nine-piece horn band called Robinson-Pike. He later formed two R&B-centric bands; The Apollos and Mahogany. In1991, he toured with the NRE Trio, and was featured on pianist Frank Mantooth’s 1993 CD, Dangerous Precedent.
That same year, Mahogany released his debut recording, Double Rainbow, was released on the Enja label in 1993. Specializing in performing and seldom-heard songs, the stylistic range of Mahogany’s recordings range from the kinetic big band bravura of Pussy Cat Dues: The Music of Charles Mingus; which featured Mingus sidemen trombonist Jimmy Knepper, alto saxophonist Charles MacPherson with the WDR Big Band, to Pride and Joy, his ebullient Motown tribute featuring the music of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
Mahogany published a magazine, The Jazz Singer and, with his business partner, Rick Cioffi, started his own Mahogany Jazz label, and recorded two recordings: Kevin Mahogany: Big Band, To: Johnny Hartman, a tribute to the exceptional vocalist who recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, and The Coltrane Hartman Fantasy, Vol. 1, with tenor saxophonist Tony Lakatos, inspired by the legendary 1963 Impulse recording, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.
In addition to being a trend-setting leader of the first order, Kevin Mahogany has also been an in-demand sideman and guest artist with a select cadre of jazz stars. He’s recorded with T.S. Monk (Monk on Monk), The Ray Brown Trio (Christmas Songs With Ray Brown), Marlena Shaw (Dangerous), Roseanna Vitro (Passion Dance), Carl Allen (Testimonial), Barbara Morrison (Visit Me) and Elvin Jones (It Don’t Mean A Thing).
In 1996, Mahogany made his screen debut in the 1996 Robert Altman film Kansas City, portraying a character based on blues singer Big Joe Turner, and was also featured on soundtrack.
Mahogany is also an exceptional master teacher, as evidenced by his well-received work teaching at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the University of Miami. He received an Honorary Degree from his alma mater, Baker University, in 2001.
Well into the change of the twenty first century, Kevin Mahogany continues to restructure the vocal metaphysics of a jazz thing, with his dynamic and down-home artistry.
Biography by ron wynn Biography by ron wynn
Hugh Masekela had an extensive jazz background and credentials, but enjoyed major success as one of the earliest leaders in the world fusion mode. Masekela's vibrant trumpet and flügelhorn solos were featured in pop, R&B, disco, Afro-pop, and jazz contexts. He had American and international hits, worked with bands around the world, and played with African, African-American, European, and various American musicians during a stellar career. His style, especially on flügelhorn, was a charismatic blend of striking upper-register lines, half-valve effects, and repetitive figures and phrases, with some note bending, slurs, and tonal colors. Though he often simplified his playing to fit into restrictive pop formulas, Masekela was capable of outstanding ballad and bebop work. Importantly, Masekela also became an international symbol of anti-apartheid activism during his decades in exile from his home country.
He began singing and playing piano as a child, influenced by seeing the film Young Man with a Horn at 13. Masekela started playing trumpet at 14. He played in the Huddleston Jazz Band, which was led by anti-apartheid crusader and group head Trevor Huddleston. Huddleston was eventually deported, and Masekela co-founded the Merry Makers of Springs along with Jonas Gwangwa. He later joined Alfred Herbert's Jazz Revue, and played in studio bands backing popular singers. Masekela was in the orchestra for the musical King Kong, whose cast included Miriam Makeba. He was also in the Jazz Epistles with Abdullah Ibrahim, Makaya Ntshoko, Gwanga, and Kippie Moeketsi.
In the aftermath of the March 1960 Sharpeville massacre, Masekela and Makeba, his wife at that time, left South Africa one year before Ibrahim and Sathima Bea Benjamin in 1961. Such musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, John Dankworth, and Harry Belafonte assisted him. Masekela studied at the Royal Academy of Music, then the Manhattan School of Music. During the early '60s, his career began to explode. He recorded for MGM, Mercury, and Verve, developing his hybrid African/pop/jazz style. Masekela moved to California and started his own record label, Chisa. He cut several albums expanding this formula and began to score pop success. The song "Grazing in the Grass" topped the charts in 1968 and eventually sold four million copies worldwide. That year Masekela sold out arenas nationwide during his tour, among them Carnegie Hall. He recorded in the early '70s with Monk Montgomery & the Crusaders.
Masekela moved in a more ethnic direction during the '70s. He traveled to London to play with Nigerian Afro-beat great Fela Kuti & Africa 70; then came a session with Dudu Pukwana, Eddie Gomez, and Ntshoko, among others, that resulted in his finest jazz/African album, Home Is Where the Music Is. Masekela toured Guinea with the Ghanian Afro-pop band Hedzoleh Soundz, then recorded a series of albums with them both in California and Africa with guest stints from the Crusaders, Patti Austin, and others. Masekela alternated between America and Africa, cutting a successful pop/dance album with Herb Alpert in the late '70s. He was part of Paul Simon's Graceland tour in the mid-'80s, while he continued recording and produced sessions by Makeba.
In 1990, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Masekela returned to South Africa. He visited Zimbabwe and Botswana, and recorded two albums with the Kalahari Band that once more merged jazz-rock, funk, and pop. Starting in the mid-'90s, Masekela began releasing a stream of albums and collections that showed his versatility and growth in South African jazz. He continued to be active into the first decade of the 21st century, issuing Live at the Market Theatre in 2007, Phola in 2009, and a pair of albums in 2012, Friends (with Larry Willis) and Jabulani, inspired by South African wedding traditions Masekela remembered from his childhood. Though the jazz content of his work varied over the years, Masekela had far more musical material on the plus side than the negative, and his significance as a worldwide symbol against oppression cannot be overemphasized. Hugh Masekela crossed over on January 23, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa at the age of 78.
He lived for the music
HELLO AND WELCOME TO SPOTLIGHT ON JAZZ AND POETRY, I’M YOUR HOST BIGTRIGGER, AND I’D LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME TODAY.
As you may know the continent of Africa has directly influenced and contributed mightily to the music we love called jazz. From Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Toure`, Angelique Kidjo, Miriam Makeba to Dollar Brand aka Abdullah Ibrahim, Jonas Gwangwa and Kippie Moeketsi.
On today’s program we’re featuring a legendary artist. A world-renowned flugelhornist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, singer and defiant political voice who remained deeply connected to his home in South Africa, while his international career sparkled. So we’re paying tribute Hugh Masekela, who sadly crossed over on January 23, 2018.
GROVER WASHINGTON JR.
Washington was born in Buffalo, New York, on December 12, 1943. His mother was a church chorister, and his father was a collector of old Jazz gramophone records and a saxophonist as well, so music was everywhere in the home. He grew up listening to the great jazzmen and big band leaders like Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, and others like them. At the age of 8, Grover Sr. gave Jr. a saxophone. He practiced and would sneak into clubs to see famous Buffalo blues musicians.
Washington left Buffalo and played with a Midwest group called the Four Clefs and then the Mark III Trio from Mansfield, Ohio. He was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly thereafter, which was to be to his advantage, as he met drummer Billy Cobham. A music mainstay in New York City, Cobham introduced Washington to many New York musicians. After leaving the Army, Washington freelanced his talents around New York City, eventually landing in Philadelphia in 1967. In 1970 and 1971, he appeared on Leon Spencer's first two albums on Prestige Records, together with Idris Muhammad and Melvin Sparks.
Washington's big break came at the expense of another artist. Alto sax man Hank Crawford was unable to make a recording date with Creed Taylor's Kudu Records, and Washington took his place, even though he was a backup. This led to his first solo album, Inner City Blues. He was talented and displayed heart and soul with soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. Refreshing for his time, he made headway into the jazz mainstream.
RISE TO FAME
While his first three albums established him as a force in jazz and soul music, it was his fourth album in 1974, Mister Magic, that proved a major commercial success. The album climbed to number 10 in Billboard's Top 40 album chart and the title track reached No. 16 on the R&B singles chart (#54, pop). All these albums included guitarist Eric Gale as a near-permanent member in Washington's arsenal. His follow-up on Kudu in 1975, Feels So Good also made No. 10 on the album chart.
A string of acclaimed records brought Washington through the 1970s, culminating in the signature piece for everything he would do from then on. Winelight (1980) was the album that defined everything Washington was then about, having signed for Elektra Records, part of the major Warner Music group. The album was smooth, fused with R&B and easy listening feel. Washington's love of basketball, especially the Philadelphia 76ers, led him to dedicate the second track, "Let It Flow", to Julius Erving (Dr. J). The highlight of the album was his collaboration with soul artist Bill Withers, "Just the Two of Us," a huge hit on radio during the spring and summer of 1981, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went platinum in 1981, and also won Grammy Awards in 1982 for Best R&B Song ("Just The Two of Us"), and Best Jazz Fusion Performance ("Winelight"). "Winelight" was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
In the post-Winelight era, Washington is credited for giving rise to a new batch of talent that would make its mark in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is known for bringing Kenny G to the forefront, as well as artists such as Walter Beasley, Steve Cole, Pamela Williams, Najee, and Boney James and George Howard. His song "Mr. Magic" is noted as being influential on Go-go music starting in the mid-1970s.
EARLY YEARS AND EDUCATION
Grammy nominated guitarist, composer, and producer, Chuck Loeb has had a musical career that spans over four decades, and he is proud to be known as a "renaissance man" in the music world. He is a #1 jazz recording artist; composer of over 250 published songs, network television show themes and scores; a producer of over thirty world-renowned recording artists; as well as an in-demand clinician and educator. With the 2013 release of "Silhouette", his eighteenth solo CD, Loeb has attained the much sought after position as one of the most in demand artists in the world, as well as one with his own recognizable sound. He is also a member one of the world’s premier jazz groups Fourplay, and the ground breaking fusion band Metro. He hails from Nyack, NY and studied guitar, composition and arranging at The Berklee College of Music.
Sound has been a central focus in Loeb’s musical journey, intensified greatly by the influence of Stan Getz, who gave Loeb one of his first big breaks in the world of music. He joined the Getz band in 1979 and toured and recorded with the jazz legend for the next several years. In 1984 Chuck joined the all-star group Steps Ahead featuring Michael Brecker, who Chuck considers his greatest musical inspiration. After nearly twenty years as a seasoned studio musician with thousands of sessions under his belt, ranging from jazz, to pop, to rock & roll, to Broadway, classical and even folk music, Loeb firmly believes in the inclusion of all areas of music in the working knowledge and practice of the twenty-first century musician. This concept is central to his educational work as a clinician, and in his work with his "String Training" seminars & forthcoming video series. In a NY Times, feature article he was dubbed "The Clark Kent of jazz guitar" for his understated style and subtle prowess.
Over the four decades in his illustrious career, Loeb has played and toured with a long list of jazz, pop, rock, and classical greats: Hubert Laws, Chico Hamilton, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Barretto, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter and the aforementioned Stan Getz among many others.
He has also written music for, performed on albums by, and produced recordings for Bob James, Michael Franks, Carly Simon, Dave Grusin, Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel, Johnny Mathis, Wallace Rooney, Ivan Lins, Gato Barbieri, Thomas Quasthoff, Richard Stoltzman, Steps Ahead, Spyro Gyra, Keiko Matsui, Eric Marienthal, Anita Baker, Astrud Gilberto, Jon Lucien, Larry Coryell, Pat Martino, Brian Culbertson, David Benoit, Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, George Garzone, Kim Waters, Walter Beasley, Randy Brecker, Warren Bernhardt, Jennifer Hudson, Bill Evans, Jim Hall, Chet Baker, Grover Washington, Jr. Sergio Salvatore, Eddie Daniels, Earl Klugh, Special EFX, Michel Camilo, Nelson Rangell, and the list goes on…. (for a complete discography see www.chuckloeb.com/discography)
“Silhouette” - Loeb’s latest recording features an all-star lineup with legendary musicians Nathan East, Peter Erskine, Steve Gadd, Will Lee, Eric Marienthal, Mitchel Forman, Wolfgang Haffner, Andy Snitzer, Pat Bianchi, David Mann, and David Charles, as well as introducing some fresh new talent with Oli Rockberger and Giulio Carmassi.
It features eight new exciting original compositions, ranging from the smokey Wes Montgomery inspired title song, to the lithe and airy "Appreciation", to the driving "Silver Lining" & "Lockdown"."JT" is a tribute to James Taylor, one of Chuck’s all time favorite artists."Stompin" is a visit with Chuck’s "Plain ‘n’ Simple" organ band, and swings like crazy through and through.
As always Chuck’s family is featured, with a beautiful rendition of the classic Bolero "Esta Tarde Vi Llover" sung by his wife Carmen Cuesta, a duet of the classic "My One And Only Love" with daughter Lizzy Loeb, and a haunting original co- penned with daughter Christina Loeb "Las Eras" featured on Ukelele, inspired by their summers in Northern Spain. The title "Silhouette" (…the shape and outline of someone or something visible against a light background) is meant to evoke the idea that Chuck’s musical life has been shaped and outlined by the light of his experiences, relationships, and influences throughout his career, and a nod of appreciation to the music and musicians that got him where he is today.
Geri Allen Biography
Pianist, composer, Guggenheim Fellow, and educator Geri Allen crossed over on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 from complications of cancer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She had recently celebrated her 60th birthday.
Hailed as one of the most accomplished pianists and educators of her time, Allen’s most recent position was as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She was especially proud of performing with renowned pianist McCoy Tyner for the last two years, and was also part of two recent groundbreaking trios: ACS (Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding) and the MAC Power Trio with David Murray and Carrington – their debut recording Perfection was released on Motéma Music in 2016 to critical acclaim.
“The jazz community will never be the same with the loss of one of our geniuses, Geri Allen. Her virtuosity and musicality are unparalleled,” expressed Carrington upon learning of her passing. “I will miss my sister and friend, but I am thankful for all of the music she made and all of the incredible experiences we had together for over 35 years. She is a true original – a one of kind – never to be forgotten. My heart mourns, but my spirit is filled with the gift of having known and learned from Geri Allen.“
She was the first woman and youngest person to receive the Danish Jazzpar Prize, and was the first recipient of the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Jazz. In 2011, she was nominated for an NAACP Award for Timeline, her Tap Quartet project. Over the last few years, Allen served as the program director of NJPAC’s All-Female Jazz Residency, which offered a weeklong one-of-a-kind opportunity for young women, ages 14-25, to study jazz.
Allen was also recently honored to be one of the producers of the expanded and re-mastered recording of Erroll Garner’s The Complete Concert by the Sea, which garnered her an Essence Image Award nomination as well as a GRAMMY® Award-nomination in 2016. She felt strongly that students should have access to this material, and went on to organize a 60th anniversary performance of the material at the 2015 Monterey Jazz Festival with Jason Moran and Christian Sands.
Geri Antoinette Allen was born June 12, 1957 in Pontiac, Mich., and raised in Detroit. Her father, Mount V. Allen, Jr., was a principal in the Detroit public school system, and her mother, Barbara Jean, was a defense contract administrator for the U.S. government.
Allen took up the piano at age 7 and went on to graduate from Cass Technical High School, the alma mater of jazz greats on the order of Paul Chambers, Wardell Gray, Gerald Wilson and Donald Byrd.
Having grown up in Detroit, a region known for its rich musical history, Allen’s affinity for jazz stemmed from her father’s passion for the music. She began taking lessons at 7-years-old, and started her early music education under the mentorship of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave at the Cass Technical High School.
In 1979, she was one of the first to graduate from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in jazz studies. It was there that she began to embrace music from all cultures that would ultimately influence her work. During that time, she studied with the great Kenny Barron in New York City.
“I first met Geri when she was a student at Howard. She would take the train up to my house in Brooklyn for lessons. Even then it was apparent that Geri heard some things musically that others did not,” Barron reflects. “In 1994 we performed a duo piano concert at the Caramoor Festival in New York and I realized how fearless she was and at the same time how focused she was. It was a lesson that I took to heart. Geri is not only a great musician, composer and pianist, she is a giant and will be sorely missed.”
In New York, Allen met Nathan Davis, a respected educator who encouraged her to attend the University of Pittsburgh where he served as Director for their Jazz Studies department. She followed his advice and earned her Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology in 1982. In 2013, she became their Director of Jazz Studies upon Davis’ retirement.
While at UPITT, Allen’s commitment to community outreach and bridging educational inequities manifested through her pioneering engagement on the research education network of Internet2 and CENIC, where she connected virtually to universities and cultural institutions across the country, collaborating with artists and technologists such as Terri Lyne Carrington, Chris Chafe, George Lewis, Michael Dressen, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer and the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars.
She was also the musical director of the Mary Lou Williams Collective, recording and performing the music of the great Mary Lou Williams, including her sacred work Mass For Peace. Allen also collaborated with S. Epatha Merkerson and Farah Jasmine Griffin on two music theatre projects: “Great Apollo Women,” which premiered at the legendary Apollo Theatre, and “A Conversation with Mary Lou,” which premiered at the Harlem Stage as an educational component for the Harlem Stage collaboration. The University of Pittsburgh hosted the first ever Mary Lou Williams Cyber Symposium where Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, and Allen performed a three piano improvisation from Harvard, Columbia and the University of Pittsburgh in real time using Internet2 technology.
Allen was a recent recipient of the Howard University Pinnacle Award presented by Professor Connaitre Miller and Afro Blue. She has served as a faculty member at Howard University, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Michigan where she taught for ten years. In 2014, Allen was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music Degree by Berklee College of Music in Boston. The Honorable Congressman John Conyers Jr. presented the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Jazz Legacy Award to Allen.
In 1985, Allen released The Printmakers – her debut release as a leader, and one of the hundreds of releases that encompasses her boisterous discography. In 1990, she signed to Blue Note Records and released The Nurturer with mentor Marcus Belgrave, Kenny Garrett, Robert Hurst, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Eli Fountain. This release showcased a more conventional playing style while still maintaining the freedom of improvisation and expression that was so present at the start of her career.
Throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Allen continued to be a pioneer for the genre both as a side-woman and as a leader. Her improvisational virtuosity was displayed on Ornette Coleman’s 1996 release of Sound Museum, her 1988 release The Gathering, and again in 2004 with The Life a Song featuring Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. In 2010 her solo piano album, Flying Towards the Sound was critically acclaimed and was rated “Best of 2010” on NPR and DownBeat magazine’s Critics Polls.
Allen’s commissioned work “For the Healing of the Nations” in 2006 was written to pay tribute to the victims, survivors, and family members of the September 11th attacks. This special tribute was performed by the Howard University’s Afro Blue Jazz Choir and included performances from jazz musicians such as Oliver Lake, Craig Harris, Andy Bey, among others. It was also around this time that Allen had been awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship honoring her prolific role in furthering this creative art form. This allowed her to release the compositions “Refractions” and “Flying Towards the Sound,” as well as three short films under the Motéma Music label.
In 2008, Allen received the African American Classical Music Award from the Women of the New Jersey chapter of Spelman College as well as “A Salute to African-American Women: Phenomenal Woman” from the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Epsilon chapter at the University of Michigan. Allen also performed in a theatrical and musical celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the statue unveiling in Washington, DC.
In a career that spanned more than 35 years, she recorded, performed and collaborated with some of the most important artists of our time including Ornette Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, George Shirley, Dewey Redman, Jimmy Cobb, Sandra Turner-Barnes, Charles Lloyd, Marcus Belgrave, Betty Carter, Jason Moran, Lizz Wright, Marian McPartland, Roy Brooks, Vijay Iyer, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Laurie Anderson, Terri Lynn Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Hal Willner, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Dr. Billy Taylor, Carrie Mae Weems, Angélique Kidjo, Mary Wilson and The Supremes, Howard University’s Afro-Blue and many others.
Allen contributed some of the most groundbreaking and forward thinking music of the time. The remarkable pianist leaves behind a wealth of material that will educate future generations of musicians. A mother of three, she credited her family for making it possible for her to maintain such a successful and fruitful career. She was a cutting edge performing artist, and continued to entertain internationally up until her death.
Omar Sosa's recording career began in 1997 with the release of his first solo piano recording, Omar Omar on the Oakland, California-based record label, Ot Records, and has continued with the release of 22 CDs as a leader, resulting in five GRAMMY nominations. These include a 2002 GRAMMY nomination and Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album for the CD Sentir; a 2005 GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album for the CD Mulatos, featuring Cuban saxophone and clarinet master, Paquito D'Rivera; and the two nominations for Across The Divide in 2009.
Omar works with an array of African, Arabic, European, Indian, Latin, and North American musicians. Among his many associations are drummers and percussionists Steve Argüelles, Julio Barretto, Mino Cinelu, Miguel "Angá" Diaz, Marque Gilmore, Trilok Gurtu, Marcos Ilukán, Ramiro Musotto, Gustavo Ovalles, Pancho Quinto, Adam Rudolph, John Santos, Carlos "Patato" Valdés, and Orestes Vilató; singers Tim Eriksen, Lázaro Galarraga, Marta Galarraga, El Houssaine Kili, Xiomara Laugart, María Márquez, Will Power, Mola Sylla, the Tenores San Gavino de Oniferi - Sardinia, and Dhafer Youssef; trumpeter Paolo Fresu; and woodwind masters Paquito D'Rivera, Luis Depestre, Leandro Saint-Hill, and Mark Weinstein.
Another recent work is Tales From The Earth (Otá Records, 2009), led by flute player Mark Weinstein. The recording presents a thoroughly cosmopolitan outlook rooted in the rhythmic intensity and improvisatory, call-and-response spirit of Africa writ large. It features artists of
Cuban, Haitian, West African, European, African American, and Jewish American heritage, with a shared commitment to the communal, celebratory character that embodies the expressive riches of Mother Africa and features Omar on marimba and vibraphone, which he studied in Cuba's conservatories before switching to piano.
Diane Vincent aka Najwa Planet Goddess is a local poet/spoken word artist that has blessed the mic in cities from New York to Georgia and Dallas Texas. She is a staunch activist for culture, social change and the wrongly convicted. Diane Vincent is also a published author of three novels Ambiguity, G.O.E. The COINTELPRO Project and Seven Folds of a Sinner as well as a book of poetry entitled Sistah From Another Planet that are available on Amazon estores. Diane Vincent ultimately aspires to positively inspire other in consciousness, self-love and awareness through her writing that will decant into the next generation.
“I am love. And my soul longs to love. But I take care of that loving soul from those with no intent or I'll intent. I've been taught to give everyone the benefit of the doubt until they show you otherwise. Not to say I'm green, naïve or gullible. Don't take my goodness for weakness because I will cash many checks. Lol. But I am a writer and a poetic artist so you know we are deep feeler.
Talented saxophonist Daniel Chia is one of Singapore's fastest rising young talents in the contemporary jazz scene today.
Although classically trained in the music of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Bartok, Chia's work is also deeply influenced by the work of jazz legends like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, alongside the R&B and soul music of the 70s' and 80s'.
The burgeoning musician has been impressing in America recently where he was invited to session for famed guitarist Zoux, and also played live with smooth jazz luminary guitarist Peter White and Grammy-nominated vocal group DW3.
But he's no stranger in his hometown either, having cut his teeth with hip-hop group SIXX, pop and R&B stars like Sezairi and Gareth Fernandez, and many others within the English and Mandarin adult contemporary music landscape. Furthermore, Chia is also Singapore's youngest saxophone artist signed to Yamaha, and a Silverstein's first pro artist signing from Singapore.
Now ready to go solo, Chia has just recently finished recording his debut album In The Moment in Los Angeles under the guidance of two-time Grammy award winning producer Paul Brown. Featuring his special brand of "disco jazz", the forthcoming record has already got insiders buzzing thanks to his smooth compositions and an all-star band of internationally recognized musicians.
Recently, Chia took to Kickstarter on 17 November to get his record off the ground, hoping to reach a stated S$10,000 goal. Now barely a week into his campaign, the smooth jazz prodigy has already amassed well over his aim, earning S$13,231 as of this publication. And with four days left to go, fans can still continue to pledge to help him out even further.
As you can see, support for Chia from the music scene is pretty healthy at the moment, and with very good reason. Check out a preview of In The Moment below to find out more.
My name is Clayton E. Corley, Sr. aka Big Trigger host and producer of an award winning internet program!