This venture into the creation of my online radio program, Spotlight On Jazz and Poetry (SOJP), started in my mind almost nine years ago during the first week of April of 2006. It seemed only natural to blend two artistic genres that I love so much, Jazz and Poetry, together and present them in a way that would remind you of those smoked filled clubs back in the day where you'd hear a jazz combo grooving and a poet stepping up to the microphone to share a bit of themselves with an admiring audience. Afterall, i came from household with parents that loved both art forms and ran a speakeasy every weekend where friends of theirs listened to jazz, gambled and ate all night long. Therefore, I had to listen to this music and as I got old enough to handle my father's album collection, actually play the music on our stereo record player while they entertained. My love of jazz was born.
Fast forward to April 2006 and the creation of SOJP, which by the way was put together while tinkering with various recording programs the computers in the basement of my home. NO, I didn't have any formal engineering or audio production training, but I do possess two great ears, a fair speaking voice, a passion for the arts and oh yeah, a quiet basement.
In 2008 with the web design skills of poetess Donna Kirven aka Celestial Dancer, SOJPRadio.com was born and the train was rolling. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? If used properly a program such as this can be heard all around the world. Judging from the emails and social media posts that SOJP has received from listeners over the years and the responses from artists whose music and poetry has been featured on the program, we're doing some wonderful things in those worldwide arts communities. Well known and not so well known artists from around the globe such as pianist Heikki Sarmanto from Finland, poetess Yuri Kageyama from Japan, saxophonist Ricardo Cavalli from Argentina, the late pianist Hotep Idris Galeta from South Africa and poetess Anushka Nagji from Dubai as well as artists from the U.S. such as the late pianist Joe Sample, saxophonists Odean Pope from Philadelphia and Houston Person from New York , poetess Nikki Giovanni from Virginia, poet Norman Woods from California and vocalist Carmen Lundy have all expressed their appreciation for what SOJP does. All of their features and interviews are posted on the SOJP website.
Now, as of January 18, 2015 we've redesigned our SOJP home with the help of Danny Bryant, I'm recording future programs on a daily basis more often than not, with a cup of coffee in hand and enjoying every minute of it. And guess what? It still feels good even after nine years of creating in my basement.
1. What is the relationship between jazz and poetry?
Jazz is how we express our feelings musically. Poetry or Spoken Word is the verbal expression. Both can add to the joy of a moment and lift your spirits through the hard times. When the 2 are blended is when magic can happen.
2. What is the importance of each to our culture?
Jazz artist and poets come from all walks of life. Regardless of our differences racially, politically or religiously we all find common ground inside jazz and poetry.
California born, Maryland raised, Simply Sherri started writing in 2001 and reciting her work in 2008. Her easy going writing style is a reflection of who she is and what is going on in her world. Sherri got into a zone with her writing after a few conversations with a friend that told her that she reminded him of a poet. Most of her scribes are about love and relationships, the good and the bad, the reality and the fantasy. In 2013, she returned to the Spoken Word stage after a 2 year hiatus, which wasn’t her intention but life’s’ circumstances, health, and the so called writers block kept her away. She feels that the break has done wonders for her writing in style and content. She thinks it’s important every now and then to take a break. To re-energize and reinvigorate. I missed my poetry family. She statesOne of signature poems at this time is Sparkly Things; this piece was composed while I was in a relationship and trying to figure out my views on marriage at my age and what a loving relationship looks like to me. The opening line was something I said in a conversation him and I were having which turned into a discussion of that concept about saying I love you. I rarely said “I love you” to him before that conversation, the sentiment didn't seem connect with him and convey what I wanted him to know about my feelings. The first time I said “You inspire me” he melted and I knew that would be what I would say for as long as we were together. It has also prompted me to find alternate phrases for those I care for deeply. These statements conveys how much I appreciate the fact that you love me.
I usually do not write about people but about an event or something that has happened with that person. Liquefy, Chapters and For example the poem Chakras is one of the rare times I have written about a person and how they impacted me. I was introduced with Def Poetry Jam Poet Will “Da Real One” Bell at a charity poetry event in 2009. When he walked up to me he said “Your forehead is beautiful” a compliment that had me scratching my head. He had a peaceful spirit, the kind of person whom you can instantly relax around which contradicted the power of his poetry and his words. I wrote the poem the next day, I rarely perform it live. I had a dream that one day I would go to Miami and perform it live in his venue. He was killed 2 years after I met him; Chakra’s is my tribute poem to him. Please go to YouTube and find his videos.
Sherri has been spotlighted and featured in venues in New York City, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Her home venues can be found in Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC. In 2010 she released her debut poetry CD Liquefy. She is host of Heard Through the Grapevine and the new venue Poetically Brewing.
For all upcoming performances and shows please visit www.simplypoeticentertainment.com
For two decades, the contemporary jazz quartet known as Fourplay has enjoyed consistent artistic and commercial success by grafting elements of R&B, pop and a variety of other sounds to their unwavering jazz foundations. In the course of a dozen recordings – six of which have climbed to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album charts – the super group has continued to explore the limitless dimensions and permutations of jazz while at the same time appealing to a broad mainstream audience.
The Fourplay story begins in 1990, with keyboardist Bob James, who had already established himself as a formidable figure in keyboard jazz – not just as an instrumentalist but as a composer and arranger as well – with solo recordings dating as far back as the mid 1960s. In 1990, James reunited with his old friend, session drummer, producer, composer & recording artist Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, Barbra Streisand, Notorious Big), during the recording of James’ Grand Piano Canyon album. Also involved in the project were guitarist Lee Ritenour (Sergio Mendes) and bassist/vocalist Nathan East (Barry White, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins).
The Grand Piano Canyon sessions marked the genesis of the group that eventually came to be known as Fourplay. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1991, and included a blend of jazz, R&B and pop.
The original lineup of James/Ritenour/East/Mason stayed together for three successive albums, including Elixir (1994), a set that features some high-profile guest vocalists: Phil Collins, Patti Austin and Peabo Bryson. East also delivers some noteworthy vocal contributions on Elixir, and has continued to do so throughout most of Fourplay’s subsequent studio outings.
Ritenour, whose guitar work in tandem with James’ keyboards served as the cornerstone of the early Fourplay sound, left the lineup in the mid-1990s and was replaced by Larry Carlton (The Crusaders, Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones). Carlton made his first studio appearance with the band with the release of 4 in 1998. 4 included compositions by all four members, as well as an impressive crew of guest vocalists: El Debarge, Babyface Edmonds, Kevyn Lettau and Shanice.
Following the 1999 release of Snowbound, a mix of traditional and contemporary holiday songs, Fourplay shook things up a bit with Yes Please!, an album that challenged the standard definitions of contemporary jazz by incorporating elements of blues, funk and even Celtic music.JazzTimes critic Hilarie Grey called Yes Please! “an expansive album that incorporates each artist’s strengths, and in the process travels in some unexpected directions.” Grey added: “Yes Please! works where similar projects fail simply because it lets its artists play, without imposing artificial boundaries.”
The sense of experimentation continued with the 2002 release of Heartfelt. The material in this set emerged from a series of improvisational performances that were assembled into full compositions. As a result, the tunes have less clearly defined melodies, but the overall album is both exploratory and accessible at the same time.
Journey, released in 2004, is a laid-back affair, but complex at the same time. Consistent with Fourplay’s eclectic philosophy, Journey incorporates a range of stylistic elements – as evidenced by such high points as the delicate cover of the 1993 Sting hit “Fields of Gold” and the Mason bossa nova flavored “Rozil.”
X followed in 2006, with guest vocals by blue-eyed-soul icon Michael McDonald, who delivers an inspired rendition of Steve Winwood’s “My Loves Leavin’.” JazzTimes called X “a softly funky, superbly crafted and unapologetically low-key album.”
Fourplay joined the prestigious roster of artists on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, with the 2008 release of Energy, which spent three consecutive weeks at the top ofBillboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. The album grafts a variety of sounds – R&B, pop, African and more – to Fourplay’s unwavering jazz foundations. In addition to vocals by East, Energyfeatures a vocal track by bassist Esperanza Spalding.
After 12 years with the group, Carlton left in April 2010 to delve further into his solo career, and the band welcomed its newest member, multi-faceted virtuoso guitarist, Chuck Loeb. His musical contributions undoubtedly enhance the creativity and pursuit of excellence Fourplay has enjoyed in the studio and on the stage.
Loeb made his debut with the quartet on Let’s Touch The Sky, released in October 2010. The album also includes thrilling performances by guest vocalists Anita Baker and Ruben Studdard. The infusion of new blood into the Fourplay lineup created an opportunity to bring an even higher level of energy and inspiration into a band that is already known for taking chances and pushing the limits of contemporary jazz.
The group’s latest recording explores the place where four unique perspectives become a single creative force. That symmetry and creativity are at the heart of Esprit De Four, set for release on September 18, 2012. The CD includes the poignant but hopeful “Put Our Hearts Together,” written by James – with lyrics by his daughter, Hilary James, and vocal featuring Japanese superstar Seiko Matsuda – as a tribute to the victims of the devastating tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011.
You can visit their website at: www.fourplayjazz.com
My name is Clayton E. Corley, Sr. aka Big Trigger host and producer of an award winning internet program!