September 28, 2009


Shenole Latimer admits that the reason he wanted to learn the saxophone was because it was shiny and looked complicated to play because of all of the keys that it had. Shenole's interest in jazz, though always present, found a new level of intensity when he met jazz bassist Todd Coolman during his undergraduate studies at Stony Brook Unversity on Long Island. Coolman's professionalism and breadth of knowledge about jazz fascinated Shenole and made him give consideration towards pursuing jazz for a living. This feeling was cemented, however, when a friend loaned Shenole a CD by Chick Corea called "Three Quartets", which featured Michael Brecker on the tenor saxophone. All it took was Michael Brecker's solo on the very first track of the CD to have Shenole make up his mind that jazz was what he wanted to do with his life. Shenole had never, up until that point, heard a saxophone played in such a manner.Shenole's CD "Front and Center" is a must for any serious jazz lover and collection>

Mario Coleman aka The Nxt LeveL hails from Chicago Ill. where he grew up to until age 15. From there he moved to Erie PA. This is where his journey into music began.

Nxt got his first exposure to Jazz, by hanging out with his uncles and listening to cats like Wes Montgomery, and the Jazz Crusaders. But it wasn’t until Grover Washington’s Mr. Magic dropped, that his interest peaked. From there, It was George Benson’s Breezing, by the time Ronnie Laws came out with the Friends and Strangers album, it was pretty much a wrap as far me moving between Jazz, and R&B for inspiration. I remember at one point Reading the back of albums covers like magazines just to see who was playing on them.

Poetry came from the ability to listen deeply to love songs and get lost in the flow and imagery they created. Not to mention how much the ladies love to hear a brother say something sweet to them. As a matter of fact the first poetry piece that was posted was to his X Girlfriend entitled In Silence. My Girl was so moved by the piece she posted it on a poetry website, the response was so overwhelming. From there it all began.

Sandra Turner-Barnes, a South Jersey/Philadelphia area artist,
is a national award winning poet, author & vocalist, known across the East Coast as "The Cadillac Lady" because of her amusing poem-song by that title. In 1995, Sandra won the Ebony Magazine Literary Competition for short fiction; and, she felt truly honored to be named "Diva of Poetry" right along with Nikki Giovanni, Sonya Sanchez and Ntosake Shange in 1997 in the City of Philadelphia. In 2000, Sandra won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Competition in Chicago, and was published in the Gwendolyn Brooks Anthology, "WarpLand."

As a performance poet & vocalist, Sandra has appeared across the East Coast with artists such as Jazz Divas Gerri Allen, Shirley Scott and Evelyn Sims; R&B singer, Freddie Jackson, and writer and motivation speaker, Iyanla Vanzant, to name a few. In 2001, Sandra's jazz vocal performance with renowned jazz pianist, Barry Sames, was selected for national airing on BET's "Jazz Discoveries." Sandra's first book of poetry, "Always A Lady," published for the third time in 1995, sold over 5,000 copies, and is still in demand; her second book, "That Sweet Philly Jazz" published in 1997, is a tribute to jazz and jazz musicians; and, her soon-to-be released book, "Too Much Woman" is a long awaited collection of poetry, prose and passion. A children's book entitled, "Chicken Bone Beach" is near completion; this tale depicts racism through the eyes of a Black child during the days of segregation in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Sandra chose to entitle her first CD, "September Will Never Be The Same" in tribute to the many lives lost last year on September 11, but also in gratitude to the many lives spared by God's Grace, including that of her son-in-law, Enzo. Sandra dedicates the title poem to all the children of this world, and especially those children who will be born as a result of efforts to bring about healing from this tragedy, specifically, her own (soon to be born 911 blessing) granddaughter, "Mia." "September Will Never Be The Same" features the up and coming jazz quartet, "Mysterious Traveler," four very gifted musicians who provide that jazzy balance that gives Sandra's poems and vocals that added uniqueness that bring joy to the listeners' ears.

"Mysterious Traveler" consists of leader, Theo Primas, who co-produced the CD, on Saxophones & flute; co-producer, Raimundo Santos, on keyboards; Bob Turner on bass; and Kenny Adams on drums. All wonderfully executed selections on this fabulous CD are smooth, easy to listen to, extremely entertaining, and destined to put this CD on your "must have" list.

Classifying herself as an “Artistic Poet”, NeoSouljah was born Unnita [Yah ‘KNEE Tah] Chambers in Cleveland Ohio April of 1962 and began singing almost as soon as she could talk. Having been a vocalist for 39 of her 45 years on Earth, her talents have been lent to nearly every style of music you can name: Jazz, Neo-Soul, Funk, R&B, Rock, Country & Western, Rap, Hip Hop, Gospel, Madrigal, Classical and Hymnal, as both lead and background vocalist, and vocal arrangement. As a Singer, this Diversity has afforded her the ability to work with some well known Ministries and Artists including HBO Def Poets Abyss and Georgia Me . As a performer, NeoSouljah has appeared in underground productions of The Wiz, A Brand New Me, a movie production "Water My Flowers", and is a member of the Christian Comedy Association.

But it was her craft of Songwriting that eventually led her to the love affair she now holds with Poetry. This gift was discovered during a showcase in an International music conference hosted by Multi Award winning Gospel artist Babbie Mason.

As a poet, NeoSouljah, or “Neo” as she is nicknamed, has not only held her own within the Open Mic circuit winning several slams, she has been found on the mic at local churches as well, given room to ‘tell it like it should be’. Sharing her years of knowledge as a stage performer with her poetic peers, she regularly holds poetry sessions in her home. Called “Confessions” these nights are filled with food, laughter, poetry, writing contests, information, and performance tips as she coaches those alongside and coming behind her. These sessions have also been visited by poets within the National Slam Poetry and HBO Def Poetry community of artists.

Outsane, as she describes herself, Neo boldly addresses the church and it’s biases, our constant decay of morals, and everyday life issues with pictorial prose that is intellectual, funny, educational, and sobering. A firm believer that you can't talk about what you don't know about, every rhyme crafted is from her experience as a Woman, Lover, Friend, Counselor, Minister, and Artist. But she is best known for her Erotiq poetry which addresses issues of the heart, mind, and body, and is Sensual without being vulgar. Her craftsmanship and knowledge of intimacy within a relationship has led The National Society of Black Engineers National Convention to called upon her several times to serve as a Clinician for a Standing Room Only workshop she has entitled: Sex And The City: Being Healed from E.T.D.’s. [Emotionally Transmitted Diseases]. designed through poetry and interactive exercises to help the participants heal from the scars of verbal abuse and develop healthy communication skills and relationships that branch from the home to the workplace, church, and neighborhood.

Currently NeoSouljah is working on a CD, as well as production of various projects both within her own company [One Love Ink], and alongside her business partner, Executive Talent Consultant for HBO Def Poetry Jam, Walter T. Mudu of Mudu Multimedia. Be sure to look out for her project “The Instrument – Me” this summer, as well as a Devotional Journal infused with Poetry later this year.

September 17, 2009

"A Tribute to Rashied Ali"

Rashied Ali, the free jazz drummer whose asymmetrical and impressionistic drumming became the shifting backbeat of free jazz, crossed over on August 13, 2009. He was 76.

Ali will best be remembered as John Coltrane’s drummer during the crucial late phases of his career when he all but abandoned traditional jazz forms for a freer, heavily improvised style that reflected his religious ambitions. Beginning in 1965, when Coltrane invited an undistinguished Ali to join him on the bandstand of the Village Vanguard, until 1967, when Coltrane recorded his final session, Ali provided the shifting, dialogic drumscape that fractured rhythm just as Coltrane fractured melody. Far from keeping time for his bands, Ali’s drumming became its own improvisatory force, another shade in the tonal palate. Along with Sunny Murray, the great drummer for Albert Ayler’s quartet, Ali defined the sound of free jazz drumming.

Far from keeping time for his bands, Ali’s drumming became its own improvisatory force, another shade in the tonal palate.

Raised in the Philadelphia neighborhood where Coltrane used to live, Ali grew up with Coltrane’s music. As he said in an interview with European television, “[Coltrane] only lived like about four blocks from me when he was playing with Miles Davis in the 50s, and I used to just go outside of his house and listen to him practice all the time.” Coltrane’s music became Ali’s lodestar, and his career, which included stints with Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, and Pharaoh Sanders, seemed oriented toward the inevitable moment when he would join Coltrane’s band.

Of course, Coltrane already had a drummer when he invited Ali into the band. Elvin Jones had made the transition from the metronomic drumming of hard bop to a more expressionistic style that accompanied Coltrane’s changing ideas about improvisation. When Ali came on, the band was to have two drummers, and the gloriously chaotic Meditations (1965) gives a taste of that arrangement. Jones fires away at his set, maintaining a taut anchor to a swinging rhythm while Ali’s drums pull the music to-and-fro like a violently shifting tide.

Jones, not to mention a host of jazz critics, could not comprehend this new rhythmic direction and left the band. Ali, along with the affably flexible bassist Jimmy Garrison, pianist Alice Coltrane, and reedsman Pharaoh Sanders, became the core of Coltrane’s new group, which many at the time believed was pulling Coltrane in the wrong direction—away from traditional jazz. Critical consensus on the success of free jazz, and especially of Coltrane’s version of it, may never be reached, but for those who can’t resist its raw, emotional and spiritual pull, Ali’s drumming sounds nothing less than virtuosic. Coltrane was demonstrably taken with Ali’s playing. Nobody knows for certain whether Coltrane knew that the sessions for Interstellar Space would be his last, but there is something moving about the fact that Coltrane’s final studio statement was a duet with Ali. When Ali arrived for the recording, he had no idea that he would be playing alone with Coltrane. According to Ben Ratliff, who wrote about the incident in Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Ali had to ask Coltrane what the music would end up being.

“Whatever you want it to be,” Coltrane replied. “Come on. I’m going to ring some bells. You can do an 8-bar intro.”

Interstellar Space was recorded in one take, and it’s a long, overlapping wave of melodies and emotional impressions that is both difficult to parse and completely enthralling. Inscrutable like a convoluted mystical text, it has the immediate emotional appeal of a masterly work of abstract painting. Although Ali would later claim that he wasn’t at his sharpest during the recording session, the musical communication between him and Coltrane is palpable. It’s a moving and intimate recording, for all its esotericism.

After Coltrane’s death in 1967, Ali became a hub for the free jazz scene. During the 70s, he opened Ali’s Alley, a crucial part of the downtown loft scene, where New York’s free jazz community could experiment. As free jazz became more insular, and mainstream jazz lost its share of the popular music marketplace, it was musicians like Ali, who had a voracious ear and an accommodating temperament, who kept planting the kernel of free jazz into the instruments of young composers.

During his final decades, Ali committed himself both to the preservation of Coltrane’s and Albert Ayler’s music—he played drums with Prima Materia, performing Coltrane and Ayler classics—and developing his own, original music with his quartet. But, unlike many of his contemporaries who did their teaching in conservatories, Ali remained a working musician, playing in New York’s clubs, keeping his ear to the ground, and taking new talent under his tutelage on the stage. His contributions to jazz are irreplaceable, and the younger generation of jazz performers will be the poorer for not having his example or his patronage.

To visit the Late Rashied Ali's website CLICK HERE