August 28, 2011

Mystikal Blues

Wallace Roney is from Philadelphia, PA, born May 25, 1960. He began his musical studies at the age of five, learning rhythmic dictation and sight-reading. He began playing the trumpet at age six. He was identified as a prodigy and was awarded a scholarship to the Settlement School of Music at the age of seven. It is there that Wallace received private trumpet lesson with Sigmund Herring at the age of ten. As a child prodigy, by the age of 12 Wallace became the youngest member of the Philadelphia brass ensemble which was comprised of members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

During his affiliation with the brass ensemble Wallace met jazz great Clark Terry who became a major influence, teacher, mentor and friend. Clark Terry taught him more about the trumpet than previous classical trumpet teachers had. He taught him technique, articulation and breath control. Clark Terry was the first of Wallace's three greatest mentors.

Wallace's moved to Washington, DC where he attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. While at Ellington he studied the trumpet with Langston Fitzgerald, trumpeter with the Baltimore Symphony. Fitz, as he was fondly called by Wallace, taught him to strive for excellence in spite of obstacles.

Wallace sat in with Art Blakey's band at the age of 15 and was offered the job to replace trumpeter Bill Hardman. A car accident that happened the day after he was offered the gig caused Wallace's father not to let him take the job. Wallace did, however, continue to sit in with a lot of great musicians including Cedar Walton, Sam Jones and Billy Higgins all of which led to Wallace playing several gigs with Cedar Walton.

At the age of 16 he met another trumpet player who would become the second greatest influence in his musical life, Dizzy Gillespie. Dizzy taught Wallace even more advanced techniques that enhanced his ability to play intricate improvisational phrases. During this time he also went to NY and sat in with the great Philly Joe Jones which caused a stir. It wasn't long before he met the great trumpet player Woody Shaw who also became a close friend and mentor. During this time, Wallace graduated from Ellington and began studying with Dr. Donald Reinhart, a world renowned brass specialist in the Brass community, while at the same time attending Howard University and studying with Fred Irby. Wallace remained at Howard University for a year only to be called away to become a member of Art Blakey's Big Band. He also played with Joe Henderson, Dollar Brand and then studied for a year at Berkele School of Music before leaving there to rejoin Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
Since playing with the "Messengers" the list of people that Wallace has played with is a veritable who's who of jazz. Too numerous to name, he likes to say that he has played with everyone from Jay McShann to Herbie Hancock.

In 1983 he met the greatest influence in his life, the person that was his idol and his greatest teacher, Mile Davis. Wallace's relationship with Mile was similar to Louis Armstrong's relationship with Joe (King) Oliver. Being with Miles gave him insight and tutelage on being a melodist, being on top of the most creative music, and uncompromisingly taking it further.

At one point Wallace rejoined Art Blakey's Band and at the same time was invited to play with Tony Williams' quintet. He elected to play with Tony's ground breaking band. In 1984 Wallace also met and hung out with Ornette Coleman and premièred his symphony "The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin". He also played gigs with Ornette in his "Classic Quartet", taking Don Cherry's place when he died.

All of the time spent studying under and hanging with Miles Davis led Miles to ask Wallace to play with him on the Historic Miles at Montreux Concert. This was historic because it was the first time Miles had played straight ahead jazz in 30 years. The concert was recorded and it received a Grammy. When Miles died in 1991, Wallace joined what he considers to be the greatest group in history, VSOP, which included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter. It is with VSOP that Wallace won his second Grammy. In 1996 he joined Chick Corea's "Special Quintet". Wallace also played on Michael McDonald's record for which he won a Grammy for his solo in "Like a Child".

Wallace formed his own group in 1993. Other than periodic special projects and playing intermittently with other all-star groups, he has been leading his band and is dedicated to continuing to add to the jazz music legacy.

Listen to a very down to Earth conversation that I had with Wallace Roney by clicking this LINK

Alvin Lloyd Alexander Horn is an author and has had one bestselling book titled BRUSH STROKES. Alvin is also known as a poet, and spoken word artist and musician. He has been involved in many art forms from theater, commercial jingle writer, and radio DJ from the days when a DJ’s played album B-side cuts, and radio stations had the evening love-line where he often recited poetry over the air waves.

He states:
I credit my mother for sending me to the library when she placed me on restriction, often for daydreaming in school. Pages of autobiographies and biographies, of other people lives became daydreams and made my imagination run wild. Upon hearing and reading the work of Nikki Giovanni I knew he wanted to be a writer of love poems and stories. “Some of my erotic writing imagination came from my dad leaving men’s magazine in a not so secret place. My friends peeked at the picture, but I read the stories, most of the time …” He laughs.

Born in 1957 and growing up in the "Liberal on the surface" Seattle lifestyle, the Northwest flavors flows through my writing as I live on a houseboat with perfect views for writing inspiration. When I’m not writings, or doing voice over work, I work in the field of education.

I’m inspired to write and recite the art honest emotions that I have felt or someone may have shared with me at some time in my life. I try to speak for those who would write or say how they feel. I want to remind people of lost thoughts, hidden feelings and create new contemplations and desires whether it about love, money, social issues, family issues, passions and sex. I want people to feel worthy, beautiful, sexy, and informed. I want to write and speak in away, well as Miles Davis said, “It not how many notes you play, it’s when you play them”. I as an artist want to find the right word, instead of a bunch of words just to impress.

My style of spoken word is speaking, emotionally rhythmically, much like a blues man guitars weeping of lost love, a saxophone wailing like two loves in throws of passion, or even the street corner preacher begging you to hear his plea.

After hearing Nikki Giovanni on vinyl in the early seventies, and then hearing Gill Scott Heron’s 1981 Lp, ‘Reflections, one track particular pieces, ‘Morning Thoughts, I knew Jazz music and my poetry belonged next to each other from that point on.

Alvin has a spoken word CD that you order directly from him at his website CLICK HERE or check him out on FACEBOOK

August 07, 2011

Saxationally Yours

As seen on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, Pamela Luss is a contemporary jazz vocalist blessed with a beautiful voice, remarkable timing, and sumptuous intonation. She sings classic standards, swinging jazz, and worthwhile tunes from some of the unexplored corners of the Great American Songbook in a fresh and original way. She covers a wide range of stylistic ground, from traditional ballads to pop hits to Latin songs and the blues, in interpretations that can be either catchy and finger snapping or slow and tender - and everything in between. Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times described Pamela’s singing as having “a hint of huskiness, a variable cloudiness, a passing shadow that escalates her sound from merely pretty to intoxicating” and added that “Luss' aim is bulls-eye accurate.”

Since 2006, Pamela has released four albums on Savant/ High Note Records, the newest of which is "Sweet And Saxy," a collaboration with the legendary tenor saxophonist and producer Houston Person. Pamela and Houston have enjoyed a special musical relationship: he appeared as a guest soloist on her two previous CDs, Your Eyes and Magnet, and they've also worked together in concert. Sweet And Saxy is a glorious display of the dynamic synergy created by the emerging singer and the veteran horn man. Pamela, Houston, and pianist John di Martino created the arrangements together, and even the title Sweet And Saxy is a collaboration by Pamela and Houston.

Pamela and Houston celebrated the CD's release with a special performance at New York's Jazz Standard that resulted in two completely sold-out shows, as well as special appearances at J&R Music World (where the new album topped the store's sales charts) and Barnes and Noble. Further performances in support of the album are scheduled for the Metropolitan Room in Chelsea in Manhattan and Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia (both in January; see for details). Sweet And Saxy has been well received nationally and internationally, including Japan. “Everything about Pamela is first-rate, be it her solid chops, well-endowed voice, or skillful ballad delivery,” as the Japanese magazine Jazz Yell raves, “The magical interaction between the warm sound of Person's tenor sax and Luss's expressive singing suggests the birth of a new, splendid partnership.”

From a very early age, Pamela knew that she wanted to be a singer. “My mom tells me that when I was really young, I would imitate the sound of the hair blow dryer, and I could sing back the tones of a busy signal on the telephone.” Pamela's exceptional pitch was apparent early on and remains strong today as one of the identifying features of a uniquely smooth voice with unusual fullness and purity of tone.

Growing up in Connecticut, Chicago, & Manhattan, Pamela studied music and took voice lessons. She learned to love jazz and The Great American Songbook thanks to her father, a talented avocational pianist who spent hours illustrating to her what makes the great songs and the great singers great. She majored in music at New York University.
Pamela first emerged as a professional singer with long-running gigs at several prominent New York venues, including Mannahatta and the Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club. She also began performing at private functions, most notably at a film premiere party thrown by the actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine.

Early in her career, Pamela was asked to perform at several special annual events at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. It was there that she was heard by the well-known saxophonist and bandleader Vincent Herring. Herring offered to produce her first album, There's Something About You I Don't Know. With accompaniments that vary between a big band, a string orchestra, and a small group, Pamela sings with an all-star line-up, including Mulgrew Miller, Tom Harrell, Jeremy Pelt, Steve Turre, Russell Malone, Greg Hutchinson, and Richie Goods. There's Something About You I Don't Know was released by Savant/HighNote Records to enthusiastic reviews in February of 2006. As Stephen Latessa of All About Jazz opined, “There is a palpable richness and sense of luxury in Pamela Luss’s debut album.”

Pamela Luss has enjoyed successful engagements in nearly every major night club in New York, drawing capacity crowds to The Jazz Standard, Feinstein’s at The Regency, Birdland (in Times Square), Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (at Jazz at Lincoln Center), The Iridium, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Enzo’s, and many other venues. Pamela is perhaps the only singer to have appeared at both the first annual Jazz Improv Convention and the long-running Mabel Mercer Foundation cabaret convention at Rose Hall, which illustrates her acceptance in the worlds of both jazz and cabaret.

In 2007, High Note Records released Your Eyes, Pamela’s second album, and her first collaboration with pianist and musical director John diMartino, special guest Houston Person, and producer Todd Barkan. Scott Yanow wrote in The All Music Guide, “…Ms. Luss shows that she is a superior jazz singer, whether being sensual on ‘Baby Don't You Quit Now,’ finding surprising life in a faster-than-usual ‘Over the Rainbow,’ or swinging on ‘Our Day Will Come.’”

Your Eyes immediately made it to number three out of one hundred on's vocal jazz Bestselling new & future releases, and shot to number eight on the iTunes jazz chart in France. Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times wrote that hers was “quite possibly the finest-to-date interpretation of Alan and Marilyn Bergman's 'How Do You Keep The Music Playing?' (on Your Eyes) and added “She knows how to break [your heart] with excruciating tenderness.”

On Labor Day, 2007, Pamela Luss was asked to perform as part of a true American Cultural Institution, the annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, hosted by the legendary Jerry Lewis. The video clip of this number, her exciting, high-speed re- imagining of the iconic standard “Over The Rainbow,” has since been viewed thousands of times on YouTube. Jerry Lewis himself, no minor judge of talent, has described Pamela as “a wonderful singer.”

Pamela made her third album, Magnet in 2008. Magnet reached #5 on Barnes and Noble Bestselling Standards Albums and #6 on their Bestselling Vocal Jazz Albums. It also received heavy airplay, reaching #39 on the JazzWeek Jazz Radio Chart and placed in the top Jazz 50 iTunes Store sales. Magnet was also given stellar reviews, such as that of syndicated columnist Ric Bang, who wrote (in The Davis Enterprise), “Her voice is mellow and excellent, her phrasing exquisite. She can rivet your attention with simple oldies like ‘Day by Day,’ ‘Moon River,’ or ‘Quiet Nights,’ and then grab you by the throat with ‘For All We Know’ and ‘Bewitched.’ You know she's singing them for your ears alone. Longtime music fans, who miss hearing those great vocalists of years past, need not despair; this lady more than fills the need for such music.”

“Ms. Luss shows that she is a superior jazz singer, whether being sensual on ‘Baby Don't You Quit Now,’ finding surprising life in a faster-than-usual ‘Over the Rainbow,’ or swinging on ‘Our Day Will Come’” writes Scott Yanow in The All Music Guide. Check out Pamela live and hear why Mr. Yanow declared that Pamela creates “An indescribable magic.”

To Visit Pamela Luss's website CLICK HERE

Listen to a wonderful conversation between myself, Pamela Luss and Houston Person. CLICK HERE

Dubbed “the natural heir to the Boss Tenor crown worn so long and so well by Gene Ammons” (Bob Porter), global performer Houston Person knows the music business inside out, from booking his own tours to producing his own albums. As eclectic as he is talented, Person has recorded everything from disco and gospel to pop and r&b, in addition to his trademark, soulful hard bop. After years as producer and house tenor for HighNote Records and touring with the late Etta Jones, Person is now known as a master of popular songs played in a relaxed, highly accessible style.

Person grew up in Florence, South Carolina, and remembers his parents listening to lots of music at home, including jazz. First playing piano before switching to the tenor sax at age 17, he went on to study music at South Carolina State College (where he is included in the school’s Hall of Fame), and later pursued advanced studies at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. As a member of the United States Air Force band stationed in Germany, he played with Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton, and Don Ellis, later working as a sideman for organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith in the mid 1960s.

Person built his reputation as a leader with a series of soulful recordings for Prestige in the 60s. However, for a large part of his career he was best-known for his legendary partnership with the great vocalist, Etta Jones, which lasted over 30 years until her death in 2001. Recently he has performed with vocalist Barbara Morrison, the great Ernie Andrews and in the past has worked with Ernestine Anderson, Della Griffin and Dakota Staton.

Houston’s appearances as sideman are legion, and include recordings with Etta Jones, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Dakota Staton, Horace Silver, Charles Earland, Charles Brown, and many others. As a record producer, he has worked with many artists, including Etta Jones, Freddy Cole, Charles Brown, Buck Hill, Dakota Staton, and Ernie Andrews. In 1990, his recording with Ron Carter, “Something in Common” (Muse), won the Independent Jazz Record of the Year Award, and he received an Indie Award for his recording, “Why Not?” (Muse). Other awards have included the prestigious Eubie Blake Jazz Award (1982) and the Fred Hampton Scholarship Fund Image Award (1993), and he has been honored with a "Houston Person/Etta Jones Day" in Hartford County, MD (1982) and in Washington, DC (1983). Houston Person has recorded over 75 albums as a leader on Prestige, Westbound, Mercury, Savoy, and Muse, which became HighNote Records.

His HighNote recordings as both tenor artist and producer, “My Buddy: Etta Jones Sings the Songs of Buddy Johnson” and “Etta Jones Sings Lady Day,” were Grammy finalists in the Best Jazz Vocal category in 1999 and 2000, respectively. HighNote has issued a three-disc collection of some of his finest recordings along with four new tracks all recorded at the famed Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Entitled “The Art and Soul of Houston Person” (HCD 7200), this is the first multi-disc retrospective of an artist’s recorded work to be issued by the label.

Wrote Gary Giddens in the Village Voice, “I have always admired Houston Person for his huge tone, bluff humor, and pointed obbligato…Person lucidly rides the beat with figures you think you've heard but haven't. These are not recycled licks or clichés; they simply seem familiar, like family… gray hair aside, Person is unchanged, an unmoved mover of certain jazz essentials.” Ask him what’s important in his music, and Houston Person notes that, “It's important that it's relaxing…Relaxes you and makes you feel good… I'm going to always play the things that I think contributes to good jazz, such as the blues and swinging.”

To Visit Houston Person's website CLICK HERE

Grab Bag of Abstract Truth

Abstract Truth lives on the edge of classification, weaving jazz with soul, R&B, African and Latin rhythms, rock, gospel, blues, and funk. The musical foundation is the subtle, masterful interplay of drummer (Sultan Akbar), percussionist (Rajul) with bassist and founding member (G. Lawrence Francis). On top of that groove saxophonist (Jesse Andrus) and keyboardist (Scott Coulter) create a rich, vibrant and complex melodic and harmonic world echoing everything from straight ahead jazz to rock. Borrowing from this rich tapestry of musical traditions, Abstract Truth manages to create a sound that is at once fresh and familiar, honoring the masters who came before them, while creating a sound all their own. Their music does not represent Grover Washington, Weather Report, Sly & the Family Stone, Miles or War – instead Abstract Truth takes the musical tradition they have inherited from these masters, and moves humbly forward, adding their own unique voice to this timeless lineage.

G. Lawrence Francis - Bassist/Bandleader/Vocals

G. Lawrence Francis, a native of Philadelphia, PA first picked up the bass after watching original Pieces of a Dream bassist, Cedric Napoleon, perform at Turner middle school when the band was known as A Touch of Class. G. Lawrence (founding member of Abstract Truth) has been playing bass for the last (30) years, studying all styles, including classical training through Settlement Music School. G. Lawrence has shared the stage with a wide variety of artists including Maze - featuring Frankie Beverly, Angela Bofil, War, KEM, Al Green and Parliament, just to name a few. G. Lawrence has released several self-produced CD’s, which have enjoyed radio play around the country. The CD's showcase his writing, recording, mastering and producing skills in addition to his talent as a bassist. You can contact G. Lawrence via email at or

Scott Coulter - Piano/keyboard/organ

Scott Coulter is a Philadelphia based pianist/organist and harmonica player. He has performed in a wide range of bands, everything from old-time bluegrass to avante-garde jazz. He has performed throughout the east coast, from Florida to New England in venues large and small, including Jordan Hall in Boston, World Café Live in Philadelphia, and radio appearances in Denver, CO and Belair, MD.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Jazz Piano Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA, where he studied with Fred Hersch, Danilo Perez` and Paul Bley, among others. In addition to his touring schedule, Scott will be maintaining a regular teaching schedule through Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, PA starting in September, 2009.

You can contact Scott Coulter at his own website:

Jesse Andrus - Tenor/Alto/Soprano Sax/Flute/Vocals

Jesse Andrus was born in Los Angeles California. As a youth, he studied music at Gompers Jr. High School, recognized as the premier program in the city, under the direction of Frank Harris, Donald Dustin, and Duke Pearson. His classmates included Gerald Albright (Sax), Ray Brown (trumpeter for Earth Wind, and Fire) and Kenny Pickens (trombonist for Brothers Johnson). After testing out of his first year at Los Angeles City College, Jesse studied orchestration and arranging with Dr. Don Simpson, and was chosen to play first tenor, flute and clarinet in Dr. Simpson's "Studio Jazz Band". After City College, Jesse joined the Armed Forces School of Music. He was one of only four graduates (out of a class of 24 students) of the infamous F2, the Enlisted Bandleader Course. From there Jesse went on to lead the 19th Army Band at Ft. Dix, New Jersey from 1983 to 1985. Jesse was in good company, as he later learned that the legendary Grover Washington Jr. had also been a member of the 19th Army Band. Jesse has written and recorded original music for Sony Music/ATV, 613 Music, and FJP Publishing, and has played with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Lenny White, Uri Caine, Lonnie Smith, Don Paterson, James Lloyd, Kenny Garrett, Curtis Harmon, Steve Nelson, and countless others. Jesse also maintains a regular teaching schedule, and has been an instructor for the Jazz Apprenticeship Program (under the direction of pianist Sarina Bachlietner) located in the “Montana Studio” in Manhattan’s Westside for the past 5 years.

Sultan Akbar - Drummer/Lead Vocals

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Sultan Akbar has been playing drums for the past 43 years. Over the course of his career, Mr. Akbar has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Kool and the Gang, Rashan Roland Kirk and Roy Ayers. He has worked as a band leader, sideman and a promoter. Mr. Akbar has always held a deeply spiritual view of music and it’s role in the world. During a recent radio interview, he summarized his view with the following quote: “Music means Man Understanding Spiritual Information Correctly”. Sultan’s deep appreciation for all styles of music can be heard in his versatile drumming, as he moves effortlessly between funk, swing, R&B, gospel, rock and Latin styles as the drummer for Abstract Truth.

Rajul - Percussion/Vocals

Rajul, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, has been studying percussion for over 20 years. He has studied under Baba BOB, and Baba Joe Bryant, studying rhythmic traditions from all over the world. In addition, Rajul studied theory and piano in community college. He has played with Roy Ayers, Rasan Roland Kirk and Leon Thomas, among others. In addition to his performance career, Rajul maintains a strong passion for music education, running a program entitled “Self Esteem for African Rhythm” in the city of Philadelphia. Rajul’s deep understanding of African and Latin rhythms adds a depth and rhythmic complexity that is a vital part of the unique sound of Abstract Truth.

Colette D. Jones was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. At the tender age of 8, Colette began writing words that would ‘come” to her seemingly at random. Her parents noticed her talent for speaking her mind early. They “encouraged” her to learn and recite holiday speeches in church. Throughout her time in school, she continued to hone her gifts. She was a member of the Literary Yearbook Staff throughout her time in high school. She left to join the military in 1987 and placed her reciting skills on hold. She did not however, stop writing poetry. While in Germany, she was finally able to pick up the microphone again in 1991 for a recitation of “Ego Trippin” and has not stopped.

She has performed and hosted several open mic venues overseas and here in the US. Over the past twenty plus years, she has written over 1,000 poems. Presently she has seven volumes of poetry. Colette’s stage name is “ Da-Boogie”. She states that her name defines her as unique and having a poetic rhythm unlike any other poet. Volume 2, entitled “ Sugar and Spice, Naughty or Nice” is self published and has sold over 100 copies. She also has a cd of erotica entitled : Poetic Confections. Colette has taught workshops on poetry and healing yourself through words. She is currently working on publishing her volumes of poetry and projects with other fellow poets.