March 18, 2012

The Artistry of Monet

Monet was born and raised in New York City surrounded by multiple genres of music by both parents - her mother a doo-wop singer who performed at the Apollo Theater and her father a manager of jazz and Latin artists and by the legendary Betty Carter who was a very close family friend, so you see Monet's musical roots run deep. Monet also plays guitar, oboe, piccolo and piano as well as her signature instrument the flute, for which she was offered a scholarship to attend Cornell University at the age of 14 due to her amazing proficiency. Lifesize Mirror, the title of Monet’s brand new project was released by the Purpose Music Group through Nia Distribution in Oct. LifeSize Mirror makes a bold revealing statement about how profoundly life’s journey has touched her. The thick, golden brown locs that once graced her crown – very much the signature image of her debut release ESSENCE six years ago - are gone. You almost don’t recognize her. But that unmistakable voice buried deep in her chest, almost as if coming directly from her heart is ever present. Her flute that teases and soars, bouncing in the air like a wondrously, hypnotic tribal spell – is pronounced, only finer, richer and more knowing. This couldn't be more evident than in "VAIN," which uniquely combines jazz, classical and instrumental soul " VAIN" is an account of a reflective journey - Monet’s flute like a snake charmer, beautifully intricate which starts out with moments of calm, coaxing gently until it deepens to a throaty rasp, becoming more complex and intriguing.

Monet’s musical repertoire is diverse with influences drawn from jazz, soul, latin, classical, folk, house and funk. Fundamentally, however, her sound is purely rooted in organic soul. The influences are a glorious amalgamation of Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley, Sade and Hubert Laws. One would be remiss not to mention Monet’s various film credits including acting and directing. This is a resume full of aesthetic discovery.

While in between projects, leading up to the actual production of LIFESIZE MIRROR, Monet was quite busy at work fine tuning her craft, contributing her signature flute work, songwriting and vocals to recent projects by Angela Johnson “That's Just The Way"(which is also on Lifesize Mirror), Nigerian world soul artist Siji "Fantasy" and "Ekundayo,” and singer/songwriters Kendra Ross "Has to Be,” and La Sonya Gunther, " How we Livin." Monet is involved in upcoming projects by the Revelations featuring Tre Williams “Don’t Wait ", Abby Dobson "Fly," Tarrah Reynolds and Collette. Monet also contributed to club hits by Melena Perez, "Confession,” and Tortured Soul, "Don't Hold me Down,” flute and vocals respectively.

LIFESIZE MIRROR promises to be rich with what we expect from Monet. However some surprising alternative twists to her sound abound. There is more orchestration in the arrangements, and the addition of violin, cello, trumpet and soprano sax on various cuts are welcome. Her reggae dub influence is present on, “Ever Want.” Then there’s the Monet that many are definitely familiar with in “Hold me Sweetly,” a quivering ode to desire that Monet admittedly calls baby making music. Other cuts from this effort seem to convey odes of promise, hope, inspiration and transformation like “Walk with Me,” and “It’s Your Life,” which is an anthem to one being a master of one’s own destiny. Jeff Smith (Family Stand), violinist Tarrah Reynolds, keyboardist Nick Rolfe, vocalists Tricia Angus, Saundra Williams, Martha Redbone, and Abby Dobson, are all contributors to LIFESIZEMIRROR. The producers of the project include Steve Wallace, Angela Johnson, Sijii, Prez, Jesse Fischer (Soul Cycle),Ticklah and Ethan White (Tortured Soul).

Monet is an explorer. Through her musical expression we witness her seeking the highest level of self awareness and realization which is often referred to as LIFESIZE MIRROR. I n this project she freely moves through her existence fearlessly, balancing both the pain and the pleasure, the heartache and the rapture making sure we feel it too, spiritually, intellectually and physically. Conveying this is no easy feat – and as we bear witness to Monet’s creativity as she continues to document her journey through her music. We know that we’re all the better to be an audience to such a gift.

Lifesize Mirror has charted for three weeks on the Billboard Jazz Chart , reaching a high of #41 in December , a rarity for an artist who is also part of the independent honest soul movement.

To visit Monet on Reverbnation CLICK HERE

To Visit Monet on Purpose Records CLICK HERE

March 09, 2012


Odean Pope was born October 24, 1938 in Ninety‐Six, South Carolina to musical parents who rooted him in the sounds of the Southern Baptist Church. After moving to Philadelphia at the age of ten, his lifelong study of music began in earnest and was buttressed by The Graniff School of Music and Benjamin Franklin High School's music program.

Odean grew up in jazz rich territory with other Philadelphia notables such as: John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Benny Golson, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Ray Bryant, Bill Barron, Kenny Barron, Archie Shepp, Jymie Merritt, Jimmy Garrison, Philly Joe Jones and Dizzy Gillespie. Coltrane chose Odean to replace him in Jimmy Smith's Group when he left for New York to join Miles Davis. Although he was close to Coltrane and continues to revere his artistry, Odean was always searching for his own musical sound. This led him to study with Ron Rubin, the principal woodwind player in the Philadelphia Orchestra. At a later time he studied at The Paris Conservatory for Music under Kenny Clarke. It was there that he received his Certificate in Orchestration, Modern harmony, African rhythms, Be‐Bop Art Forms and Arrangement. He studied with the pianist, Ray Bryant, bassist, Jymie Merritt and was significantly influenced by the brilliant, if not eccentric pianist, Hasaan Ibn Ali. Odean added, "Then being able to study with Max (Roach) from '79 up until '02, was like going to one of the highest institutions in the whole world."

Integrating several musical influences including the church choir of his youth, Philadelphia jazz and R&B of the 50's and classical woodwind chamber music, led Odean in the early 70's to help form Catalyst, a collective of musicians and music representing his new aesthetic. A two‐CD set was reissued in 1999 on 32 Records as: "Catalyst: The Funkiest Band You Never Heard." It was music ahead of its time. In 1979, Odean joined the Max Roach Quartet as a regular member for more than two decades. It was as the tenor man with Max Roach that Odean perfected the techniques of circular breathing and multiphonics, both allowing him to stretch his solo improvisations from dazzling elevations to the throbbing, husky sounds for which he is so well known, to all kinds of delicacy in getting from one to the other. Odean won acclaim from Australia to Japan, even winning "Best Tenor Saxophone Player" at the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Odean works with his trio, (Lee Smith, Craig McIver) quartet and saxophone choir. The saxophone choir is formatted with nine saxophones, and was established by Odean in 1977 and premiered in 1985 with a Soul Note album called "The Saxophone Shop."

The saxophone choir has been the realization of his southern legacy; a medium for creating the richly textured harmonic sound that has permeated his musical soul since childhood. Even though he plays clarinet, oboe, piccolo, flute and piano, Odean feels an affinity for the tenor saxophone because it most closely mimics the human voice. He constructs layers of melodic sound by playing within the fourth system in different tone scales using multiphonics, achieving several pitches together, for which he is well known. The choir reaches a stunning intensity that is simultaneously one voice and is also, as described by Francis Davis, "harmonically engorged."

Odean has led two musical lives. Whereas his musical legion left for New York, Odean kept Philadelphia as his home base. Having grown up in North Philadelphia, Odean has always felt a strong commitment to his community through working musically with the children. He was musical director of a Philadelphia cultural initiative, "Model Cities." He started the jazz studies program at the Settlement Music School and he continues to give master classes in the School District of Philadelphia, as well as nationally and internationally.

Odean Pope's artistry as a performer, composer and arranger has earned him many
Citations from the City of Philadelphia. Among his many awards are, The Pew
Fellowship in the Arts for Music Composition (1992), The Rockefeller Foundation
(1992) and several from Chamber Music America.

Photos by John Abbott Photography

To visit the website of Odean Pope CLICK HERE