One of my favorite drummers over the last 20 years has been Baltimore’s own Winard Harper! He’s always reminded me of the timeless Art Blakey with his style of play. Well, Winard is back for his latest release, COEXIST. It features his working band with special guest Frank Wess on Tenor Sax & Flute, Mark Gross on Alto Sax, Tadataka Unno on Piano and John Lee Frettless on, you guessed it, Guitar! Collectively, this time around, they are known as Winard Harper & Jeli Posse as Winard reflects on the ancient Mande. They were highly skilled artisans that were culturally and historically influential in the areas of song, music and speech that could best be described as Griots, which are story tellers.
Tune in all month long to WEAA-FM to hear Winard and his story telling posse’ release COEXIST. Winard Harper and Jelli Posse are our Cool Jazz Pick of the Month.
So why the name change? It came from several factors but in the end, Winard says it’s mostly evolution. “I’ve watched the changes over the four decades I’ve been playing professionally. Times are rough. People are hungry for context, connection and truth. There is a lot of pain, uncertainty and isolation. Jazz has always been social commentary and expression. It’s the sound scape of the human experience. In Africa, the Jeli (griot) played a vital role in society. It’s still needed today. Who better to fill it than the emerging musical voices of our times? I see Jeli Posse as a place to nurture musical and social consciousness from the audience and musicians.” Says Winard.
Born in Concord, California, on Dec. 6, 1920. Dave Brubeck came up in a musical home where his mother was a classically trained piano teacher. His career spanned almost just about all of American jazz since World War II. Shortly after WWII, he formed the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951. He’s received many an accolade to include being just the second jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1954. Mr. Brubeck was of a select few that defined swing, coming up in the smoky rhythms of 1950s and `60s jazz club scenes touring all over the country.
The incredible LP Time Out, released by his quartet in 1959 defined his career. It was the first ever million-selling jazz LP and to this day is still among the best-selling jazz albums of all time. It featured the tunes “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in 9/8 time, nine beats to the measure instead of the customary two, three or four beats and “Take 5”, composed by his longtime saxophonist Paul Desmond, played in 5/4 time, which became a signature tune for the quartet.
Throughout his career Mr. Brubeck has composed music for operas, ballet, even a contemporary Mass. He was a man who was determined to do what he felt was right in every situation. This mantra extended beyond just playing his music. It was after African-American bassist Eugene Wright joined his group, that he canceled appearances at venues that were unwilling to hire an integrated band. It was not a popular stance to take and one that many artists never did.
Mr. Brubeck and his wife, Iola, have 6 children, four of which are musicians. They founded the Dave Brubeck Institute at their alma mater, University of the Pacific, back in 2000. He has collected numerous awards over the years, including a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1996, and he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2009. Mr. Brubeck is also currently nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition.
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Dave Brubeck was on his way to a cardiologist appointment with his son Darius. He was stricken and passed away due to heart failure at the age of 91, the day before his 92nd birthday. He will forever be remembered as a jazz legend and pioneer! WEAA takes this time to celebrate his life and music contributions, as he is our Jazz Master of the Month. Tune in all month long to hear various tunes written and played by Dave Brubeck.
How great it is to see so many women on top of their game, leading the pack in the jazz world. I have been highly impressed with the brand new release of one of those women who is a smart, sexy sister of the saxophone, flutist, composer and educator Tia Fuller. Tia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spellman College in Atlanta (Magna Cum Laude, by the way), and a Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Now it’s a wonder how Tia even had time to get back into the studio to record as she has spent the last 5 years as a member of R&B sensation Beyonce’s band, has been Assistant Musical Director for Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society touring band and has been a part of drummer Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project band as well. She really knows how to surround herself with Grammy Award winning artist and showcases what she has learned through them, not only with her approach to playing her instrument, but also with the editing, mixing and mastering process as well.
Tia’s latest release is called Angelic Warrior and is her 3rd release for the Mack Avenue label. Many of the tunes on here were written while on the road and are dedicated to specific people in her family that she refers to as Angels that have helped her along the way or who have been inspirational! The CD is a family affair with her sister Shamie Royston and brother-in-law Rudy Royston on piano and drums, with special guest Terri Lyne Carrington, piccolo bassist John Patitucci and vocalist Dianne Reeves. There are some great tunes on here that I can’t wait to share with you! Tune in all month long to hear selections and have an opportunity to win our CD of the Month from Saxophonist Tia Fuller, Angelic Warrior, on WEAA 88.9FM, The Voice of the Community!
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