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I have discussed with others and argued with myself: was the seventies the greatest decade for us Black folk during the 20th century? Actually, although there have been two World Wars, the Korean Conflict, a Cold War, and Viet Nam, not to mention the 50’s initiated Civil Rights movement, there is only one other decade during the 1900’s as iconic for our people as the seventies: that decade was the twenties, so-called Harlem Renaissance era–which I generally refer to as the Garvey Era.

I believe the American establishment has, as is its usual M.O., refused to recognize our homegrown contributions to the worldwide Black liberation struggle. Hence, we get all kinds of flowers thrown at the feet of the Harlem Renaissance with very few petals dedicated to the honorable Marcus Garvey during those major years between World War 1 and the Great Depression of the thirties.

The perfidy and misdirection is so deep, that Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is often (mis)considered the Harlem Renaissance’s crowning literary achievement although the very important book was not published until 1937, long after the Roaring Twenties and the Renaissance were long gone.

The great Langston Hughes wrote the obituary for the Harlem Renaissance in the “WHEN THE NEGRO WAS IN VOGUE” chapter of his 1940 autobiography The Big Sea. Hughes’ reminiscence was bittersweet:


   I was there. I had a swell time while it lasted. But I thought it wouldn’t last long. (I remember the vogue for things Russian, the season the Chauve-Souris first came to town.) For how could a large and enthusiastic number of people be crazy about Negroes forever? But some Harlemites thought the millennium had come. They thought the race problem had at last been solved through Art plus Gladys Bentley. They were sure the New Negro would lead a new life from then on in green pastures of tolerance created by Countee Cullen, Ethel Waters, Claude McKay, Duke Ellington, Bojangles, and Alain Locke.
   I don’t know what made any Negroes think that–except that they were mostly intellectuals doing the thinking. The ordinary Negroes hadn’t heard of the Negro Renaissance. And if they had, it hadn’t raised their wages any. As for all those white folks in the speakeasies and night clubs of Harlem–well, maybe a colored man could find some place to have a drink that the tourists hadn’t yet discovered.
   Then it was that house-rent parties began to flourish–and not always to raise the rent either. But, as often as not, to have a get-together of one’s own, where you could do the black-bottom with no stranger behind you trying to do it, too. Non-theatrical, non-intellectual Harlem was an unwilling victim of its own vogue. It didn’t like to be stared at by white folks. But perhaps the downtowners never knew this–for the cabaret owners, the entertainers, and the speakeasy proprietors treated them fine–as long as they paid.

 

Back in June 1926, Hughes, the leading Black writer of the 20th century, penned in The Nation magazine the most famous essay of the era, the oft quoted “The Negro Artist And The Racial Mountain“. Moreover, at a much later time, Hughes wrote an insightful analysis of the literary contradiction he elucidated in the “racial mountain” essay–essentially, as Mari Evans would subsequently clearly state in one of her essays, — tackling the social mountain was a choice a writer could, but was not required to make.

In his 1947 essay, “My Adventures As A Social Poet” Hughes presciently wrote:

 

   Some of my earliest poems were social poems in that they were about people’s problems — whole groups of people’s problems — rather than my own personal difficulties. Sometimes, though, certain aspects of my personal problems happened to be also common to many other people. And certainly, racially speaking, my own problems of adjustment to American life were the same as those of millions of other segregated Negroes. The moon belongs to everybody, but not this American earth of ours. That is perhaps why poems about the moon perturb no one, but poems about color and poetry do perturb many citizens. Social forces pull backwards or forwards, right or left, and social poems get caught in the pulling and hauling. Sometimes the poet himself gets pulled and hauled — even hauled off to jail.

 

What then are acceptable subject matters for poetry or for songs?

Entrapped on the horns of the social dilemma, Black artists in America are constantly confronted with the question Hamlet never had to answer: To be social or not to be social? But that’s the way it is with Black achievement in America. In general a social orientation is frowned upon, if not outright discouraged, if one wants to be considered a great artist.

Whether we realize it or not, the establishment teaches us that socially-oriented artwork is not as “artistic” as truly great artwork that focuses on conditions common to all of humanity. That is why Black folk can be celebrated mythically while at the same time being erased, elided, smothered, covered and appropriated to the point at which, for example, Black music ceases to need Black musicians.

But there was a time and there remains a question of authenticity (does it grow out of one’s collective as well as individual experience?) and the question of innovation (does it add to or distract from the history of a particular genre?).

In the field of African-American music, answering the questions of authenticity and innovation, ultimately requires Black musicians, or at the very least musicians who identify as an individual with the collective condition of Black people, a-la Johnny “Hand Jive” Otis, who was of immigrant Greek ancestry (born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes) and is often erroneously considered a light-skinned Black musician.

A most significant statement is from Johnny Otis himself “As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black.” As a talent scout and musician, Otis was the first to feature Little Esther Phillips, Etta James, “Big Mama” Thornton, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, as well as a host of lesser famous, early Rhythm & Blues artists. In 1950, Billboard magazine crowned Otis as the R&B Artist of the Year.

There is no question that Johnny Otis was a major impresario, TV and radio personality, and, most importantly, a contributing creator of the Rhythm & Blues genre.

Dealing with the question of authenticity mated with social relevance, brings me to Doug and Jean Carn whose major recordings authentically reflected political and artistic developments among socially conscious African Americans of the seventies Black Power era.

Together, the couple released three albums on the Black Jazz label featuring Jean’s golden vocal work surrounded by Doug’s sterling arrangements and keyboard work. 

Doug Carn was outstanding as a lyricist, penning words for some of the most moving contemporary jazz instrumentals. The albums were Infant Eyes (1971), Spirit of the New Land (1972), and Revelation (1973). A fourth album, Adam’s Apple, was released without Jean Carn. Carn’s lyrics, especially when articulated by Jean Carn, are both socially conscious and artistically impactful. 

Over thirty years later in the first decade of the 2000s, Doug Carn recorded as a side-man with a number of jazz artists including Calvin Keys, Cindy Blackman, Curtis Fuller and Wallace Roney. None of those albums achieved the popularity and critical accolades as did Carn’s first three on the Black Jazz label (1969 – 1975) that featured Jean Carn on vocals.

Jean Carn would go on to change her last name to Carne and to record R&B with the Philly Soul team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. However none of her R&B recordings were as profound or as popular as her early 70’s releases with Doug Carn.

Although many have tried, few have been able to produce instrumental and vocal jazz albums that garnered popular attention and also expressed the life affirming, socially relevant jazz-joy of Doug and Jean Carn’s first three albums.

In this new millennium the seventies albums of Doug and Jean Carn remain essential to any collection of modern jazz.

Enjoy.

 

 

I was in Minnesota. Northfield to be specific. A small town (in)famous for being the site of the ambush and dissipation of the Jesse James gang. Back then–August of 1964 to March of 1965–I was oblivious to how pivotal, how significant, how long lasting would be this point in my life journey. Moreover, I didn’t see how the far north could possibly be a major point in the history of the Deep South. But, indeed, my short stay at Carleton College shaped me then and continues to have impact on me as I approach my 75th encounter with planet earth as it circles the sun.

Carleton is one of the major small colleges in America. The campus includes Cowling Arboretum (approximately 800 acres  ), Goodsell Observatory (with three telescopes, one of which contributed to timekeeping in the midwest), and, back when I attended, three gymnasiums, plus a major reputation for outstanding faculty and alumni. There is where I first saw Kanal by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda. I became a life-long admirer of Wajda’s artistic, politically charged cinema. Carleton’s progressive lyceum series initiated my awareness of people and cultures outside of the USA–in addition to “foreign movies”, I also heard Norman Thomas, Ravi Shankar, and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers during my brief sojourn.

Northfield is a small, college town–it’s also the home of St. Olaf college. The town is about fifty miles south of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Counter-intuitively, my appreciation and critical understanding of New Orleans, grew out of my short stint up where the headwaters of the Mississippi River are located. If you look at a map of the United States, you can appreciate how Old Man River bisects the geography of this country.

Between the Appalachian ranges and the Rocky Mountains, most major rivers flow into the Mississippi River, which means that if you throw a stick in the flowing waters of a large city in most places, stereotypically that stick will end up floating down to New Orleans. Moreover, in this age of planes and trains, most of us don’t think too much about maritime travel, yet for most of the short (in historic terms) life of this country, export goods moved via river traffic.

Indeed, river boat transportation was the life blood of American industrial development. Don’t believe me, ask Mark Twain. And, of course, New Orleans is not only one of the oldest metropolitan areas in North America, the crescent city is also the gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, which offers access to Central and South America, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

Which all leads me to my understanding of the second great migration of our people. While New Orleans is at the bottom of the southern portion of the country, our city is unlike most of the south. Fortunately for me, after returning home from Minnesota, immediately followed by a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, I joined the Free Southern Theatre and caravanned all across the south, from Texas to the Carolinas.

We went to places where there were no maps and the directions sometimes were to turn by the big tree (“You can’t miss it. You’ll recognize it when you get there.”) That’s how I learned the south. So, for me, the great migration referred to people and places I visited and often intimately knew.

Today, most Black folk have a distant knowledge of the historic great migration: that mythical, 20th century movement of Black people to the northern states. Indeed, even for those who live in the south, it is not uncommon to have relatives in the north, and vice versa. Moreover, the formerly rural areas of America have become urbanized as a result of technological developments, e.g. cell phones, cable/internet connections, and airplane transportation.

One might call this latest Black population shift a reverse migration. Seems as though Black folk are returning back south.

In a July 13, 1865 newspaper editorial Horace Greeley is quoted as advising: “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” Well, it seems as though a significant number of Black folk have responded, “Naw, I believe we are Southward bound. Tally ho, here we go!”

Sociologists and public intellectuals have a plethora of explanations for this second migration, ranging from politics, to climate, to the economy. Regardless of why, what is apparent is that Jah people once again be on the move. 

Imani Perry has written a challenging and insightful book exploring the ramifications of this modern exodus. Statisticians and scholars differ about the how-come, where-to, and the sizes of the relocations, but they all agree that something is happening. Even though it is not totally clear what is mainly motivating this movement. Although the genesis and specifics are yet to be definitively determined, the numbers don’t lie, even though there is a great debate about what the numbers actually mean.

Stay tuned…

 

 

Lizz Wright is a big woman. Makes a big sound. Like her broad, moon-shaped face, her voice is luminous. 

You might wonder what this description has to do with her artistry. In some ways nothing–how one looks does not dictate how one sounds. But in another way, everything. She is not an ingenue: a thin, light-skinned, innocent-looking woman; someone shaped to appear as though she has stepped out of Vogue magazine, or is made-up to appear on Good Morning America.

She is Georgia born. Ms. Wright emerges from the loam of sweet southern soil. And sings in the lower frequencies. Eschews a false falsetto and is driven by a sonic prowess that gloriously unfurls from deep within her soul. Her artistry is an amalgamation of our collective heritages mated with personal observations.

No histrionics. No ostentatious onstage gyrations. Just stand still and sang. Smile after a good chorus. Laugh out loud when the music gets good.

You know when she’s feeling it. Lizz hides nothing.

She wears her heart on her sleeve even when she is draped in nothing much to look at. This music needs no costume to cover the basic beauty of a down-to-earth Black woman. Lizz is deep South fundamental.

She sings with her entire being. Not just from the diaphragm. Indeed, Lizz gifts to us exquisite tones, elegantly emanating from the region of her healthy being even though it seems only her lips be moving. Sometimes she spontaneously highlights a lyric with a sagaciously chosen hand gesture.

Her song selections flow from the heart of whatever matter she is exploring. Never trendy, with a minimum of affectations or artifice, Lizz is simultaneously both timely and timeless.

If it is possible to fall in love with an aural vibration, I am smitten by the sonic vocabulary of Lizz Wright’s vocals. Her unhurried articulations caress one’s inner ear. She exhales a sound you can taste, sweet like thick, golden, tupelo honey.

In the parlance of flamenco folk, what Lizz Wright does is duende–deep song.

 

In the 21st century, and especially so in the USA, most of the discourse is dominated by a male point of view. Even when women are speaking, too often the ideas coming out of their mouths are words, or theories, that came from the minds of men. Which all is why I dig so much of what Lakecia Benjamin is doing as a thoughtful  musician.

When she was younger, after graduating high school, she bopped hip hop. Fortunately, musically she quickly matured and grew far, far beyond the areas of which she had been an active proponent, and also far beyond the genre restrictions of which she was initially enamored–note that rap does not significantly reward instrumentalists.

Ms. Benjamin is aware of herself as a Black woman and additionally willingly embraces both her ethnic and musical heritages. Although the alto saxophone is her chosen instrument, she obviously is deeply impressed by, as well as inspired by, tenor and soprano saxophonist John Coltrane.

However, do not sleep on her dedication to the alto saxophone, especially since John Coltrane initially started on alto before switching to tenor and eventually doubling on soprano. Nor, do not dare overlook Lakecia’s enthusiasm for Alice Coltrane who was a spiritual being of transcendent light. Between John’s resuscitation of the soprano sax and Alice’s expert employment of the harp, the couple expanded the palette of instruments routinely used in jazz during the eras of their respective activities.

Significantly, in 2020 Lakecia put out an album of music by the Coltranes. That’s right, Pursuance: The Coltranes features the compositions of both Alice (1937–2007) and John (1926–1967), thereby elevating the Coltranes as composers and not solely as instrumentalists.

Pursuance: The Coltranes is a daring exercise, especially since Lakecia’s first album was R&B and rap oriented. However, Pursuance is strictly, hard-core jazz. In a big way. Lakecia’s Coltrane project is not only based on the compositions of Coltrane husband and wife, Lakecia also employs approximately 45 musicians on the project. A partial list of participants is massive: Reggie Workman, Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridegwater, Meshell Ndegecello, Regina Carter, Bertha Hope, Last Poets, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson, John Benitez, Marc Cary, Marcus Gilmore, Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Brandee Younger, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Jazzmeia Horn.

Moreover, Lakecia loves to dance as she often exhibits with her onstage moves. Unsurprising, as an alto saxophonist, initially she was into Maceo Parker (of James Brown fame), however John Coltrane soon became her obvious model. She rips off solos that take the Trane on out there a minute. Her orientation is classic jazz, not the commercially oriented “smooth jazz”, although she is adept at performing in both funky and avant-garde genres.

Black music needs more musicians like Lakecia Benjamin–fearless, seriously committed to stretching out and being their whole selves. 

This young sister is leading the forward way. She reaches back, yes, to bringing up the old heads–musicians who were recording in the sixties and seventies–but also Lakecia includes her own generation as well as musicians in the gap between when the music went electric and the music of where Lakecia is at now in the new millennium.

The breadth of her influences is astounding because she has studied both history and technique, and demonstrates all that she has learned whenever, or wherever, she plays–or should I say when or where she be serious, ’cause Lakecia don’t play.

NPR interview with Lakecia Benjamin 

 

There is an important book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain. The title advertises what the book is about. Essential reading for those who are ready to go deep on history and the English language. Indeed, if you enjoy Ms. Benjamin, you probably could get into Shlain’s ideas with no problem.

Without exaggeration, Lakecia is a veritable  musical diety. She manifests wisdom well beyond her youth and plays with an ardor and passion that enables her to commune with the old heads while exhibiting a youthful enthusiasm for the diverse directions of emerging approaches.

As lagniappe, we close with a major three-hour, album release concert that featured numerous guest musicians whom Lakecia selected. This outing is both surprising and significant–a young Black woman is both the organizer and the main soloist in a truly democratic experience. Lakecia is clearly the leader but she is no narcissist only interested in herself, thus she is accompanied by and presents an entourage of accomplished musicians.

Rarely, if ever, has a young 21st-century saxophonist undertaken and successfully accomplished a concert of this magnitude and magnificence. Lakecia has obviously embraced and employed her inner god-spirit in order to raise herself, her fellow artists, and her audience. This is aural elevation.

 

 


> Abbey Lincoln Interview

Cue Abbey Lincoln (August 6, 1930–August 14, 2010) to be the lead vocalist. Few others have created music that so completely mirrors the freedom struggle and the iconic truism that Black is, indeed, beautiful.

Her performances approach seances. She captures your spirit and catapults you to a higher plane of existence. Abbey uplifts you and inspires you to believe that you can not only uplift yourself, but you can also uplift others–those whom you love, all the members, known and unknown, of your community.

There is something in her that is in all of us–yet most of us don’t know our own greatness. She does. She sings and helps us all to recognize that there is magic in any being that can triumph over oppression.

I’ve been blessed to experience her live. She is more than a performer. She is a magician. Abbey credits what she does to the power of the music, even when she is singing in a language we may not understand.

Over her long career she has enthralled, enlightened, and elevated us–all of us who were witness to the extraordinary power of her vocal work.

 

For a minute (1962 to 1970) Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln were the major couple of jazz in the sixties. Max was a monster drummer who was also a composer, band leader and major social figure.

Prior to the ascendency of Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln was considered the most socially conscious of jazz vocalists. Abbey’s elevation was most surprising in that she was initially marketed as a sexy torch singer and even had promotion in some quarters as the woman who admirably fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress. However, in union with Max Roach, she recorded an all-time classic album, We Insist!, which some critics categorized as “protest music”, especially since the cover image replicated and comemorated the first sit-in of the sixties.

I contend that Europe offered more opportunities to work and far more respect for Black jazz artists than was ever found at home in the United States. A classic example of honor abroad and neglect at home is that the only televised presentation of Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach working as a duo was a Belgian television special.

A major questioned was definitely answered by this presentation: Could Ms. Lincoln duplicate live the intensity of her sometimes wordless vocal work captured for the album? The definitive answer was yes. Check out the generous excerpts of the concert to appreciate the emotional force of the music the duo produced.

Interviews with Abbey Lincoln / Max Roach

 

 

 

I graduated from high school in 1964, the same year this film premiered. The black and white movie is directed by Michael Roemer, in a hyper-realistic manner that became known as “Neo-realism”.

Based in the Deep South, this movie features Ivan Dixon, as railroad worker Duff Anderson, who falls for Abbey Lincoln, who plays Josie Dawson, a school teacher and minister’s daughter. 

The strength of the movie is its emphasis on the lives of the characters who include Yaphet Kotto as Jocko, a fellow “gandy man” (as the manual labor railroad workers were known) and veteran thespian Gloria Foster as Lee, an embittered woman whom life has not treated kindly.

Much of the movie has a documentary feel in parallel with the romance of the lead characters. Some scenes are straight out of a time capsule that captures elements of life in the south before the Civil Rights movement.

Uncharacteristic of cinema of its era, Nothing But A Man does not shy away from presenting class and social conflicts among working people who are neither entertainers nor individual credits to the race. They are just people trying to make it, cut from the common cloth of Black life. 

While the lead actors are totally believable, the minor characters also have moments of brilliance and/or authenticity. The viewer believes that this is how life was before picket lines, sit-ins, and the advent of Black Power. There is no glamour here, only daily toil and survival determination.

The soundtrack is a collaboration with the then newly rising Detroit-based Motown label. Counterintuitively, music produced in one of the major Northern cities fits right in with this Southern setting.

This is one of the major movies of the sixties. Although unflashy by today’s standards–there are no shoot-outs, grand theft schemes, car chases, nor gratuitous sex scenes–this quiet study perfectly presents the lives of small town, hard working people existing just before the tumult and upheaval characteristic of the sixties challenges in the Deep South.

Nothing But A Man is a movie that admirably earns the “quiet dignity” label.

 

Congalero Mongo Santamaria wrote the music. Following that, Oscar Brown Jr. composed a beautiful lyric. And then, Trane (John Coltrane that is) dropped a stirring instrumental. The song took off and soon afterward became a jazz standard. From there “Afro Blue” was re-recorded by literally dozens of artists, in diverse styles from classic jazz to hip hop. 

What is interesting is despite the wide variety of approaches that are taken, the song remains almost instantly identifiable. Indeed, it’s hard, if not impossible, to have only one favorite version.

Enjoy this cornucopia of approaches to the classic “Afro Blue”.

 

Meet Faren Humes. She be doing it–despite obstacles put on Black filmmakers, especially when they are women, Faren makes fresh films out of seemingly mundane matters.

Her work both clarifies and mystifies. Clarifies in the sense that she delves deeply into reality and presents an analysis as well as emotions that help us understand. Mystifies in the sense that she is often plowing fields most of us would find foreign and completely outside of our culture and daily existence.

I was bowled over by the breathtaking density of sacrifice and struggle that is exemplified in her film short. Our Rhineland is about Afro-German sisters with contrasting ideas about how to deal with Nazi era authoritative restrictions and stulifying constrictions. This investigation specifically focuses on the issue of sterilization, which the Nazis did to those they identified as “mixed-race women”.

While it may seem both sensible and tempting to keep your head down and go along to get along, accommodation and attempts at assimilation are generally at the cost of essential aspects of one’s personality and existence.

Liberty offers a peek inside, however, Faren is not a tour guide. As you watch and react, you have to figure out for yourself the meaning of what you see, especially as you are often looking at people, places, events about which you know very little–notwithstanding our experiential ignorance, we are nevertheless captivated by what Faren shows.

Liberty is a study for a feature length project that will deal with gentrification and other social issues forced on Black residents of an imp0verished Miami neighborhood. Rather than portray the youth as broken and hopeless, Liberty exudes the vibrancy and resilience of the youthful girls boldly facing an uncertain future.

Here are a revealing blog and production notes about the making of Liberty.

Faren Humes has an innovative approach to film-making. She is a creative griot who tells the story with a minimum of narrative moralizing. The images say it all. The question is not what it means but really, are we listening? Are we even trying to understand those who are different from ourselves?

 

 

 

In popular music, we don’t often consider the composer. We are usually more impressed by the individual musical skills of the lead entertainer. Occasionally, a musician becomes famous as the conductor of an ensemble (e.g. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis). Identifying all of the music with the leader rather than individual soloists typically happens in jazz, a genre that includes a plethora of musical styles merged and melded into one form that invariably consists of both musical prowess and imagination at Promethean levels.

We are usually enthralled by and marvel at the specific performer rather than the musical composition itself, so much so that we either assume that the performer wrote the piece of music or that it was an individual/collective contribution from band mates. Moreover, the approach of an individual so often overshadows the composition to the point that we enjoy a particular performance much more than the composition. The folk wisdom puts it best: it’s not what you do but rather the way that you do it.

The music of Leon Ware (February 16, 1940 – February 23, 2017) exemplifies this trend. During his long career, covers of his music by various artists have often become more famous than his own versions. Ware recorded thirteen albums between 1972 and 2019, the last of which was released posthumously. Invariably it was recordings by artists such as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Minnie Riperton and numerous others that made the charts and became well loved songs.

In 2001 there was a major concert of Leon Ware music held at the Amsterdam venue Paradiso. Unfortunately the entire of the concert is not available as a live recording but we do have five video tracks. Leon Ware is surrounded by a bevy of musicians who bring his music to a rousing and beautiful fruition.

Houston born vocalist Carleen Anderson who left the United States for London and became the lead singer with the Young Disciples band is superb as both a soloist and in counterpoint to Leon’s vocals when she trades scat improvisations with Leon.

Spearhead’s Michael Franti may seem like an unlikely choice to round out the trio of lead vocals but Franti’s pleasing baritone contributions as a rap orator prove to be a wonderful addition. Franti brings an excellent sensibility to his philosophically insightful interpretations.

The musical bed is provided by the DOX Orchestra, which includes a wizard on turntables, scratching and mixing melodies and sounds. The electric bass and lead guitar on top of a funky drummer interact with fillagrees of saxophone improvisations that entwine in and around Ware’s attractive compositions.

How Leon hooked up with the Dox Orchestra is complicated but is essentially a result of foreign fascination with the musical abilities of a Black American composer, to whom principals in the Netherlands were attracted. In short, contacts between a journalist named Martijn Delaere, led to producer Omar Rey and band leader Bart Suer that eventually resulted in the trio becoming a catalyst for the concert. How I got the information is from Carol Ware, Leon’s widow, who had a friend who saw my write up and passed it on, and–well, you never know who is checking you out. It’s an apt truism: what you send around, is sometimes what you receive back, i.e. what goes around, comes around.

At the Paradiso concert, the inspiring musical mixture is ably abetted by the soaring Zapp! string section and augmented by an angelic trio of female backing vocalists. Quality music is a magnet that attracts talents worldwide.

Deep respect to the sensitive sound engineers who mixed the diverse elements into an intoxicating aural ambrosia that satiates even as it encourages a desire to hear more.

The tapestry of instruments and voices are collectively woven into a musical magic carpet that transports us to higher heights. The well balanced sound system enables us to hear each element as we appreciate the diverse timbres and textures of this sonic sublimity. There are no distractions. Oh, what a delight this night of music was.

Don’t miss this exquisite amalgamation of talented and inspired musicians coalescing with lead vocals by Leon Ware, Carleen Anderson and Michael Franti.

This concert outing is a magnificent, although woefully incomplete, summary of Leon Ware’s music presented in stellar fashion. To further illustrate the depth of Leon’s music, below, in the same order as above, are popular recording and concert versions of the same songs. You will probably be surprised to learn that Leon was the composer and occasional producer behind this stirring music.

Moreover, included is a brief video explanation by Leon on “Inside My Love”. In New Orleans we call a little extra by the term “lagniappe”. Enjoy–and try not to get too excited by the discovery that Leon Ware was the creative engineer who wrote and arranged the aural foundation and development of all this beautiful and exciting music.

 Quincy Jones and Leon Ware (at the piano) working on music together.