Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sathima Turns 71, Duke Ellington Returns

Sathima turns 71 on October 17, and we'll be giving her a birthday party/concert at Sweet Rhythm. Onaje Allan Gumbs, Marcus McLaurine, and George Gray are going to perform with her, and you can reserve your table/seats/peace of mind by calling Sweet Rhythm at 212-255-3626, or going to their website.

Also, on October 16, we will make available for download (FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!! WHOO!!!) Sathima's album with Duke Ellington, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Billy Strayhorn...called A Morning in Paris. It was recorded in 1963, thought to be lost, and then resurfaced in the 90s. We are reissuing it with new artwork, new liner notes (featuring the writing stylings of Sathima, of Professor Sherrie Tucker, and of me), etc...the CD itself will be available on January 22.

However, for those of you who don't want to wait (which should be all of you, as a side note), come to Sathima's show on October 17, because we will have advance copies available for sale. It will be that magical. Really.

Here is the story of how A Morning in Paris came to be, for the interested.

I could keep talking (writing), but instead, we'll turn things over to Sathima. She wrote this piece for the album, discussing that day in 1963.

'My first thoughts on writing this were how impossible it would be to describe the experience of recording "A Morning in Paris" in February 1963 with the three most magnificent pianists a singer could ever dream of working with. I will try to convey my thoughts, forty-four years later on this, my most magical musical moment of my career as a jazz singer.

To be in the studio with Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Abdullah Ibrahim at the young age of 23, was absolutely awesome and thrilling. To say I was nervous is an understatement.

Billy Strayhorn (it was my first time meeting him that morning) was the sweetest person you could ever meet. No wonder he was called "Sweet Pea." Ellington looked happy and relaxed, walked straight into the recording booth with the wonderful engineer Gerhard Lehner, and let us know that he was "the producer."

Me, being shy and introverted was lovingly and gently coaxed by Duke's generosity and enthusiasm to be the best LinkI could be. I know I shall never, ever again have such a positively wonderful and ecstatic musical experience.

I have been blessed beyond words, to have Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Abdullah Ibrahim as my accompanists that "Morning in Paris." Their input in my musical career empowers me forever. I must continue to improve and excel in my career as a jazz singer.

When Ellington brought me to New York City he said to me, "You have talent and imagination - use it in your song and survive." I remember those words and continue to fly under his protective musical wings.'

Sathima's website is here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

RIP Johnny Fourie

My god, it's starting to feel like my blog only gets updated when people pass away.

However, given all the attention around the passing of Joe Zawinul, I wanted to commemorate the passing of another stunning jazz musician.

This was Johnny Fourie, the guitarist. From South Africa, spent a great deal of time performing in England, and also in the US, before returning to South Africa. He passed away about two weeks ago (I should have blogged this earlier, I know)

He did a lot of fusion work, and you can hear it on Charles Earland's "Intensity" album (a great listen), and also Wessel van Rensburg's "So Fine" (also wonderful, if quite smooth).

As a leader, I've heard two albums of his. One is a solo guitar album that came out about a year ago. I can't find a buy link for it (I did a quick search), but it is worth tracking down with a bit of effort.

The easier album to find is "Solo, Duet & Trio". In fact, here's the link!

It's a stunning piece of work - brilliantly reimagined standards, and as an added bonus, features the ever amazing Carlo Mombelli on bass.