“Heavy on Pan”: Musician, keyboardist Allan Oxley’s 2012 Offering

Renowned Trinidadian musician, keyboardist Allan Oxley recently released his 2012 pan kaiso, Heavy on Pan. With this offering, Allan assumes the roles of lead singer, composer, and arranger as he continues along his musical journey. Here  is an audio clip of Heavy on Pan, which is followed by a biography of Allan’s musical life and accomplishments.

Click to listen: Heavy On Pan (A Tribute To The Grandmaster) 

    Biography:

In Trinidad and Tobago, the name “Oxley” is synonymous with music and Allan Oxley has lived up to that tradition of his parents, Ken and Stephanie Oxley (both now deceased). Ken Oxley was the famous bass baritone singer who sang for many audiences all over Trinidad and Tobago. Stephanie, his wife, was also involved in music and was equally responsible for the involvement of their three children in this artform. Allan, the youngest, and his older siblings were often wooed to sleep by the harmonious vocals of the ever popular Argonauts Male Voice Choir of which his father Ken was founder and leader.

Allan started to learn the piano at age 9. He studied and sat for the examinations of the Trinity College of Music (London) and reached Grade V in Practical Pianoforte and Grade III in Theory of Music.

After leaving school in 1969, Allan became involved in the local music band scene as a keyboardist playing with several combos. He went on to such legendary bands like Joe “Chet” Sampson, Gemini Brass, Shandileer and Atlantik to name a few. Allan was an original member of Shandileer in 1979 and stayed with that band until 1991 which was perhaps, one of the more defining stints in his long and ongoing music career.

Allan toured extensively with some of those bands throughout the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean. He played in most of the major carnivals in Trinidad and Tobago, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Orlando, Barbados and Antigua. Besides playing keyboards, he did background vocals and percussion on recordings with Gemini Brass and Shandileer and also directed a couple of local recording acts including Sharlene Boodram.

As a freelance keyboardist, Allan has played at The Revue Calypso Tent from 1999 to 2005 and it is there his involvement in calypso music expanded. He was guest keyboardist for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Band during their calypso competitions, was a member of the “Trinidad and Tobago All Star Band” which supplied accompaniment for Calypso Semifinals and Finals competitions in St Lucia Carnival celebrations, as well as keyboardist for The Ambassadors Calypso Tent in St Lucia W.I.  Allan was also well known as the Musical Director/Arranger/Keyboardist at National Housing Authority’s Annual Calypso Competitions from 1993 to 2003, organizing and supplying music scores, musicians and music band for rehearsals and shows. He also worked at that Trinidad and Tobago Government Institution as a Draughtsman from 1971 to 2001 before retiring.

As a volunteer, Allan also assisted teachers from St James Secondary School and Nelson Street Boys’ R.C. School, in preparing students for their respective calypso competitions.

His experience also includes performances alongside Double Tenor Jazz Steel drummer, Clyde “Lightening” George at the “Pan Institute” in Diego Martin and one in Chicago U.S.A. He had the honor of accompanying the Mighty Sparrow at shows in St Lucia, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, Canada and shows with Kelly Greene’s “Harmony with Brass”, accompanying calypsonian Baron at The St Lucia Jazz Festival.

In Central Florida, U.S.A., Allan has performed alongside Double Tenor players John “Mr. Steel” Smith and the Orlando based band “Tropical Steel” and also Mitch Warner at various cooperate and public events in Florida.

Mr. Oxley’s love for music and Steel Pan saw him providing community service to his neighbourhood “pan ‘round the neck” Steel Band, Soul City. It was this unit he tutored himself on the tenor pan and combined all his musical skills to begin composing and arranging for the Steel Pan. Besides Soul City, he also assisted The Entrepot Secondary School Steel Band of St. Lucia, West Indies in preparation for their performance at the World Steel Band Festival held in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, in 2002.

Allan has since migrated to The United States of America, but had a profound experience while concluding a performance in Trinidad, which was a tribute to The Grandmaster, The Lord Kitchener. As a result of this, he composed his first song, “HEAVY ON PAN – (A Tribute To The Grandmaster)”. With his musical skills, he arranged and scored the music for the various instruments. He has put down all the initial tracks for his composition at his home studio. His lead vocals, background vocals which were done by Lyma Dunbar, a former vocalist with Shandileer and the Steel Pan tracks by John “Mr. Steel” Smith ( Double Tenor Player) of “Tropical Steel” of Orlando, Florida were later added.  In addition to those tracks, the mixing and mastering were executed by John “Mr. Steel” Smith at his production studio in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to this recording, Allan has arranged and fully scored a Steelband Panorama version of this song which he hopes to work with any Steel Orchestra who require his services as an Arranger in 2012. The parts scored are: High and Low Tenor, Double Tenor, Double Second, Guitar Pan, Cellos, Quadraphonics, Six/Nine/Twelve Bass. As a bonus, Mr. Oxley will also include in his contractual arrangement package with that Steel Orchestra, a fully scored “Bomb Tune”. A demo of these arrangements can be heard on request.

Allan aka “Heavy” can be contacted by phone (407) 508 2906 or email argomuzik@yahoo.com.      

Barbados’ Lew Kirton: singer, drummer.

Othersounds.com, which has published interviews with a number of musicians around the globe (including the Caribbean), presents an interview with Barbados’ Lew Kirton.

Interview: Lew Kirton

Lew Kirton (b. 1948) grew up in a religious household in St. Michaels in Barbados. Llewellyn Randolph Kirton as he was born began singing in St. Cyprians choir as a kid. Despite his parents aversion to secular music he continued to want to sing outside of church from age 12 – even when it meant to sneak out of the house to do it.

He went from the Starlighters, Draytons 3 (which after Kirton left became known as the Draytons 2), recording with Barbados’ most popular r ’n b outfit Blue Rhythm Combo, drumming with Sam & Dave to a solo career. For a kid who was nicknamed ”Jiggs”, after the skinny and bowlegged British cartoon of the same name, Mr. Lew Kirton has an impressive stature in both music and real life.

In the following youtube video, Kirton sings Heaven in the Afternoon.

The full interview can be accessed at: Interview: Lew Kirton « othersounds.com.

Burglars rob camp, not spirits of Carnival’s winningest band

In the following article, which appeared in Caribbean Life on September 21, Glenda Cadogan reports on the recent robbery at the premises of  the Brooklyn-based community organization Sesame Flyers International.

sf-leaving-base

The strength, resilience and character of the Sesame Flyers International (SFI) brand stood up to the test this week in the face of two burglaries at the Church Avenue headquarters of the community-base organization. In the robbery which took place in two separate incidents on Wednesday and Saturday nights, the organization suffered losses of computers, televisions, sound systems and electronic equipment and a small amount of cash. There were also some significant damage to the property, known as the Cultural Center, as the burglars ransacked both floors of the building located at 3510 Church Avenue. But despite the losses, the organization this week was back to its full operational schedule.

The organization’s chairman, Raymond Luke took the opportunity to inform and assure the wider community that all is well with everyone in the Sesame Flyers family. “As expected, the burglaries may have momentarily rattled some nerves, but by pulling together as a team we have been able to put all our operations back up and is fully operational,” says Luke. “This is a testament to the strength of the organization which has been one of the vanguards of community and cultural empowerment in Brooklyn. You don’t build an organization of 28 years and have the kind of success that is part of our track record by being weak and giving in to challenges in any form,” he adds.

Luke also praised their neighbors who alerted the police while the robbery was still in progress and also officers of the 67th Police Precinct who took swift action and have been able to recover some of the stolen items. “I guess the good neighbor policy which we have embraced and developed over the past 20 years at this location has paid dividends in this case,” says Luke. “And in addition, the police officers have been outstanding in their response and are feverishly working toward apprehending the perpetrators.”

With the distinction of being the “winningest” band in the Brooklyn Labor Day Carnival, Sesame Flyers again captured the coveted title of “Band of the Year” in both the adults and children categories of the 2011 Carnival/parade with a presentation titled: Brazilia. The significance of this win, more than a dozen in its history, was celebrated even in the face of the robberies.

“We have a commitment to making excellence a priority in everything we do whether it is mastering our presentations on Eastern Parkway or in the numerous youth and community empowerment programs which form a part of our annual roster of services,” says Luke. “So we will celebrate both our victory in the masquerader competition as well as the fact that our daily operations are in full effect not just at our main office but at all three locations under our supervision.”

kiddies-2007-sesame

The celebrations move forward with an appreciation party for masqueraders of the winning children’s band on Sept. 24 and on Sept. 25 for the adult masqueraders. The events take place at the (SFI) Culture Center on Church Avenue and Tikki Village on Ralph Avenue respectively.

Founded in 1983 by Joseph Charles, SFI is a multi service agency catering to the needs of youth and adults. The agency provides a comprehensive, holistic strategy to youth and community development with culture art at its core. Recognized as one of the top eight youth community programs in New York City, Sesame Flyers International schedule of programs includes academics support, recreational programs, counseling services, cultural events, summer youth employment, computer literacy and job readiness.

Over the past 28 years the organization has enriched its name and recognition in the New York cultural community by winning the “Band of The Year” title in the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade for the past 12 times in the last 13 years. (There were 11 consecutive wins from 1999-2008). Their steelband orchestra has also been a force in the annual Panorama competition and has performed at some of the most prestigious concert venues in New York City.

For original report: Burglars rob camp, not spirits of Carnival’s winningest band • Caribbean Life.

Creole Choir of Cuba at Symphony Space

Caribbean Life, Sept. 17th 2011, reports on upcoming performance of the Creole Choir of Cuba.

On the heels of their blazing performance in the popular city-wide ¡Sí Cuba! Festival last spring, Symphony Space continues its celebration of Latino culture with this season’s only New York appearance of the Creole Choir of Cuba on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre.

The Creole Choir of Cuba represents a rare Cuban musical tradition. Comprised of descendants of Haitians who came to Cuba to escape slavery, the ensemble members perform a repertory of songs with percussion, offered in their traditional Creole language.

With passionate melodies and harmonies synonymous with U.S. gospel and the call and response of Caribbean folk music superimposed over varied Afro-Cuban beats, this jubilant ensemble of four men and six women reinvents their traditional music in a stunning and transcendent way.

Symphony Space’s Artistic Director Laura Kaminsky states, “Bringing another evening of extraordinary Latino musical culture to Symphony Space is a necessity for us as we continue to explore and extol the richness of Cuba and her neighbors.

“Despite coming from a cultural tradition with a painful past, the joy in this music is palpable, and the way that this old music is reinvented for the 21st century is remarkable. Symphony Space is proud to invite the Creole Choir of Cuba back to New York City for their only appearance here this season.”

For original report see: symphonyspace.org-creole-choir-of-cuba and Creole Choir of Cuba at Symphony Space.

‘Killer guitarist’ struggles but pulls family out of homelessness

The following article was written by Deborah Circelli, staff writer for Daytona Beach News Journal, and published on Jan. 16th 2011.

Bert Bailey plays daughter Jackie’s guitar at the STAR Family Shelter. The family is about to move into their own home. (N-J | Sean McNeil)

DAYTONA BEACH — Bert Bailey’s fingers glide over the guitar strings with hints of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley as he sings in a raspy blues voice.

“I thought I wouldn’t make it at all,” the lyrics roll off his tongue, eyes occasionally closing, then a sudden smile, a musician’s joy. “Just when that girl took my hand, everything was all right. I said girl, I shoot you straight to the top.”

Nearby, piled on a slide and wooden jungle gym in the small playground outside the local homeless shelter, 10 children stare at the person they know as “Mr. Bert,” who cleans and lives at the shelter.

They remain quiet and focused until the song ends, then burst into applause as he raises his hand and shyly smiles, thanking them and some parents who later appeared.

It’s not the typical audience for Bailey, who is from Trinidad and toured with the reggae superstar Marley for a few months in the late 70s, after playing in clubs with another band in New York City.

A band Bert Bailey formed while living in New York, The Next Morning, had an album in 1971. Bailey, who has been living at the STAR Family Shelter, said he is pictured in the center. (Bert Bailey)

He has struggled over the years with odd jobs cleaning or moving furniture, “because playing wouldn’t always be there to supply a steady income.”

He found out only recently that an album from his early days in the United States that he never thought saw the light of day has been selling on the Internet and downloaded for cell phones and MP3 players.

“We had no idea what ever happened to the records,” Bailey said. “I don’t believe this; after all these years, this is hooked up all over the Internet.”

Bailey, who has been playing in bands throughout Volusia and Flagler counties for more than 15 years, has been living the past 11 months at the STAR Family Shelter on Seagrave Street with his 12-year-old daughter and her mother, his longtime partner. The family will soon be moving into a rented house.

The couple said they fell on hard times when their hours got cut doing maintenance, laundry and other work for area hotels. Part of the decline, they said, came after their daughter almost died as she suffered cardiac arrest at Daytona Lagoon water park in 2008 and spent more than a month at the hospital recovering.

At the shelter, which houses 30 adults and 43 children, some of the children and adults are surprised when they hear the voice and guitar sounds of Bailey, who doesn’t like to tell his age but is in his early 60s. He played during Christmas for residents and practices in his room or in the playground area with his daughter’s small guitar. His electric guitars are at the house of the drummer in a local band he’s in called Children of Stone.

Bailey’s nickname is TriniHendrix because he’s from Trinidad and people compare his sound to the late guitar legend.

“He’s an absolutely killer guitarist,” said Tony Marlow, owner of The Golden Lion Café in Flagler Beach, where Bailey has played off and on for 10 years. He also gave Marlow’s son guitar lessons about nine years ago.

“He’s just so good,” said Marlow, who was shocked to hear Bailey has been living in the homeless shelter. “I never knew he was on such rough times.”

The director of operations over the shelter and the STAR Family Center, Raul Gonzalez, is hoping somebody from Bailey’s past recognizes him and he’s able to reconnect or that someone hears his story and his career can rebound.

The recent news story of an Ohio homeless man, Ted Williams, whose broadcasting voice brought him national attention, gives Gonzalez hope.

“He is the most humble man I have ever met,” he said, adding Bailey is only paid part-time, but works all day long at the shelter doing maintenance and other volunteering. “His story is like so many other musicians in the past who didn’t have the proper representation. He’s kind of disappeared into time.”

FROM TRINIDAD TO NEW YORK

Bailey has been playing guitar since he was 9 years old, influenced by an uncle who was in a band in Trinidad. Bailey said he and his three brothers and two cousins formed their own band called Bert Bailey and the Jets, playing at fairs and schools, making records and performing on a television show and on the radio in Trinidad.

“We played everywhere and all over the country. We were on posters all over town and we played with the big groups,” Bailey said.

After moving to the United States in the late 1960s, he said he attended a music school in New York City for two years and worked at an insurance company in the mailroom and supply department. But he said, “I was lost without my group and all my friends.”

Eventually, he formed another group, mostly from Trinidad, with one of his brothers, Herbert, a cousin and two other men. They billed their sound as rock with “an island influence.

“Everybody left their jobs and we went full speed ahead. I started writing all the songs,” Bailey said. “This is what made our music different. We still had the island flavor in it.”

The group, called The Next Morning, hit 42nd Street and Broadway in 1970 “going from studio to studio and company to company” until they got noticed by a record label and produced an album, “The Next Morning” at New York’s Electric Lady Studios. The band was told to keep playing in clubs throughout New York City until a single was released from the album.

He said the musicians were promised an advance worth thousands of dollars for equipment to go out on tour with another well-known band at the time, “but the money never came.” They kept waiting for the single and album to be released and the group became frustrated, he said, and broke up.

Bailey said he eventually landed in Miami, where his mother lives. He was recording in the late 1970s with a mutual friend of Marley’s, a musician known as King Sporty, “when this guy with big hair came through the front door and it was Marley.”

Marley, he said, later had him fill in for one of the lead guitarists for six shows of the Kaya tour in 1978, named for Marley’s album.

One night on tour in Detroit, Marley, who Bailey describes as “a messiah of music” and whom he idolized, asked Bailey to come to his room to talk to him.

“I was having goose bumps — this was Marley talking to me,” Bailey said with excitement still in his voice today.

Marley took out a Bible and started reading from a passage that Bailey recalls dealt with the 12 tribes ofIsrael, and he thought “this is getting heavy.”

“He started reading something about ‘you are my twin brother,’ ” Bailey said. “I’m not really following, but I have to. He is way up there. He said, ‘you are here to learn and to see and to transfer what I’m teaching you into your own story.’ ”

He continued playing with King Sporty and eventually ended up in Daytona Beach in the 1980s where a musician friend lived. Through his friend, he met the woman he calls his wife about 19 years ago and the mother of his three children. He never returned to Miami.

Bailey said it wasn’t until one of his daughter’s teachers three years ago pulled up his name on the Internet that he found out “The Next Morning” had been released in 1971 and is now on CD. The album has become a collector’s item selling on some websites and in some countries for hundreds of dollars.

“After all these years, I was blind about what was out there. I’m actually glad and actually blessed to know that the little thing is still here. It’s still alive,” Bailey said. “It’s almost like a miracle.

“This is what we wanted when we were hungry at the time,” said Bailey, who questions why he and band members, who he’s lost touch with, don’t receive royalties.

Gonzalez, who oversees the shelter, hopes to find a lawyer to help Bailey research what happened and see if he can recoup anything from the sales.

“He hasn’t lost anything over time,” Gonzalez said. “I’m looking at a guy who is talented like that and he’s homeless. He’s a simple man who has a passion for playing — that is the only thing he knows.”

‘LIKE HENDRIX AT WOODSTOCK’

Steve Smith of Port Orange, who plays the drums and whose stage name is Mitzsoto, has been playing with Bailey for about four years in their band, Children of Stone.

“Bert can go to places on a guitar that I have never heard,” he said. “The music morphs in a way that is like Hendrix at Woodstock.”

He said Bailey’s life is almost like Hendrix’s life before he became famous and was sleeping in alleys.

“Bert has kind of gone along the same path,” Smith said. “He had fame and stuff coming to him in the ’70s, but through mishaps in life, he’s never been able to get to where he really belongs and that is at the top of the food chain, and that is the way Hendrix was.”

Hyacinth “Mimi” Rismay, the mother of Bailey’s children, said “things have not been the same” since their daughter, Jackie, almost died when her heart inexplicably stopped while at the water park. She said they still don’t understand what happened. She still has to take pills daily for her heart and had a defibrillator implanted, Rismay said.

The couple, who have been together in Daytona Beach for about 19 years, also have two other children, 15 and 16, who live in the U.S. Virgin Islands with their grandmother.

Rismay now works two jobs and spends nights taking care of an elderly woman outside of the shelter. The couple and their daughter, though, see better times ahead. They plan to move this week to a rented house through the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and helps with their expenses.

Bailey, who has had problems with drugs in the past but didn’t want to talk about it, said being at the shelter kept him focused and has been a blessing because the staff helped him save money and get the shelter job. He plans to continue working at the shelter when he moves out.

While practicing earlier this week, Bailey wore a shirt that read “Live to play.” He sang a song by Hendrix called “Red House” and some originals he’s written about love and inspiration. Sounds of small children crying and playing drifted in from outside.

“Every day I take my guitar and this is how I get into my peace of mind. That is how I calm down,” said Bailey, who mostly practices in his room or at a band member’s house. Fellow shelter residents gathered to hear him play on this afternoon.

Sherri Reid, 41, who lives at the shelter with her two daughters, said Bailey is “a hidden talent.”

Sabrina Troyer, 11, who is at the shelter with her mom and sister, said she likes Bailey’s “rhythm and how he plays. It touches you.”

Bailey’s daughter, Jackie, a sixth-grader at Holly Hill Middle School, sat nearby with the other children. She writes songs and loves rock music and hopes one day to sing and produce. She’s been inspired by her father, who told him her songs need to have “rhythm and it needs to make sense.”

As he continued to play, another man living at the shelter said he had no idea Bailey had such talent.

“I’m a quiet person,” Bailey said after practice. “I don’t want people to feel I’m any different.”

For original report: ‘Killer guitarist’ struggles but pulls family out of homelessness – News.

West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade Roars Through Brooklyn!

The following report was written by Saxon Baird and published on The Official Blog of Afropop Worldwide on Sept. 6th 2001.

While the rest of America was enjoying an extra day off with barbecues and baseball, Brooklyn was celebrating its Caribbean population with the 44th Annual West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade. The event is the biggest Carnival parade in North America and featured its usual, colorful array of floats stacked with speakers blaring the best in soca and new calypso, sparking carnival costumes and thousands of flags representing every country of the West Indies. Even Mayor Bloomberg and the “Rent is Too Damn High” pseudo-celebrity Jimmy McMillan made an appearance.

Roaring down Eastern Parkway, a boulevard that splits Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and parts of Brownsville and Bed-Stuy; over a million people had flocked to the parade by noon sporting colors, shirts and face-paint of showcasing their country of origin. Hundreds of Caribbean barbecue restaurants set up tents and grills in between tables of trinkets ranging with bracelets with the colors of countries flags to handmade art and t-shirts.

While the parade took place on Monday, the festivities really started on Friday with concerts at the Brooklyn Museum with such celebrated acts as Benjai, the Mighty Sparrow and David Rudder. On Saturday, a smaller children’s parade took place in Crown Heights while J’ouvert begin late on Sunday and marched throughout Brooklyn until sunrise as it traditionally does each year.

The origins of the parade go back to a 1947 Carnival Parade that took place in Harlem along 110th and 7th. In 1965, the carnival relocated to Crown Heights where it has existed and taken place each year since.

Unfortunately, the Labor Day festivities this weekend were slightly overshadowed by a sudden, and unexplainable outbreak of shootings. By Monday, over 39 people had been shot across New York City since Saturday. Despite just a few, minor incidences at the parade, the general vibe throughout was positive and jovial with people there looking to simply celebrate the end of summer with great music, food and dancing while refusing to let the few ruin this long held tradition for the many.

For the original report see: The Official Blog of Afropop Worldwide: West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade Roars Through Brooklyn!.

British Reggae Pioneers Misty In Roots to Launch 2011 UK Tour

The legendary reggae band Misty in Roots has announced a 10 date UK tour featuring the pioneers of UK Reggae Music.

With a career spanning four decades, Misty in Roots are one of England’s finest Roots Reggae groups. Along with Steel Pulse and Aswad, the band were one of the most powerful live Reggae acts to emerge from 1970s London; noted for their powerful roots reggae sound and uncompromising lyrical vibrations.

They became the major force in Rock Against Racism, pioneering the Reggae / Punk / New Wave crossover and playing more concerts than any other band in the movement. This opened up a whole new audience for the band who quickly developed a very strong cross over following, playing with acts such as Tom Robinson and Elvis Costello amongst others.

Recently overlooked by the BBC in their ‘Reggae Britannia‘ documentary, Misty In Roots’s contribution to the British Reggae legacy is indisputable, through their reaching out to new audiences in the 1970s with their unique PA and Sound System, they took Reggae to a whole new audience, defining the very sound that we associate with Reggae music today along the way.

The tour kicks off on 30th September at The Picket in Liverpool.

For original report: British Reggae Pioneers Misty In Roots to Launch 2011 UK Tour | World Music Central.org.

African Reggae Revolution

The following CD review was written TJ Nelson, editor and CD reviewer for World Music Central.org.

African Revolution (Indie Europe/Zoom, 2011)

I consider reggae one of those wonderfully sly genres where powerful messages are entwined with bright, feel good musical vibes. Well, Ivorian reggae singer and song writer Tiken Jah Fakoly pulls out all the stops for his latest African Revolution . Known for such recordings as Franafrique, Cours D’Histoire, L’Africain and Coup De Gueule, Mr. Fakoly has a history of fighting social injustices and oppression with his music and incendiary lyrics. Composing all but a handful of the tracks on African Revolution, Mr. Fakoly continues on his mission to change the political and social landscape all wrapped up in some delightful music.

Opening with a call to create an “intelligent revolution” on the title track “African Revolution,” Mr. Fakoly and a stellar company of musicians drenches this track with a masterful reggae blend laced with ngoni, balafon and electric ‘manding’ guitar against drums bass, guitar and percussion. Dipping into a plumy acoustic sound for “Je Dis Non” before slipping into a classic reggae sound for “Political War” with guest Nigerian singer Asa, African Revolution takes on a Malian griot sound against the meatiness of the Jamaican rhythms with the additions of kora, ngoni, soukou and balafon, making this recording extra special delicious.

Recorded in Kingston, Bamako and Paris, American Revolution’s sound beyond plush, especially on tracks like “Il Faut Se Lever” the flash of electric ‘manding’ guitar by Petit Conde on “Sinimory” or the balafon by Lassana Diabate, tama by Baba Cissoko and yabara by Mokta Kouyate on “Sors de Ma Tele.” Other gems include the breezy “Votez,” the funky coolness of “Je Ne Vieux Pa Ton Pouvoir” and the bright folk of “Laisse-Moi M’Exprimer.” Kudos go to producers Jonathan Qarmby and Kevin Backon from the Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica because the sound and feel is rich.

African Revolution is simply stunning in its message and the pure joy of its music.

Buy the album or MP3 downloads:

For original posting: African Reggae Revolution | World Music Central.org.

15th Annual World Creole Music Festival 2011

WELCOME… to fifteen years of pulsating rhythms! DOMINICA’S WORLD CREOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL sets the stage for you to make a memory and come dancing with us on the Nature Island of the Caribbean THANKS to our headline sponsor DIGICEL…the Bigger, Better Network

DOMINICA’S WORLD CREOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL created in 1997 has brought to you Creole music for fifteen years. The festival has grown to be the Caribbean region’s main avenue for exposing the various genres of popular music forms in the Creole speaking world. This mix of fusion composition laced with generous samplings of Dominica’s folk traditions, Creole cuisine, a great festival atmosphere, and the hospitality of Dominican people make it a unique celebration check out the Discover Dominica Authority’s (www.discoverdominica.com) for things to do while on island.

DOMINICA’S WORLD CREOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL brings you melodic genres rooted in harmonious fusion from the countries of the Creole-speaking world. Musical forms that have gained exposure and dominance at the festival include Cadence-lypso, Kompas, Zouk, Soukous, Bouyon, even Zydeco (from the US state of Louisiana). Here’s your chance to come on down and join us.

Musical line up this year Friday 28 – 8:30pm to 4am… Kolo Barst, Harmonik, Ali Campbell –the legendary voice of UB40, Dominica’s finest Creole artiste and band Jeff Joseph –Grammacks New Generation and Dominica’s creators of bouyon WCK!

Saturday 29 – 8:30pm to 4am Dobet Gnahoré West Africa visits Dominica, Jean-Philippe Marthély & Jocelyne Béroard bringing a taste of Zouk…a musical genre created by the famous band Kassav. THIRD WORLD…reggae ambassadors! CARIMI bringing a fresh hip cool Compas to the Windsor park Sports Stadium and the oldest Cadence kings weaving their memory spell over us…Dominica’s Midnight Groovers.

Sunday Night 30 – 4:30pm to 1am…Dominica’s Swingin’ Starz and the Calypso / Soca Monarch winners circle, Gyptian…the reggae lovers rock King of romance, Zouk Allstar Band featuring the currently hot Fanny, Jocelyne Labylle and Alex Catrin from the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons bringing us party soca Trini style so make sure your shoes have plenty wear because you are going to jump right through to Dominica’s TRIPLE Kay buoyon’s young masters!

DOMINICA’S WORLD CREOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL is traditionally held on the last weekend of October and it is strongly rooted in Dominica’s Independence celebrations. Our regulars and visitors to the island have many opportunities to get an appreciation of the rich cultural attributes of ‘DOMINICA…The Nature Island’. Come for Creole in the park…stay for WCMF!

For original articles: – Da Vibes.

“If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me.”

The following article was posted by Michael Eldridge on August 14, 2011 on the site, Working for the Yankee Dollar.

MacBeth the Great (Patrick MacDonald), probably at Renaissance Ballroom, July 1947 | From the William P. Gottlieb Collection of Jazz Photos, Library of Congress

I keep coming across bits of trivia I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled upon before.  I already knew, thanks in part to Garl Jefferson, something of how calypso shared fans and venues with bebop in late 1940s Harlem.  Turns out they even shared bills.  Here’s a lovely anecdote from a famous piece previously unbeknownst to me, Paul Bacon’s “The High Priest of Bebop: The Inimitable Mr. Monk” (published originally in The Record Changer in 1949, it was reprinted in Rob Van der Bliek’s Thelonious Monk Reader):

There is, in Harlem, a monstrous barn of a dance-hall called the “Golden Gate”; quite a number of affairs are produced there every year, and the usual system is to have two alternating bands working–in the last few years the two bands have been one bop group and one Calypso band.  (There are a couple of remarkable calypso bands in New York, playing a real powerhouse music which is closer to Harlem in 1928 than Trinidad in any year.) The occasion I’m thinking of took place there in 1947…Macbeth’s calypso contingent shared the stand with a bop sextet fronted by Monk; the boppers were second in line, so, after a long set by Macbeth, Monk’s band wandered desultorily to the stand.

Monk fussed with the piano, discovering that it was a pretty venerable instrument…Close examination showed him that the pedal post was shakily attached; he jiggled the whole piano apprehensively, then shrugged his shoulders and concentrated on some music left behind by Macbeth’s pianist.

A little later I became aware that Thelonious was doing something extraordinary…as I watched, mesmerised, I saw that he was yanking at the pedal post with all his might (first he kept up with the band by reaching up with his right hand to strike an occasional chord, but he had to apply himself to the attack on the post with both hands, and get his back into it, too). There was a slight crack, a ripping sound, and off came the whole works, to be flung aside as Monk calmly resumed playing.  He never looked at it again, but when Macbeth’s man came back on the stand he stopped short, stunned.  It was obvious that here was a new experience, something outside the ken of a rational man; for the rest of the evening he looked upon Thelonious with a new respect.

(Bacon, the designer of dozens of classic albums for Blue Note and Riverside in the 1950s and one of Monk’s early journalistic champions–jazz nerd and Down Beat writer/photograph Bill Gottlieb was another–was interviewed at length last year by Marc Myers for his blog JazzWax.)

Thelonious Monk at Minton’s Playhouse, ca. September 1947 | From the William P. Gottlieb Collection of Jazz Photos, Library of Congress

So Monk’s Caribbean connection wasn’t just second-hand.  He grew up in San Juan Hill, an African-American neighborhood on Manhattan’s west side with a heavy West Indian presence.  As Robin D. G. Kelley tells it in his magisterial biography of Monk, “With the music, cuisine, dialects, and manners of the Caribbean and the American South everywhere in [San Juan Hill], virtually every kid became a kind of cultural hybrid,” and on the radio, at block parties, and through his neighbors’ victrolas, Monk inevitably “absorbed Caribbean music” (23).  His drummer Denzil Best, co-composer of the calypso-inflected “Bemsha Swing,” was the child of Bajan parents.  (“Bimsha” is a phonetic approximation of “Bimshire,” one of Barbados’ nicknames.)   His admirer and sometime student Randy Weston recorded “Fire Down There,” a/k/a “St. Thomas,” almost a year before Sonny Rollins did.  (In fact, Weston once told Rhashidah McNeill that his waltz “Little Niles,” composed in honor of his young son, was inspired by a “swinging quadrille” played for him by MacBeth.)  And while Monk’s go-to bassist and Weston’s childhood friend Ahmed Abdul-Malik, better known for his shared love (with Weston) of North African music, liked to tell people that his father was Sudanese, Robin Kelley claims that Abdul-Malik’s given name was Jonathan Timm and that both his parents were from St. Vincent.  (The bassist covered “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” a road march claimed by Lord Invader but associated with the Duke of Iron and Virgin Islands carnival, on his 1961 album The Sounds of Ahmed Abdul-Malik–again, a year ahead of Rollins.)  I’ve heard it rumored, moreover, that Abdul-Malik played for a time in MacBeth’s band.

MacBeth the Great, “Calypso Holiday” (Time Records S2144, 1961)

As for MacBeth himself: born Patrick MacDonald in Trinidad, he made his first big mark as a performer singing with Gerald Clark’s band at the Village Vanguard in 1940. The stylistic contrast between MacBeth and one of the other featured singers, Sir Lancelot, was marked; as the Afro-American saw it, MacBeth “[stole] the show.” Short in stature, he nevertheless cut quite a figure: “Gayly dressed in red satin trousers, black loosely-belted tunic, casually draped black and green turban, the ends of which fall over his right shoulder, he sings the clever, clever words of the songs, shaking maracas.”[1] MacBeth recorded one tune, “I Love to Read Magazines,” with Clark for Varsity before the war, then more sides for Guild/Musicraft in 1945, Asch/Disc in 1946, Jade around 1949, and Monogram in the early 1950s. He participated in the famous “Calypso at Midnight” concert at New York’s Town Hall in 1946 and subsequently organized his own twelve-piece orchestra. (“Macbeth’s Calypso Band” also appeared on screen with Lord Invader in the “Pigmeat” Markham vehicle House-Rent Party that same year.)  Besides playing in New York, where for many years he took part in Carnival balls in Harlem, Macbeth also performed up and down the East Coast. According to one account, his band was in such demand that it sometimes had to be “split into two groups in order to fulfill engagements which were scheduled on the same night.”  After his death, the sides that MacBeth had done for Bob Shad‘s Jade label were collected on a 1964 album called Calypso Holiday, released by the legendary producer, jazz fan, and A & R man’s latest venture, Time Records.  (Time was superseded by Mainstream, which was eventually acquired by Sony Legacy, who may be behind a recent digital reissue of MacBeth’s Jade sides–along with scores of other Mainstream titles.)  MacBeth’s son Ralph MacDonald, an accomplished percussionist and sometime arranger for Harry Belafonte in the early 1960s, got his start in his father’s band.

Though it was Wilmoth Houdini who crowned himself “King” of the New York calypsonians, in July 1947 Houdini, the Duke of Iron, Lord Invader, and MacBeth the Great, along with “dark horse” the Count of Monte Cristo (the Duke’s brother), staged a monarchy competition at Harlem’s storied Renaissance Ballroom and Casino to determine “the undisputed right to the title of Calypso King.”  (I suspect that’s where William Gottlieb’s “Portrait of Calypso” shots were captured.)  I don’t know which of the rivals prevailed, or whether his victory was ever in fact disputed.  But of course MacBeth’s kingly stature was implicit all along.


[1] “New Kind of Singing: Calypso has Four Parts.” Afro-American  22 June 1940: 13

For original article: “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me.” « Working for the Yankee Dollar.