Peter Daddone - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 14:41:43 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Brian Auger In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/brian-auger-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/brian-auger-in-conversation.html Brian Auger In Conversation
 Although Brian Auger has more than fifty years of music production experience, he is still on a journey.  If evidence of this was required one need look no further than the two current projects with which he is involved (Brian Auger's Oblivion Express and Brian Auger Trinity featuring Savannah Grace) or of course to his current album, the excellent 'Language of the Heart'.

  Although Brian Auger has more than fifty years of music production experience, he is still on a journey.  If evidence of this was required one need look no further than the two current projects with which he is involved (Brian Auger's Oblivion Express and Brian Auger Trinity featuring Savannah Grace) or of course to his current album, the excellent 'Language of the Heart'. 

Listening to Auger throughout the interview, there is a distinct feeling that he is enjoying performing as much today as he has, with some of music's most accomplished musicians, over the past fifty years.  The journey is not yet complete but, like the logo of the Express suggests, Auger is not content with simply sliding into his place in history.  Rather, he is pulling into the station, wheels screeching and steam hissing, with a fine performance that will leave jazz aficionados breathless. 

'Language of the Heart' nods and reflects a bit of that background, but also shoots forward with new sights in mind.  Said Auger, "There was enough quiet and beauty around me when I walked the beach recently and it triggered a lot of music which I always thought was the language of the heart.  I was listening to the language of my heart during those walks and the album is another page in my musical diary." 

If 'Language of the Heart' is indeed another page in Auger's musical diary, there are literally tens of thousands more for music lovers to enjoy.  Over his career, Auger has been a part of recordings and musical performances too numerous to mention yet, not surprisingly, has a story for each and every one of them.  One such recollection illustrates Auger's place in music history. 

"Chas Chandler of the Animals came to me one day" Auger told me.  "Most of the major artists at the time knew one another and he tells me that his manager wants a guitarist named Jimi Hendrix to play in my band.  I told him that I already had a guitarist but that I would be performing late night at the Cromwellian.  We agreed to meet in-between one of my sets.  Well, that night Clapton, Spencer Davis, Steve Winwood, Beck, and Alvin Lee were all there.  That was the kind of normal crowd that used to assemble at these late night gigs.  After the first set, I'm introduced to Hendrix and I asked him what he wanted to play.  He lays out these sequences of chords and I told him to lay down a tempo and we'll go at it.  He started to play and my jaw fell, I mean all of us fell to the floor, it was just so incredible.  It was nothing we'd ever heard at the time.  I heard that Clapton went home afterwards and was going to more or less give up playing." 

Auger had one last shot of recording with Hendrix, just six months before his death.  "I was recording and Hendrix was in the studio and he came in and we talked and he asked me to record an album with him.  I said I had other contracts and couldn't do it.  Then he takes out a piece of foil and snorts some heroin.  He was pretty far gone by then.  His skin was grey and I told him that stuff was no good for him.  He said, you know Brian, I need more people around me like you." 

One of Auger's fondest memories came during a performance at the legendary Fillmore East in New York City(commonly referred to as the 'Churchof Rock and Roll') in 1969.  Auger recalls with a touch of nostalgia in his voice, "It was every English musician's dream to come to America and play.  I couldn't believe I was playing in New York.  That night we got two encores.  Two encores were normally something that was reserved for my good friend Jimi Hendrix.  I still have this picture in my mind, standing on stage, looking out on the audience, who were on their feet looking for another encore.  I thought to myself "my God is this really happening?  Pinch me, I must be dreaming." 

There is a sense that Auger wants to tell more, share the literally thousands of stories from his musical journal.  He's rifling through pages of his mental diary, telling one story after another in beautiful, rich detail that could fill the pages of a biography worthy of any read.  It is hard to believe that the first instrument he ever learned to play, the piano, could lead him through such an incredible career.  Yet, as 'Language of the Heart' comes back into focus, it is clear that Auger, who grew up playing jazz piano and was afforded the accolade of Melody Maker's best jazz piano player, has, of sorts, come back home. 

"The music in my heart is always there.  Sometimes I get to write it down and sometimes it is just ideas that I need to turn into music" Auger explained. 

It might be the influences from early in his music career (he rushed out to purchase Jimmy Smith's 'Back of the Chicken Shack' when he heard his local record store playing it in 1963) that has allowed him to search inside himself for the recording of 'Language of the Heart'. 

"I put down some solo work for Tea" Auger said.  "They were producing a world music album titled 'Dreams' with artists from Africa.  It started a working relationship with Phil Bunch and Franck Balloffet that led to them asking me if I would be interested in doing an album with them.  They produced about fourteen backtracks and sent them to me.  About half of them triggered immediate pictures for me." 

For Brian Auger 'Language of the Heart' is not a career culmination.  Neither is it a compilation of past success but rather the next chapter of a continuum that started more than fifty years ago and has a beat all its own.

 

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Artist Interviews Thu, 29 Mar 2012 00:28:57 -0500
William Carn In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/william-carn-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/william-carn-in-conversation.html William Carn In Conversation
William Carn's new band, Run Stop Run and his latest album of the same title could also be titled simply "run."  Carn's recent work and collaborations, as well as his work as a professor of music, provide tremendous insight into Carn's work ethic.  Nowe, by adding touring to his busy schedule, Carn is truly a man in motion.

William Carn's new band, Run Stop Run and his latest album of the same title could also be titled simply "run."  Carn's recent work and collaborations, as well as his work as a professor of music, provide tremendous insight into Carn's work ethic.  Now,by adding touring to his busy schedule, Carn is truly a man in motion.

Like many artists, Carn seems to enjoy himself most when he is at his busiest.  Taking a moment out of his tour schedule to talk with me, Carn is relaxed and enjoying the moments that being a musician affords him.  

Carn reflects on what makes his ability to balance so many projects successful and how that knowledge can help young musicians.  Carn chuckles, "Time management is always the hard part; especially when you are freshly out of school, because most likely you are not going to be making much money as a musician.  I had a part-time job which afforded me the opportunity to work on my music.  Self motivation is important too because at the end of the day, when you are finished at your job, you still want to play, want to practice, want to write music so staying focused and motivated is important."

Carn has worked with some tremendously talented musicians across the music spectrum, but is still incredibly grounded about playing with such diverse and talented people as Jeff Healey, Feist, Jon Secada, David Binney, and Dionne Taylor.   What makes Carn such a unique artist is his love of giving back.  He does that as a professor at the University of Toronto Jazz Studies Program and the Humber College Music program. Yet even Carn, with a laundry list of talent with whom he has performed, still retains a wish list of artists that he would like to collaborate with in the future.  "I'm not sure he would want to work with me because I don't know if what I do fits with his work, but I would love to play with Pat Metheny and his group," Carn marvels.

Carn looks off reflectively when asked about his work as a professor.  "I've had some very inspirational teachers.  I still look up to my teachers.  In fact, I remember my grade 8 band teacher took out all the musical instruments and laid them out on the floor; which is kind of disgusting now that I look back on it.  All the kids went around and tried them all.  He told us to write down our top three choices.  My top choice was French horn because I loved the sound.  I tried a few instruments and I couldn't get a sound out of any of them.  So, now I start to panic because I don't want to fail music.  So, I pick up the trombone and this big sound came out so I said 'OK, there we go."

One of his fondest memories playing the trombone occurred less than a decade later when he was 19 years old playing in the mammoth pit orchestra for the performance of Les Misérables at the Toronto Sky Dome, home of the Toronto Blue Jays (it is now called the Rogers Center).  During that performance, with over 150 musicians by his side, Carn performed for over 50,000 people.  "They opened up the Sky Dome and it was a moment that reaffirmed for me in my mind that I was going to play music for the rest of my life.  It was one of those larger than life moments," said Carn.

Music helped him stay focused during that surreal moment.  "It was overwhelming. Whenever you took your eyes off the music and looked up, it was just insane.  The stars were out, 50,000 people were watching you.  I just kept telling myself to focus on the music, focus on what's in front of me.

Working as a professor has an additional added benefit when it comes to performing and recording.  "Teaching allows for the opportunity to reflect because you get to problem solve with your students and they ask questions about stuff I generally don't think about very often. So it gives me the opportunity to pause and reflect on what I do with my music,"  confirmed Carn.

It seems to be working well for Carn.  Several reviews are in on the album and the reviews are generally glowing.  Esther Callens of the Birmingham Times said "Run Stop Run offers a fresh innovative look at modern jazz and it is remarkable."  Jazz Blogger, Ralph A. Miriello placed Carn's album on his top ten lists for 2011.

But Carn keeps running.  He's just wound down a three month tour and two dates in March have already indicated the start of the next leg of being on the road.  Much like that eighth grade moment, bringing the trombone to life in his hands, Carn has stayed in perpetual motion, evolving his music and defining the trombone in modern jazz.  Carn's latest work suggests much more is on the horizon.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Artist Interviews Wed, 01 Feb 2012 06:00:00 -0600
Peripheral Vision - In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/peripheral-vision-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/peripheral-vision-in-conversation.html Peripheral Vision - In Conversation
Couch surfing. No, it is not a new event you will see at a Peripheral Vision concert, much like Moshing was to Nirvana and Anthrax. But it is an endearing sacrifice band co-leaders Michael Herring and Don Scott made in order to develop a strong friendship with each other. At various times during the first few years that Scott and Herring were friends; they frequently crashed on their respective couches when one had a place to stay and the other didn't. This back and forth "surfing" is ultimately what allowed the two to be such strong musicians with a powerful…

Couch surfing. No, it is not a new event you will see at a Peripheral Vision concert, much like Moshing was to Nirvana and Anthrax. But it is an endearing sacrifice band co-leaders Michael Herring and Don Scott made in order to develop a strong friendship with each other.

At various times during the first few years that Scott and Herring were friends; they frequently crashed on their respective couches when one had a place to stay and the other didn't. This back and forth "surfing" is ultimately what allowed the two to be such strong musicians with a powerful sense of each other's timing; which allows Peripheral Vision to be such a potent force. It also helps that the band can play their instruments extremely well. "I think musically we know each other well. Playing with someone, when you intuitively understand where they are going, helps the flow of the performance," said band co-leader Don Scott.

Peripheral Vision is just one project for the two band mates. "Peripheral Vision is the right dynamic. We just strike the right chord together when we perform. It's just a well-oiled machine," added Herring. Their bios on the band's website, www.peripheralvisionmusic.com list many other projects. Herring, for example, leads or co-leads a number of ensembles; including The Uplifters, while Scott lends his talent on such projects as Don Scott Trio, Run Stop Run, and The Offbeat.

True to the band's mission, Peripheral Vision's second album, 'Spectacle: LIVE!' is part of the band's revisionary process. Said Herring, "We are looking at using some of the improvising gains we've made as a band." The second album even incorporated traditional recording techniques that dominated the 60's, a period in Jazz the band is influenced by. "This new album, 'Spectacle: LIVE!' was produced very low-fi. We literary just threw up a few microphones and recorded a live show. So, maybe it is even closer to the aesthetic of the 60's than perhaps our studio album or some of the other projects we are involved in; which sometimes use multi-track digital recording with more editing," said Scott.

With all the various projects members of the band are involved with, they come full circle with Peripheral Vision as a more permanent entity. "Our goal for Peripheral Vision is to very much be a working band. We work on playing regularly. We are working on a short tour in Southern Ontario in March and another tour in Quebec in June. So, with us being a working band there is not that pressure to get so much out of every moment," said Herring. Added Scott, "'Spectacle: LIVE!' was released less than a year after our first album . So, we don't feel a need to put out another record right away. We can sit on this one for a little bit."

The two band mates share a couch, Scott sipping a cup of coffee. With the band enjoying the success of the album and tour, there doesn't seem to be much couch surfing going on these days. However, the creative process is a byproduct of their friendship. "Every time we go through a sound check, we revise something or add something. We always ask: what if the solo went here? What if the solo went longer or shorter? Every time you try those things I think the next time I sit down to write, then I think well there are a whole bunch of new options to try out," said Scott. Adds Herring, "It's kind of like choosing our adventure as we go."

Both Herring and Scott spend time developing their craft by attending seminars and workshops. Scott, for example, studied with Ben Monder and Adam Rogers. They both enjoyed learning from David Binney. "I got unique perspectives on music. I was trying to work what I learned into new pieces for Peripheral Vision. I tried to incorporate certain cord ideas," said Scott.

The band's philosophy might best be summed up through a workshop Said Herring, "I saw a Jim McNeely workshop where he said the composer's job is to ask 'What if?' So, I find while on the road we ask that question: What if? We constantly try new things."

In some ways the new album, 'Spectacle: LIVE!' was created by accident. "We weren't really planning on making an album. We were just planning a demo and we just got lucky. So, we weren't feeling the pressure that might happen with a studio album," said Herring.

Performing live has its challenges, but for Peripheral Vision there is one constant. "As a performer it is important every time to perform your best no matter what the circumstance, how many tickets were sold, or your state of mind at the time. As a matter of fact, a smaller show might make me push the envelope further. There's nothing to lose so let's see how far we can take the music," said Scott. Added Herring, "One of our strengths as individuals and as a band is that when we are playing music, we are giving it 110%."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Artist Interviews Thu, 29 Dec 2011 06:37:52 -0600
Walter McCarty In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/walter-mccarty-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/walter-mccarty-in-conversation.html Walter McCarty In Conversation
Building a career by earning the respect of your peers is a difficult, ongoing task. Imagine trying to do it twice. Punctuated by a storied basketball franchise, the Boston Celtics, honoring him with a bobble head promotion and with Billboard slotting his album Emotionally at number 11 on the jazz album charts, Walter McCarty has succeeded at both.

Building a career by earning the respect of your peers is a difficult, ongoing task. Imagine trying to do it twice. Punctuated by a storied basketball franchise, the Boston Celtics, honoring him with a bobble head promotion and with Billboard slotting his album Emotionally at number 11 on the jazz album charts, Walter McCarty has succeeded at both.

McCarty’s voice rises as he discusses the progress of his music career.   With excitement he says, “I hope people see me as someone who is really serious about making great music because I have worked very hard to try to be well respected in the music industry.” President of Hit Boys Entertainment, Troy White agrees, “He works extremely hard. He is very coachable. One of the great things about Walter is that you see him working so hard and you want to work hard with him.”

CEO of Forever Music, Corey Smith, who worked with McCarty on his recent music, believes McCarty is a serious musician with more success on the horizon. Smith draws a breath in reflection, “There were many ten hour days. Most days we’d get into the studio at around 2 and we wouldn’t leave until 2 or 3 in the morning."  McCarty’s talent was apparent to Smith, who has worked with Irv Gotti and Ja Rule. “Walter is a phenomenal writer. I think he has a great feel for the music,” said Smith.

The success of his concerts and record sales (McCarty’s album is almost a 5 in ITunes reviews) are clearly pointing the way toward earning the sought after respect of the music industry. He says, “It is hard for an artist to create their brand and I’ve had some shows that have been successful. People are giving me great feedback on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I’m grateful that people enjoy the music and can take some measure of pleasure away from it.”

Much like his teamwork on the court, McCarty is interested in working with other musicians in the industry. He gets animated talking about the people he hopes to work with.   He says admiringly, “I would love to do something with Jasmine Sullivan. I would also love to work with Jill Scott and Bernie Williams.” They are all incredibly talented and very creative musicians.”

Appreciation for jazz and R&B came at an early age for McCarty. Many of his influences represent a “who’s who” of superstars and among them are Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Donny Hathaway. The first single he ever bought was the Jackson Five’s “ABC” and his first album was the self titled release from New Edition. It was in church, with his great aunt, where he fell in love with singing. Growing up, one of his fondest memories centered on singing. He reflects, “My mom used to dance in the kitchen and we used to sing while we did chores around the house. We were just always around music.”

White is seeing a bright future for McCarty. He says, “We have definitely seen traction on radio and we relish the fact that we have someone like Walter who is excited and passionate about his music. That excites us as a label.”

Singing may have determined his life’s path. With so many distractions, peer pressure, and bad influences available to him, singing kept Walter focused and limited the amount of time when, potentially, he could have fell in with the wrong crowd. Music helped him get through some difficult times in his life. “When you are a writer you can sort through things on paper, writing a song to try to pick up your self-confidence, or overcoming adversity. There’s nothing like listening to a good song that you can connect to. I can remember coming home and putting on my Walkman and listening to music just to get away from the distractions. It allowed me to go to another place and I decided back then that I wanted to write music that people could connect with. I wanted someone listening to my music so they could forget about their problems for a while.”

Discussing details that few athletes would consider sharing with the public, gives his interview a genuine feel. Athletes are taught to build a very specific public persona and build walls around everything else, but McCarty is authentic when he discusses his love of singing. The production of the album illustrates that. “It was one of those real, feel good albums from start to finish. We all just fed off each other’s energy and passion.   Once the album was finished, we were all just satisfied that we put together something we could be proud of,” he says.

McCarty laughs when he’s asked to choose which is more nerve wracking; playing in front of basketball fans or jazz fans? “They are both great. When you are performing your songs at a concert, the people there more often than not already like what you are doing and are supporting you. Playing in front of a basketball crowd is different because there are definitely people in the crowd who, to put it mildly, probably don’t like you too much. I love that part of my basketball career though. Performing against another team, disappointing their fans, satisfying our fans is something that is very different from performing your songs on stage."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Artist Interviews Tue, 22 Nov 2011 18:55:33 -0600
Six-Time Grammy Nominee Nnenna Freelon Reaches Out to Students http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/six-time-grammy-nominee-nnenna-freelon-reaches-out-to-students.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/six-time-grammy-nominee-nnenna-freelon-reaches-out-to-students.html Aspiring singers, many of whom wish to embark on a career in entertaining, eagerly await six-time Grammy nominee and internationally renowned singer and songwriter, Nnenna Freelon. Students at James Hubert Blake High School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, were about to participate in a workshop conducted by the Jazz songstress.

Aspiring singers, many of whom wish to embark on a career in entertaining, eagerly await six-time Grammy nominee and internationally renowned singer and songwriter, Nnenna Freelon. Students at James Hubert Blake High School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, were about to participate in a workshop conducted by the Jazz songstress.

Telling students to "Check all closed minds at the door," Freelon smiles and shares short stories with the students around her as they file in. Animated and full of energy, she teaches thru the arts; using song and modulation to illustrate the many ways the voice can develop song interpretation. She shares funny vignettes about various stops on her train ride in life. She shows students that what she does as a singer is about the journey, not the destination, underscoring the importance of being in front of them by saying, "I remember when I was in fourth grade I got exposed to music. Everyone got exposed to it and now that is not the case. Not everyone is exposed to it and we have to make connections between artists and students"

Freelon is conducting the workshop as part of an ongoing partnership Blake High School, a Fine Art and Humanities influenced high school, has with Bowie State University. The university plans to open a new performing arts center in January and has committed to a new program of study in the performing arts. Freelon who was the ambassador for the National Partners in Education for four years, has made hundreds of similar workshop presentations all over the country to spread the word of the importance of the performing arts in education.

Freelon's own path to music came about slowly. Exposed to jazz and big band music she started to sing in her church in grade school. Freelon went to college and got a degree in health care administration. It wasn't until she was married with children and in her thirties that she continued the journey and began a music career. "I saw my children, these little human beings who saw me as a role model. How could I tell them to go live and pursue their dreams when I knew I wasn't doing that for myself," says Freelon.

More than forty students from two music classes are involved in the workshop. Students interacted with Freelon by asking questions ranging from the music process to personal organization. Her presentation also included an inspirational element; encouraging students to follow their dreams. "What I'm going to try to do today is teach thru the arts. We are going to show what I do as a singer is about the journey and not the destination. The journey is more important than the destination," she explains. The students nod in affirmation. She adds, "Music makes me feel more powerful, stronger, taller, and it empowers me."

Most of the students Freelon interacts with have plans to be involved in the performing arts after high school. "When she [Freelon] was singing, it sent chills up my spine because I realized that her incredible talent is unique to her and that myself and everyone else in the room also has a talent that only they can do and therefore we have something in life we are meant for," says senior Neva Gakavian.

Sophomore Allana Dawkins is similarly impressed. She becomes fast friends with Freelon. Dawkins sits quietly making eye contact with Freelon as she patiently weaves through a series of questions. Dawkins smiles when Freelon talks passionately about her role as a bridge between generations. "I'm here to show kids that life in the arts is a possibility and a very wonderful path," says Freelon who looks directly at Dawkins. They both smile as if sharing a secret. "You are my future. If I ever wanted to time travel all I have to do is go to any high school and look at your faces and I can see the future. You are going to be my audience, you are going to be my elected officials, you are going to be fully immersed human beings in the arts and you are going to know how important that is in life."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Viewpoints Mon, 14 Nov 2011 07:36:43 -0600
Ola Onabule - In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/ola-onabule-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/ola-onabule-in-conversation.html Onabule has three dates in Canada November 25, 27 and 30.
Law school creates more than a few challenges. There are hours upon hours of studying, grueling hours interning at law firms, and financial bills that need to find a way to get paid. For many law students the adversity is just too much to overcome and that can lead to despair. For Ola Onabule, it determined his life's journey.

Law school creates more than a few challenges. There are hours upon hours of studying, grueling hours interning at law firms, and financial bills that need to find a way to get paid. For many law students the adversity is just too much to overcome and that can lead to despair. For Ola Onabule, it determined his life's journey.

Onabule turned his back on law school to enter the field of soul and jazz as a singer/songwriter. "In my third year of law school", he said "it became perfectly clear that my real passion was being a musician."

There is an immediate sense, when watching Onabule perform, that he is all music. His voice is similar to Michael McDonald and Stevie Wonder. The rhythm flows through him. A move, a gyration, or punctuation with his hand accentuates every beat. There is a synergy with the music and an awareness of the deep connections with his heritage. Like Wonder, he uses his music in some instances to awaken the African American male spirit. That spirit is never more evident than when he is performing. It is James Brown on steroids. There is so much energy in every performance and a distinct conclusion that, against Onabule, any opposing attorney would not stand a chance.

As he prepares to make a run at performing stateside Onabule already has some big supporters. He has dates for his third visit to Canada where he will be performing November 25 at the Belle Performing Arts Center in British Columbia, November 27 at Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver and November 30 at Alix Goolden Performance Hall in Victoria. Phillip Davey, Publicity and Promotions Director for MYQ Productions, the production company that set up dates for Onabule to perform in Canada, believes it is just a matter of time before the United States goes all in on Onabule. "I heard about four bars of a song and after hearing his voice I immediately booked a showing and we sold it out. It was pretty remarkable and I remember his approach was so compelling. He's probably the quintessential live artist," Davey commented, "because he is able to give you everything in that hour and fifteen minute performance. When you walk away from it you know you've seen something remarkable."

While touring in the United States is a goal, as Onabule prepares for the release of his new album, 'Seven Shades Darker', there is no doubt he sees similarities between himself and some of the earliest jazz pioneers whose records his father gave him and to which he began listening when he was six years old. "I fancy myself somewhat as a member of the jazz group that started it all," Onabule told me, "somewhere between the influences of traditional jazz I experienced as a boy and the time I spent in West Africa, , "kind of where the very roots of the genre began."

Onabule looks calm. A button or two of his shirt is open, and he is explaining his new album which drops in the UK and Europe within the next two months. He is a man who appears to be content with his career choice. This is his first studio album since 2007's 'Devoured Man' which, for him, was a bit of a soul search. He explains how some of the writing for that album came during the Iraqi war and during an election in Nigeria where he spent much of his childhood. He is animated throughout the interview. He uses his hands to emphasize a point. You get the distinct impression that Onabule is a man of action, someone who cannot sit still and wait for events to unfold around him.

Onabule puts as much effort into his writing and recording as he does in his live performance. "I like taking my songs to the people and interpreting and reinterpreting them night after night and making connections with my audience" he said. "That's where I really enjoy my craft."

Davey has also witnessed that same connection. "We had a ninety-two year old woman sitting in the front row of his concert" Davey told me "and by the end of the show everyone including that ninety-two year old woman were standing on their feet and clapping and dancing and they just couldn't get enough of him."

'Desperate Ones', from the new album, is a message to black youths during urban upheaval. Think jazz with a social conscience. "I saw a news report that suggested that an increasing number of black boys in Britain were leaving school without any qualifications" Onabule observed "but, even worse still, they didn't have the ability to read or write. After so many years and so many struggles these kinds of stories should have been put to rest yet we are still debating and arguing the same issues in a not particularly sophisticated way."

His eyes light up when we discuss the thematic similarities of 'Desperate Ones' to Stevie Wonder's 'Pastime Paradise'. "Songs in the Key of Light was absolutely the very first album I purchased with my own money" Onabule said. "I played that album over and over again."

Recording his music is just one piece of his love for jazz. For Onabule, it is being out on the road, performing live, that fuels his passion. "I think the reason why it takes a while for me to produce an album," Onabule said, "is that it really is just an excuse for me to get out on the road and do gigs. We are in a world where there are increasingly more filters being layered between the artist and the audience. I become very protective of the more traditional route of an artist connecting with an audience through live performance. I like to make a personal connection. I want to see the whites of their eyes."

Onabule doesn't know when his album will drop in the United States but with the evolution of digital music, that doesn't really matter. Simply type 'Ola Onabule' in iTunes and much of his discography is there and ready to download. As a result, some of the traditional pitfalls of being a contemporary jazz artist are removed. "You can be bit more existential in your musical musings," he confirmed.

Moreover, not many performing artists can claim David Beckham and the Spice Girls as fans. Beckham and his wife enjoy the underground contemporary jazz scene in the UK. Beckham tabbed Onabule to perform at their wedding. As he fondly remembers that night Onabule laughs and there is an obvious twinkle in his eye. "It was an incredibly surreal feeling to be playing in front of the entire English national soccer team, the Spice Girls and Sir Elton John," he said. "Performing at the wedding is just one more highlight being a jazz musician has over being a lawyer."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Artist Interviews Thu, 03 Nov 2011 01:29:19 -0500