Roy Campbell 101: From Where He Came
In '74, after leading a band called Spectrum, Campbell and pianist/vocalist Radha Reyes Botofasina formed the Spirits of Rhythm, which featured at various times the likes of Charles Neville, JT Lewis, Kenny Kirkland, Rodney Jones, Kenny Washington, Bobby Watson and Cecil McBee. Five years after picking up the horn Campbell had already racked up experience playing with Dannie Richmond, Bill Saxton, Wilbur Ware, Pharoah Sanders, Carlos Garnett and others. But it was in '78 he met his kindred spirit, bassist William Parker, and soon after joined Jemeel Moondoc's Ensemble Muntu. He went on to perform and record with David Murray, Sahib Shihab's Big Band, Klaas Hekman (while living in the Netherlands from 1990-92) and many others. In '91 Campbell recorded his first album as a leader, New Kingdom, which he calls "Roy Campbell 101 as it touches on the many musical bases Campbell regularly spins off from to this day. New Kingdom was for him a way of humbly presenting "another order of the music. Something he feels continues to this day.
Despite the fact that Roy Campbell has been one of the most active musicians on the scene for several decades, his name is absent from three of the major texts on jazz that have been released in the past several years: Alyn Shipton's A New History of Jazz, Gary Giddins' Visions of Jazz and, most surprisingly, Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler's The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. This can be accepted, but only when realizing that perhaps Campbell's brightest star has yet to shine, since he has plenty of music up his sleeve that surely will turn heads.
At 40 Campbell suffered a stroke and almost died. Astonishingly, six months later he recorded his second album as a leader, the brilliant La Tierra del Fuego (Delmark). This speaks volumes for Campbell's notion that music holds the healing power of the universe. After all, it was always the music that Roy Campbell lived for, and still does.
Visit Roy Campbell on the web.
· Roy Campbell - New Kingdom (Delmark, 1991)
· Roy Campbell - La Tierra del Fuego (Delmark, 1993)
· Roy Campbell/Pyramid - Communion (Silkheart, 1994)
· Other Dimensions in Music - Now! (AUM Fidelity, 1997)
· Roy Campbell - Ethnic Stew and Brew (Delmark, 2000)
· Roy Campbell - It's Krunch Time (Thirsty Ear, 2001)