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Babatunde Lea Quintet tributes Leon Thomas at Catalina Bar & Grill

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Babatunde Lea QuintetTribute to Leon Thomas Catalina Bar & Grill Hollywood, California March 10, 2010 Four musicians quietly walked onto the Catalina Bar & Grill stage greeted by enthusiastic applause. But where was the bandleader? From the dressing room, Babatunde Lea sang to the packed room, with his strong voice filling the space like an evening prayer. He danced his way through the crowded tables, shaking a Shekere (a bead-covered gourd) and setting the tone for the quintet's opening night performance. Once he took his seat at the drums, Lea vocalized ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Babatunde Lea: Suite Unseen: Summoner of the Ghost

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The summoner of the ghost goes on an African-inspired journey in jazz on Suite Unseen. That certainly says something for the music, and if that tag is the bait, then band of musicians that Babatunde Lea has gathered for the adventure is the lure. And there is no disappointment on this exciting journey with the call and the ambit being jazz in the mainstream. The addition of other elements serves to perk the path.

Lea dispenses with the continuous structure of a suite, breaking it up into five and interspersing the segments with music that fits in very ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Babatunde Lea: Suite Unseen: Summoner of the Ghost

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Suite Unseen: Summoner of the Ghost is yet another practical reminder that one should never judge an album by its cover. Or its shamanistic title or overwritten liner notes, for that matter. What looks conspicuously like a sprawling world music effort is actually a relatively straight-ahead jazz session linked by African folk chants and Afro-Caribbean polyrhythms. That might explain why the small print on the reverse side advises clerks to “File under Jazz" instead of the less frequented areas of the record store.

Suite Unseen, Lea's fifth outing as leader, kicks off with bassist Geoff Brennan's vamp, a conga roll, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Babatunde Lea: Suite Unseen: Summoner of the Ghost

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An homage to ancestral spirits sets the context for Babatunde Lea's Suite Unseen: Summoner of the Ghost. The drummer/percussionist and educator has created a suite with a unique jazz flavor, complemented by additional musical textures and held together by a spiritual overtone. The stylistic nuances together generate an imaginative piece of music that is unpredictable yet connected at the same time. Quiet simply, it all fits together. The Suite Unseen is broken up into five separate movements with other interspersed compositions written mainly by the other musicians on the recording. “Ancestral Stroll brings in the listener with a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Babatunde Lea and Phenomena: Levels of Consciousness

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1979's Levels of Consciousness features San Francisco Bay Area percussionist Babatunde Lea’s familiar Afro-Caribbean mix shaded by the prevalent R&B phase of the time. At the center lies his sunny positivism and furious drumming prowess. The eclectic program includes funk, soul ballads, and jazz as played by guests Julian Priester, Eddie Henderson, and Mark Isham.

Muziki’s driving piano starts his “Thailand Stick,” a hopped-up horn arrangement bouncing off the complex rhythms. Hiroyuki Shido’s bass keeps the pressure on through Martin Fiero’s fiery alto solo. Eddie Henderson growls like Rodan before showering molten brass on the riff. Priester eases his way ...

INTERVIEWS

Babatunde Lea's Soul Pools

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Babatunde Lea will not forget 2003. Shortly after releasing Soul Pools , his fourth recording as a leader, his inspirer 'Babatunde Olatunji' passed away. Lea's beat, conversely, is livelier than ever and honoring in high spirits the induction of Olatunji into jazz's pantheon of collective memoirs.

Conceptually speaking, Lea's latest recording is akin to the curing properties experienced in his prescient and life-changing initial encounter with Olatunji almost half a century ago. It seems to nourish both his desire for, as well as his particular views on healthier means of relating to self and others. When asked to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Babatunde Lea: Soul Pools

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Quick and to the Point: An energetic and refreshing Latin Jazz dousing....

Heavily traversing along Latin jazz mainstream tributaries, Soul Pools is a creditable recording, intermingling refreshed takes on various percussive modalities and rhythms with jazz inflow dynamics.

Babatunde Lea gathered a strong contingent for this recording. It starts off with a harried, albeit well keeled, pace in “Confrontation.” Frank Lacy alertly arranged Lea’s composition, packing a punchy drive that he sets in motion with an exquisite solo. Preceded by Mario Rivera’s angst and Hilton Ruiz's humorous and speedy fingerings, Lea pushes everyone dashing towards the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Babatunde Lea: March Of The Jazz Guerillas

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One of this year’s top mainstream jazz albums, March of the Jazz Guerillas folds in a large part of Babatunde Lea’s eclectic professional experiences. He and acoustic bassist Alex Blake are members of Pharoah Sanders’ band. Blake opens “Abuse of Reality Mambo" with a hot, multiple-stop statement of the melody and returns midway through for an extended bass feature. Each arrangement features a different set of soloists alongside inspired rhythms. Pianist Hilton Ruiz has opportunities to reveal several sides of his stellar technique, as do trumpeter Khalil Shaheed, trombonist Angela Wellman, and saxophonist Richard Howell.

Howell sings “The Creator Has ...



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