With a passionate alto saxophone cry, Bobby Bryant starts the session with “Summertime.” A lively rhythm section backs him up as the leader improvises with an emotional appeal. Jennifer Bowens joins him with remarkably to-the-point spoken poetry. “My language is gentle, yet tough,” she says, as the words punctuate the air. Her message is social, political, and philosophical. Then Bridgette Bryant enters with a lovely, straightforward cover of the same Gershwin song with lyrics. Eventually saxophone and poet return to alternate with a message steeped in tradition and driving right at you.
”The Rhythm” begins with a poet’s determined voice bringing a personal touch to the session. He laments the passing of jazz trumpeter Bobby Bryant, Sr., and honors the artist for his courage and leadership. He and poet Bowens emphasize the family values that have been handed down from father to son. Bobby Bryant, Jr. turns the tune into a spiritual arrangement of “Afro Blue.” Pianist Nate Morgan, known throughout Southern California for his overt avant-garde slant toward the extended growth of modern jazz, supplies a spiritual solo to drive the message home. Alternating straight-ahead jazz with powerful post-bop improvisation, he and saxophonist Bryant say it all. The saxophonist’s instrumental arrangement of “Invitation” honors Charlie Parker; floating, diving, and swirling with powerful expression.
The spoken word combines with mainstream jazz in a natural partnership. This highly recommended album provokes deep thought while clearing the air through innovation. The Jazz Poetry Collective may be contacted at: 4401 West Slauson Avenue, PMB #109, Windsor Hills, CA 90043 (213) 918-1143.
Track Listing: Those Who Keep Spirits Alive; Dance Women of Shulam; Lively Up Yourself; Soon I will be Done, Trouble of This World; The Rhythm; Flowers Stolen from the Yards of Old Folks; Invitation.
Personnel: Bobby Bryant- alto saxophone; Jennifer Bowens- poetry; Bridgette Bryant- vocals; Marcus Miller- drums; Leon Mobley- percussion; Nate Morgan- keyboards; Al Threats- bass; A.K. Toney- poet; Mark Tyson- guitar; Eddy Oliveri- keyboards; Wadada- bass; Jessie Williams, Alex
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.