The most successful efforts at intertwining world/folk music with jazz artfully maintain an "of the people/by the people" feel. The best of these in turn feature a core group of talented musicians who within this structure use the complex improvisational techniques and instrumental voicings of jazz to explore new musical territory. People Music , led by drummer Dion Parson, is just such a session.
Parson has surrounded himself with inventive jazz musicians who also continue to maintain a healthy respect for their music's cultural roots and rhythms. A prominent and authentic Virgin Island feel, courtesy of Parson and bandmates saxophonist Ron Blake and bassist Reuben Rogers, adds an uplifting edge to cuts that also draw on funk, bop, Brazilian, chitlin' circuit B3 and reggae. The driving interplay between Parson and the great hand drummer Robert Thomas Jr. on cuts like the funkily happy "Promise to our Future" and the more mellow "The River Runs" expose complex rhythms in differing settings. While the former is a wonderfully up-beat optimistic look forward, the latter is a mellow, reflective take on the lovely Monty Alexander composition. Jeremy Pelt adds his attacking trumpet to Blake's full mellow tone on both Jackie McLean's boppishly playful ode to his daughter "Little Melonae" and the lighthearted Parson-composed closer, "Child's Play."
"Mellow D" begins as such, with a Blake opener that somewhat suddenly segues into some serious reggae courtesy of Ron Jackson's perfectly placed staccato guitar and Carlton Holmes' organ riffs. Reuben Rogers' featherlike touch against a soothing percussive backdrop, made more so by vocalist Senise Jannah, allows Blake to succeed with "Lullaby for Belle" until Carlton Holmes' breezy piano awakes on the Ron Jackson tune "To Us." After Blake presents Jackson's very catchy melody, the composer is front and center displaying quick fingers that lead into a full ensemble sound. "Brazilia" is true to its name, as a boppish beginning finds Blake and Jackson on acoustic, soloing against a tropically rhythmic surrounding. "NGP for Sonny P" pays fitting tribute to the powerful Hammond B3 artist Sonny Phillips as Holmes' juicy organ, along with Blake and Jackson, let everyone know "this be the blues." With uplifting takes on standards and newly composed music that portends a bright future, People Music is a joy.
Track Listing: 1. Promise To Our Future
2. The River Rolls On
3. Little Melonae
4. Mellow D
5. Lullaby For Belle
6. To Us
7. NGP For Sonny P
9. Child's Play
Personnel: Dion Parson (drums), Ron Blake (sax), Carlton Holmes (piano, keyboards, organ), Ron Jackson (electric, acoustic, classical guitar), Reuben Rogers (acoustic and electric bass), Robert Thomas, Jr. (percussion), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet 3,9) Denise Jannah(voice, percussion 5,8)
Year Released: 2004
| Record Label: Tahmun Records
| Style: Latin/World
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.