Alfred 'Pee Wee' Ellis, a saxophonist, arranger and composer who fused jazz, funk and soul as the musical director for James Brown and Van Morrison, died on Thursday. He was 80.
Mr. Ellis also performed, arranged and recorded extensively with his own jazz groups, in funk bands with fellow James Brown alumni and as a sideman for a broad array of musicians in jazz, R&B, pop, rock and African music. And his association with Mr. Morrison stretched across two decades.
Mr. Ellis shared credit with Mr. Brown for writing 26 songs performed by Mr. Brown, including “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud.”
Don't miss this special tribute to the great Tony Allen at the Royal Festival Hall, 13 November, 2021. The show is curated by Damon Albarn, Ben Okri, Femi Koleoso and Remi Kabaka, and features an electrifying line-up to celebrate the continual innovation and diverse output of one of the most important artists of the last century. It promises to be a star-studded and spectacular celebration of Tony Allen's life and music.
Showcasing the full diversity of his musical output, from Afrobeat to jazz, techno to hip hop, the show will feature a staggering array of guests in a never-to-be-repeated one-off collaboration, masterfully brought together by MD Tom Excell (Nubiyan Twist/Onipa). The show will also feature full AV production including never-before-seen interview and video footage with Tony himself.
Meet Myrna Hague, Jamaica’s 1st Lady of Jazz. After successfully auditioning for a singing job at a London Supper Club, Myrna’s soon graduated to be a regular on the European theatre circuit. A trip to Jamaica to guest on Charles Hyatt’s show, led to a meeting with Sonny Bradshaw, a link up with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and recording of the classic ‘Melody Life’ album. The rest as they say is history. Myrna’s contribution to Jamaican music, art and culture is truly colossal. It’s a monster pod, but well worth it. Just tune in!
Melvin Van Peebles, the groundbreaking playwright, musician and movie director whose work ushered in the “Blaxploitation” wave of the 1970s and influenced film-makers long after, has died. He was 89.
A very good obituary from Associated Press and the Guardian. The multitalented “godfather of modern Black cinema,” Van Peebles, best known for Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song!, wrote numerous books and plays, and recorded several albums – playing multiple instruments and delivering rap-style lyrics. He also later became a successful options trader on the stock market.
As a new musical about the life of Bob Marley prepares to celebrate his spirit and classic songs, Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley, plus the director and star of Get Up, Stand Up!, discuss his extraordinary legacy in an article in the Guardian.
Cedella Marley was 13 years old when the man she still calls “Daddy” died in 1981. She has many memories of him, she tells me, but two often stand out for her. The first is a sense of Robert Nesta Marley as a kind of shape-shifting presence in her childhood, always there and not there.
Check out this retrospective look at the legacy of the great Nigerian musician and political activist. Fela Kuti in the Washington Informer. Fela Anikilopa Kuti, who died on Aug. 2, 1997, was a human force of nature who redefined Africa’s music scene.
He married 27 women at once on Feb. 20, 1978, who were his bandmates, but rendered homeless a year before after the military destroyed his self-declared Kalukuta Republic in Lagos.
The source of his tribulations, especially with successive Nigerian military regimes, was his gifted voice, which he used as a weapon to arouse political and social awareness, recording more than 50 albums in the process.
“Ken McCalla is one of our greatest living artists” – Menelik Shabazz
Listen back to the Drop Da Biscuit session with multi-disciplinary visual artist Ken McCalla. After leaving Art School, Ken attended the now defunct Black Arts Gallery founded by Shakka Dedi, that empowered him to use art to explore the black British experience and participate in the conversation regarding the role of African diaspora in the UK. Ken talks about the development of Yahw Arts, Sankofa, working on film and theatre sets, occasional house party DJing and the Wandsworth Open House sessions that features Fatima Dupres Griffith’ poetry and Drew Sinclair’s drums.
Check out the late Menelik Shabazz’ excellent film on Ken and his work ‘The Hand of Ken’ at http://www.yahwarts.co.uk/
For this special celebration, the latest generation of Warriors join us for an electrifying reunion jam to raise funds to keep their free Artist Development Programme running.
TW alumni Sheila Maurice-Grey, Rosie Turton, Denys Baptiste and Nathaniel Facey have written new compositions for the current crop of Warriors and will be joining them on stage for a crucial celebration of the strength of the UK jazz scene and it’s bright future.
It’s no hyperbole to say that the UK jazz scene as we know it today would not exist were it not for Tomorrow’s Warriors.
Jazz Café, Friday 15th October
Director of the eagerly awaited stage play Get Up Stand Up!, Clint Dyer, discusses the numerous challenges he had to overcome in The Guardian.
The musical, which was written by Lee Hall, best known for penning the Billy Elliot screenplay, opens at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 1 October.
Drop Da Biscuit is in session with the Musical Prophet, Ras Midas, one of Jamaica’s great foundation roots reggae artists. Midas has released 11 studio albums, has a cult following in the Caribbean, Europe, West Africa and South America, worked alongside numerous legends and has also recorded and released songs in Swahili and French for good measure.
Ras Midas – Kude-A-Bamba
Ras Midas – Can’t Stop Rastaman Now
Ras Midas – Let The People Go
Ras Midas – Rastaman in Exile
Ras Midas – Loving Vibration
Ras Midas – World Block Party
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What was it that made Lee 'Scratch' Perry so special. Acclaimed author Lloyd Bradley reflects on the impact that Lee 'Scratch' Perry had on the psyche of Jamaican music with a thoughtful piece in the Guardian.
By deeply connecting with the people and idyllic landscape of his island, Perry channelled a stream of ideas into mind blowing music.
An exhibition by artist Sophia Dawson
August 4 - September 10, 2021
ONE FOR NEW-YORKERS
Artist and activist Sophia Dawson has created artwork using a collection of letters and ephemera from incarcerated members of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Movement. The “To Be Free” series explores, through portraiture, the stories of the 20+ remaining U.S.-held political prisoners who were jailed for their activism in the black liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The project utilizes art to call attention to their continued imprisonment and to advocate for their freedom.