Tag Archives: chicago free jazz

100 Saxophones for Sun Ra

100 Saxophones for Sun Ra

Chicago Free Jazz composer and saxophonist David Boykin invites you to participate in 100 Saxophones for Sun Ra. David is currently a Resident Artist at the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life/Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture.

David has put out an open call for 100 saxophonists to participate in a musical tribute to Sun Ra in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth. 100 saxophonists will convene and perform “Happy Birthday” at 12 noon in Washington Park (on Chicago’s South Side) on Thursday May 22, 2014, his 100th birthday.

According to the open call:

“This is a historic opportunity to share our collective energy in honor of this musician whose musical, political and spiritual philosophy has been impactful and transformative to so many. His legacy continues because of the ways in which his musical innovation has been central to the free jazz movement in Chicago and beyond.

[David] chose this space and place because of its significance to [Sun Ra]. Along with other musicians, artists and activists he gathered in the park to play and to teach. In celebration of this work we invite you to participate in this gathering of saxophonists of all ages.”
RSVPs should be sent by email to info@sonichealingministries.com

Free bus transportation is available for student groups that wish to participate. Please contact Dominique L. Boyd for bus arrangements at dominiquelboyd@uchicago.edu

Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his “cosmic philosophy,” musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a 1979 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

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David Boykin Trio: Live at Dorchester Projects Album Release/Listening Party.

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Saturday February 16th at 8pm, join local Chicago Jazz combo The David Boykin Trio (Boykin on sax, Alex Wing on bass, and James Woodley on drums) at the new Washington Park Arts Incubator. They will be playing work from the new album “Live at the Dorchester Projects”.  I (also known as DJ Ayana Contreras) will also be spinning.

Dusty Groove says about the new record:

One of the greatest albums so far from mighty Chicago reedman David Boykin – and easily a set that lives up to the rich legacy of avant jazz in the Windy City! There’s a depth to the record that comes through right from the very first note – a sense of history and feeling that shows just how much Boykin’s developed as a player over the past decade or so – a tenorist with a done that’s right up there with Archie Shepp or David Murray at their creative best – really stretching out on some wonderful solos that never fail to dim in imagination or new ideas.

The event is a part of the “Off the Record Series”, through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Elastic Arts. The year-long series highlights new works by local musicians released on vinyl.

Below, my interview with David about the new record, and about the scene in Chicago today. This originally aired on my radio program, Reclaimed Soul. Reclaimed Soul airs on 89.5fm in Chicago, and streams on vocalo.org everywhere Thursday Nights at 8pm CST. Jive on!

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the particulars:

David Boykin Trio: Live at Dorchester Projects Listening/Album Release Party

Friday February 16th, 8pm – 11pm

Washington Park Arts Incubator

301 East Garfield Blvd., Chicago

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Fontella Bass: sassy soulful siren in the first degree.

Fontella Bass is an amazing lady. Not only is the trajectory of her career fascinating, but she’s arguably the archetype for what Aretha Franklin was to become: a sassy, soulful siren in the first degree.

Ms. Bass comes from the St. Louis, and is a part of a group of St. Louis native vocalists that made their way in Chicago (this includes Chuck Bernard, Little Milton, and Bobby McClure). Her voice can be described as a salt-sweet contralto that is absolutely gorgeous, in my opinion.

She is best known for the HUGE hit “Rescue Me”, which is a Chicago-written, recorded,and produced slice of 60s Soul. Her greatest hit (which she also co-wrote), “Rescue Me” has been featured in movies, commercials, and TV shows galore; but it is also too often mistakenly attributed to Aretha Franklin. Ironically, at the time of its release, Aretha Franklin was singing jazzy pop standards, a’la young Dinah Washington. 

In fact, “Rescue Me” predates Aretha Franklin’s soulful breakthrough release “Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by a couple of years.

“Rescue Me” was released on Chess Records’ Checker imprint, after which Fontella continued to release soulful gems for the label (my favorites being “I Can’t Rest” and “Lucky in Love”) until 1968 or so.

By 1970, in a plot twist worthy of an arthouse movie, Fontella Bass was married to musician Lester Bowie and had joined him as an expatriate in France in The Art Ensemble of Chicago. There, she served as the vocalist in the group: a seminal, Chicago-based free-jazz combo… I suspect that’s her in the white face paint in the far right corner of the album pictured below.

In 1990, she heard her own voice singing “Rescue Me” on an American Express commercial and was inspired to look into her rights, and wound up suing American Express and its ad agency. She won over $50,000 plus damages in a settlement. Awesome.

Enjoy Fontella Bass singing “Rescue Me” (while looking quite Chicago Mod in a houndstooth cap and jacket) on Shindig! in 1965.

…and, below, listen for some of her vocals on a righteous jazz workout from The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Jive on!