I catch Khari Lemuel (pictured below) and Yaw (top, right) all over the place (the Library, 75th street, Red Kiva), and recently, I heard them performing at the Brown Sugar Bakery to celebrate owner Stephanie Hart’s birthday. I dug them both separately, but as a duo (calling themselves “The Ones”), they are beyond belief. Both pour their souls into performances, but in their own way. While Yaw is supremely charismatic, Khari is stunningly intense. The collaboration is not their first: Yaw covered Khari Lemuel’s composition “Where Will You Be” a few years back.
About a year ago, The Ones posted “SDYL” (below) on Youtube. It’s a musical S.O.S., and the video contains images of moments in our time when the world seemed to be swirling out of control. Khari told me recently that the recording is, in fact, a rough cut, and they are in the process of getting “SDYL” (along with the makings of a new album mixed down and mastered). Can’t wait. This is just the type of music that carries on the legacy of great music born in Chicago. Jive on.
NOTE: photos shown were taken for darkjive.com during the 2010 “Taking to the Streets” Festival in Marquette Park. The performance ranks with one of my favorites I’ve seen of them, and featured a great backing band, including Junius Paul on Bass Guitar, Corey Wilkes on Trumpet, and Agustin Alvarez on Guitar.
UPDATE: Khari just sent me a link to the video below, behind the scenes one-camera video of Khari and Yaw performing “By and By”: from their upcoming album. I’ve really loved hearing this song’s arrangement evolve over the course of many performances. It’s smouldering, spiritual, rock-infused vibe is the business… I’m curious to see how it winds up sounding in the final cut.
“My life’s my own fault. I know that. But the world don’t help.” — Hester La Negrita
“In the Blood”, the “bold re-imagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, embraces the yearning for love, family, and the price of moral absolutes” according to the UIC Performing Arts website.
The rework centers on Hester La Negrita, an illiterate mother of five. She lives on the streets of a tough city neighborhood with her five children: Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty and Baby. Her eldest son is teaching her to read and write, but she’s progressed only to the letter “A.”
Hester’s children bring her life-affirming comic moments, but she is held back by the adults who dominate her life: her ex-boyfriend, best friend, social worker, doctor and minister. Ultimately, she faces the cost of moral absolutes and the will of the community, represented by an ensemble.
“Blood” is presented this month by UIC’s Department of Performing Arts. Directed by Robert O’Hara and features local soul star Yaw.
Opening April 9, 7:30 Also April 10, 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 April 11, 14, 18 at 2:15
on UIC’s campus: 1040 W. Harrison St. MC-255. Tickets range from $11 (UIC Students) to $16 (general admission).
Chicago’s own young, vivrant, soulful, jazz ensemble Black Slang (featuring Corey Wilkes on trumpet and Yaw on vocals) performed this past weekend at new South Loop Venue The Shrine. The group draws as much influence from Herbie Hancock as Mos Def, and pushes the boundaries of musical genres til barely a shred remain. Black Slang has held a residency at Andy’s for over a year now, and I was excited to see the group on the new, state of the art stage of The Shrine. If you have yet to visit the new nightclub, highlights include: cocktails named after dictators, like the Noriega, Sadat, and Qaddafi; and the Shrine Dancers (an in-house troupe). Black Slang is:
trumpet: Corey Wilkes
bass: Junius Paul
keyz: William Kurk
You can catch Black Slang this Friday and Saturday Night (the 19th & 20th) at:
Peter Hadar is in town, folk. His dusky voice oozes soul and charisma. The edginess of his productions promises freshness in an oft stale musical landscape. Catch the Jersey native at Lava Wednesday Nite with The Twilite Tone (whom I love and have missed in the Chi) and the Primeridian. He’s doing an in-store at The Silver Room on Thursday. You can also catch Peter at Twilite Tone’s “Great Weekend” at Sonotheque this Thursday (featuring Yaw, as well). If that’s not enough, you can see him at an in-store at SoleMates and at the Funky Buddah Lounge on Friday. See you there…
Local artist/instrumentalist Khari Lemuel performing his song “Come With Me” with Yaw (video by Bobby Rocwell)….Super talented brother who I’ve seen perform live multiple times. His voice combines some of the best elements of Chicago Soul’s legacy: rootsiness, spirituality, truth, and beauty.
Below, Khari’s composition “Good Morning Love” summons the power of Curtis Mayfield (and arranger Johnny Pate) in their Impressions days. The bells and snare brush conjure church, smoky jazz club, and brownstone rooftop at dawn simultaneously (quite a feat).
“Long, Long, Winter” (from the album “Keep on Pushing”)
According to Khari Lemuel’s official Bio:
[He] knows he will one day rise into heaven on a cloud of musical composition. For him music is a daily meditation; an alter where he can unfold the purpose of his life. Above all, Khari Lemuel is an artist painting with sound, composition and the mystical force of creation. Since the age of 3, Lemuel has been studying the instrumental aspect of music. First on cello then moving to flute, bass, guitar, violin, keys, trumpet and voice.
click here for more snippets of his album, Morning Music, or to purchase tracks.
According to Yaw, he is “100% juice to do what [he does] – no high fructose corn syrup… But really, [he’s] just a b-boy trapped deep inside a soul singer”.
And he’s got one of the most masterful voices to ever come out of Chicago. Often found gigging across town, he is just as likely to be on stage with a hip-hop act, afro-punk combo, jazz collective, or by his lonesome (a treat in itself).
If you’ve missed him until know, listen to the track above (written by local singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Khari Lemuel): “Where Will You Be”.
With echoes of Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway, “Be” is one of the best local records I’ve heard in the past year… and most rooted in Chicago Musical tradition. This track was compiled by Gilles Peterson for his compilation “Brownswood Bubblers 3”.