Saturday, September 27, 2014

don't call no ambulance!...Selwyn Birchwood at Legends!

don't call no ambulance!….
Selwyn Birchwood was jamming so hard that he took off his shoes at Legends last night!….
He took off his white shoes... and got right to, with his four piece power band of Baritone sax, bass, drums and guitar.
You could tell he was happy to be in Chicago… 
up in Legends making the good times roll!
The last time The Selwyn Birchwood band was in Chicago, they were blazing  at the Chicago Blues Festival 2014. 

Selwyn Birchwood is a rising young Bluesman from Florida. He is the winner of the 2013  International Blues Challenge and recently signed to the Chicago Blues label, Alligator Records in 2014. 
He is young man with an old man's voice! 
He has a strong command of the traditional blues …but with a change of guitar…he can change his sound in a heartbeat.from the flavor of 'Blues from back porch' or 'Down in the Bayou' to a 'Heavy Metal Funk Blues'that ROCKS out! whew! 
Birchwood is highly skilled on guitar and lap steel instruments and his voice sounds like an 'old soul'.
He had several guitars on stage and he played each one with a different approach.  ♫♪♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪♪♫
One moment  he was strumming and singing some Blues from a back porch right 'thar …or some Bayou lament about some woman.. doing him wrong... and then... next thang you know… he  dun picked up his  'electrified' slide guitar and he was going in hard on a Heavy Metal Funk with a  hint of Hip Hop.. solo on an original song about the violence and the times…called Tell Me Why.

6 seconds of  Birchwood funk... 
before I found out you can't audiotape at the club! Oops!
And it wasn't just him…the doggone band was just killer… It is a true power band with just four pieces…but WHAT they did with the sound of those four pieces was awesome.…'Minded me of Jimi's Band of Gypsies for a minute.. They  are Seasoned players who know how the Blues should be... 

First, the Baritone Sax man, Regi Oliver was playing chords and harmonies on his sax. 
I heard CHORDS coming out of his horn! 
And it was amazing!… After the performance, he spoke about some of his  musical magic …that made that impossible sound possible. 

The roots of Oliver's harmonic layers of a big Baritone sax sound are enhanced by a few magical foot pedals like a harmonizer and a looper…. plus a few mo' gizmos that have him sounding  a like Baritone Sax2 (squared)!

The bass player, Donald Huff Wright has a sound like  rumbling Blues Thunder…too serious in a good way!
and Curtis Nutall (is from CHI-Town! y'all,  CHICAGO!) was so disciplined with his dynamics, colors and nuances…that you could  hear 'erethang!
Back in the day, Curtis and I played in a Jazz group…many nights at the Taste Zodiac Room in Chicago… He has been touring for many years now and it was great to see him  in town  with this great band! 
You could hear the vocals,the sax, the bass,the drums and the guitar perfectly weaving together a serious mixture of 'ole time story telling Blueswith new colors of urban energy… and sprinkles of Hip hop and Metal... played by some powerful players. 
Selwyn Birchwood was showcasing songs  from his CD (which was available for sale), titled, 
don't call no ambulance…. On Alligator Records.
Bruce Iglauer, founder and President of Alligator Records was in the audience was enjoying the show.
Some of the songs from the performance and from the album just stuck in my head…like:
'Queen of Hearts' had us rocking!…'The River Turned Red', 'Addicted,' and a song called "Anyway you look at it,they still call it the Blues"..
The audience was loving it at the Standing Room Only  performance at Legends. Birchwood  came out in the audience..invited us to dance and….folks jumped up and started dancing'!! 
The music was so funky.. my musical sister, Tiona started dancing! 

They were rocking so hard, I pulled out my melodica and played along for a song!

Stay tuned 'cause Selwyn Birchwood is on the rise!.
He is  currently on tour.For tour dates and videos on this amazing young Bluesman go to:
He  might not need no ambulance… but the way they were playing… I thought we were gon' have to call 911…cause the music was on fire!
AA 9262014 
Written by Aki Antonia c2014
All photos by Aki Antoniac 2014
All Rights Reserved
After the SHOW: 

Back in the day,  Drummer, Curtis Nutall and I played in a Jazz group…many nights at the Taste Zodiac Room in Chicago… He has been touring for many years now and it was great to see him in town with this great band!
He calls me his one of his music 'teachers' from the time that we played with a group…and reminded me of  few lessons that we all learned in that band about the power of great musicianship..
Drummer,Curtis Nutall 
and a longtime musician buddy, Mr. Wooten from the 'Chi.
 Alligator Record's Bruce Iglauer  talks with  some international Blues fans.
A shout out  and Thanks! to Terri and Matt, who generously shared their seats at the SRO  performance at Legend's.
 Small world: While talking to drummer, Curtis Nutall, I got a phone call from my ♥.. who is touring in Russia..
and they know each other..from  playing music in Chicago..
so they got a chance to chat and catch up!
Flaustist,Tiona says "What a amazing performance!".
Aki Antonia at Legends…. 25 Years of Great Blues Music!
"Just like being at the original CHECKERBOARD!" 
Thanks Buddy Guy!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

JUMP, JIVE, & WAIL! AN EVENING AT THE FORUM! Tonight! September 24, 2014

SEP 24 | 6-8PM | 43RD & CALUMET


Meet up for Historic 43rd Tour 
Tour departs at 6:15pm and lasts about an hour.

Classic Children's Tales 
w/ Jason Driver of Chicago Public Library

Swing/Lindy Dance Lessons 
Dancing continues through the evening!

More Children's Tales w/ Jason Driver

Preview of "Juke Joint" by Crib Productions

All Through the Night
Pick Up Games of Dominoes & Dice, and Music by DJ Ayana Contreras!

An Evening at the Forum is brought to you by the Quad Communities Development Corporation & Urban Juncture.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bruce Henry Live! at the Jazz Showcase...Review

I caught the extraordinary vocalist, Bruce Henry LIVE!.. in debut at 
The Jazz Showcase in Chicago on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. 
It was an exceptional presentation of a JaZZ roux spiced  with  
global flavors. 

If you haven't heard Bruce Henry…he is an absolute joy to listen to…with a deep rich voice..coupled with a three octave range. His ability to sing just flows!  
His rich voice reminds me of a musical cup of dark, rich cappuccino
Just imagine if the actor, James Earl Jones decided to sing JaZZ.♪♫•*¨*•♪♫•*¨*•wooohoooh.

In his creativity, Henry tends to take standards and create unique arrangements around the lyrics and the melody. Last night, he floored us with his vocalese' in the tradition of Leon Thomas, King Pleasure, Eddie Jefferson and Al Jarreau and for many Chicago jazz fans, we haven't heard this kind of sound since the late stellar  Jazz  vocalist, Luba Rashiek  was scatting around town. Hmmmmm….

 Bruce Henry started his 10 o'clock set with a lively and funky rendition of  
"Nature Boy", "On The Street Where You Live" and a beautiful upbeat treatment of  "Softy As In A Morning Sunrise"…

Henry was singing… singing the classical Jazz standards and transporting us  
back to a quieter, gentle time in Jazz… to  a moment  when one could feel like the spirits of Nat King Cole or Billy Eckstein had entered the room….

At some  point in his  creativity.. Bruce entered into a beautiful portal …an ethereal realm….as he  levitated the milieu by singing a stunning spiritual treatment on one of Duke Ellington's sacred works on GOD… 

Bruce Henry continued his spiritual ascension when he began singing 
John Coltrane's "Equinox"…. 
singing lyrics as powerful as the melody…
                                                                     with a poignancy that pierced the soul
                                                                                     as only Coltrane can….

    "The world spins around us 
  We search for a balance
  The secrets lie in darkness and light…..
Our lives are like treasures..
Unveiled as perfection
A gift to us from Spirits on high….Spirits on high…

Then.. the yodeling of his voice and modal chords and the arpeggiated lines on the piano began to transport us back to a time and space… 
when incense was wafting smells of Jasmine and Patchuoli… 
and music flowing like this…. 
enveloped us into trance of light and sound…..

Back 2 a time when the  musical…mystical..sounds of pianist, 
McCoy Tyner's modal excursons…defined the sound of free Jazz….
a time  when Coltrane's,  A Love Supreme was played over and over
at a loft party... where the food was vegan…and Sangria was served... 
A time when &  the sound of Pharaoh Sanders sax 
mixed with the voice of Leon Thomas yodeling…
The Creator Has A Master Plan ... was THE sound of summer…

Meanwhile... back 2 the present….
The lineup of the  Henry's ensemble at the Jazz Showcase included some Chicago's own , William Kurk on piano and keyboard,  the fiery Charles Heath on drums, Chuck Webb on bass and Ernest Khabeer Dawkins on saxophone.

The mellow cool of  Bassist, Chuck Webb and  the heat of Avante-garde 
Saxophonist, Ernest Khabeer Dawkins brought a contrast  of Chicago Jazz flavors to the ensemble.

Bruce Henry made Chick Corea's Spain ala' the Al Jarreau version…  simply dance with energy!
I had to sing along!

" You gaze at me
I see moments of history
Your eyes meet mine
and they dance to the melody
And we live again
As if dreaming
The sound of our hearts beat like castanets
And forever we'll know their meaning..". 
Lyrics from Spain…

Bruce Henry
Henry originally hails from Chicago but has spent many years in the Minneapolis area and tours with his ensemble. 

Bruce's music has taken him to five continents and he has recorded for Disney, HBO and numerous national ad campaigns. In addition he has performed with and opened for the likes of Doc Severinson, Roberta Flack, Chris Botti, Ramsey Lewis, Stephane Grapelli, Jimmy Jam and The Sounds of Blackness.

I had the honor to play with Bruce Henry  musically.. many, many moons ago in Minneapolis and he was just as polished and impeccable as he now.  What a joy it was to hear this rich voice grace the classic, intimate  stage of the Jazz Showcase. We can only hope that this is the beginning of many more performances for Bruce Henry  at this  venue.

All photos and by Aki Antonia c2014
All rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Space Is the Place! Sun Ra's Arkestra at the Chicago JaZZ..Festival…Light year: Twenty Fourteen

We Traveled the Spaceways…
from Planet to Planet  
2 Blast from the past ..Past Saturn N2 the Future..
     with SUN RA's Arkestra!

So on my last day of my musical  FUTURE FUNK….  before summer's end…I traveled the Spaceways to celebrate Sun Ra's 100th year…and the music that he left us on this Third Planet..
After the death of the  luminous and cosmic Sun Ra at age 79… in 1993, …the Arkestra has been led by Alto saxophonist, Marshall Allen, who at age 90...has been in the band for over half a century..for 56 years.  
We went 2 listen 2 Ra's Arkestra dressed in Cosmic colorful their interplanetary  music!
The setting: 
The Chicago Jazz Festival 
in the Spaceship of the 
Jay Pritzer Pavilion in Millennium ParK!
A playful Big Band romp of Interplanetary funkiness! 
The SOUND:  
A Blast from the Past…
ala  Bandleader,Fletcher Henderson 
and Sun Ra's arrangements from that time
Fast Forward... 2 the 21st Century
Black 2 the AfroFuturistic..
 Horns,vocals and implodes n2 a cacophony of rhythms and musical lines…

Mix that with the sound and spice of  some exotic instruments  
…possibly an urdu, thermion and percussion …  
the sound morphs 
N2 Ra's Arkestral Remix!
Sun Ra and his band from  Outer Space… 
have entertained you here!
Sun Ra and his band from  Outer Space… 
have entertained you here!
Space Is the Place! Space Is the Place! 
Space Is the Place! YEA! Space Is the Place!
Space Is the Place! Space Is the Place!
Space Is the Place! YEA! Space Is the Place
The pianist hailed ChicagO as the Home of Blues… and said "there's NO WAY that the Arkestra could come to ChicaGO and NOT play some Blues!"♫♪♬♫♫♪♬♫♫♪♫♪♬♫♫♪♬♫ 

Then he proceeded to break out into a funky..funky Blues that was very traditional with some swing and a lil bit of some stride piano… 
and then he rolled out  some down and dirty Blues figures that got right into the soul.  
This Cosmic Blues also had  some Neon colors and voicings….woven into the groove.

Space Is the Place! Space Is the Place! 
Space Is the Place!  Yea!
Space Is the Place!
There's No Limit! Take your First Step! 
Way Outer Space!
Walk on Jupiter! Walk on Mars!
 Tyler Mitchell is a  well known touring Bassist  who is originally from Chicago  and now lives on the east coast….. was HOME!!
 ... and zooming on his upright bass! 
Tyler has been traveling and performing with Sun Ra's Arkestra on tour for several years now. Tyler is  also the son of Mural artist and painter, the late, Mitchell Katon.

 Chicago bassist, Rollo was in a zone on stage 
Holding down the boom, boom,pow!…. in the Arkestra! 
 Pianist-Composer Aki Antonia 
I could even feel RA's  energies and flow in my own works…as a musician…because  within a solo… I  have been known 2 leave Earth for a minute and go "OUTSIDE" the straight harmonies while choosing 2 astral travel 2 another galaxy….4 a few bars….♬♫♪♬♬♫♪♬!!!!!!!

"The fun part is that when Tyler Mitchell lived in Chicago I've the experience and fun of playing  musical gigs with him and Rollo many moons ago."

Pianist-Composer Aki Antonia said "I fell in LOVE with energy and the theatrical and spiritually cosmic Sun Ra and his Arkestra from the first I saw him perform in Chicago.!  The saxophonists were on stage rolling around while playing at the Chicago jazz fest one year… and the vocalist had lights  on their bodies……..
 Longtime… musical….colleagues,
Saxophonist, Mwata Bowden (and father of poet Khari B),
and couple, Pianist-Composer, Aki Antonia and Pianist,Theodis Rodgers 
were listening2 the Arkestra and enjoying the music .
As the Arkestra played the sounds resonated with me… 
and thru me….. as a Chicago musician who grew up hearing all the music of my avant garde side
the music I played in Niambi's Big band at Transition East Club back in the day….
For more see my blog post from 2010 on 
"The Awakening of a Female Musical Pharaoh"
In the 100th year of Sun Ra.. and his music….
I could hear the continuum of Sun Ra's musical influence
on ChicaGo's musical community.. 
Sun Ra

in the music of Kelan Phil Corahn...
who had played in Ra's band… but went on to develope his own  systematic studies of music and metaphysical practices
Kelean went on to form AACM, the Artistic Heritage  Ensemble and The Affro Arts Theatre.  In this theater, Cohran  was able to incubate the genesis and the development of the Pharaohs, EWF, Chaka Khan, Darlene Blackburn' Dance troupe and more….

and in the  music of The Pharaohs….


Ra's colors and spiritual energy is all up in EWF's FUNK! 


 I can hear Ra's energy in The Phenix Horns…
  I could even hear it in the  flow of some freeness of AACM's Free JaZZ  energies flowing through... with the  Art Ensemble anD more....

ASe!. ...AACM's energies flowing through the wind as free as musical birds… flying through Space…..

The VIBE: turned out 2 B funky fun at Millennium Park!

 We were all rocking!
★☆★☆★☆★☆~~SPACE IS THE PLACE!~~★☆★☆★☆★☆
Sun Ra's Arkestra at the Chicago Jazz Festival 
 Light Year Twenty Fourteen

All photos  and video by Aki Antonia c 2014
All Rights Reserved