Legendary Jazz Drummer Alvin Fielder’s Trio Live at @TheYellowScarf in Jackson

Artists, Bands, Concert Reviews, Concerts, Drum Solos, Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, jazz, music, Night Clubs, Travel, videos

026 The Yellow Scarf027 Andrew Lewis and London Branch028 Alvin Fielder029 Alvin Fielder030 Dr. London Branch031 Alvin Fielder032 Andrew Lewis033 Dr. London Branch & Alvin Fielder034 Andrew Lee & Dr. London Branch035 Dr. London Branch & Alvin Fielder036 Dr. London Branch037 Alvin Fielder038 Alvin Fielder039 Dr. London Branch040 Alvin Fielder041 Alvin Fielder042 Alvin Fielder043 Andrew Lewis044 Dr. London Branch045 Dr. London Branch046 Alvin Fielder047 Rhonda Richmond048 Rhonda Richmond049 Andrew Lewis & Rhonda Richmond050 Rhonda Richmond & Alvin Fielder051 Rhonda Richmond & Alvin Fielder052 Alvin Fielder053 Andrew Lewis054 Rhonda Richmond
Meridian native Alvin Fielder was in New Orleans at Xavier University studying pharmacy when he met New Orleans’ legendary jazz drummer Ed Blackwell, and then moved to Chicago where he joined the nascent Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and played with Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman and Muhal Richard Abrams. Returning to Mississippi in 1968, he was for many years the only African-American pharmacist in the state, but he continued to perform, often with Kidd Jordan’s Improvisational Arts Quintet in New Orleans. Quite appropriately, he named his record label Prescription Records, with an RX on the label. But while Alvin Fielder has remained in demand as a first-rate avant-garde jazz drummer, his gigs are usually in Europe or New York, and it is relatively unusual for him to be performing in Jackson, so when I saw that he was scheduled to play at Cassandra Wilson’s excellent jazz club The Yellow Scarf, I purchased an advance ticket and drove down to Jackson to see him. Fielder performed with a trio on this particular night, with Andrew Lewis on piano and Dr. London Branch on bass, and with a vocalist named Rhonda Richmond (who also handles the clubs live music bookings) on a couple of tunes. Despite Fielder’s reputation as an avant-garde drummer, his style is actually melodic and firmly rooted in the work of Max Roach, whose influence he acknowledges. When he solos on drums, it is usually very easy to follow the form of the composition he is playing. He is truly a living legend, and he doesn’t appear in his hometown nearly often enough.

Memphis’ 4 Soul Band Live at Aji’s Sports Bar

Artists, Bands, Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, Funk, jazz, music, Night Clubs, Restaurants, soul, videos

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4 Soul Band is Memphis’ premiere soul and contemporary jazz group, and on Monday night, July 28th, they held an open rehearsal at Aji’s Sports Bar and Grill on Lamar Avenue in Southeast Memphis so that they could shoot photographs and video footage for publicity purposes. The band played about an hour of tunes, featuring their vocalist Shenea, trombonist Suavo J and drummer Otis Logan. They will be playing at Aji’s again on Friday night, August 1.

Arkansas’ Best Drummers Highlighted at the @RevRoomLR #TheDrummerIsInTheHouse

Bands, Concert Reviews, Concerts, Drum Solos, Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, Funk, Gospel, Gospel Music, jazz, music, musicology, Night Clubs, soul, videos

001 The Drummer Is In The House002 The Drummer Is In The House003 Revolution Roon004 Revolution Room005 Rod Pleasants006 The Drummer Is In The House007 The Drummer Is In The House009 The DJ011 The Drummer Is In The House012 Revolution Room013 The Drummer Is In The House015 Yvette Preyer and Band016 Yvette Preyer017 Yvette Preyer's Band018 Yvette Preyer's Band019 Yvette Preyer020 Yvette Preyer Band022 Yvette Preyer024 The Drummer Is In The House025 The Drummer Is In The House026 The Drummer Is In The House027 Yvette Preyer028 The Drummer Is In The House029 Yvette Preyer and her student030 Yvette Preyer031 Rod Pleasants032 Rod Pleasants034 Rod Pleasants035 Rod Pleasants036 Rod Pleasants' Bass Player037 Rod Pleasants038 Steve Bailey039 Steve Bailey040 Steve Bailey042 Jamaal Lee's Bass Player043 Jamaal Lee's Guitar Player046 Jonathan JJ Burks047 Jonathan JJ Burks048 Jonathan Burks049 Jonathan Burks051 Jonathan JJ Burks052 Jonathan JJ Burks053 Jonathan JJ Burks054 Jonathan JJ Burks055 Jonathan JJ Burks056 Revolution Room057 Jonathan JJ Burks058 Jonathan JJ Burks059 Jonathan JJ Burks060 Jonathan JJ Burks063 Charles Anthony Thompson064 Charles Anthony Thompson065 Charles Anthony Thompson's Bassist066 Charles Anthony Thompson's Guitarist067 Charles Anthony Thompson068 Charles Anthony Thompson069 Revolution Room070 The Roundabout073 The Roundabout074 Aerion Jamaal Lee076 Jamaal Lee & JJ Burks077 JJ Burks and Steve Bailey078 Jamaal Lee & JJ Burks079 JJ Burks & Steve Bailey080 The Roundabout081 JJ Burks082 Steve Bailey083 Jamaal Lee084 Jonathan JJ Burks & Steve Bailey085 Drummer Is In The House086 Jonathan JJ Burks & Steve Bailey087 Jamaal Lee & JJ Burks088 Jonathan JJ Burks089 Jamaal Lee & JJ Burks090 Steve Bailey091 Steve Bailey092 Jonathan JJ Burks093 Jamaal Lee094 Jamaal Lee & Band095 Jonathan JJ Burks & Steve Bailey096 Jamaal Lee & A Singer097 Jonathan JJ Burks & Steve Bailey098 RevRoom Sculpture100 Downtown Little Rock101 Revolution Room102 The Rev Room103 Cache
In the field of Black music worldwide, no other musical instrument is as important as the drums. Not only is percussion the musical foundation for much Black music and dance, but the instrument looms large in the cultural memory of people throughout the African diaspora. So it was only fitting for Arkansas’ best drummers to be honored at an event called The Drummer Is In The House, which was held at the Revolution Room on President Clinton Avenue in the River Market area of Little Rock on Thursday July 10. The event, sponsored by Clifford Drummaboy Aaron, featured performances by current and former Little Rock drummers Yvette Preyer, Rod Pleasants, Steve Bailey, Aerion Jamaal Lee, Jonathan “JJ” Burks and Charles Anthony Thompson. Rather than just a lot of extended solos, most of the drummers played with their individual bands, and even some singers, performing songs from the neo-soul, jazz and gospel traditions. But there were great solos too, including one from Jamaal Lee full of afro-caribbean rhythms and patterns, and one from Charles Anthony Thompson exhibiting extended sticking and tone techniques including pitch bends, and plenty of jazz influence. The final highlight of the evening was an event called the Roundabout, at which drummers moved across the stage from the first drum set, to the second, to the third, while Yvette Preyer kept a basic conga pattern for them on an octapad. As one drummer would exit the stage, another would come on from the left, enabling all the drummers to have an opportunity to shed three at a time, and to play each of the three drum sets. The Drummer Is In The House was truly a major event that highlighted some really great drummers, and a lot of other great horn players, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists and singers. I am told that future events will be held at the Revolution Room to highlight the other instrument families, and I am looking forward to it.

Drummer and DJ at the ICE Bar in Memphis, 7/3/14 @IceBarMemphis

Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, Funk, Hip Hop, music, Night Clubs, rap, videos

001 Jeremy Williams002 My Jam Session003 My Jam Session004 Drums and DJ005 Jeremy Williams006 My Jam Session007 My Jam Session008 My Jam Session009 Jeremy Williams010 Jeremy Williams011 My Jam Session014 My Jam Session015 Jeremy Williams016 Jeremy Williams017 Jeremy Williams018 My Jam Session019 Jeremy Williams020 Jeremy Williams022 Jeremy Williams023 Jeremy Williams024 My Jam Session026 My Jam Session
Last week on Hangtime (which is a great way to keep up with events in your hometown, by the way) I read about an event called My Jam Session at the ICE Bar out on Hacks Cross Road. Subtitled “Drums and Drinks”, it featured a live drummer paired with a DJ, and for someone who loves hearing a funky drummer as much as I do, I had to attend, as I had not heard of anything like this in Memphis before. As it turns out, the drums and DJ trend is very cutting edge, at least in New York and Los Angeles, and the people that organized this event have been doing it in Nashville, and decided to bring it here to Memphis. Not surprisingly, the drummer they brought is from Nashville, a young man named Jeremy Williams who was very impressive indeed on the set. The rationale behind this is to heighten the excitement for the crowd by augmenting the traditional DJ-based club atmosphere as the live drummer adds rolls, fills and breakdowns to the continuous mix. In my opinion, it works fairly well, although the standing-room only crowd in Memphis wasn’t familiar with the concept. Whether the trend will catch on in Memphis remains to be seen (we have plenty of great drummers for it if it does), but Jeremy Williams is very much a drummer to keep an eye on.

Cedric Burnside’s Hill Country Blues at Memphis’ @LevittShell

Bands, Blues, Concert Reviews, Concerts, Dance, Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, music, Parks

001 Levitt Shell002 Cedric Burnside003 Cedric Burnside004 Cedric Burnside006 Cedric Burnside007 Cedric Burnside008 Dancers009 Cedric Burnside010 Crowd011 Cedric Burnside014 Cedric Burnside Project015 Trenton Ayers016 Cedric Burnside017 Cedric Burnside018 Cedric Burnside019 Trenton Ayers020 Trenton Ayers021 Cedric Burnside022 Trenton Ayers023 Cedric Burnside024 Cedric Burnside025 Cedric Burnside Project027 Cedric Burnside028 Trenton Ayers029 Cedric Burnside034 Cedric Burnside Project035 Cedric Burnside Project036 Cedric Burnside Project037 Cedric Burnside038 Trenton Ayers039 Cedric Burnside040 Cedric Burnside042 Cedric Burnside Projct043 Cedric Burnside Project044 Trenton Ayers045 Cedric Burnside046 Cedric Burnside047 Trenton Ayers048 Cedric Burnside049 Cedric Burnside050 Cedric Burnside Project051 Cedric Burnside Project052 Cedric Burnside053 Cedric Burnside054 Trenton Ayers055 Cedric Burnside056 Cedric Burnside057 Cedric Burnside058 Trenton Ayers060 Cedric Burnside061 Trenton Ayers062 Cedric Burnside063 Cedric Burnside064 Trenton Ayers065 Cedric Burnside066 Trenton Ayers067 Cedric Burnside068 Trenton Ayers070 Cedric Burnside Project071 Cedric Burnside072 Cedric Burnside073 Cedric Burnside Project074 Cedric Burnside Project075 Cedric Burnside Project077 Cedric Burnside078 Trenton Ayers079 Trenton Ayers080 Cedric Burnside081 Cedric Burnside
R. L. Burnside was one of the most famous musicians in the blues tradition of the North Mississippi Hill Country, and many of his children and grandchildren have carried on that great tradition, including Cedric Burnside, a grandson of the late R.L. who is accomplished on both the guitar and the drums. After coming to prominence as part of a duo with another Mississippi bluesman, Lightning Malcolm, he more recently has formed a band called the Cedric Burnside Project, which is really just him on drums and Trenton Ayers on guitar (I suspect that Trenton Ayers is kin to the older Marshall County bluesman Little Joe Ayers). On Saturday June 21, Cedric brought his music to the Levitt Shell in Memphis’ Overton Park, and an overflow crowd despite hit and run showers early in the evening. Beginning on acoustic guitar, Burnside soon switched to drums, and performed most of the Hill Country standards, including “Coal Black Mattie”, “Don’t Let My Baby Ride”, and even the late Junior Kimbrough’s “Meet Me In The City.” It was a great evening of great Mississippi blues.

A Summer Band Battle at Memphis’ Oakhaven Park

Bands, Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, music, musicology, videos

080 Memphis Mass Band082 Memphis Mass Band083 Memphis HBCU Alumni Weekend084 Memphis Mass Band085 HBCU Alumni Weekend086 Memphis Mass Band087 Memphis Mass Band088 Memphis Mass Band090 Memphis Mass Band091 Magic City All-Stars092 Magic City All-Stars093 Memphis Mass Band094 Memphis Mass Band Drumline095 Memphis Mass Band096 Memphis Mass Band Percussion097 Memphis Mass band099 Memphis Mass Band Drumline100 Memphis Mass Band Drumline101 Memphis Mass Band Quints102 Memphis Mass Band103 Magic City All-Stars104 Magic City All-Stars105 Memphis Mass Band106 Magic City All-Stars107 HBCU Alumni Weekend109 Magic City All-Stars110 Magic City All-Stars111 Magic City All-Stars112 Memphis Mass Band113 HBCU Alumni Weekend114 Memphis Mass Band116 Memphis Mass Band Drumline117 Memphis Mass Band118 Memphis Mass Band119 Memphis Mass Band Snares126 Magic City All-Stars127 Memphis Mass Band Percussion128 Memphis Mass Band Drumline129 Memphis Mass Band Tenors132 Magic City All-Stars133 Magic City All-Stars134 Memphis Mass Band Snares135 Memphis Mass Band Tenors136 Magic City All-Stars141 Memphis Mass Band Percussion142 Memphis Mass Band
There is a Black marching band tradition which is distinct from its white equivalent, despite points of similarity, and, not surprisingly, that tradition is deeply loved in Memphis. In fact, the city has had some legendary band directors, including Jimmie Lunceford, the internationally-known big band star who was Manassas High School’s first band director, or Emerson Able, also at Manassas, or W. T. McDaniel at Booker T. Washington or Tuff Green at Melrose High School. Memphis musicians routinely enrich the Black college marching bands at Pine Bluff or Jackson State or Tennessee State. But the band culture doesn’t end during the summer, either, as there are alumni bands like the Memphis Mass Band, comprised of former HBCU band members, as well as current musicians home from college for the break, and perhaps a few high school students as well, and these summer aggregations battle each other during the summer months. This past weekend, the Memphis Mass Band battled its Birmingham equivalent, the Magic City All-Stars Band at Oakhaven Stadium during what was billed as the HBCU Alumni Weekend. About a hundred or more people turned out to see these two all-star bands battle, and I was impressed with the quality of both bands. The Memphis Mass Band was the larger of the two, but both groups had great arrangements, and a tightness and togetherness that I don’t always hear in established college bands. And the arrangements were largely unfamiliar to me and fresh. The Memphis band’s unexpected reading of Johnnie Taylor’s “Running Out of Lies” was definitely the high point in my opinion. I might add that despite a lot of trash talk between the bands, there was not one untoward incident. Just good fun and great music.

Cameron Bethany, Mike Mosby and the Hard Hitters Kick Off Fridays Unplugged at K-2 Ultra Lounge @cameronbethany_ @MosbyMike @901k2lounge

Bands, Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, Funk, jazz, music, Night Clubs, soul, videos

001 Hard Hitters002 Cameron Bethany003 Hard Hitters004 Hard Hitters005 Mike Mosby006 MonoNeon007 Cameron Bethany008 Cameron Bethany009 Cameron Bethany and the Hard Hitters010 K-2 Ultra Lounge011 K-2 Ultra Lounge
Cameron Bethany is one of Memphis’ best soul singers, and the Hard Hitters, led by drummer Mike Mosby, is one of Memphis’ best soul bands, so they were a natural choice to kick off the weekly Unplugged Fridays at K-2 Ultra Lounge on Union Avenue in downtown Memphis. Each Friday, beginning at 9 PM, the band plays two sets of excellent contemporary jazz and neo-soul.

Memphis’ Baby Blue Drumline at Clarksdale’s #jukejointfest

Drummers, Drums, entertainment, events, music

The young drumline known as the Baby Blue is one of the few independent drumlines left in Memphis, a city that was once known for having a lot of drumlines in the various inner city neighborhoods. Once needed to provide the funky grooves and excitement for majorettes, the latter have taken to using compact discs and DJ’s, and the need for drummers has diminished. Still, it’s not uncommon to see the Baby Blues out at various events, and they usually appear late in the day on the Saturday of Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Fest. In the afternoon, their performance draws the curious, but by the evening, they usually draw a crowd of dancers that confront and battle each other in a style that seems akin to ritual, moving in perfect time to the drum cadences. I have tended to associate the phenomenon of African-American drumlines in the South (and elsewhere) as a latent echo of African and Caribbean music and dance practices, but witnessing it in the Clarksdale context makes me wonder if the tradition was filtered through the Black fife-and-drum experience in North Mississippi, where, after all, so many Black Memphians came from. If so, it appears that the endangered tradition of majorette and drill team drumming is even more worthy of study and preservation.