Summer is waning, classes are back in session, and it’s time, once again for another exciting season of MusiQology. In addition to my own writing, this year the blog will continue to feature some of the best writing on musical topics (and more) from my students in the History of Jazz and American Music courses. We will also invite guests to write on various topics of interests.
We will continue to update you on the progress of MusiQology II, the band’s second CD project. This project features vocals—a first for us. Philly’s favorite jazz diva Denise King sings a hip neo-soul/gospel/jazz-fusion version of Oliver Nelson’s classic, “Stolen Moments.” She shows why she’s “the people’s choice”! Hailing from Atlantic City, the Puerto Rican lady with the rich and soulful alto, Millie Gonzalez, adds her genius to my arrangement of the spiritual “Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees.” You’ll want to “go to church” when you hear this one! And my own daughter Bridget, a lyric-soprano studying at Spelman College in Atlanta contributes two gorgeous performances on two of my originals, one that we co-wrote with co-producer, musician, and engineer Jerry ThompSon. Titled “Sunshine Sketches” and “Little London’s Lullaby,” they recall some of the great work of Roy Ayers, an artist who mixed jazz and R&B in the 1970s. Together with Bridget’s vocals—a combination of the range of Minnie Riperton and the soft edges of Corrine Bailey Rae—the mixture of styles on these tracks will satisfy.
The CD will also feature some of the bumping original instrumental tracks like the ones fans love on Y the Q, our first recording from 2007. Some of these songs are being cut at Studio E, owned and operated by Bobby Eli, a Philadelphia legend that played and wrote songs with Philadelphia International Records. Together with the expertise of Jerry ThompSon at Jatworld, the engineer of choice for up-and-coming local artists, we are moving closer to getting this music into the ears of our eager listeners.
I shouldn’t fail to mention the other “musiqologists” on the project: Joe Battaglia, Joshua Orlando, Mike Taylor, Chris Odum, Ron Burrell, Rick Tate, Howard Kennedy, Wade Dean, Tony Smith, Randy Sutin, Roy Richardson, Rick Morales, and my son Robert, a beat maker, are representing strong. And for an added touch of elegance, the stunningly gifted soprano June Townes will perform (with her accompanist Greg Payne) an anthem that I co-wrote with poet Dr. Elizabeth Alexander. Premiering at the 100th meeting of the NAACP, “Someone Is Listening” is a new take on the anthem form that sounds like the spirituals meeting Stevie Wonder but with a soul-operatic vocal. Audacious.
We can hardly wait until you hear this new stuff. Welcome back!