Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fullerton Museum Exhibit

This multimedia display at the Fullerton Museum included musical samples from my CDs, four of my handmade drums, an audio interview and the photo of me that appeared in Jake Jacobson's Book: "Hearts & Hands". The museum provided me with a very rewarding opportunity; they sold Rain People CDs in the gift shop and we performed a sold-out concert as well. I never knew that my love of making calabash (gourd) drums would lead to my inclusion in two museum exhibitions and a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition.

Focus on musicmakers

© St. Petersburg Times

A noted photographer traveled the
country taking pictures of people who make the instruments they play.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Florida International Museum creates a unique dynamic by capturing images of music. "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America" features 86 large, framed photographs of Americans who dedicate themselves to the sounds they make. From the Louisiana bayou to Rhode Island, music men and women are shown creating, playing and enjoying music.

The works are part of a traveling show produced by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Noted photographer Jake Jacobson, himself a jazz musician who specialized in the soprano saxophone and the bass clarinet, used the Iris print process to produce high-quality, finely detailed prints.

Jacobson traversed America looking for his subjects, starting at the mouth of the Mississippi River. There he found Adner Ortego, an accomplished fiddlemaker and player. In one photograph, Ortego, wearing a straw hat, plays one of the fiddles he made on the porch of the house where he was born. Now abandoned, the crumbling house stands as a sharp contrast to the polished amber instrument Ortega plays with obvious delight.

Rasheed Ali, of Altadena, Calif., wearing dreadlocks and shell jewelry, plays a skin drum. He specializes in making African and Caribbean drums, a skill passed down to him through many generations. In the quote below the picture, Ali says he hopes to entice young people to learn about the drums, so the instrument can link together the past, present and future.

-reprint from St.Petersburg Times

The Call of Bahia

"A Chamada da Bahía"
Eu ouvi a chamada do berimbau
uma onda quente subindo em meu coração
uma lembrança de uma vida tropical
quem pode ser insensível
É Bahía.Quando você me chama eu voltarei

World Music Caricatures & Generalizations

In today's world, people are trying to micro-manage everything. Classifications of musical genres are not exempt from this phenomena.
In my quest to understand where my music fits in, I have encountered many laughable obstacles.
Some internet radio & download sites have multiple genre subdivisions that attempt to pinpoint a musical sound.
Ironically, at the same time when we musical artists are being scrutinized for our exotic authenticity, DJ stylist are given carte blanche to mix and match any of the world's styles and rhythms.
What does that really mean to me and others like me?
If we are proud to be African or Caribbean but live in New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris are we any less authentic? Do we have to dress in a costume and paint our faces to authenticate our traditions?
I played hundreds of private party gigs in the required "white pants & island shirts" costume so that some former tourist could relive an idyllic island moment. There can't be a double standard. If DJs can use our exotic rhythms to spice up their Anglo-Euro grooves, then no one should call us world fusion because we incorporate a little hip-hop or electronics into traditional roots music!

Ultimately, I am proud to be an Afro-Caribbean person. I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese, I will continue to express myself in those languages. Proud to have been taught the African traditions that saturate my music.I have composed music in the tropical rainforest and on the streets of New York City. I am not alone, there are many artist like me.

"No matter where you come from, as long as your a Black man, your an African" (Peter Tosh)