Posts Tagged ‘Jazz’


As we know by Sunday Afternoon, we lost the legendary Alwyn Lopez Jarreau. Or to many, Al Jarreau. So far this week, we have heard tributes from News One, to those playing the music that gravitated us to hear.

Many of us are griveing and shocked that he already announced his retirement after 50 years in music. But also passed on way after that. At age 76 years old, he made himself well known.

Yes, he had to go west to get well known after he got his master’s degree in Iowa. And the saying goes, the rest is history. But there is ONE caveat that is part of this. One word: Milwaukee. The same Milwaukee that many don’t want to come back all because of whatever. More on that later.

Al got his start in my hometown of Milwaukee in church. He was a graduate of Lincoln High School (now called Lincoln Center of the Arts) from the class of 1958. Lincoln High School was a rival school to North Division High School which was way before Rufus King and Riverside University High School’s rivarly were thought about.His parents were in ministry and a pianist in the church where he got his start. From his high school days to his career in the music game as I said before, Al was getting noticed.

He had his share of hits from “We’re In this Love Together”, “Mornin”, “What you do to me”, “Boogie Down”, a theme song from the 80’s TV show, “Moonlighting”,  to  “In My Music.” Oh, he did a Christmas Album too. Plus he did a song in 1976 about his hometown, “Milwaukee” from his album “Glow” mentioning his move out west to California with the Old Milwaukee Road in between.

Speaking of the songs, and yes many of you went to his concerts over the years. And most definitely that Al did Milwaukee gigs at Potowanomi Bingo for his homecoming concerts. Even singing the National Anthem at a UW- Milwaukee Panthers Game.

Yes Americans, he followed his dream as summarized on the Because of them we can Facebook Page. BUT……He did came back to Milwaukee for not only other music concerts, he came back to visit the students in the schools to give them some knowledge and advice about their gift of music. Most recently, he was at The Milwaukee High School of the Arts, (for you MPS Alumni old heads, West Division High School) providing that notion. He also expressed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that the kids today in Milwaukee aren’t getting the same music opportunities as him back in his MPS days. Yes, Al Jarreau was a MPS Alumni member. Plus he hoped that the kids would get music in the schools to maintain just as science, technology, engineering, and yes math. Music is just as important in the schools like Gym Classes or sport teams. Period. I am a living witness to this as a music dude myself blowing Saxophones since 1989. 7th Grade. So yes, Music/Arts in Public Schools does matter.

Now I want to say this: For you fans, he was a great musician. For us in Milwaukee, he was our native son. Hope you all respect that. 

Now for us in Milwaukee: if we can get the stuff lit in orange,  or purple for Prince, we need to light up our landmarks in Al’s favorite color in symbolic of him. I’m dead serious. If we say we love him or admire him, light up Miller Park, his schools, City Hall, the Art Museum, Summerfest, or any other Landmark in honor of him. Light up all the Milwaukee Landmarks. Period.

For Summerfest: we know the 50th Anniversary is coming in June. Expecting all fest folks to come out. I would like to see a all star Milwaukee tribute in honor of Al Jarreau! I’m calling the locals who follow Al’s music, to the famous Milwaukee folks like Eric Benet, Speech from Arrested Development, to Tank even a Core DJ  that is really known famous and is Milwaukee Born, get yourselves to Summerfest this Summer and get this tribute thing started. If I can think of a good Summerfest 50th Anniversary Celebration idea, this could be it. So I’m challenging the Community, the Landmarks, the musicians, the famous fans like all over, and even us at heart, get that set up! If any relatives or family members are reading this, ponder this for a moment after your bereavement.

Not only that, expand that energy back to the students. They are looking at this and one day in the next era, they might pick up the advice that Al Jarreau said and keep playing. Speaking of that: we all know that Al Jarreau’s Homegoing is going to be private. And since the donation factor of his cause is still open, I urge all supporters to go to this website: For you folks outside of Milwaukee, it’s the United Performing Arts Fund. It’s been around since 1967 in the recognitions of Milwaukee’s Arts of Music, Dance, Theater, and many of the fine arts that had produced locally. Matter of fact, read about the mini summary of the organization here:

Let’s keep the name alive for him. Al Jarreau has given us 50 years of what he knew and let’s give him some love back in his memory!





I think it’s safe to say that Christmas is coming up. But you’re probably asking, what does Stephen listen to around the holidays? Take a listen with the tunes and judge for yourself.

Feel free to listen and enjoy. Merry Christmas to all!

It’s the sixth month of 2011, and this is a time when to break out the tunes of my people. Black Music. For some who are wondering why I am amped about June, is particularly the effect on African Americans. One, as we know about Juneteenth Day on June 19 when slavery was declared dead, and also that the Month of June is dedicated to black music. And for the record, it is legal. Since 1979, after President Jimmy Carter made it official it is become well known that most folks should take the time to appreciate the value of music that blacks created over the years and centuries. From the African drum to the now (sometimes bothersome) autotune. From the Spirituals of the slavery times to Gospel of now. From the rag time rhythms of jazz, to Funk, Soul, Folk, Zydeco, Rock and Roll, Country, R&B, and now Hip Hop it is all a given.

It’s time to appreciate that yes it’s just music. I know. But what about the value? The value of all of this is the fact that Black Music is still around. And in my opinion, one of the most sampled on the planet. I kind of get this alot. What do you mean “the most sampled or copied?” Look at the history.

History will tell you that all music (even Ska music) originated with black culture. Take Africa for example. All of the dancing and the rhythm beats. Came from Africa. Let me go to Rock Music. When rock music is mentioned you’re probably thinking of all the rock bands like Guns N’ Roses and Coldplay. BUT: there are artists like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Lenny Kravitz, and Slash that made this to never forget. For Hip-Hop, we know this very well. Without the likes of Run-DMC, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, and the Sugarhill Gang, Nicki Minaj wouldn’t be working, Period. (I’m still trying to figure her out) R&B, same thing. Most folks who go against it always comes back with respect. Sort of like James Brown. When his sound came out way back when, there were folks that came influenced. And even after his death, there are those today who still influence the sound he produced. For Pop Music – let me school all the Justin Bieber Fans out there. And you Lady Gaga folks or any other now pop version fan there. Without the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, and other Pop Icons from the Black Music Commuinty, they wouldn’t have jobs! It’s not to disrespect them of their thing, but it’s a way to pay homage that most of us really need to understand.

So in regarding Black Music Month, I celebrate this music month because of not only the artists, but it is the value. Now I can hear the internet buzzing on the blogs and other stuff that yeah, I get, but why. Once again, look at the history. And one other thing: Black Music Month is like Black History Month in a way of learning about the idealistic value of it’s beginnings, and not to it’s grand finale. The only way that Black Music Month would be faded out, is NOT talking or learning about it’s value.


Did you know that the month of June is Black Music Month? Really, yes it is! To me it is like celebrating black history month again, only around the summertime. Some of you are asking or saying, so what? So what? You should know where most of the originations of Hip Hop, Rap, Funk, Soul, Rock, R&B, Country, Classical, Opera have really started. – Oh I forgot about Jazz, Gospel, Cuban/Carribean, Jamacian and Inspirational music too. Most of would say the south, or the east coast. Well you’re half right. All forms of music were born and originated in Africa. Everyone should know that. It has been around when slavery was more of a cancer that a state of mind. As well as fighting for civil rights, freedom and the pursit of happiness. But more, (the music) it has generated a mainstream effect in America. Let me clarify with some examples:

First, last summer I was at a family reunion in Detroit, Michigan visiting the original Motown museum. The same museum that housed Berry Gordy, and gave Stevie Wonder, The Tempations, Smokey Robinson, and other Motown legends a voice to America, and the world. Particularly, Black America. I also looked at the pictures of album covers. The first of the four covers I looked at were made by black artists, but they couldn’t show the faces because back then, African-American Artists weren’t allowed to show them. Kind of racist, eh? Also did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr. recorded his first Motown record? Yes he did. Go to your libraries and see if they carry his “I Have A Dream Speech” on a 78 record. And by the way, his album cover is displayed at the motown museum. Check this, did you know that Motown gave rock music a voice? I am not lying! Yes they did. They were first label to not only give blacks a voice, but to spread to other races too. Speaking of rock music, never forget that Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino helped gave birth to Rock and Roll music. Yes, Elvis, the Beatles, Led Zepplin, The Doors,  Poison, Guns N Roses, even Whitesnake, were given credit to steamline the rock phenomic blast, but remember it was black musicians that started it all! Take the time to listen to Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Kira, the lead singer from the rock group Sevendust,  Jimi Hendrix, Black Rock Coalition (which is on myspace!) and I dare say Wicked Wisdom also. Just to let you know that there are some black artists out there are embracing the rock! Feel me?

As for country music: not to many sing the genre, but three individuals came to mind: Ray Charles, yes Ray Charles had some country songs in his collection. He also was the first to combine Gospel and R&B music together. Sort of like Kirk Franklin almost. And people thought it was against religion. Charley Pride, often called the first brother of country, sung the genre, and a new person which most of us never heard of is Rissi Palmer. She too has a myspace page, check her out. I would say Cowboy Troy from Nashville Star also, but I think he’s more of an entertaniner than a singer. Just my opinion!

R&B/Soul/Pop: I think of James Brown, Nat King Cole, Curtis Mayfield, Gordon Parks, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, (or the Jacksons) Janet, Issac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Aretha Franklin (whom by the way sung America The Beautiful twice at Wrestlemania)Sam Cooke, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Tempatations, O-Jays, Levert and others. To me without them, there would be no Usher, SWV, EnVogue, Jade(where they at?) , Mary J. Blige- although she’s been a legend for 15 years, Deborah Cox, Tamia, Ciara, R-Kelly, Tank, Carl Thomas, and countless others that are peeking in the music game. – Even Beyonce. So, know your history!

The Rap Game: This is somewhat easy! With the recent attacks on rap music these days carrying the n-word, we must not forget the fun side of rap music.  I know in my 30 years that rap music or hip hop, has changed my life of being me, period. We can talk about 50 Cent, The Game, Dirty South, Diddy, NWA, Death Row, Bad-Boy, and whatever. We can talk Jay-Z, Tupac, too. And we could bring up Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, in whatever also. And yes Timbaland & Magoo. I want to say that without a doubt, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Sugarhill Gang, Treacherous Three, Public Enemy, MC Hammer, Will Smith,DJ Jazzy Jeff,  Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, MC Rob Base/DJ E-Z Rock, Salt-N-Pepa, Whodini, Biz Markie and others I can think of, there would be no hip hop or rap music right now. Oh, even Doug-E Fresh, Slick Rick, and yes MC Lyte should be added because of their contribution to the game. Just because you have one hit doesn’t make you hot. You need to be hot for atleast 15-20 years of a lifetime. Not MIMS’ lifetime, not Lil Wayne’s lifetime but our lifetime. As far as the languages that are demeaning to women, races, men, gays and all, not all rap music is not against human life, ok? When I think about rappers like Run-DMC, Sugarhill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash/Furious Five they to me were all about party anthems and having a good time. Even D.J. Kool Herc was about this. Never forget, it was Hip Hop Music gave a voice for the poor. It was Hip Hop Music, along with Michael Jackson that gave a boost to MTV when there was no black artists on the channel. The only black person on there in MTV’s beginning stages was the late J.J. Jackson, whom was the first black VJ. (VJ means Video Jockey)  It was also hip hop that gave Run-DMC exposure to Live Aid, Reading Rainbow, WWE, and the first black group on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, that’s right I said it! Check the record books! Plus, either you like it or not Three-6-Mafia is credited for making hip hop history of “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle and Flow. – Oscars that is. Hate him or not, MC Hammer was the first black rapper I saw did commericals before LL, 50, Diddy, Xzibit, Kanye, and Kris Kross came along. And we thought he was a sellout? Gimme a break! To end this, let me say that don’t judge a book by its cover and assume everything is bad about rap. There is some good here, but you just have to listen, take notes, and then decide. Rev. Al Sharpton said at James Brown’s Funeral that Rap Music and Hip Hop Music came from him. When we say: “Check yourself”, or “Shake your money maker” or “Shake what your mama gave ya”(I think),  “Hit It”, “To The Bridge”, and if you hear it in rap/hip hop music, that came from James Brown! God rest his soul. When Chuck D used the rap line “Our freedom of speech, is freedom of death we got to fight the powers that be” guess what? that came from The Isley Brothers. So, Rap/Hip Hop Music does have similarities with the music our parents grew up listening to. Based on the beat, lyric, and sound.

As for Jazz: There was a time that Jazz that was considered “the devils music”.  But thanks to Duke Ellingtion, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Cab Calloway, jazz is not devilish, it is a state of mind and poise of soul. I only wish that some of today’s folks could embrace it than abandon it. I know it has gotten smooth, as in Smooth Jazz. Like rock music, although white artists have given credit for the craft, never forget it was african americans that started it.

Opera has been overlooked. Really it has! I don’t know too much about black opera singers but one sticks out the most was the late Marian Anderson. She was an opera singer, probably the best there was.  In 1939, there was a controverisal thought of not allowing blacks to perform at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. by the Daughters of the Revolution. This also involved her. But Marian’s craft carried her over the barriers of hate since 1955. And since then many few african american opera singers have kept the door open since.

So, in conclusion, the month of June is in effect. And so is black history, musically.