The perfect weather on Sunday, August 11th complimented the remarkable music shared by the RCM trio at the American Legion in Culver City. It was memorable tribute to a group of men from the Montford Point Marines, all part of an All African-American Regiment who served during World War II. They were largely unrecognized, and in the face of racism, prejudice, emotional and mental mistreatment, proved themselves loyal and fit for action. They laid down their lives for their country valiantly serving in Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Japan and China.
The Montford Marine Association supports the Veterans from Montford Point Marines Regime. The organization was birthed out of a need to preserve legacy and bring awareness of the service these men provided to their country. Montford Marine Association helps to keep the Veterans in connection by holding reunions and events throughout the year. There are several chapters of this association.
The Veterans were remembered and honored with a Bar-B-Que Luncheon and Jazz Celebration at the American Legion in Culver City on Sunday, August 11th.
The RCM Trio and friends provided stellar standards, Beautiful Ballads, Straight Ahead Jazz, and other favorites.
The members of the original trio are as follows:
Michael Lloyd - Tenor Sax
Robert Lanford - Bass
Chris Jones - Piano
Chico Fernandez was featured on Drums and Mary Pat Cooney as Wonderful Vocalist.
The band kicked things off with a rousing rendition Duke Ellington's "C-Jam Blues" filled with solos rooted in the heart of Jazz. I was honored to sit in on this tune on Flute. It was very enjoyable. Chico on Drums kept a pulsation going that grooved no matter who was soloing. There was a very cool trade of 4's between musicians as well.
As long as were talking the language of "The Duke" let's continue on this journey with "African Flower" a beautiful tune filled with exquisite colors, rays of The Blues mixed with an almost angelic feel. Chris on Piano added an appealing solo and there was an exquisite, if I say so myself call and response between he and I on through the melody on this gem written by Duke Ellington. Robert on Bass shared a wonderful solo filled with nuances that connected the audience in a magnificent way. The bridge of the piece brought us together in harmonious alignment.
Johnny Green's "Body and Soul" was performed with a stunning attraction with Mike on Sax giving an ardent rendition of this incredible Jazz standard.
Mary Pat Cooney on Vocals kept a soulful groove with her rendition of Irving Berlin's "Blues Skies", with her melodic and harmonic influences. The complex “Mood Indigo" by Barney Bigard and Duke Ellington was stated with elegance and magnetism. One got the feeling of being at one of those legendary Jazz clubs of the 1940's and 1950's listening to the statements offered by Mary Pat.
She continued to woo the Vets and others in the audience with Gerald Marks "All of me" and a simply gorgeous and emotively feeling version of Joseph Kosma’s “Autumn Leaves". This splendid piece was originally entitled, "Les feuilles mortes". It has an underlined poignant feel that Mary Pat conveyed as did Robert on his touching solo.
Spencer Williams', "Basin Street Blues" was performed on Vocals and Piano by Chris with a Dixieland correlation that brought smiles to many audience faces. This song could take you back to the 1920's if you just closed your eyes and got wooed with groove laid down by Chris, Mike, Robert, and Chico.
Joe Zawinal 's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was filled with "R & B" to the "humph" degree! Chris shared a swinging solo and mixed in all kinds of soulful additions along with Mike's message on Sax. A huge shout out to Chico on Drums that laid down the message of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy with a solo filled with joy. Robert's preaching on Bass was a message worthy of applause too. A few audiences’ members got up and danced. Lots of smiles on the faces of the members of the Montford Point Marines those were present. There was such a great groove and collaboration that flowed between musicians and with all in the room.
It was an incredibly heartfelt call out of appreciation to the Montford Point Marines with each note voiced by each musician. An afternoon filled with celebration and observance.