The World Stage - is a venue founded by the distinguished Drummer Billy Higgins in 1989.
On Sunday, August 9, 2009 we all gave thanks and tribute to Billy Higgins, and other artists that have transitioned on over the past year. We also gathered to show our heartfelt appreciation for a place that inspired hungry artists, a famished community, youth and seasoned people from all walks of life to enter, enjoy, learn, grow, share, blosoom, and give.
An afternoon in one of the most interesting and creative culture hub's in the inner city of Los Angeles - Leimert Park. This was affair that was filled with community engagement, wonderful music, an array of booths with compelling art pieces, jewelry, social consciousness posters, plaques, Music Cd's and DVD's, excellent food, and face painting.
The main focus of the day was the music.
Each band or ensemble that took to the stage shared an amazing display of talent that was immersed in Straight-Ahead, Be-Bop, Funk, Latin, and Vocal grooves.
Just to name a few acts...
Hope, Heath, & Devereaux which translates:
Bertha Hope on Piano - is a Composer and Arranger. Amazingly lays out astounding sounds on the keys.
Albert "Tootie" Heath on Drums - An icon in the never ending circle of Jazz, he has performed for decades and is yet leaving his signature everywhere across the globe.
"Tootie" as he is affectionately called has a force and touch that is unforgettable.
Yvette Devereaux on Violin - Arranger, Composer, and Conductor possesses you with her modus operandi as everything she played was insightful, affecting, and winning. She shared many original compositions. Her underline sound has a hint of the forbidden, a basis of classical while steeped in the Blues and Jazz traditions.
Yvette is a musician who exhibits a keen connection with the ensemble and audience of attentive listeners. She is also absolutely captivating!
The Phil Ranelin Ensemble set the stage ablaze with a few of Phil's brilliant original pieces.
Phil Ranelin - Trombone
Kamasi Washington - Saxophone
There was another Saxophonist playing who was stunning on all his solos but I unfortunately and regrettably did not catch his name. This musician's sound, texture, and force will not be forgotten.
Let me give a great shout out to the rhythm section consisting of a arresting Pianist, marvelous Bassist, and dynamic Drummer. They couldn't have been individually or collectively tighter or more breathtaking with the entire crowd ascending to heaven that afternoon.
The Phil Ranelin ensemble always shares in a manner that is infectious and tremendously glorious leaving you completely elated. Kamasi Washington on Saxophone plays with a passion and power that is all soul, all spirit, all unadulterated Jazz, all embodied in beauty, control, persuasion.
I'll just tell you that not much coercing was needed with "Masi" in the driving seat on the horn.
Phil Ranelin on trombone shared his flawless and marvelous style. He is such a pleasure to experience. His cool demeanor and profound gaze cues one to know when he puts his mouth to the trombone... its time to get ready for exciting ride.
The World Stage Workshop Ensembles are musicians ranging from youth to seasoned adults.
There is also a vocal workshop that presented talented musicians who always have the instrument on hand of their vocal chops. The late Dini Clake had at one time led this workshop.
The Drum workshop is lead by Cornel Fauler who was a member of the Billy Higgins' Drum Ensemble. He now teaches at the World Stage and performs around town. He has an avid group of students learning from one of the principal leaders on brushwork, hi-hat, swinging percussion.
The individual ensembles expressed their voice wrapped in standards, straight ahead, and be-bop.
The Youth Group is lead by, Amos Delone, Jr. - a musician who doubles on Flute and is a member of the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra. Mr. Delone also teaches at John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles. The youth ensemble includes teens, young adults...perhaps a sage or two for support - gave beautiful performances on Miles Davis' - "So What", Herbie Hancock's - "Watermelon Man", and other jazz favorites.
The World Stage Adult Workshop Ensemble is conducted by tranquil fire who can transform into a concerted conflagration- he is known as "Latif", Bassist and Guitarist, who performs with varies groups and provides individual instruction in Jazz Theory and Bass.
I humbly share that I'm a member of this adult ensemble. We started with Herbie Hancock's "Canteloupe Island" with an 8 bar introduction and many tasty solos that included quotes from straight ahead, spirituals, funk, and more.
Ben Tucker's "Comin Home Baby" was another nice groove we shared with a slight Latin touch on it of our very own. A couple of audience participants opted to dance near the stage as we performed that made the entire feel from my view -magical and euphoric.
We wrapped it up with a nice ballad by Victor Young, "Beautiful Love". The rhythm section including an exceptional Drummer, sensitive Bassist, and acute Pianist, soulful Guitarist interlocked with axes of all sort - Clarinet, Flutes, Saxes (of all sizes), and Trumpet to share an arrangement of warmth and intensity and sponaneity.
The festival continued on into the late evening with The Estrada Brothers turning the train to the Latin side. There was plenty of remarkable music shared that was familiar favorite and novel pieces. Once again, many audience members danced with joy as the performers shared their voice on the given instruments.
It was an enchanting song that continued on and on.
I wasn't able to catch the final act but I'll share this regarding what I know of them.
The World Stage All Stars with special guest Charles Owens wrapped up the evening.
Mr. Owens is known a "master" on many woodwind instruments. He is a leader, teacher, and true innovator.
The World Stage All Stars were musicians from various areas with one common connection. Each had made their stake at the infamous World Stage at some point in their musical passage. Many have gone on to pursue professional careers in music on varied levels.
The World Stage Festival left a satisfied audience and performance musicians eager and anticipating future events center in the core American art form - Jazz.