"live"  REVIEWS
"live"  REVIEWS
"When I was a child, I remember my grandfather once saying - 'I saw you guys playing
but no one touched my heart. The purpose of playing music is to touch people's hearts'
'
- - - Singer/Composer/Bassist
RICHARD BONA Fascinates the Crowd at NY Blue
Note Jazz Masters Class Sharing Wisdom & Blasts From His Past - - Leaving Audience
Totally Besotted With Him
By: Gatsby Melodi
Richard Bona is the wonderful 'hot property' singer/bass player who
for the past ten years has been a recording artist as well as
performing with illustrious musicians across the globe. He grew-up
in a home filled with music in a small Cameroonian village where
his grandfather and mother were singers, and strong influences.

Soon he would build his own balafon and start to practice it eight to
twelve hours a day.   By 5-years-old,
Richard began to perform in
public, singing in the village church with his mother and sisters,
displaying his unbelievable, amazing and natural ability to learn any
instrument only by watching it being played.  A problem was the
difficulty to provide himself with instruments, so
Richard learned
how to make his own.

From wooden flutes to percussion instruments, he built everything
he needed. When it came time to build a
guitar,  he had some
trouble finding guitar strings in his small village. This fabulous
young talent was not only gifted, but also clever. He used bicycle
brake cables to make some.
"Herbie Hancock calls me maestro, but I
respond saying - I'm still learning...I am a
student",  the living legend-
RICHARD
BONA, told me after class.
"Muria (the tale) his latest lp on the
VERVE label. Visit
Richard Bona'
website at
www.bonatology.com
and be treated to samplings of the
genius.
Jazz Master  RICHARD BONA
While the word of this prodigious young musician quickly spread throughout the village, he moved to
Douala and lived with his father, where he began working as a musician.  Thinking that the guitar was 'the
hip instrument that he had to play', he began playing gigs at 11 years old, replacing his homemade model
with a professional-style guitar. He got a job playing guitar in bars at night time, making people dance, and
he's been entertaining ever since. The young musician was born in
1967.

On Saturday April 10th, they came from as far away as Texas to get to the New York Blue Note, to have an
opportunity to sit and learn from this humble trail-blazing Master who has been hailed as "the African
Sting".  "In
Paris they call me the African Sting" he told the audience, "I said come-on..Sting doesn't play like
me.", the audience was caught-up in his ability to interject humor.

"Influences of Rhythm" was his topic of discussion. Although he is primarily known as a bass player, he is
skilled on many instruments and he shared his knowledge and focus on rhythm for this special clinic.
"Coltrane would develop a song with just 3 notes. Take a song you like and change it. Take a beautiful
melody and walk around with it", he advised.

Although he has never had voice or bass lessons,
Richard says, "My mother is a singer. She encouraged
me to practice and sing. When you do this, it's like opening the back door and realizing -  WOW I didn't
know that was back here. You can't get lost when you sing"

He encourages self-reliance telling the audience, "Never have doubt in your mind. Your music sounds
more effective. Say everything with music. Don't let anybody affect you. You can control your emotions, If in
22 days you have 22 concerts you still have to be fresh. People don't know your sleeping time or that you're
tired.  Music is the most important voice - what people think is not important"

His response to questions regarding fatigue when playing a gig, "First rule in music is 'feel comfortable'

But before his wisdom sharing,  the young genius delighted the audience with several numbers,
accompanied by keyboardist extraordinar ETIENNE STADWIJK, from neighboring village of Usuriname,
now living in New York City.

I don't think I've ever witnessed such compassion for an audience in complete awe, willing to please an
artist, as much as the
Blue Note Jazz Masters Class was desiring to please Richard. He showed his
appreciation by closing out the clinic with a song from his latest lp titled, "Munia (the tale)" on Verve
Records, during which he got the audience to accompany him doing background vocals singing the words
"woo woo", which at times lasted 3-4 minutes. "Come on, hold that breath like you're singing in church", he
humorously interjected while the audience obliged.  
Richard Bona Continued:

"I have followed his career for years. Richard
is hugely respected and has teaching
experience", Seiko Kinoshita, Project Manager
at the
Blue Note jubilantly responded when I
queried her decision to book him as a Master
to teach the class.

As evidenced by those who attended the Jazz
Masters Class, Richard indeed is
tremendously respected as a musician and
human-being.  "I used to be shy on-stage until
I met Harry (
Belafonte)",  he told the audience.  
"Now it's all comedy act."
 Richard Bona, a
man so kind and gentle with music to light up
the world, and a voice delivering something
worth listening to.  Clearly his grandfather's
advisement to "touch hearts" is excellent
advice, because it is all about give and take
and share and love with him, qualities
destined to keep him around for a very long
long time.

Oh yeah...by the way...that loving grandfather
BONA ardently refers to as having influence in
his life, recently passed away. "My
grandfather's name was MESSANGE
ENYONG, he was 103 years old. He passed
away two weeks ago (end March 2004), in my
village Ninta, while I was performing in Japan.
NYU JAZZ ORCHESTRA Featuring LENNY PICKETT From "Saturday Night
LIVE"
Band Takes Colorful Musical Journey at Blue Note Following Impressive
Performance By Opening Act
COMBO NUVO
By: Gatsby Melodi'
LENNY PICKETT came to the forefront on the 1973 breakout album,
"Tower of Power".  His solos are simply as good as they get.  He worked
with Tower for about a decade and returned to do a series of solos on
the 1993 CD, "TOP".  Catch Pickett performing with Tower of Power. The
group is currently  on tour and will be performing at BB King Blues Bar &
Grill on 42nd Street , Thursday April 22nd.   His incredible sax
A tasteful assortment of colorful jazz flavorings from opening act, COMBO NUVO,
at the NY Blue Note Jazz Club produced music for the scholastically trained, the
seasoned jazz fans, and the young pop afficionados.

Comprised mostly of faculty members at NYU Jazz Studies,
COMBO NUVO
consists of Dr. David Schroeder, Director NYU Jazz & Contemporary Studies, and
leader of the group, sax/clarinet/harmonica/penny whistle,  Schroeder has worked
with Motown legends The Temptations and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas;   
Mike Richmond, cello/bass violin/electric bass. Richmond has performed and
recorded with Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Ravi Sharker, Elvin Jones,
Clarke Terry, Quincy Jones;  
Rich Shemaria, Composer, Arranger, Pianist,   
Shemaria has toured with Natalie Cole, and conducted for Michael Brecker, Roy
Hargrove, DeeDee Bridgewater, Nicholas Payton;   
John Hadfield, percussion. a
native of Columbia Missouri, Hadfield has performed with Bobby Watson;  
Jamie
Fox
, guitar - blues, funk, straight-ahead, Fox has worked with 60's songbird Carla
Thomas, jazz great Jack McDuff and served as Musical Director for Joan Baez.

COMBO NUVO artfully captured intimacy on compositions like 'Vivian & Her Sister'
written by Schroeder, and they also captured  texture and warmth on the song
"Compassionada', written by Rich Shemaria, both delivering captivating
arrangements.

The 18 piece NYU Concert Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Rich Shemaria, features
students on all levels of education (graduate and undergraduate) at the New York
University.Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, Steinhardt
School. This ensemble, while steeped in traditional big band style is also a
vehicle for new directions in jazz..  
L to R: John Hadfield, Dave Schroeder, Rich Shemaria, Jamie
Fox, Mike Richmond.
Insert Lenny Pckett.
improvisations and remarkable, almost unbelieveable upper register work have become
the trademark of the SNL Band sound.

Pickett who is also a faculty member at NYU Jazz Studies told me  in his dressing room
following the poweful performance, "I am the Music Director for  "Saturday Night LIVE
Band".

Pickett can hit a note I can only describe as Minnie Ripperton.  People didn't believe it
when she hit it, and it is unbelievable to hear Pickett hit it.  I heard it , but was in complete
awe at the sound he gets from that tenor sax.  I asked Lenny, how do I put that sound in
words?  He obliged me by responding "ALTISSIMO. That's very high in Italian".  Lenny
passes along this information about his equipment, in response to numerous inquiries:   
"I play a Paris Selmer Mark 6 tenor (circa1970) with a Berg Larsen 130 over 0 (SMS)
mouthpiece and a number 3 Van Doren (blue box) bass clarinet reed."

As evidenced by many of his students in the dressing room after the performance, Pickett
remains reachable and takes his teaching position at NYU very serious, a truly noble
quality.
Cassandra Wilson  Brings
Great Music Only to  Blue Note
By: Gatsby Melodi'
TRIBUTE TO ELVIN JONES WITH ELVIN JONES JASS MACHINE And
Special Guests -  
New York Blue Note Is The Place To Be
By: Gatsby Melodi'
JIMMY HEATH A Quiet Spoken Man With
a Big Past and Still Maintains A Very Bright
Future In Music
By: Gatsby Melodi'
Through Sunday, June 27th, the biggest
names in JAZZ Brew are coming together
for a rip-roaring good time, at the Blue
Note, in Greeenwich Village  to
effervescently celebrate the career of a lost
legend Mr. ELVIN JONES, the man who
single-handedly is given credit for having
the drums recognized as an equal part of
the ensemble, rather than simply
supportive of it.   Jones was 73 at his
demise on May 18, 2004, by heart-failure.

"Playing is not something I do at night", Mr.
Jones told me in an interview which
included his lovely wife Keko, at the Blue
Note last December (his last performance
there), "It's my function in life."
Cassandra Wilson spends too
much time keeping her eyes shut
when performing.
"If you know Jimmy Heath,
you know Bop."
Dizzy Gillespie once said,  
Heath has played with just
about every jazz great for
the last 50 years. He has
also taught Jazz Studies at
New School and Queens  
College for many years. In
2003,  the National
She may, but probably won't introduce her
songs.  

"This is the Blue Note. So you know what that
means" she told the audience, "This is by one of
the best blues masters of all time Muddy
Waters", is how she introduced one song before
attaching her whiskey-tinged voice to it.

On another song Ms. Wilson simply stated, "It's
guitar time", before she started strumming.

When her eyes are not closed, she sings mostly
to band members; or she'll sing looking directly
into the fashioned mirrors on the wall in front of
the stage.  Clearly her show is not designed  to
establish a relationship with her audience, so
don't expect it.  Oh yeah, be sure and beg this
diva for an encore.  

As she was singing "gotta go" and was
preparing to leave the stage, somebody in the
audience requested a song.  She responded by
saying  "I got to leave the stage first.", and she
and her band both left the stage while fans
applauded and shouted "more" for five minutes,
before she returned with an encore.

I have seen some of the biggest names in show
business on that stage,
Nancy Wilson, Herbie
Hancock and Lou Rawls, to name a few, but I
have never witnessed such distance from a
performer to the audience, in such an intimate
setting.

Missing from the first show performance were
many of  the standout cuts like 'If Loving You Is
Wrong', 'Crazy' and 'Throw It Away' from
"glamoured" here current CD on Blue Note
records,

But none of this seemed to matter to the sell-out
crowd at the plush
Blue Note last evening.  No
doubt these fans came out to listen to her
deliverance of deep melancholy, musky,
brooding, deep and soulful, seemingly  
breathless deliverances, and Ms. Wilson did not
disappoint them with the music.

Nikki Mehta from Queens told me "This is my
first time in a jazz setting and I'm in love."

Dr. Helen Ross a dermatologist from Manhattan
said about the performance, "Wonderful. Funk,
Jazz,  Blues. She gave them all to me."

Professor Jason Cherry, a music teacher at Port
Washington College said, "Dynamic. Her
deliverance is soft,. She saves her louds, but
when they come in they are so powerful."

The Blue Note is located at 131 W 3rd Street,
NYC; 212-475-8592. website:
www.bluenotejazz.com
Endowment for the Arts awarded him with an
American Jazz Masters Fellowship for his
lifelong contributions to and mastery of jazz.

Last Saturday, Jimmy Heath taught the Masters
Class at the New York Blue Note,
telling the
crowd which consisted mostly of media,
aspiring professional musicians and NYU
students, "At 77 you hear somebody say that
something is new, but I have to tell them it has
been done before."

He told the class, "In jazz we tune up in B
natural. The easiest is learning the notes.
Hardest is to play and stay in tune. In be-bop
there are 7 notes in scale, although Charley
Parker added an 8th, which everybody now
knows that 8 notes is most important for
rhythmic features. You have to take  ideas and
patterns and make them yours. You need an
element of mystery in your playing.  Charley
Parker is major scale exhausted. Get to have
neighbors around notes.

The class was very informative, and as Heath
began to reveal his personal stats, he told he
is legendary musician MTUME's father.

"My son Mtume wrote that song 'The Closer
I Get to You'
that Roberta Flack recorded, and
he did the music for that TV show
New York
Under Cover
, with the black and Puerto Rican
brothers as stars.  That sax solo you hear in
the background is me.  My father played the
clarinet, my mother sang in Baptist church
choir.  I've written over 140 compositions, and
many of my songs have been recorded by
Miles (Davis), Ahmad Jamal, Cannonball
(Adderley), (John) Coltrane,
Freddie Hubbard,
Wynton Marsalis, and right now I'm waiting on
a check from
Mary J. Blige."  
ELVIN JONES TRIBUTE
Thru Sunday, June 27th at
the Blue Note New York
ELVIN JONES, the dynamically technical, gifted and pivotal figure in jazz whom
Max Roach vehemently called "Emperor Jones", inspired, motivated, educated
and mesmerized millions of people across the globe.

In any era, only a handful of musicians will lead us over the top in to a new
promised land, and for the contributions he has made to the art of drumming,
certainly Elvin Jones counts among them.

The trailblazer well known for his work with John Coltrane Quartet (1960-66) also
enjoyed a notable career as a bandleader.  World renowned musicians have
been summoned to the Blue Note, and there's a party going on.

Delfeayo Marsalis is credited as the music director, but when I asked him
backstage following the first performance how difficult was it to get so many stars
on one stage at the same time, "I didn't" he responded, then he gave credit to the
Blue Note's own Seiko for pulling the musicians together.  Mammoth is the only
word that comes to mind to label the line-up.
Bill Cosby wearing a white t-shirt with the message "HELL-O
FRIEND" inscribed on the front, has a long history of charitable
work and activism in support of education and racial equality, and
has made Americans laugh over a long career, but last evening he
also used his stardom to shine a light on "my friend Elvin", as he
put it to the audience, as the master of ceremonies opening night.
Bill Cosby served
as Master of
Ceremonies for the
evening
Drummer Lenny White told me following the show, "I
suggested to Keko that Elvin's drums be used as house
drums for everybody, but Keko was reluctant.  I offered to put in
a pair of my own drums at the Blue Note, but ultimately what you see on stage are
Elvin's actuals drums, provided by Keko."

Delfeayo Marsalis shared with the audience that he'd played with Elvin over the
past ten years and revealed, "Elvin played with Coltrane but he was rooted in the
Blues.  He liked Big Momma Thornton and he also liked Louis Armstrong.  As a
matter of fact, our last song for this set will be Elvin's favorite song,
What A
Wonderful World
", he concluded.   The JASS MACHINE (that's the way Delfeayo
spelled it) delivered it with empathy and smoothness.  Even Louis Armstrong
would have cried with all the emotion locked up in it - and then delivered to the
audience with abounding love.  

Before closing out the set.  
Bill Cosby returned to the stage to thank everybody,
and  humored Delfeayo saying, "I was amazed when you said Elvin's favorite tune
was this one. Just goes to show what a wonderful learn."

And how did Keko feel about the
Tribute. "I can't comment at this time. It is too
painful", she understandably responded to my query.  We love Keko, wish her
well, and thank her for her wonderful personage.

Other musicians in attendance were
Wallace Roney, Antoine Roney, Anthony
Wonsey, Matthew Garrison, Jeff Tane Watts.
Lillias White Sings the Blues Best At
New York Blue Note
By: Gatsby Melodi'
Lillias White  has been
recognized on Broadway with
the Tony, Drama Desk,   
Peoples Choice, and Outer
Critics Awards for Best
Actress in a Musical. In 1990
Lillias White
she won the Obie Award for Best Actress in a
Musical, and won The Drama Logue Award for
Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the
national tour of "Dreamgirls", but her cabaret
display at the Blue Note falls short of
spectacular.  While White has an adequate
voice and stage presence, her choice of
material brings distraction to her talents. The
lady would do better, singing the blues.
TAKE 6 Are Six Gorgeous Instruments Who Took to the Stage At the
New York Blue Note Performance To Please
By: Gatsby Melodi'
It is amazing what 6 great looking
crooning men can do to an
audience.  
TAKE 6 performance
recently at the Blue Note in
Greenwich Village showcased  six
coiffured, statuesque, elegantly
clad  fellas on stage all wearing
hundred/hundred wool slacks and
silk shirts.

Though they each wore different
clothing collectively they were
color-coordinated.  Three words  
describe their performance
Fab   U   Lous.
"What defines a sound is how you resolve it." Says Jazz Master McCoy Tyner at The
Blue Note Jazz Master Class Finale For This Season
By: Gatsby Melodi'
McCoy Tyner is a very soft spoken man who frequently
interjects humor and laughter as he speaks.  Like the time a
class member prefaced with,  "I have a technical question",
and he wittingly interjected before it was asked, "I'm not
educated.  I didn't go to college...Well maybe Coltrane
College."  The class responded with tickled laughter,
indicating that he had maneuvered his way into their
frolicsome hearts.
Jazz Master
McCoy Tyner
"In this great form of music called jazz" Mr Tyner began teaching, "you learn how to
respect other fellow musicians. We can all make a statement.  Concentrate on who you
are."

"Use art-form as your discovery. It always goes back to "who am I?".  Sound is who you
are.  A person's voice is not what they say, but how they sound.  It's a language and
identity.  Attitude is voice.  Sound is first. Sound is your identity. That's how they hear you.
Articulation is okay, but it is secondary."

He continued, "To open the door, you can sound like someone else, but you can never
be them. Use your assets. You can never conquer somebody else's concept.  The
energy you'd use trying to figure out somebody else's interpretations should be used  for
self -  you come first."

"My beginnings started with my mother. She encouraged me. I played in the school
choir.  My mother asked if I wanted to sing or take piano lessons .I started to play when I
was 13. My mother was a beautician, and I would entertain her customers.  I  took
lessons in theory but couldn't wait to get home to practice.  My mother bought me a
piano.  It became the center of my life.  After a while I started to play R&B in a 7-piece
band in junior high school. When I was 17, I met Coltrane. That first "Killer Joe"-- the
piano banging - that's me.  The rest is history.  It has been a wonderful excursioned
journey. Elvin Jones was my teacher.  When I stated to play I liked listening to different
composers.  Sometimes we can't rush things we must mature. Take one step at a time.  
You have to find your voice.  Develop it and make it work."

"Bud Powell to me is one of the greatest genius of the piano, but genius is
unharnessed. Bud gave me a lot of inspiration and made things possible.  Gotta master
the instrument yes, but receive the music like giving birth to a baby.  It is hard to separate
jazz from life. The keyboard is only one key."

"John (Coltrane) had a sophisticated harmonic concept.  Intonation and concept are very
important.   What defines a sound is how you resolve it. You only learn from doing it.
Voices are tight and closed in piano playing.  Scales on the piano are like a basket of
goodies.  Sometimes the melody you find immediately.  Sometimes you are at the
bridge and the resolution will make sense but it is about sound."

A drummer in the class asked Mr. Tyner what advice he'd have for them, and responded,
"Drummers need to listen.  If you can hear you can respond."

And what advice did this Master have for composers who have difficulty coming up with
titles to the songs they write, "Titles will come. Sometimes I have to listen to what I write
over and over before I come up with the title.  And when i write, I don't write to sell it."

Led by one of the world's most influential pianists in the past 50 years, this master class
was taught by the granddaddy of all master classes.  A powerful virtuoso, Tyner hasn't
altered his style much over the years, but he continues to grow, remain strong and bring
something new to the table every time he sits down at the piano. He has performed with
John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Stephane Grappelli and even worked as a
sideman with Ike and Tina Turner, and today he is revered as one of the people that
young jazz lions would most like to learn from.

Stay tuned, for the
Blue Note Master Class Series Coming This Fall.  The Blue Note is
located at 131 W. 3rd St. (bet. 6th Ave. & MacDougal St.) New York, NY 10012
Tel:212-475-8592
Clearly the message they deliver with music is "trust and love and obey
GOD".  Each song sung may have a different beat often associated with
Spiritual music, but one need only listen to the lyrics and anything else is not
an option.

The folks who came out to be entertained by the group were not
disappointed. John Clarkson and his wife Ann told me following the
perfomance, "If you write on bad thing about them, I will haunt you down."

Catch the group
TAKE 6 thugh Sunday at the Blue Note. 131 W. 3rd St. (bet.
6th Ave. & MacDougal St.) New York, NY 10012 - Tel:212-475-8592
LOU RAWLS Thrills Hearts At New York Blue Note Opening Looking
Good With A Voice That's Totally Delicious
By: Gatsby Melodi'
Looking good, good, good, and
sounding even better,
Lou
Rawls took to the stage at the
New York Blue Note singing his
stellar 70's hit 'You'll Never Find',
another love like mine, as the
audience applauded with vim
and vigor.  No doubt the sell-out
crowd agreed with the lyrics
being sung to them by the icon.
"Sing to me baby" one lady in
the audience shouted.

A standing ovation usually given
to an artist after a performance,
availed itself to
Mr. Rawls at the
end of his opening number.
Just about every song ever recorded by the entertainer was included in this
first show, like 'World Of Trouble', 'Tobacco Road',  'Groovy People',  
'Tradewinds', 'Unforgettable', 'I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water', 'Kansas City',
'Love Is A Hurting Thing', 'Stormy Monday', 'Willow Weep For Me', just to
name a few of the delicious sounds coming from the velvet voiced genius.
He also sang songs from his newly released
album on the Jazz Savoy label, entitled
"Rawls Sings Sinatra",
Following the show I asked Mr. Rawls in an interview in his dressing room, "How
is it your voice remains to sound as it did over 30 years ago?", he humorously
responded, "I'm going to do it  - until I get it right!!".

I busted out laughing.  He busted out laughing and an exciting and fun interview
prevailed with answers to questions like "
What do you feel that engages you to
give back to the earth and still be so consistently willing to share your wisdom
after so many years at the top of his game
?"

"There is no other way to be" the suave
Lou Rawls responded unflinchingly.    In
that interview he also encouraged me to remind all to be certain to watch the
United Negro College Fund telethon in January. "This year we will have
Beyonce,
Stevie Wonder,
Chaka Khan, and lots more", apprised Mr. Rawls.  

Don't miss  
Rawls appearing through Sunday at the Blue Note. It is truly a
thumbs-up experience.
There's comedic fun happening on stage in Atlanta Georgia - Horizon
Theatre Company Presents "BLUE" -
Freddie Hendricks is "Blue"
TOCCARRA CASH is Hilarious - Additional Music Composed by Nona
Hendryx Thru August 7, 2005
By: Gatsby Melodi'
Hey Dere Cats - Dis Joint Ain't Jump'n It Really Ain't  Jumpin' - Theatrical
Outfit Presentation of the Fats Waller Musical Comedy "Ain't Misbehavin'"
at the Balzer Theater at Herren's In Atlanta Georgia Drags On
By: Gatsby Melodi'
Marguerite Hannah
Top-Bottom: Taurean Blacque,
Freddie Hendricks, Donna Biscoe
Cast of "Ain't Misbehavin" The Fats Waller Show (l to r) Maia Nkenge
Wilson, D. Woods, Denitra Isler, Eric Moore, and Jahi Kearse, at The
Balzer Theater at Herren's in Atlanta, GA., thru Feb 20, 2005
July 25, 2005 Hot  Passions,
Jazz...and Family Secrets reveal
themselves in
"Blue" through
Sunday August 7 at the Horizon
Theatre located at 1083 Austin
Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia.
Tickets priced $20, $22, $25.
The Fats Waller Musical AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' first opened on Broadway,
on May 9, 1978, and came loaded with future stars that burst on to the
entertainment scene which included Ken Paige, Armelia McQueen, Nell
Carter and then later Alan Weeks & Debbie Allen.

That show was packed with hefty doses of jam, jive and jubilation
guaranteeing a splenderiffically grand time.

In the Theatrical Outfit  (in Atlanta, GA)  production of the Fats Waller
Musical Comedy  -
AIN'T MISBEHAVIN', that I saw last Thursday, no
doubt has some obvious inefficiencies.  

The show is too short on  "Jive" and way too short on "Jubilation".  It runs
thru Feb 20th, at The Balzer Theater at Herren's, 84 Luckie Street, Atlanta
GA 30303.  Tickets 404-577-5255.

Regrettably, in songs like "Squeeze Me" that would ordinarily be
hilarious, the actor tends to wait for the lyrics to tickle the audience for its
side-splitting humor. That song is a collaboration.     Hello - somebody
tell the director or the actor how to add indecipherable or decipherable
movements on stage, but move - do something comical to engage the
audience..

At times the music overpowers the singers and you just can't hear them.  
I kept trying to figure out if it was because of technical issues, or artist
ability, and concluded that it is technical, or poor directing.

If it weren't for the plush theater and the polished staff,  I could have
thought I was watching a high school presentation.

The theater is beautiful and very tastefully decored. It very comfortably
seats 200 with wonderful leg room, for tall people who need the length,
or healthy ones who need the width.  Applause, applause to Set
Designer Rochelle Barker, with the keyboard stage design that becomes
a discussion long after the play itself.

Cast members Denitra Isler, Jahi Kearse, Maia Nkenge Wilson, and D.
Wood are not able to sustain or exert much weight collectively for a
total
package,  but ultimately do so individually .  

At the top of the list -  
Eric Moore delivers a clear compelling baritone
voice and excellent stage presence.  Ken Paige created that role on
Broadway, and with my closed eyes I could have sworn Ken was in the
house.

Eric Moore, an Atlanta native, and whose previous work includes Five
Guys Named Moe
, stole the show scene after scene.  He is the type of
performer who doesn't mind interjecting humor beyond direction to
please the audience, when after all - aren't they the ones to be pleased.

The band showcases Jimmy Jackson, drums; Charles Marshall,
woodwinds; Scott Patterson, piano; Rene Sinclair, trumpet. The director
Freddie Hendricks, musical director S. Renee Clark, choreographer
Dawn Axam, stage mananger Kate McDaniel, house manager Steve
Kamishlian
Toccarra Cash
In a small South Carolina town the Clark's are affluent.  They own the only
Afro American funeral home in town.

Mrs. Peggy Clark is a former "Ebony" model who just  happens to be
materialistic and class conscious with a passive spouse, a controlling
up-in-your-face mother-in-law and a curious teenage son who meets and
falls in love with the female who reveals the dirty little Clark family secrets.

As the play traces the Clark family saga over the course of more than a
decade it becomes clear the mysterious singer "BLUE"  provides not only the
soundtrack to their lives but also the key to a family secret.

The Clark family story is accompanied by the soulful music of Blue Williams -
Peggy's favorite singer.

Donna Biscoe steps in to the role of Peggy Clark directly from the huge film
success of   
Tyler Perry's       "Diary of a Mad Black Woman".

Taurean Blacque (In the Heat of the Night, Good Times) is Samuel Clark, Jr.

Atlanta theater favorite
Marguerite Hannah is Tillie Clark.

The title role "Blue" is played by
Freddie Hendricks who brings razzmatazz
and adventure to the role.  While I didn't immediately understand why he kept
appearing and disappearing
Hendricks was not a distraction. The audience
seemingly were in desire of more from the actor/singer.  

At the top of the list of the cast is a native from Dayton, Ohio
TOCCARRA
CASH
who hilariously plays LaTonya Dinkins - and no doubt the messenger
of the method to the madness.

"Blue" is a play by Charles Randolph-Wright, Music and Lyrics by Nona
Hendryx and Charles Randolph-Wright.  Directed by Thomas W. Jones III.
NAJEE the Man..NAJEE the Performer..."My Point of View" ...It Goes Emotional
By: Gatsby Melodi'
August 12, 2005 -   Najee is no doubt at the forefront
delivering his
best ever album -- marked with stately
grandeur crafting soliloquy after soliloquy spicing it
with  positivity and love.  

This young man is on a roll.   Mark this reporters
word...
"My Point of View" will garner Najee  millions
of fans and Grammy WILL LISTEN because Oscar is
taking notes.
"This is for the people.  
I'm not trying to please
the critics.  I can do
straight -ahead but this is
for the romance -  the
funk.  It is music to enjoy",
Najee comprehensively
told me in a phone
interview   about  this
project
Chaka Khan Under the Stars With the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
High-Flying Aventure at  Chastain Park Amphitheatre
By: Gatsby Melodi'
August 20, 2005 - "Are you ready for 'Tell  Me
Somthing Good
',   'I Feel For You',   'I'm Every Woman'?"  
"....Atlanta, did you come to have a party tonight?
..Somebody screammmm", the announcer began
last evening in the Classic Chastain Series
Presents
Chaka Khan with the Atlanta Symphony
Orchestra, Jere Flint, Conductor.

Chaka Khan entered the stage singing 'Can't
Nobody Love You Better' followed by classic Chaka
favorite 'Everlasting Love', remixed with a new twist  
inwhich she showcases her hilariously comedic
Najee
Najee
"My Point of View" is Najee's 10th solo
album and it goes totally emotional.

Mixing up his trademark soulful soprano with
dynamic touches of flute and alto, Najee told
me "Life is something we figure out as we go
through it and get to know self. I know about
love and happiness. I have been married to
my wife Karen for six years. Family is
important and our secret to happiness is not
taking things too seriously. The last cut on
this album is named after my son 'Miyuki'.
He says he started playing music in high school.   
"When I took a tenor sax solo in my high school jazz
band (August Martin High in Jamaica Queens NY) I
suddenly realized all the girls knew my name.  My
brother Fareed and I played professional gigs together
at 15.

The first and immediately recognizable about
"My
Point of View"
is the CD cover - Najee has evolved
from that boyish look in to  a handsome looking young
man.

The album is slamin' from the opening track
'Sidewayz' showcasing Najee on flute and Chris "Big
Dog" Davis on keyboards and drum programming.

"
Jimmy Heath was my first flute teacher" he told me
when I questioned if the flute is an expansion of his
talents?
Chaka Khan
abilities with her male back-up singer Vincent Ramore who's demanding
her attention by singing her name like a man on the prowl...., he
resplendently delivers emphatically "Cha-kah Khhhan!".."Cha-kah Khhhan!"
singing while
Chaka and the remaining back-up singers whail Evvvv EER
Lasting L-u-v with Chaka delivering her signature runs.

His insistence is sufficient reason for
Chaka to sashay over to him with one
hand on hip and the other outstretched she employs "You don't want none of
this" and struts upstage.  "Can I suck your baby toe?, he asked
Chaka, "Aw
no not my baby toe" she humorously snaps her head and get's right back on
cue with the lyrics.  The sellout crowd loved it and the party had begun with
adventure.

'Hollywood', 'Pappilion', 'Tell Me Something Good', and 'Sweet Thang' followed, before
Chaka jocundly queried  "Are we loud?.. Yes? ..Well we can't help it -- that's
how we roll"

She then slowed it down introducing a song she said is  "My favorite. This is
dedicated to my father", the song was "To Sir With Love'.

More humor was added when
Chaka preceeded to dance the cakewalk
introducing 'Hey Big Spender Spend A Little Time With Me'.  she delighted
her fans with exact foot, leg, arm, and body positioningss for the proper
execution of many steps and movements in ballet.  "Alright - U go girl" was a
consistent response back to the stage from the audience.
Second cut '3 AM' features
crooner
Will Downing on
vocals, a perfect slow down
from the up pace opener.
Will Downing
NAJEE
'Sidewayz'
Duration: 5 min 33 sec.
Najee falters-not on any of the ten splenderiffic tracks
which he mammothly structured and put in to action
segments with each song delivering and relating to love.

"My Point of View" his new album in worldwide release from
Heads Up International on August 23, 2005.
Afro American Syndiate HOMEPAGE