Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Planetary Music - Funk and Soul

Anyone else searching for Planetary Music, Funk, and Soul?

The Odyssey Of Funk & Popular MusicImage via Wikipedia
I just Googled the phrase "planetary music funk and soul."  The first result was "Brass Fantasy, The Odyssey of Funk and Popular Music" by Lester Bowie.  I really did not expect any results, and  this is fantastic.  I am not an expert on Lester Bowie (though I acquired many of the Art Ensemble of Chicago albums and saw them live in the 1970s).  He is my homeboy (St. Louis, Missouri [hi Nelly]) and older than me.  Not an expert on his brother, Byron Bowie, either, but I knew him, went to school with him (high school and college).  Byron was brilliant and a leader of us "Negro" ("Black" by the graduation) students during the turbulent sixties.  He was sorely missed when he left school early to move to California and get life going.  I admired him because he was a free spirit, never a follower and always nice to me. *Smiling.*

It is no "coincidence"  that the  "planetary soul" search returned my soul brothers from St. Louis because I think there is a particular distinguishable "soul" about this city.  St. Louis is where I formed my first impressions of music and its power to heal, lift and motivate.  The singers and musicians were revered in school and enjoyed popularity.  We idolized our artists and clung to the music for sustenance.

Music has always been a major motivator in my life.  My earliest memories are dancing classes at Mildred Franklin's Dance Studio from age two throughout high school.  She was the preeminent African American dance instructor and her studio (the first floor of her two-story home) was where I was every Saturday morning throughout my entire childhood learning ballet, jazz, tap under "old-school"  dance studio rules.  We were a tight little group by the time I stopped and had worked many "professional" jobs including  "The Ted Mack Amateur Hour." 

I asked for a piano when my friends in school began lessons and my father got a piano for me (an old player piano that he got free of charge, just paid to move it).  They put it in the basement for me and that's how I spent my happy, secure childhood:   Music lessons at the Alleda Ward Wells Music Studio, practicing piano every day and dancing on the weekends.  My musical career culminated in playing the entire Lutheran Church service on organ which I studied from Mr. Nicholas.  Being just a slightly-above-average piano player was reinforced in the one college piano course I took.  However, the benefits have continued to enrich my life as my livelihood--keyboarding still today (legal word processor and world-class typist) and cultivated  a deep appreciation for music and sharing musical discoveries.

For a brief stint I learned how to play the coronet because back in the day you had the option of  learning violin (girls) or all the other cool instruments (boys).  Yep, that's how it was in those days, children, but not for this chickie.  When I walked in the elementary band room (in the basement of the school but a designated "band room" nonetheless), there was a brand-new, shiny, coronet among the instruments.  I just could not resist having my lips be the first on that instrument and convinced the band teacher, next my parents, to let me give it a try.  I remember the day I was first allowed to bring my horn home--sheer ecstasy.  I put my heart into practicing and became better than the boys because of sheer determination.

Head and shoulders portrait of jazz musician Louis Armstrong
Image via Wikipedia

My mother never liked that I was playing the coronet because it was not a "girl" thing to do and she tried many ways to get me to stop.  The final argument  that my lips would start looking like Louis Armstrong's scarily convinced me to stop. 

I encourage you to read the review  by Stanley Crouch "Music Over Movie Making."  And here's some grandmotherly advice:  Make sure music and dancing is a part of your lives and your children's routine.  So, with all my soul I continue to share the music and invite you to join us here:

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