jeudi, octobre 25, 2007

Bey View

Andy Bey at the Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles (03.03.07)
Photo Credit: J-Notes

So I came across Bey the same way I came across Bartz, accidentally. I was making a Mother's Day or (maybe it was a birthday) mix CD for my mom this past May and was running low on selections so I surfed eMusic looking for something Ms. Juliesque. I'm not sure how I landed on Gary Bartz Ntu Troop's I've Known Rivers & Other Bodies (1973), but the title track fit the bill. My foreign born mom, weaned on American soul exports, has long been enamored of African American arts and letters and for the past few years has scripted our church's African American history program having taken over that duty from my Auntie Lue. I knew the Langston Hughes adaptation would go over well and could already imagine it softly spilling from the Volvo V70's speakers as she negotiated I-5 traffic from our Lake Forest Park house to our church on Seattle's First Hill. Bartz sang on "I've Known Rivers," a live recording from the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival, but reeled me in further or rather farther back into his seventies catalog when a singer named Andy Bey had handled vocals and keys. The father and son team at Breath of Life learned me to Bey a few months later courtesy of this post on the Bartz-Bey cover of the Syreeta-Stevie classic since sampled by Kanye for Common, "Black Maybe" and this post on Bey's masterful 1996 interpretation of the Duke's "In A Sentimental Mood." A passive obsession commenced. I'm presently incapable of specifying what makes Bey work so well but he does and he's got the resume to prove it. A child prodigy who later performed in trio with his sisters Salome and Geraldine, Bey, a pianist, vocalist and composer also collaborated with Horace Silver (whom I also adore), the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Orchestra (who sourced the Jill Scott "Brotha" sample) and the aforementioned Gary Bartz (who, Hercules!, I got to see live at the Blue Note a few weeks ago). I'm particularly fond of how he improvised with Bartz at the end of "People Dance," which the good people at Breath of Life also featured this summer. I'm crossing my fingers that Bartz and Bey will partner up for some live performances of Ntu Troop classics in the near future.
So with that said, "People Dance" (1970) [MP3] There really ought to be more dancing.
A few years ago, the Gay and HIV+ 67 year old who turns 68 on the 28th spoke with the International Herald Tribune and touched on the longstanding challenges to his recording career. Around that time NPR's Tony Cox interviewed Bey as well for Tavis Smiley's defunct program. Both are worth checking out especially to hear Bey's thoughts on the dearth of male jazz vocalists.

Andy Bey plays Joe's Pub tonight at 9:30 PM and J&R Tuesday at 12:30 PM in support of the release of his live album, Ain't Necessarily So.