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African Rhythms

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Tuesday 1/29/2019 Show: Randy Weston Memorial

Photo: Randy Weston | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

Program note: we’re in a new weekly Tuesday night slot from 10-12 midnight!

The next show will air on Tuesday January 29, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with pianist, composer and pan-Africanist Randy Weston. This program originally aired on September 21, 2010 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Baba Weston’s release “Uhuru Africa” and his autobiography “arranged by” Willard Jenkins titled “African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston.” Baba Weston was the “composer” of this book.

NEA Jazz Master and practitioner of African rhythms Randy Weston has never failed to make the connections between African and American music. His dedication is due in large part to his father, Frank Edward Weston, who told his son that he was, “an African born in America.”

Growing up in Brooklyn, Weston was surrounded by a rich musical community: he knew Max Roach, Cecil Payne, and Duke Jordan; Eddie Heywood lived across the street; Wynton Kelly was a cousin. Most influential of all was Monk, who tutored Weston upon visits to his apartment. Weston began working professionally in R&B bands in the late ’40s before playing in the bebop outfits of Payne and Kenny Dorham. After signing with Riverside in 1954, Weston led his own trios and quartets and attained a prominent reputation as a composer, contributing jazz standards like “Hi-Fly” and “Little Niles” to the repertoire. He also met arranger Melba Liston, who has collaborated with Weston off and on into the ’90s. Weston’s interest in his roots was stimulated by extended stays in Africa; he visited Nigeria in 1961 and 1963, lived in Morocco from 1968 to 1973 following a tour, and has remained fascinated with the music and spiritual values of the continent ever since. In the ’70s, Weston made recordings for Arista-Freedom, Polydor, and CTI while maintaining a peripatetic touring existence — mostly in Europe — returning to Morocco in the mid-’80s.

After contributing seven decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remained one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary.

Randy Weston joined the ancestors on September 1, 2018.

[(Bio adapted from Allmusic)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Web Extras:

Watch Weston and the African Rhythms ensemble perform “Blue Moses” in this live clip from approximately 2010.

Watch Weston and saxophonist Billy Harper perform “Blues to Senegal” in this live clip

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 6/24/2018 Show: Neil Clarke

Photo: Neil Clarke | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

The next show will air on Sunday, June 24, 2018 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast presents an interview with master percussionist Chief Baba Neil Clarke.

We will also speak with Dr. Segun Shabaka, Board Chair of the 2018 International African Arts Festival, where Clarke is one of the headline performers. Chief Baba Neil will perform a tribute to Mongo Santamaria.

Chief Baba Neil Clarke is a master percussionist of legendary status. Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvestant in the spring of 1951, Clarke is internationally acclaimed as a percussionist who has been involved with traditional African drumming and the percussive arts for more than half a century. He performs regularly with and has had long term musical relationships with artists such as: Randy Weston, Harry Belafonte, Dianne Reeves, Miriam Makeba and many others.

Clarke has made it his mission to continue the pioneering work of his mentors and trainers. In honor of that collective of elders who played a pivotal role in bringing African cultural traditions to North America, South America, and the Caribbean in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Neil Clarke has helped keep those traditions alive.

In addition to his activities as a professional performer, Chief Baba Neil (as he is now affectionately called), has been active in arts in education programming for more than four decades as an educator and a consultant. He has conducted artist residencies and designed programming at all educational levels from elementary and middle school through secondary and college. Chief Baba Neil has done artist residencies and master classes at institutions such as Harvard University, Duke University, Rutgers University, Long Island University (C.W. Post), University of Hartford, Lewis and Clark College, and many others. And over the years he has served as a presenter and consultant for many of the major cultural institutions in the New York area including: The Caribbean Cultural Center, the Museum of Natural History, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, to name a few.

Chief Baba Neil has also been engaged as both a panel presenter and moderator on subjects related to the exploration of the history and historical presence of the African drum in America. He has been cited in several publications on the subject. In 2012, he was awarded a grant by the Center for Black Music Research and a Research Fellowship for Archival Research by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium to further his studies.

Currently, as an adjunct professor in the music department at the City University of New York (since 2004), Clarke conducts a popular course of his own design on Traditional African Percussion Ensemble performance and theory.

(Bio adapted from Chief Baba Neil’s Facebook page. More info is available at his website.

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Chief Baba Neil will perform a tribute to Mongo Santamaria at the 2018 International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn on Sunday July 1. 

Web Extras:

Watch Clarke’s band perform at Brooklyn’s Sista’s Place in this live clip.

Watch Clarke perform with Randy Weston’s African Rhythms in this live clip.

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Sunday February 2nd Show: Alex Blake

Alex_Blake_smallReminder: Suga’ in My Bowl now airs weekly on WBAI, except for the last Sunday of the month! Please update your calendars, pass the word on to friends, and share on social media if you like the show.

The next show will air on Sunday February 2nd, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of the program will feature an exclusive interview with bassist Alex Blake. Listen to a short preview of the show below.



Alex Blake (Alejandro Blake Fearon, Jr.) is a contemporary master bassist on both the classical upright (or double) bass and on the electric bass. He is an innovator and pioneer in the development of contemporary musical genres across the spectrum from Latin/salsa, Jazz, rock, fusion, funk, Afro-Caribbean, bossa nova, flamenco, and soul, pop, R&B, country and world music. His self-developed playing style reveals a unique approach to the instrument borrowing from cello and guitar techniques resulting in a dynamic, high impact stage presence whether solo or with other musicians.

Originally from Panama, his family traditions included the gift of music from his father, a distinguished Latin musician himself, who introduced the trumpet and bass to his son. Mr. Blake began playing professionally in New York with the masters of Latin and salsa including Mongo Santamaria and Celia Cruz as a child. His unique approach of melodic and rhythmic slapping caught the attention of the legendary Sun Ra and Jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie to record and tour Europe at major festivals and venues while still a teenager. Mr. Blake became an in-demand bassist, performing and collaborating with an astonishing number of top artists including Freddie Hubbard, Astrid Gilberto, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner, Billy Cobham and the Manhattan Transfer among many.

As a composer, songwriter and educator, Mr. Blake’s original compositions encompass multiple musical styles from his international background and experiences. He has recorded on multiple Grammy-winning albums, endorsed Ibanez and other brands and has received numerous accolades and awards for a lifetime in music. Mr. Blake tours internationally with Randy Weston and his African Rhythms band, performs at the major festivals and clubs and is now working on an upcoming CD (Colors) with his own band in New York City.

Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Produced, engineered, edited and hosted by Joyce Jones.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Bruno Bollaert (volume 12). Creative Commons licensed.

Web Extras:

Watch this short Alex Blake bass solo with Randy Weston’s African Rhythms at the 2008 Charlie Parker Festival in NYC’s Tompkins Square Park.


Watch a longer 2013 Blake solo at York College’s Performing Arts Center.

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