History of – Paul Tilman Smith……So Far

25/05/24
This is a song I wrote for my very young wife in the seventies when we were just learning how to get along called “LISTEN”. The first lyrics start off like this, “Listen to Me, Your hearts Not Free”. Of course today I’m the one who’s discovered I ain’t free, she free! Norman Connors version  below features John Coltrane’s pianist McCoy Tyner’s sax man Gary Bartz who now lives in  Oakland. Good luck Gary!
Norman had the bomb band in those days. Norman’s got a great new album coming soon and guess what, he say.  (Paul can I have 3 of your songs?, U got hits! ) No I don’t Norman, them Hip Hoppers &  Rappers got hits, all we got is, “Can’t Quit”. Uh Oh Norman I forgot! I like me and Freddie Hughs version of “Listen” better,lol. By the way, this is the song that Donny Hathaway was on the way to the studio to record for Norman when Donnie’s manager called and demanded twice as much money.

I left Oakland with bassist/percussionist Juma Sultan and first lived in the basement of singer Richie Havens house and there were cock roaches as big as my kneecap running around. Juma and I,played with many of New York’s cutting-edge Jazz kats including saxophonist Jackie McClean who asked me to join his band but I was beat down and ready to go home by then. I saw too many musicians doing bad and too many drugs around. Soon after I left Jama became Jimi Hendrix’s musical Guru helping Jimi to change the direction of his music. I was back home by then licking my wounds at my momma’s house. At Juma’s insistence Jimi bought me a plane ticket to come to Woodstock to play with his new band but I never caught the plane because I was afraid of Jimi’s music, aright decision at the time but a big mistake historically. I soon recognized that I needed to figure out a better way to make more money if I was going to stay a musician, so I began writing music with lyrics, something I had started when I was 15 and stopped when I got out of high school. After high school, I began playing drums in a hippy band called the “Second Coming”. Rock legend Steve Miller was also in the band and it was soon after that I switched to jazz. Thank goodness, I learned a little piano when I was young. People still can’t figure out how a jazz drummer writes pop and funk tunes. The jazz community won’t own me and the funk community won’t own me. I’m caught in the middle somewhere. My jazz chops are up, however. 

A couple of these songs represent some of my late ’80s to middle ’90s musical productions, updated where I had a chance to work with the late pianist-vocalist Bonnie Boyer and vocalist-pianist Rosie Gaines who both toured with Prince. I also recorded Sheila E when she was 15 and you can find that record in Japan somewhere. — Vocalist Skyler Jett, who also showed up at my house ambitious at age 15 continues to have an illustrious career and also took Lionel Richie’s place for a few gigs with the Commodores. Skyler is featured with Bonnie on a duet called “The Newsroom”, and that’s me doing the news broadcast on the tune. I had to get in where I could fit in. KCSM disc jockey and TV personality Sonny Buxton was paid to do the original news broadcast, my friend who never invited me to be in his Bay Area jazz picture that hangs at San Francisco’s main library. Everybody I ever played with was in it. I did enjoy playing at his Milestone’s Jazz club many times in a band with John Handy and pianist Bill Bell. God knows how many thousands of hours I spent playing in San Francisco jazz clubs many with Bobby Hutcherson, Merl Saunders, Woody Shaw, Alice Coltrane, Harold Land and Eddie Henderson, the list goes on. My voice over on “Newsroom” turned out pretty good. Anyway, Skyler Jett currently has a new single out entitled “Eternally” featuring him and soprano sax icon Kenny G that is real cool. — Also, third-year “American Idol” finalist LaToya London — who everyone from the Bay thought should have won the damn thang — sings two cuts and is also featured on the title track along with Donnie, Bonnie and Rosie, called “A Beautiful Heart”. The song also features another Prince bandmate, Levi Seacer Jr., on guitar, Nelson Braxton of the Braxton Brother’s who currently is in Michael Bolton’s band is on bass, and Michael Jackson’s last guitarist, Tommy Oregon, is the groove master on the track. The late Donald Tavie who was “lakesides” pianist is playing the keys, plus Lori Taylor, who is now sadly in a permanent coma suffered during childbirth, sings on the hook. Former Qwest recording artist and Wynton Marsalis bandmate Robert takes a mean sax solo. –I am also showcasing what I believe to be Rosie’s first professional recording from 1981, a song titled “Summer Sky.” The song sounds like it could have been a hit back when I cut it. I should have put it on the market way back then. (No wonder I’m broke!) Rosie’s song is the bonus track at the end of the record and features Ray Obiedo on guitar.

Of course, the greatest unsung vocal hero of the Bay area, third year”American Idol” finalist Donnie Williams, is the main featured vocalist on seven of the 14 tracks. This is my fourth musical collaboration with him. Go to my website, ChumpChange.com, to see and hear Donnie’s other recordings with my band Park Place. Donnie’s sister Terrell “Tootie” Williams is featured on three tracks singing on an updated version of Rosie’s “Summer Sky”, a duet with Derick Hughes titled “Sweet & Wonderful” and on vocalist Kareem Muhammad’s scandalous love song “April Fool,” which is one of two song’s I didn’t write on my record.

“Precious Song” is the only Gospel song on my record. It is sun gand arranged by church pianist Robert Collier, with added vocals by Donnie Williams. Sax man Vincent Lars, who plays unbelievably on the song, should have been famous a long time ago. The song was inspired and is dedicated to Reverend Jay Matthews who is currently the presiding Rector at the “Cathedral of Christ the Light” Oakland Ca.

I lastly would like to thank my Godson Derick Hughes a member of my seventies Bang CBS recording group “Bridge” for his great vocal arrangement of “Sweet and Wonderful” a song he co-wrote with Bridge keyboardist Michael (Spiderman) Robinson while both were members of the Bridge band. Derick is currently the lead male vocalist with Roberta Flack and also spent time recording with Motown & Prince in the 80’s. Spiderman is now one of the most sought-after keyboardist in the bay area. I love these songs. Some are freshly cut and others are old tracks that were updated and newly arranged by two Bay Area musical geniuses Bassist Nelson Braxton and Guitarist Levi Seacer Jr. I am so proud to be able to put my name on such a lovely work of art. My daddy would be proud of me.

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17/2/24
I basically started my music career as a starving avant-garde jazz drummer, 19 and almost penniless on the streets of New York’s Lower East Side in 1967. Jazz drummer Norman Connors and I were best friends and roommates for a while, the difference being he could run home to his momma in Philly to eat and my momma was way in California. Rent was like 40 dollars a month, and I was lucky if I had that. Kenny Dorham and Cecil McBee whenever I would see them on the streets always bought me food. Playing the angry experimental jazz of that era mainly with saxophonist Sonny Simmons, Pharaoh Sanders and Albert Ayler was definitely economically dangerous.

12/03/23
A lot of people I know  today missed my up and coming jazz career. I played with many Jazz greats in New York in the late sixties.  I was a eighteen year old baby but playing my ace off cause my daddy was a drummer and i started at 4 years old. Trying to be a great Jazz drummer is no joke. Almost like being a serious athlete. Me, Pharoah Sanders and Bassist Juma Sultan who would later become Jimi Hendrix’s guru, used to  spend almost six hours a day in Manhattan New York exploring the new avant garde Jazz boundaries created by our new age musical  hero saxman John Coltrane. I realized i would not only starve to death playing that music but also that was the era of Black protest music which was music a lot of people didn’t want to hear. Anyway, I love writing and producing music these days still playing my drums as much as i can.. A lot of my Jazz Heroes’ from the late seventies  and eighties have played on my compositions.

Norman Connors just called me as have a few friends from Europe and elsewhere to tell me I got a bonafide hit called “Magazine Girl” on the new Sounds of Oakland CD. Norman claims he’s taking the song and my storyboard video to his dear friend  Steve Harvey for support, good luck NORM!  Norman is a co-producer on the Sounds of Oakland album.

Magnificently, vocalist Donnie Williams who had the talent to win the 4th season of American Idol featuring  Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia is singing the song. He would have won the show that year if he hadn’t been  illegally  kicked off the program as did many other young handsome Black men through the history of that show. There was a big lawsuit filed in New York about this issue but looks like it fell through the cracks.

Could you imagine me going up to get a Grammy at 76? I would go up there with a cane just to make a point. Walking like the Tales from the Crip man. ” It Ain’t never Too Late To Conquer Fate”, that’s the first thing I would tell these youngsta’s..(picture of Donnie is below). The different Drum article was written by my great friend music critic Lee Hildebrand for the East bay Express. Prince Guitarist for 8 years ( The Power Generation) Levi Seacer  jr is in charge of doing the video. He’s a genius at that stuff.  He and sheila E, a member of my band for a short time when she was 16 were in Prince’s band together along with the late Bonnie Boyer who is featured on a hittin’ song on the Sounds of Oakland. Record due I hope no later than april. Bonnie’s song is over 20 years old and stills sounds fresh. Levi spruced it up a bit.  I was producing a album on her when she died.

11/03/23
I’m sitting around bored. looking for manufacture’s for the Sounds of Oakland record which is finished.  No Jazz gigs really like the old days. Some musicians are playing in little restaurants with nobody listening, background music. No clapping just chomping. Jazz gigs are so far in between that if i was depending on a Jazz gig for a living my spleen would be gone. Jazz has become like Classical Music in older people’s hearts  the only difference is the government supports Classical Music, those folks get great salaries.  My teachers said i was the most brilliant Classical music chart reader in High School and in College but because i was Black i could forget about breaking the Classical Music barrier. That’s still no different today. Classical music is almost just like Baseball today, but then again at least Basketball got it goin on in terms of talent fairness.
I swear to God!, the best thing I ever did was go back to my at fifteen years old love of sitting on the piano and writing words and melodies. When i got back from New York at age twenty after starving to death & almost homeless playing Avant Garde Jazz i figured I better switch back to writing as my first love, but also keep on playing drums, my first love. I used to practice drums all day but i switched to playing the piano all day. They called it “Three Chord Molly” because you didn’t need to be the best piano player to write songs but you had to spend all day on the piano figuring things out.

3/01/23
I am so excited about the forthcoming final February or March 2023 release of the “Sounds Of Oakland “,  “Music From the Streets” documentary CD that i don’t, but do know what to do, find a hundred thousand dollars so i can attempt to compete with the billion dollar record labels who promote their records with no problems.I’m one of a million independent small record labels. I got at least 3 songs on this record that have a legitimate chance of being popular songs.
1. Larriah Jackson from the 2020 TV program The Voice (and she should have won) her song featuring Mistah F.A.B with Latoya London doing the backgrounds. 2. Donnie Williams song Magazine Girl with Rapper Jentry Haskins 3. Martin Luther’s song Country Flower. After those three it’s a toss up. Everybody involved are excited and ready to get busy with this record. I have one last song to mix and i’m finished. We doing a video on Larriah hopefully starting in March. Sony records is paying me 30 thousand in back royalty’s and i’m gonna use that to at least get going.

Also i just found out that WyClef Jean didn’t have no problem making a writers deal with Paul McCarthy and John Lenin sampling one of their songs for the Gone Till November (the remix), but sampling my song  the brother decided to run from me never making any attempt to contact me about sampling my song entitled Stella featuring Norman Connors and Jean Carne for the same tune. I guess i wasn’t big enough for my fellow Black man to watch out for me. Finding out ten years later ain’t helping me get paid either. There’s a 3 year limit only for me to get paid . WyClef with R. Kelly and Rapper Cannibus certainly are not my brothers. But the Beatles? Hell Yeah!, lets get them paid..My attorney is asking for 30% ownership of the song moving forward.

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What a gifted family from Oakland. Anita Pointer never held her success against anyone. She stayed the same loving person throughout her life. She was always a pleasure to be around. Graduated from Tech High the same year as i did from Oakland High. No i ain’t telling you which year. Seems like too many of our musical loved ones are now beginning to leave this earth. There are a few great musicians that i know about that are suffering illnesses whom I have promised not to mention one word. I kinda grew up with the Pointer Sisters. Ruthie looked after me like a big sister in the sixties when i was sixteen. At the time she was dating a  6.5 brother name Larry Woods. Me and larry’s brother Robert Woods are still in touch. Bonnie was my dear friend  Tarika Lewis’s buddy at the start of the seventies and was fine as hell before i knew she had talent. Bonnie and I were close for a time. Bonnie would a few years later inadvertently help me to get my first record deal with Buddha Records in New York. At this time i will leave that story alone.
We should build a monument for Anita because her warm soul accompanied her every step of her career. The love and help she gave her youngest sister June helping bring June back from a worried  life is saintly.

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Vocalist Debra Von Lewis is in the second Bridge Band put together after the failed first Bridge CBS record deal. She is here in a picture with Prince pianist vocalist Rosie Gaines, Vocalist , percussionist and former Santana lead vocalist Tony Lindsey, Guitarist Tony DeWayne who i just heard had another stroke and is in the hospital, Rick James’s keyboardist Greg Lavias, pianist Michael Spiderman Robinson and my main man  Bassist Hillary Thompson . We did a showcase for my rich ace brother George Smith among others industry deal makers. My daddy’s name sake  decided to pick Peebles to marry and divorce instead. At least she got a hit so what can i say and a around at the time new husband LA Reed . 

My new Bridge band had way too much talent. We would have been like EW&F. Others that were there with power and money similar to my brother didn’t see  the vision either. Sadly and happily I’ve been making records for myself to listen to ever since,lol. P.S. Don’t underestimate the 2023 Sounds of Oakland new release. That record ain’t jokin’, i’m sorry. Everybody needs to get that record. We are talking about a absolute historical record. Not only it is a great record , but everybody that’s still alive that have had careers out of Oakland is on it.

What my young Bridge Band  members didn’t understand is i wasn’t using them for me personally to reach the limelight. In reality i was trying to help them reach the limelight, they were all so talented. They didn’t understand that i was not competing with them or using them for my own selfish reasons. They also never thought that i was ten years older than all of them because i looked so young. The truth is they never got to understand my talent. I couldn’t sing a lick.

They didn’t know that i was one of the most serious songwriters they were ever gonna meet having gone to college to study prose and poetry and that i had been songwriting since the age of fifteen and that all of our talents would have grown together and we would have reached the top, me always in the background because that is where i felt most comfortable always doing everything to lift their talents up. God knows i gave it my all, i truly tried my best with the limited resources i had at my disposal at the time. My brother was rich but he chose to lift up Pebbles instead. 

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Here dae is!, Michael, Debra and Derick!, members of my 70’s Bang CBS Records Oakland band “BRIDGE”, and we all ended up jumping off the BRIDGE,lolololol!. If we had all walked together to the other side we might have made it. There were five other members of the band White and Hispanic included. Claytoven Richardson was in the band, he ran to the other side of the Bridge and kept on steppin’,lol. If we had reached the top Larry Batiste would have been in the band  too. Larry wrote the horns for the album though it never came out.  It’s sitting somewhere in the dust like a piece of pus. The great Pat Duffey was on guitar and the late great Adrian Barrios  was on bass, they never were a problem. Jesus himself would of had to have been our manager for us to have understood the blessing we had. . I wish i would have at least known early that no African American band had ever made it out of Oakland to the big stage unless they were family groups like The Pointer Sisters or Sly and the Family Stone or  the Tony Tone Tonie’s all family related bands.  And even they ended up having some internal problems. Music success ain’t no joke. What needs to be researched is why the Tower Of Power made it out of Oakland. Of course we knew they had the talent and obviously deserved it. But what is it about Oakland? HUUmm! Was it all my fault? that i invested every penny i could find and never made a dime? A few individual artists from Oakland made it to the big stage  though, plus one well known musical Rap group.

Sadly and tragically as hard as i fought for  Oaklands gifted singers and musicians  to find success, all i got back from my wider musical community is being accused  of breaking into their houses. The female singing groups name that starts with a (P) and the male singing groups name that starts with a (W). The Berkeley police detective that held me against my will trying to set me up  would make front page headlines in the paper two years later as a dope dealer.  The (W) lead singer refused to apologize when i was found innocent, thought we were friends. So much for being friends with people who see themselves as stars.  Could you imagine me stealing from my people after four hundred years of slavery?. I was going to Cal Berkeley and i certainly  wasn’t a dope fiend and my brother George was one of the richest Black men in the Bay Area, the Bank Of Oakland and the first African American Airlines. Seven years older than his little brother he should have helped me and he never told me why he didn’t like me.     

The female group whose name starts with the letter (P), one of the lady singers and  i knew each other fairly well and i called her and asked her why couldn’t they  at least have one Black Brother in their backup band and she hung up the phone on me. At that point the band was all White. There White Bass Player whose name was J. Newman said when he got to a  rehearsal the manager was there and several of the managers employees, at least twenty people were in the room, John said they were shouting my name that i broke into their house. I guess it didn’t pay to protest in those days. Funny, the manager already knew me and called me the next week to offer me free studio time. What this singer i thought was a friend didn’t know is that me and her groups manager had become decent friends and that i was in and out of his office where i would secretly look at the 40 or so list of musicians auditioning for the group and there was absolutely not one Black musicians name on the list. I realized their back up band was designed that way on purpose.  A month later they got a Black drummer, after they wanted me to go to jail, lol.  The recordings from that free $1000 dollar studio time was what got me my record deal with Buddha records the following year.  The band “Vitamin E ” was born.. me, Freddie Hughes, David Gardener and Lady Bianca. I aint gon tell ya why that group failed. Ask Gladys Knight, i’m sure she knows. Whew!, my people, my people.

 I also auditioned for Sly and the Family Stone and was told i came in second by Freddie Stone, thank you Freddie for not hurting my feelings. lol..

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This was the cast for the west coast version of “Ain’t Supposed To Die a Natural Death” directed by Ted Lange from the TV program Love Boat with me as the musical director. I had world renowned  Violinist Michael White in the band guitarist Ray Obiedo, Sax man Sonny Lewis  and pianist Mark Soskin who later became Sonny Rollin’s pianist. That play was sold out every night of the week. It had a phenomenal run. Some folks said the Oakland version was better than the New York On Broadway version. Melvin Van Peeble’s wrote the play. Thats little ole me on the right hand corner with the beanie on looking like i don’t belong in the picture.lol.. I was also the Band director for the Bicentennial play of San Francisco and was in the paper a lot in those days. The greatest young playwrights in America at the time participated. You had original works from Leroy Jones (Amari Baraka ), Indian playwright Leslie Silko & Asian playwright  Frank Chin along with the Director from the theater version of the Cuckoo’s Nest before it became the movie. All the Nob Hill rich folks was there. I had a lot of haters around that play because i was making more money than the director. lol. That play was called “America More or Less”.

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I guess most musicians have found out already that internationally renowned sax player Pharaoh Sanders has died. Pharaoh was one of my life lines when i was a teenager playing Jazz in New York. I had no jobs , no money trying to survive playing Avant Garde Jazz, Avante Garde music was not popular with the music world so there were very few gigs in those days. Pharaoh would come by my apartment at least three times a week and we along with Bassist Juma Sultan would play for hours and Juma recorded everything. I’m definitely gonna reach out to Juma and tell him it’s time to send me a few of those tapes. Juma became Jimi Hendrix’s Guru after i left New York.

When Pharaoh lived in Oakland he and I, the late Sax Man Sonny Simmons and Juma on some mornings would head out to Golden Gate Park in S.F and play by that small beautiful lake out there. Those were the good old days before i left for New York to starve to death,lol. Years later after New York kicked my ass and i  was back in Oakland Pharaoh would be a regular at my Jam Sessions at Ivy’s in Jack London Square and Harry’s in Berkeley, he and the late great trumpet man Woody Shaw. Also, the late Ed Kelly was sometimes on piano as was the also late pianist Joachim Young. Sometimes Pharaoh would come to my Jazz gigs and just sit in and play, that’s how close we were. I never knew when he was coming, he’d just show up. Pharaoh was married for a while to my dear life long friend actress Maria Bryant’s late sister Gloria  and they have a child named Farah Sanders and Maria  both were looking after Pharaoh in Los Angeles on his last days.

Our history will always be tied together because i wrote the one song that Pharaoh recorded that made the Billboard Magazine top 100  “As You Are” featuring Phyliss Hyman on his “Love will Find a Away” album on Arista Records produced by my couple of months New York roommate Norman Connors. Norman helped me write the last verse to “As You Are” so he is a co-writer. What is truly historical for me is Pharaoh is playing his horn on my greatest song “Higher Power” featuring vocalist Freddie Hughes, guitarist Calvin Keys, pianist Glenn Pearson and bassist Nelson Braxton. Pharaoh was a few hours short of dying on his teacher mentor’s  birthday John Coltrane. Oh i forgot to say “As You Are” was written for John Coltrane.

Wow! i also forgot that Norman Connors UNSUNG TV documentary on TV One owned by Black female billionaire Kathy Hughes will debut on November 6th . Norman is the first Jazz musician to be honored in this way. I believe it is channel 29 in Oakland on Comcast. Norman said my interview for the show was great. Pharaoh is in there as is Herbie Hancock and many more of my music heroes too many to mention.

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THE GREEK THEATER: 1977
This was one of my greatest gigs getting back to the bay  from starving in New York and attending Cal Berkeley; still don’t know how i got in there. I had been playing mostly  in Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson’s band and had recently gotten serious about my song writing career. I was still a respected Jazz musician in those day’s and had a all star band consisting of members of Herbie Hancock’s band including  Bassist Paul Jackson and Percussionist Kenneth Nash, Julian Priester on Trombone, Fred Berry on Trumpet, Jim “Joachim” Young on Piano, Hadley Calliman on Tenor Sax and Lady Bianca was the special guest Vocalist. There was international media there that wrote about the festival and we also garnered equal headlines.

Next years festival would feature Miles Davis as the headliner. Who ever was in charge forgot to secure a grand piano. The organizers thought Miles’s keyboard player would use a electric piano. They found out a hour before Miles was to go on that he would not play without an acoustic piano. Organizers didn’t know what to do, the place was packed and Miles was refusing to play. One of the organizers said, “Call Paul Smith”, i know he’s got  a great piano that he plays all damn day writing them stupid songs. They called me and i said OK. They rushed to my little Berkeley apartment which featured no front steps and grabbed my piano with somebody’s truck. I’m not going to mention the name of the brother i released my piano to but i will say he never did pay me after he lied and said he would. I guess he was scared to let them White Folks in charge know how incompetent he was. Well my long ago brother everyone has lessons to learn. lol..

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When i first looked at this picture of John Coltrane i swear i thought it could be Bay Area Sax Man Robert Stewart. Robert could have definitely been John’s son yet of course i already know Roberts father and used to play with him, trumpeter Bob Stewart. My dream was always to get a chance to play one day with John but he was gone by the time i landed in New York. I did get to play with Alice his wife at Kimbal’s East. I forget who played bass. i know Kenneth Nash played percussion. The last time John played in San Francisco before he died was at the jazz Workshop on Broadway. I had been planning all week to get there to see him for the first time. I was so excited and then I got so sick from a bad cold that there was no way i could make it.

By the time i got to New York in 1968 he was gone. John ‘s drummers after Elvin Jones; Sonny Murray and Rasheed Ali, were my buddies in New York. I went there to be Sonny Simmons drummer. Sonny just passed two weeks ago. I also played and recorded with sax man Albert Ayler and trumpeter Don Ayler. Albert was found dead in the East River a few years after i left, never did get a explanation. I played with everyone i could in New York but that city wasn’t playing with you. After coming back to my little tiny studio apartment catching somebody different twice carrying my drums down the stairs that was enough for me. One time i was quietly sitting in my room reading when some one actually walked in with a key and those little mice running across my bed in droves while i was trying to sleep was a little too much also. The manager of the apartment building had his friends burglarizing folks. I didn’t have family there and very little work so yes i came home to mom’s house and didn’t give up the drums but  became also a very serious writer composer. Ended up writing a lot of Norman Connors songs and wrote John Coltranes international  prodigy Pharaoh Saunders only song to date  that made the national charts.

The Sounds of Oakland, “Music From the Streets”  compilation has been the longest and hardest record i have ever done. Not only did creating the original music take a hundred twists and turns before the final vocals arrived, but i’ve never dealt  with such a complicated manufacturing process as i did with this record. Every turn i took was another set back. This record should have been in my hands in September. Anyway it is finally finished and i guess i will be picking it up early next week. There are a lot of important folks waiting to promote this record in Europe and of course this record should have no problem on Bay Area radio. It’s probably gonna take a while to introduce it to the world. This record is like a documentary movie with historical implications that has nothing to do with what’s modern or what the music market place consists of today. It’s also for all these musical youngsters to look back and understand how real records were made back in the day.

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The music industry used to take care of a lot of people, especially Black people, not so today. There is no such thing as a gold record anymore, platinum?, what the hell is that?. The music business fed a lot of people over the years, opened a lot of doors  too to other parts of society. If you wrote a great record the world ended up loving you no matter what the color of your skin, ethnic background or even educational background. The creation of original music is why this society grew to become what it is today. Music warmed the soul, inspired the heart and created mutuality among the races. A lot of so-called racist’s had to give it up when it came to hittin’ the dance floor at least momentarily. Black music is what helped America take down all them “Colored People Only” toilet signs.


Well not today, the outlets for original music in America seems to have died. If you ain’t fifteen, female and cute the few record company’s left ain’t looking for you. All these American Idol type programs, “The Voice” etc, the only Black man that ever won one of them programs, God bless Him, weighed almost 300 pounds.
Those programs have yet even today to have created a teen idol Bobby Brown, Michael Jackson or a Teddy Pendergrass let alone any White or other male superstars when you think about it although i can name more of them big money folks. Of course there is the phenom called Rap Music, the only music that White people can enjoy hearing Black people call each other the N word. The crisis is that Black music has historically fed Black families in a huge way and that is not so anymore today. If you want to blame it on the computer like most do and if that’s true then the computer must be the devil,lol. The picture below is my daddy’s band from the 30″s the “Harlem Aces”.

********************************************************************************************************************Norman Connors is the first true Jazz Musician historically from the John Coltrane Avant Garde era to make it to the UNSUNG TV program. That’s because all we serious New York Jazz musicians had to follow Miles davis when he started putting a backbeat on his compositions using Drummer Tony Williams on his new records. Herbie Hancock would soon follow but Norman would end up putting on a different hat, the Pop and R@B producers hat using vocalists like Miles Davis Bassist Michael Henderson, Phyllis Hyman, Freddie Hughes, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jean Carne, Lady Bianca, Bo Williams,Glen Jones, Denise Stewart, Ollie Woodson and the list goes on. Donny Hathaway should have been included on the list but on the way to the studio to sing my song “Listen”, his manager called and asked for more money. Donny had studied Freddie Hughes version and loved the song. Freddie wasn’t no joke. Donny died soon after that. The last song Donny may have sung on this earth could have been mine, oh well!

Norman also cut my song “A Good Dream” for his gold Starship album but as always “bad luck”, my song was the one that got cut from the record. Phyllis sang it and Michael Henderson played Bass on it along with other great musicians. The song is sitting in Buddha Records archives somewhere. My song was the most esoteric song on the record, too musically inclined for that pop record. I lost tons of money.

All my musical heroes are in Norman’s UNSUNG TV program including Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clark, Ray Parker Jr, Kenny Gamble and the list goes on. Norman made sure they interviewed me because he and i were starving Jazz drummers together in New York and we’ve been best friends ever since. They interviewed me for a half hour in Hollywood yesterday. I hope i at least get five seconds in there,lol.

BED BALLADS “The Reboot”..

The old version called just “Bed ballads” without the word “Reboot”  is available and is great but i am never finished or satisfied with anything i do so i created a upgrade that i know now is the classic. Took two of the old songs off and added Derick Hughes version of “Love From A woman”, Freddie Hughes and Lady Bianca’s version of “High School Lovers”. Also, a song that me and the late greats pianist Lonnie Hewitt who wrote Freddies Send My Baby Back, and also Freddie Hughe’s both wrote on the song. I wrote the song for my once rich ass 7 years older brother who totally ignored me as he made five million a year in the seventies. It is called “What Goes Around”. Here are the lyrics below. Bed ballads the old version is up for sale but the new one i haven’t decided exactly what to do with that one yet. I took the nasty little song “Show Me Yours” off the new Bed Ballads “The Reboot” record and “A Beautiful Heart” because that song appears on the Higher Power Project album. Lenny Williams tune, “Invisible Man” is also on the Sounds Of Oakland CD. I freshened it up a little, it’s more doo-wap sounding on this new version, i reworked the music a little. Finally, all my favorite love ballads are on this one record together. Only one song gets a little nasty but at least it’s the truth, :”High School Lovers”,lol..

Here are the What Goes Around: “Lyrics”
Whatever goes around comes around, back again, back again
Just like the tide swept out to sea
Is coming back to be – again
(Please don’t treat your brother wrong
Just because sad is his song
Look at him and see yourself
Comfort him if nothing else)
Whatever goes around comes around , back again, yeah uh huh
Just like the sun goes down each night
You know tomorrow comes the light
Just because you’re up on top
Don’t mean one day you won’t drop
So help your brother when he’s down
For that which goes comes back around
Whatever goes around comes around, back again, back again
Just like the wrong you say and do,Could All Come Back and make you Blue
The game of life, has ups and downs, No easy answers, can be found
But you can keep, an even flow, Just don’t return no hateful blow.
Let darkness go, lift sunshine out. Find peace of mind in times of doubt.
Take care in prayer, wish all men luck, and each child you meet, softly lift them up.

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Lady Bianca was the bomb. I’m surprised that i was able to get her to sing with me and that she was available.  David Gardner was the best entertainer in the greater Bay Area and had a very unusual voice to go along with his stage skills. We really should  have done much better than we did but we never found a great manager. I didn’t realize Freddie Hughes who sung the title track to the Sharing album was only in his thirties. He seemed way much older to me. He was more a solo artist than a group singer. I guess you could say he was old before his time. Sang the hell out of the title song. Freddie is gone now but his music will live forever.

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The late Rhonda Warner pictured here is responsible for the advent of the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival because it is she who called me and invited me to a job interview as a Music Supervisor for the Alameda County Neighborhood Arts Council, (ACNAP) in 1984. That job allowed me to train myself to do outdoor concerts in Mosswood Park and Berkeley’s Provo Park on MLK and Alston Way in Berkeley. After a few years of experience doing that i went to my friend the late RD Bonds business, “Peoples Bazaar” on Alcatras and Adeline in Berkeley with the idea to start a street festival. RD sold me his house before he died, a house that is 40 yards up from the Black Repertory Theater, what a blessing.

 

Anyway, after bugging him for a year he finally stepped up and put the paper work together to start the festival. He said “Hell Naw” to me being on the board. He was a smart man and also was on the board of the Berkeley Merchants Association.
He knew putting me on that board would allow people to attack me in terms of how i wanted to run things and he was right. After RD died his business partner Sam Dykes and i ran the festival for ten years without a board because Sam got rid of the board. I was the one that decided it was time to put a new board together. Guess What? They ran me out of there. Today is a new day. Them dummies forgot to copyright the name and i just opened up a checking account called the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival with a new 501-C-3 thanks to Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, thank u so much Mr Miley. Now i can get back what i started even if it means doing it at a different location. Yes i am looking for funders if you know anybody,lol.

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Hey everybody!  I won record of the year in the UK in 2001. Couldn’t have done it without “SPIDERMAN”, keyboardist Michael Robinson. We were all so young. Derick Hughes was probably 18 by then singing his ace off. Debra Von Lewis was such a great young singer that Berry Gordy would later personally take  her under his wing. Today i can’t win a invitation to play at one of the local Jazz clubs. Any time i call somebody up to ask about playing at their club the first thing they say is well who are you, never heard of you before? How do i know you can play, never heard any of these young musicians call your name or seen anything about you in the papers. The truth is i’m playing my ace off, but one thing that  i refuse to do is convince a ????? person that i know how to play. The pictures are me playing opposite Dave Brubeck with Saxman John Handy, Trumpeter Eddie Henderson, the late  Pat Buchanan on Trombone and the recently late Bassist James Leary at the Concord Jazz Festival.

The other picture is that of my band Park Place from the nineties featuring some of the Bay Area’s most talented musicians. By the way, the reason i feel like i do is i have stood by and watched every older great life time  musician that has shared their musical gifts in the Bay Area instead of New York end up being deprived of their relevance. At a point in the near future i will get more specific because that is why i started the non-profit Bay Area Jazz Society is to be able to tell the truth and uplift those musicians that have been overlooked by upstart Jazz Organizations and those who don’t think you fit into the who’s who of the American musical brain trust.