RUFUS WONDER & DAVE McCLELLAN AT THE 2014 HAL AWARDS HOLLYWOOD
True Vibe Records
Affiliated Artists Rufus Wonder, left, and Dave McClellan
show their presence at the 2014 HAL AWARDS.
The Mary Jane Girls are
surrounded by reporters at the festive event.
Busy reporter takes a break from interviewing R&B legends such as
Motown founder and former President Berry Gordy, New Edition, Take 6, Eddie Floyd,
Dennis Edwards, Freda Payne, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson,
and more who attended.
Rufus Wonder discusses show biz with other
Take 6 gets ready to "tear the house down"
with their spectacular harmony.
Dave McClellan, right, entertains an
Ray Parker, Jr., left, congratulates a
HAL Scholarship Award recipient.
Take 6 sings for their favorite reporter at the event.
Rufus Wonder, left, and Dennis Edwards reminisce about their
earlier music career days in Detroit.
Current Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam, left, shows off her trophy to Dave McClellan,
sharing her excitement about winning the 2014 HAL Triumph Award.
Two attendees enjoy the festivities.
Warner Brothers/ Chappell Music Publishing Company
Vice President Ryan Press, center, fields questions from reporters.
Current Motown President
Ethiopia Habtemariam, left, shares a moment with
Actor-Film Producer Leon Isaac Kennedy.
Original Supremes member
Mary Wilson, left, enjoys a moment of night life with
Oakland-based True Vibe Records has launched its music to greater heights with the release of its new album titled JFHP: 5 Generations. As the titled suggests, this project features a diverse collective of San Francisco Bay Area conscious hip hop and spoken word artists, vocalists, and musicians who range in age from their 20s to 70s—bridging the generation gap.
According to TVR producer / owner Bill Jackson, this marks the fifth in a series of albums pioneering a musical genre called Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetry, a term coined by Bay Area poet/ spoken word legend Paradise (AKA Richard Moore). On this album, you can hear the influence of Mos Def, Brand New Heavies, Gil Scott-Heron, Eryka Badu, Carlos Santana, and Charles Brown, to name a few. This ambitious project showcases masterful fusion of Conscious Hip Hop, R & B, Jazz Funk, Spoken Word, Latin, and Blues.
This album lights things up from the jump with its bangin’ lead track featuring veteran Bay Area hip hop star D Labrie the E.O.G. (East Oakland’s Greatest) AKA “Mr. Network” on “To the Flow,” an upbeat conscious hip hop dance track about fun times in Oakland in particular, and the San Francisco Bay Area in general. Over the heavy drumbeat and slap bass rhythms, he celebrates people enjoying the vibrant cultures in diverse Oakland neighborhoods while announcing that Oaklanders, who work hard and play hard, also feel empowered to stand up for social justice. D Labrie also gives you a snapshot into the life of an upcoming conscious hip hop artist on the rise. In addition, he pays tribute to Bay Area sports teams which have won championships in recent years. Listeners get a special treat when they dig two slammin’ solos by powerhouse tenor saxophonist John Patrick Douglas, a distinguished bandleader who has played with many and various groups, including the Afrofunk Experience, Groove Doctors, and Rene Escovedo (of the famous Bay Area Escovedo family, which includes Rene’s Uncle Pete and Cousin Sheila E). Talented vocalists Caley Kenny, Vendetta Jeanjacques, and Bill Jackson sing background,
luring revelers to “Rock, throw down. Keep it goin’ ‘til ya party down.”
The second track, “He-Done-Ism,” takes you to the sinister underworld of hard core drinking, drugging, pornography, prostitution, and gambling. Once again D Labrie runs it down, telling a story about people caught up in self-destructive situations before seeing the light and finding peace of mind in recovery from addictions. D Labrie, who often tours the U.S. and abroad (recently performed in South Korea), is a representative of Hip Hop Congress, a politically active non-profit organization very influential with young people.
Female hip hop artist Kalizay, originally from El Salvador, is featured on the third track with her sultry “Mucha Alegria,” a jam that takes you on a mellow Latin groove describing fun times in Chicano culture. This song also pays a brief tribute to Mexican-American heroes such as Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and Stanford University Heisman Trophy winner and former star Oakland Raider Super Bowl MVP quarterback Jim Plunkett.
“The Chili Is Hot,” a rich melodic Jazz Fusion cut, is the only instrumental on this album, and it features multi-talented Berklee Music College (in Boston) alumnus Ben Ball playing lead alto sax and keyboard. Ben Ball, who has performed with jazz trumpet immortal Donald Byrd and a New York City-based African Funk band called Ibrahim World Beat, composed the song. Bass guitarist Roger Mitch adds plenty of spice with his creative improvisations throughout this piece, while Phillip Stewart plays a percussive support role on drums.
Paradise presents spoken word at its best with the recorded version of one of his classic pieces titled, “Ain’t Yo’ Mama Black.” He uses rich, poetic language to reflect on Black History, World History, World Cultures, and the role of Mother Africa and her descendants in all of it. Outstanding percussionist Bill Norwood accompanies on congas and Bill Jackson plays bass guitar.
Elegant songstress extraordinaire Shavone Pickett, premiere Bay Area Hip Hop Diva Keldamuzik (who has toured the Caribbean, Japan, and has her own Cable TV show), and virtuoso alto and soprano sax man Ben Ball are featured on “Bold and Beautiful,” a tribute to strong and beautiful women in general, and strong and beautiful Black women in particular. This song is a winning example of fusing Jazzfunk, R & B, and Conscious Hip Hop.
“Give It All U Got!” is a dazzling mix of Afro-Cuban / Latin Jazz, R & B, Funk, Conscious Hip Hop, and Spoken Word, but the music speaks for itself. This upbeat Mambo-style track features lead vocalists Brianii Savange and Bill Jackson, Conscious Hip Hop Artist Kalizay, and Spoken Word artist Paradise.
Last but not at all least, “Merry Christmas Baby” features veteran Classic Soul vocalist Rufus Wonder rockin’ the house with this newly-revised cover version of Charles Brown’s original song. This fast, uptempo Blues-style version also features musicians Michael “Spiderman” Robinson on piano, Ben Ball on alto sax, and James “Jam G” Tall on guitar playing “good music (on my radio),” as Rufus Wonder’s lyrics say.
Professional recording studio The Wally Sound raised this project to peak quality as chief engineer Wally McClellan recorded, edited, mixed, and mastered the album tracks. The artistically-gifted Aidan O’Flynn illustrated the impressive portraits of artists on the album front cover and designed the rest of the graphics.
Ben Ball- Piano/Alto
Kalizay-Bilingual MC -Hip
D LaBrie -Hip Hop
Congratulations! You Broke the Top 3!
True Vibe Records Affiliated Artists are one of the Top 3 Bands on the ReverbNation Charts.
Well done! Thank your friends and fans — they helped you get there.
Vibe Records, founded in Oakland,
recently stepped up its game by releasing its newest and hottest album
yet, titled ¡Mucho Mas! Jazz Funk Hip
HoPoetry. Song tracks have trace elements of Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Brand New Heavies,
Public Enemy, Gil Scott-Heron, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, James Brown, Ohio Players,
Tower of Power, and Carlos Santana. And these thought-provoking songs
create a festive mood that uplifts listeners as they inspire them to dance,
reflect, and take action to affect personal and social change.
This is the fourth in a
series of CDs, following the highly acclaimed
Paradise Presents Jazz
Funk Hip HoPoetry, Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetry—Phaze 2,
and Give It All U Got!
The title of this 14-track project hints that many of these original songs
have a Latin influence,
along with fusion of
Jazz Funk, R&B, Conscious Hip Hop,
and Spoken Word. Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetryhas developed immensely as
a new genre of music since its inception when producer
Bill Jackson recruited
Bay Area poet laureate/ slam poetry icon/
spoken wordartist Paradise
to collaborate. Paradise
coined the name of this music.
A diverse line up of topflightGreater San Francisco Bay Area
vocalists, musicians, conscious hip hop and spoken word artists were
recruited to contribute their musical gifts to this album. They came
fromOakland, San Francisco, Berkeley,
Richmond, Novato, San
Leandro, Hayward, Fremont, Danville, San Jose,
with their creative juices overflowing with talent.
The album’s opening track, titled
“Give It All U Got!” is a brand new
version of this trail blazing cut that thrills listeners with its dazzling mix of Afro-Cuban/ Latin
Jazz, R&B, Funk, Conscious Hip Hop, and Spoken Word.
Brooklyn, New York
Brianii Savage (of Puerto Rican/
African American/ Jewish ethnicity, now a Bay Area resident) leads a dynamic
call and response opening to this upbeat song, inspiring people to live life
to the max. Lovely and talented vocalists April Dawn, Denice Carrasco,
and Yolanda Davis
pave the way for lead vocalist Bill
to take this groove to new heights, while master percussionist Bill Norwood (who in recent years has played drums with Robin Duhe, former bass player with Frankie Beverly and Maze) is the driving force. Red hot Salvadorian MC Kalizay’s
exotic hip hop flow in both Spanish
inspires fans to reach their dreams. Speaking to the Latino community, she
“my brothers for breakin’ the cycle of
stereotypin’.” Then Bay Area
spoken word legend Paradise
keeps the party going celebrating diversity with his lofty visions a
multi-ethnic “cultural world fair in
Oakland,” a “United
States of Africa,” and
as a common language to be a key to economic growth for Black people
worldwide of theAfrican Diaspora.
Master trumpeter John Halbleib
(who’s played with the likes of Pete
Escovedo, Sheila E., Larry Graham, Aaron Neville,
and Roberta Flack)
ignites fans with a raw solo and anchors the brass throughout the song while Ben Ball, whose saxophone brilliance can also be
heard, rocks near the end with his exhilarating piano solo.
Ben Ball has performed with jazz immortal Donald Byrd, Bay Area jazz luminaries Ed Kelly, Charles Hamilton, Bill Bell, and a New York City-based African funk band called
Ibrahim World Beat.
The second track, "He-Done-Ism,"
takes you to a dark place of addiction in the sinister underworld of
hardcore drinking, drugging, pornography, prostitution, and gambling.
Background vocals by singers Brianii Savage, April Dawn, Denice Carrasco,
and Yolanda Davis
kick it off with a chorus steeped in soul followed by the dreamy chant “I
wanna feel goooood.” Then without being overly preachy or moralistic, Bay
Area hip hop star D Labrie
the “EOG” (East Oakland’s Greatest)
takes charge and runs it down, telling a story about self-destructive
situations before seeing the light and finding peace of mind in recovery
from addictions. D Labrie (who has toured the U.S. and abroad), also known in Bay Area show biz as “Mr.
Network,” is a representative
of Hip Hop Congress,
a non-profit organization very influential with young people.
is featured on the third track with her sultry
“Mucha Alegria,” a jam that takes
you on a mellow ride describing fun times in Chicano culture.
She lures listeners and conveys subtle messages in English
and Spanish about honesty and personal integrity in
relationships, assuring that “I never lie to my sisters or the opposite
sex.” This song also pays a brief tribute to Mexican-Americanheroes such as farm labor leaders
Delores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and Stanford
University Heisman Trophy
winner/ former star
Oakland Raider Super Bowl MVP quarterback Jim
The gifted, charming Chayla
Gibson-Smith sets the tone for this
mellow groove with her soothing vocals in the opening.
Kalizay and up and coming pop
singer Xavier Toscano
render sizzling hot romantic monologues in Spanish
before trumpet pro Cayce Carnahan
(a Cal State East Bay-trained music educator) tops it off with a captivating
Latin-style part muted and part un-muted trumpet solo at the end. The album
includes two versions of this song: an extended version and a radio edit
The classy Latin Jazz
cut, and only instrumental on the album, titled “Afro-Cuban Sax Brothers”
features gifted tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis and master musician Ben Ball
playing brilliant solos on alto sax, piano, and soprano sax respectively. Dave Ellis
raises the excitement with a rich tenor sax solo, followed by his
spellbinding tenor sax voice over the backdrop of vibrant background horns. Producer Bill Jackson
composed this piece as a tribute to saxophone players Ben Ball, Dave Ellis
(who’ve known each other since elementary school in Berkeley), and Melvin Bell
(also affectionately called “Mellow,”
originally from Denver, Colorado), who are all former classmates and
graduates of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in
Distinguished percussionist Bill
Norwood once again assumes the role
of the driving force behind this piece, which is reminiscent of many classic
Latin Jazz tracks using strings and background horns. Not only is this song
is great for listening, but it also makes you want to get up out of your
seat and dance.
Get ready to rock with veteran classic soul vocalist Rufus Wonder
leading a cadre of many artists in a call to action on “Uncle Sam’s Goin’Broke.”
Over Ben Ball’s
commanding alto saxophone voice, the hard-driving beat, blues/ rock-style
guitar and bass, this social protest song (written in 2011 during the peak
of the Occupy Movement) reveals snippets of our challenging U.S. economy,
erosion of the middle class, a society of "haves" and "have nots"
growing apart, with increasing gentrification in major cities and
slight economic gains in 2014 primarily benefiting the rich. Like “Mucha
this song also has an extended version and a radio
edit version (the fifth track).
In the extended version (the final track), the tension lightens as a series of brief
humorous monologues by
Bill Jackson, the late distinctive
Dave McClellan add comic relief. Bay Area spoken word legend
Paradise shares some pearls of
wisdom and a provocative Afro-Centric message of hope, healing, and
inspiration at the end, advising African Americans (who now have a higher
poverty rate than during
President Johnson's "War on Poverty"in the 1960s, according to USA Weekend
magazine) to "Occupy Black Wall Street!" The collective voices of
Rufus Wonder, Brianii Savage, Bill Jackson, Denise Carrasco, Rick Alexander,
April Dawn, Dave McClellan, Yolanda Davis
along with masterful solos by trumpet boss
Cayce Carnahan, alto saxophone boss
spoken word make this track a classic.
Elegant songstress extraordinaire
Shavone Pickett, premiere Bay Area
hip hop diva Keldamuzik (who in recent years has toured the Caribbean and Japan),
and virtuoso alto and soprano sax man Ben Ball
are featured on “Bold and Beautiful,”
a tribute to strong and beautiful women in general and strong and beautiful
black women in particular. The late
Tina Floyd sets the stage for this
piece with her engaging background vocals. This album showcases a new
version of this original song, which represents a model for fusing
and Conscious Hip Hop. Lyrics were written
by Shavone Pickett
the music composed by Bill Jackson,
and Bill Norwood
Other outstanding tracks on this album include spoken word pieces (the
“Connections” by spoken word artist/ vocalist Raquel Ramsey
(friend, high school and college classmate of Ben Ball,
who plays tenor sax on this one),
“Cocoa Venus” and “Ain’t Yo’ Mama Black”
by Paradise, “Let’s Take a Ride”
by Chicano spoken word/ conscious hip hop artist Big Dan, “Social Emergency”
by gifted Chicana spoken word artist
Alejandra Mojica, and “Playaz Blues”
featuring vocalist Rufus Wonder,
hip hop artists D Labrie
with Chayla Gibson-Smith
and Rick Alexander
adding humorous monologues in the mix. This song is a musical parody about
the life of an aging player.
The earlier mentioned “Let’s Take a
Ride” represents dynamic spoken
word at its best and is partially an autobiographical piece about the early troubled life of Big Dan (a motivational speaker who has also performed as a hip hop artist around the U.S. and abroad) living in the barrios and ghettos of
before turning his life around to graduate from the distinguished
University of California at Berkeley.
Special recognition goes to professional recording studio engineer “Smilin’ James” Heyser,
who did a monumental job of recording, mixing, and mastering the tracks.
Special commendation also goes to talented graphic artists
Veronica Leon and Earl Bickham, Jr.,
who designed the artwork for the album.
For more information about Rufus
Ben Ball, click here on the
page. For more information about Paradise,
click here on theJFHP
page. For more information about
Shavone Pickett and Keldamuzik,
click here on the
In 2008, True Vibe
Records released Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetry-Phaze 2, the follow up to the
highly-acclaimed CD Paradise Presents Jazz Funk Hip
The Phaze 2
release, a CD double set
,was the debut for Oakland Ca.-based spoken word/hip hop
group Sounds Of
Urban Life Soldiers or S.O.U.L.S., as the acronym
is spelled and their bulging fan base refers to them as. The
group members and song writers are poets Raquel Ramsey,
Keith Thompson, and President L. Davis, rap and hip hop
artist Keldamuzik and songstress Shavone Pickett. Together, they have a very
unique and diverse blend.
True Vibe Records
owner and producer Bill Jackson regarding Phaze 2 he says, “as the genesis of the first CD was my
pilgrimage to Senegal’s Goree Island (a United Nations
historical site in West Africa which was a holding pen for
slaves), this music was born from the compelling social concerns
that continue in America and is musically upbeat funk with jazz,
hip hop, R&B and Caribbean influences.”
The lead single Squash It! featuring
guests D Labrie and Rufus Wonder certainly supports the concept of “social concerns” as it
addresses the grave problem of violence in America’s urban
cities, and from early indications this seems to be the song
that radio will embrace and help Squash It! be a
part of the solution! Following that theme is On The
Street, outlining the conditions and perils in some of
our urban communities.
There are lighter
more playful moments on the CD as with All The Above
that again features Keldamuzik at the mic running
down a love and relationship theme. Then there is the
Caribbean-flavored I Can with vocalist Shavone Pickett delivering a very tender vocal with an
almost dancehall track. Associate Producer Jam
G "JR" Tall intensifies the groove with his lead guitar riffs.
(He also was the chief sound engineer for this album.)
The jazz lover isn’t
forgotten here with contemporary tracks like The Man
Upstairs with its hip hop /trip hop feeling and a
scorching tenor sax lead from guest artist Ben Ball and the pulsating drum work from
Hart, son the legendary drummer Billy Hart, and on What Kind Of Dreams Have You which features guests such as the smooth-talking
percussionist/spoken word artist Bill Norwood, renowned guitarist Calvin
Keys, pianist extraordinaire Michael “Spiderman”
Robinson, tenor sax man Ben Ball again, and veteran drummer
Wainwright. This is a track
that swings with the best of them!
All three poets are
full of fire and earth moving emotion here addressing issues
such as fatherhood with the piece The Role of Men by
Keith Thompson and coming of age with Rites of Passage by
President L. Davis, while Raquel Ramsey delivers supremely and
passionately with a piece titled Connections and
again on the exalting Apology, a duet with bassist
Nelson Braxton (Braxton Brothers). There is
more contemporary conscious-raising spoken word from the three
poets of Sound Of Urban Life Soldiers on other
tracks as well.
This album also
showcases the talents of a host of highly-talented
and dynamic guest spoken word artists such as Roxanne
Hanna-Ware and poets Big Dan and Alejandra Mojica running down a Latino perspective.
Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetry- Phaze 2
is a well-balanced,
well-crafted, and cleverly-written collection of urban life
experiences and feelings delivered with the often pulsating
bass line that locks everything in place and drives it home.