headmusik celebrates that universal language of rhythm unifying world music, soul, funk, and everything in between. Many tracks flaunt over 10 rhythm tracks just to attain that holy place in rhythm heaven. Give it a listen and we think you'll enjoy where it takes you
Headmusic Volume 1, “The Red Satin Sessions
(The soundtrack to the unwritten short story, “The Gig That Never Happened”
OK. This gig never happened
With books, there is fiction and non-fiction. In music, there is no such thing. Why? No-one knows.
So here’s a first: This CD is a work of fiction. So any names, characters, personalities and meaningful references are the product of the headmaster’s imagination or fantasy. Possibly even both. Any resemblance to anything or anyone non-fictional is most likely a matter of life imitating art.
The Beginning, Where It All Starte
It started in 1972, after the wave of The Beatles and Elvis and in the afterglow of jazz’s finest hour with Miles, Coltrane, Billy Holiday and others
I mean, up until that point, I’d been playing certain gigs, my name getting around and all. The usual shuck and jive.
Antoine “Jellybean” Rasheed Johnso
It was total fate that seemed to bring me and Antoine (to his friends, “Jellybean”--referring to the deep shade of candy purple his brow would turn during one of his legendary organ solos). Our usual keyboardist was sick from something he’d eaten the night before (or from a possible hangover). Since this was a gig where some record company heavyweights were coming to hear us, rescheduling was NOT an option. The night was magic
That was when we first met. Our paths crossed several times over the next two decades before the idea to work together ever surfaced
Marla and the Madonna-Wannabe’
How I met Marla and the Madonna-Wannabe’s was a completely different story. It was a gig where I was the drummer for one of the well-known music award shows seen by millions around the world. Years before the Internet. And long before YouTube. Marla was street smart but show stupid. But her talent outweighed her naivete. Her sultry tones were as dark as chocolate yet as rich as coffee. That was the start of my love affair with her sound. When their song “Hot Beneath the Sheets, Cold Between the Ears” hit the charts, it was all over for me. I was hooked in a bad way
The Mighty Flute Loop
Led by Fiona, I first met the Mighty Flute Loops in a smoky club in Philly. After one set, I went up to ask what was that amazing riff they were playing. Fiona looked me up and down and then answered with a grin that would make you dizzy from forgetting to breath. "It's called 'Don’t Take the Loot, if You Ain’t Got the Flute.' " My legs became all wobbly but I tried to hold it together. That was my introduction to this amazing woman and her musical entourage. Joined by her entourage here, they appear here (like the Supremes of the flute) with little hints of another of their great tunes, “I’ll Plant You Now and Dig You Later.” And in a first-time collaboration with Marla on “Wiggle Room,” just step aside and let the ladies through
Hunter Grey and his Detectives of Swing
Hunter Grey was the epitome of cool, in a retro way. Ever since I was sixteen, I was a fan of him and his group: Hunter Grey and his Detectives of Swing. They brought an element of retro cool to everything they touched the way Quentin Tarantino brought a sense of the outrageous to everything he filmed. If my memory serves me right, it always seemed every one of his band members had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth like the drummer in Cheap Trick.
Don and the Juan-and-Only’s
One night while on an overseas tour, I had a layover in Casablanca and I caught a gig in a small night club. Dark. Smoky. Mysterious. The kind of place people go to get lost in. Or someplace to get found in. Either way, the act was Don-and the Juan-and-Only’s. They had this weird sense of vocal harmonies, like something you’d expect from Russia, with its percussive, syncopated vocal harmonies. That was the first time I saw them. It wouldn’t be the last. They’re showcased (with Marla) on “Wiggle Room” on Headmusic, Vol. 1
Au Jus & His Band of Hippy Dippers
Au Jus is one of the those talent magnets. While he’s as quiet as a cool breeze through the lonely hearts of the city, Au Jus’ guitar playing can heat up the coldest of rooms. During his stint with Queen Ebony & Her Legends of Ivory, fans were starting to cheer him into a solo rather than waiting through one of her numbers -- the Queen did not approve. And so it went.
Legions of young guitarists hoping to play with “Au Jus” would line up even to just empty his ashtrays. Just so they could catch some of his “strings of fire” energy. He had that effect on people. Not only does he have a cameo showcase in the first third of “Invalid Number/Cellphones from Hell,” he also rips it up in a fiery guitar duel on the CD’s hit, “Jigglin’ Like Jello” opposite Wally “Bad Boy” Goldberg. Not even a Chinese menu can offer combinations this unexpected. Playing with Au Jus was like being a horn player for the Godfather of Soul. You got a buzz just doing it
The Bad Ass Brass Band
And of course, there’s the Bad Ass Brass Band. With a name like that, there’s not much more I need to say. But I will say this: They’re tighter than the butt of an gnat. And they’ve got as much rhythm as is allowed by law.
Our very special British Friend
I’d tell you more about our special British Friend (showcasing his legendary guitar skills on “Ode to George”), but there’s something about living I’ve grown accustomed to. Imagine what you can, and you’ll still be off by a mile
Fast forward to the 21st century
Here I am, decades later. Having played everything from afro-centric world music to stuff that would make Motown smile with pride, I l-o-v-e rhythm. After all, my personal music collection spans everything from R&B to the Godfather of Soul, from the King of Pop and the King of Cool to the Queen’s greatest export: the Fab Four
Why am I telling you this?
One World is Enoug
Well, it’s like this: this CD is a world unto itself. Close your eyes. You’ll get lost in it. The players make up a Who’s Who of Hall of Famers. Granted I was pinching myself so much that I did consider reporting myself to the cops for domestic abuse. That’s how bad it got. I opted to just wear large black glasses instead.
The Universal Language; One Rule to Live B
There was ONE rule. Do it with NO words. Why? That way, we would be creating something that spoke the Universal Language: Music. Granted you’ll find a few words, but the songs don’t RELY on the words. They rely on the rhythm. Besides, with song titles like these, who needs words to tell the story. This was the chance after a lifetime of music to tell stories with sound. With energy. With a vibe that was indescribable yet inescapable. Like a great soundtrack to a movie that has you glued.
But doing this with all my old friends, well, it started to take on a life of its own. I mean, I never would have thought I’d ever record anything with the “Ywanna Leave it to Chants?” Singers. I mean these brothers and sisters are the REAL DEAL. Man, listen to those harmonies
“Musical translators” need not apply. Rhythm seems to cross boundaries, taking you into its grip, and letting go only when you’ve succumbed to its power
That’s the power of rhythm. That’s the power of Headmusik.