Join UCLA historian Robin D. G. Kelley and me, KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel for a conversation and listening session that revisits the late 1950s and early 1960s, when African musicians began to swing and American Jazz artists turned to Africa in an attempt to nudge the art form beyond bebop. Kelley and Schnabel discuss the struggles faced by four little-known trailblazers who dared to mix African influences and jazz: the late Ghanaian drummer Guy Warren; American pianist Randy Weston; the late American bassist and oud player Ahmed Abdul-Malik; and South African vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin. After the talk, Kelley will sign copies of his new book Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times.
This was a fascinating read for me and I learned a lot from it. Among other things, I became re-acquainted with South African Singer Sathima Bea Benjamin, and discovered her gem-like 1963 session with 3 giants called A Morning in Paris: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Abdullah Ibrahim, the South African pianist formerly known as Dollar Brand, whom Duke Ellington brought into the world’s limelight after hearing him in a Zurich club in 1966.