Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tami Lee Hughes on CD: 'classical, jazz, Latin, and religious styles that have influenced African American music'

[Tami Lee Hughes; Legacy: Violin Music of African American Composers; Albany Records TROY1293 (2011) Cover Art: “Initially Yours” by Alicia McDaniel,]

On Aug. 2, 2011 AfriClassical posted: “Albany Records Announces Release Of 'Legacy: Violin Music Of African-American Composers.'” At her website, Tami Lee Hughes describes her first recording in these words: “The compact disc features exciting works reflecting the classical, jazz, Latin, and religious styles that have influenced African American music from 1810 to the present.” We have now had a chance to hear the recording, which features Tami Lee Hughes on violin, and Ellen Bottorff accompanying her on piano. This is the second recording in a collaboration involving the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) at Columbia College Chicago and Albany Records. The first CD includes works of Mary D. Watkins and Olly W. Wilson. It was released as Troy1200 in 2010.

The liner notes are written by Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Associate Director of Research at the CBMR. He writes of the first composer on the CD: “Francis Johnson (1792-1844) was a prolific performer, composer, and bandleader. A master violinist and keyed-bugle player, he enjoyed early success in Philadelphia leading an African-American band that performed at the city's most prestigious dances and social functions. Among his notable achievements are his band's performances in Europe in 1837, marking a first for any American band.” “Bingham's Cotillion (1820), is a charming, yet stately, dance. Demonstrative of the prestige and status of nineteenth-century intelligentsia who were its most likely consumers, the piece trots with a noble air.” The timing of the work is 1:53.

George Morrison (1891-1974) hailed from the string band tradition. Though he played popular and dance music with string bands as a youth, Morrison had aspired to become a concert violinist. But, at that time, there were no opportunities for African-American violinists to achieve that goal in Denver, Colorado, where he grew up.” “Morrison's Five Violin Solos (1947) contain four arrangements of spirituals and one original piece.” The program on the reverse of the CD cover lists these titles:

Some Time I Feel Like A Motherless Child (5:42)
Every Time I Feel the Spirit (3:04)
Steal Away, Steal Away to Jesus (4:59)
Stand Still Jordan (4:57)
Lullaby (3:17)

The liner notes say of David Baker: “David N. Baker (b. 1931) is a noted jazz scholar, performer, and educator as well as a highly regarded composer. His compositional aesthetic demonstrates an allegiance to the African-American vernacular, combining disparate genres and styles ranging from work songs to concerti. Such combinations offer an expressive voice that is both historically aware and progressive. Baker is Distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman of the Jazz Department at Indiana University.” “Commissioned for violin virtuoso Ruggerio Ricci, Baker's Jazz Suite (1979) exhibits a modernist aesthetic with subtle underpinnings of African-American musical traditions.” The movements are:

Minton's (6:32)
Harlem, Saturday Night (4:16)
Perfume/Perspiration (8:59)
Jamaican Jam (3:46)
52nd Street (3:48)

“Composer and pianist Ozie C. Cargile II (b. 1981) is a graduate of the University of Michigan (BM, Music Composition).” “Maintaining a multi-faceted philosophy on music education and outreach, Cargile maintains a private piano studio and is founder of the Psalm 150 Symphony, a non-profit community orchestra whose aim is to revitalize the sound and image of symphonic music in the urban community. Recent premieres of his compositions include Epoch and The Audacity of Hope by the Lamont Symphony Orchestra in 2008.

Mixed Feelings (2000) is a stirring and emotive work that blends a contemporary, jazz-like harmonic language with an expressive voice that is best described as neo-romantic. Rich harmonies (based on extended tertian and quartal constructs) and unexpected chord progressions entice the listener throughout.”

“Trombonist, keyboardist, and composer Chad “Sir Wick” Hughes (b. 1977) is a native of Detroit, Michigan. A student of William Bolcolm and James Aikman, he earned the bachelor's degree in music composition from the University of Michigan. His arrangements have been performed by a number of university ensembles at the University of Florida, Alcorn State University, and Bowkling Green State University. His interests in classical, jazz, gospel, and rhythm and blues genres are reflected in his debut album, Interpretation of a Universal Language.”

“Hughes composed S.L.I.C.E. (2009), Soulful Latin in a Classical Environment, as a commissioned work for this recording. Replete with rhythmic figures influenced by Afro-Cuban traditions, jazz harmonies, and contrapuntal episodes, this piece displays a compelling blend of vernacular emblems and European compositional techniques.”

For us the opening work of Francis Johnson, Bingham's Cotillion, starts the recording with a colonial feel which is quickly followed by the mostly spiritual music of George Morrison. We find David Baker's 5-movement Jazz Suite a logical prelude to the more contemporary and eclectic sounds in Ozie Cargile's Mixed Feelings, and in S.L.I.C.E. of Chad “Sir Wick” Hughes. Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of has contributed biographical research on Francis B. Johnson, and a list of the composer's works, to Disclosure: A review copy of this CD was provided by the record label.

Comment by email:
Dear Bill, Thank you for writing materials about my cd. I'm thrilled to see the information on and am glad to be a part of your wonderful work. I hope our paths cross in the future so can meet face to face. I admire your work and am grateful for your contributions to the African American classical community. Thank you again! Sincerely, Tami C. Lee Hughes, Concert Violinist

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