Guymon Ensley GEQ Jazz

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The Artists Made It Happen

 

 
It’s been over two weeks since the voting for the 57th Grammys nominees has closed. I’ve made many new friends during the voting process, most of which are talented independent artists of the Recording Academy.  It was really exciting  to chat with some international artists who are being considered for nomination as well.


"This Comes With It,"  being considered  for nomination in the Contemporary Instrumental Field,  is a collection of my thoughts put into motion by a special group of people. From "Leeba" to "Make-up Lovin" . . . they were only thoughts in my head, that became ideas, that developed into melodies, harmonies and grooves ... coming together on a sheet of paper ... a chart  ... a guideline for great people to interpret and make it theirs.  That's where my ideas  would have stayed if it weren’t for the artists that sat down in the studio, studied that sheet of paper, broke out their instruments ... and when the tape rolled, put their signature, their spin on my ideas that were only in the form of  notes on a page. Their style, their talent, that special something that they have, made the sounds … made the song … made the album. I owe it to them, those fabulous artists, those guys and lady who interpreted my ideas and made the music for you to hear.

 

I’d like to tell you who they are: 

Bassists: Takashi Iio and Pathe Jassi

Guitarists: Dwayne Collins and Randal Wilson

Keyboardists: Phil Lesky and Kermit Hoggatt 

THE HOGGY HORN SECTION

Saxophonists: Ben Pruitt, Fred Bergman, Robert Reeves and Michael “Sonny Lem” Lemons

Trumpeter: Mark Croft 

THE VOICES

Gisele “Gee” Caver

Odel Jones

Gary Mitchell

Get your copy of the CD here on CD Baby

 

Stealing Our Music?

 

When you go to work, you expect a paycheck, you’re promised a paycheck, a paycheck is rightfully yours but … you don’t get one. You are good at what you do, and you love doing it…. It’s what you studied long hard hours for, it’s what you worked long hard hours to perfect. Would you continue your efforts, working just “for the love of It?” Would you continue to do it when you may or may not get paid for it … lets say it this way… “when your work is stolen?” Probably not.

 

Why should anyone expect us, musicians, song writers and producers to continue doing what we do, when we might or might not get compensated for it? Should we continue to do it “for the love of It?” 

 

That’s what happens when our hard work, our hours of study and our hours of producing music results in our product being stolen, yep stolen, when someone downloads our music without paying for it … STEALING IT!

 

Imagine this the next time you steal from a hard working musician… Imagine bobbing your head, snapping your fingers, patting your foot, hustling, tangoing, be boppin, or buggn’ to the sound of NOTHIN!

RaP & HiP HoP

Nelson Madela In Detroit at Tiger Stadium - I Was There

 

MANDELA3As I reflect on the life of a great man, Nelson Mandela, I am remembering June 29, 1990 when I heard him speak in Detroit, MI at the then Tiger Stadium.  His appearance in Detroit was one of many efforts to generate funds to eradicate apartheid in South Africa.  

 

I was a Police Sergeant, just confirmed in my rank, and assigned to supervise a unit of eight officers on the "Mandela Detail".  Nelson Mandela was scheduled to speak to a multitude of people, in the stadium who were eager to see the man that defied his country and endured 27 years of incarceration.

 

In writing this strictly from memory, I recall it being a fair weathered afternoon and evening as everyone there was in a celebratory mood. My officers and I were detailed (assigned) to a left field, upper deck position.  Our objective was to provide security and a uniformed presence at the event. As we patrolled the assigned areas, I remember being stimulated by the energy of crowd.  They were singing, chanting and chattering with expectations. I, of course enjoyed the pre-speech entertainment of recording artists, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

 

The excitement and anticipation in me grew as the announcer introduced Nelson Mandela. This man of indescribable strength and character walked slowly to the podium. The cheers for this great man were exhilarating and deafening.  I found myself unconsciously standing at attention throughout his speech. I smiled at his humorous antidotes but beamed with pride at what this man represented.  The respect that I had for him was reinforced by the love and respect he received from this standing room only crowd.

 

The words he spoke were riveting. I re-visited those moments time and time again.  This man changed history.  He changed centuries of abuse and misuse of an oppressed people.  My ancestors.   This one man made the world pay attention.

 

I stood alone enjoying every moment. Other than communicating with my Officers, there was no conversation.  As the masses of people celebrated and cheered, I settled into a solemn state of mind. I wanted to cry, because I knew I had just witnessed something that had just made a mark in history. I wanted [needed] to have something to possess, some object from this event to commemorate being in the presence of this GREAT MAN! I preserved my official credentials and a button purchased from a vendor to remind me that I Was There. 

 

 click the link to watch highlights of Nelson Mandela's speech - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk1XaW8N2wc

The 1971 Soundtrack of the Movie "SHAFT" - the best ever???

 

Thumbnail1971 was not only the year I graduated from River Rouge High School in River Rouge Michigan, it was the year of the release of "Shaft," a motion picture directed by Gordon Parks. The movie feature a character played by actor Richard Roundtree, whos character was a "black private detective that was a sex machine to all the chicks." At the same time of the release, the sound track to the movie was released. The double album set was an incredibly phenomenal piece of work by the unforgettable Mr. ISSAC HAYES.

 

JAMES BROWN'S "Hot Pants" appeared on the charts that year and we were all doing the penguin in our forty inch bells and platforms on Western Michigan University's campus, and I'm sure, on college campuses all over the country. But the Theme From Shaft offthe motion picture sound track albumechoed through every "box" owned by those that embraced R&B. The discs bared many selections that were hits.

 

Since then, there were sound tracks for many motion pictures that were/are spectacular works of art. The more recent one that comes to my mind is the sound track for the movie "Mo Better Blues," written by the incredible trumpeter/composer Terrance Blanchard. The movie, written by and staring Spike Lee as well as Dezsel Hayes Washington, who's character is a noted professional jazz trumpeter, is full of Terrances' incredible trumpet work.

 

However, I don't know if it's because the sound track from SHAFT by Isaac Hayes was among, if not the first to receive notoriety, but it has to be one of the best , if not THE Best ever sound track!!

 

Get Back With Me and Tell Me What YOU Think.

 

 

 

When Is A Song Finished?

 

Recently, a fan tweeted me and asked "when is a song finished?" Well, with only 140 or so characters to answer their question, I couldn't possibly explain my answer properly. So here it goes. I'm sure that many artists would tell you in one way or another, that many times they listen to their published recording and hear something that they would do differently. Many times during the recording and editing of songs that I have done, I would add to and take away sounds and do retakes over and over again, all the way through the final rough-mix (if there is such a thing as the 'final' rough-mix) . . . even up to final mix-down (if there is such a thing as a 'final' mix-down). You see, an artist is always changing stuff, clear up to when he can't change anything else, and that's only after the song is "mastered" .  .  .  no more changing anything now!

 

So you see, when does an artist's desire to change something in the a piece of his work stop? .  .  . it rarely stops. Even after the work is mastered, copyrighted manufactured, marketed and published and he/she is still writing the tune. A song . . . finished? . . .  nope . . . not unless of course it ends up ranking high upon the Bill Board, hits Gold or wins a Grammy . . .the that bad-boy is FINISHED jack!!!!

 

Do We Really Hear When We Listen??

 

Question: When we listen to music, do we really hear it?



 Here's why I ask. When I listen to music, of course I have a tendency to listen to certain parts or portions or instruments in the song (being an instrumentalist, I find it hard not to focus on a trumpet or any wind instrument that I hear). I initially zero in on the lead instrument or lead ensemble if it's jazz or any music for that matter. On a vocal piece, I leisurely focus on the background, the instrumentation. Overall, I listen to instruments. However, an outstanding vocal performance will always catch my attention.

But I have a fun challenge for you. The next time you hear a familiar vocal tune, really listen and try not to sing along---try not to dance or even show any outward sign of "groovin'" to the tune. Just LISTEN and try to HEAR everything that's making that song appealing to YOU. I can almost guarantee that you'll HEAR instruments or background singing that are actually supporting and enhancing the lead singer or instrument. Try to resist dancing to a funk beat and LISTEN and HEAR the rhythm of the other instrument that supports or contributes to making it funky.



Just take time to challenge yourself--not to do your usual. I believe you'll be surprised at what you hear--- and in the end, you’ll really appreciate the music you LISTEN to and HEAR even more.



Hey. . . then drop a comment to me and tell me what you think.  

The "GEQ Journey" - 2002 - 2012

 

Today, Thursday, March 22, 2012, marks the tenth anniversary of GEQ's debut at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit Michigan.   

 

It was a chilly Friday evening in Detroit on March 22, 2002, when then owner John Colbert invited GEQ to perform at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. The band hit the stage of the oldest, continually operated jazz club in the world. Bandleader / trumpeter Guymon Ensley, saxophonist Cornelius "JuJu" Johnson, pianist Kem Pattilo, bassist Kerry Lacy and drummer "Bang" Glenn, all dressed impeccably in suits and ties, gave an electric performance that was received by a standing-room only audience.

Ensley directed the band with a quiet dignity, representative of  performances by the legendary jazz ensembles of a long ago era when the listener was as classy as the players -- that style has become GEQ’s signature.  The rhythm section swung hard, the horn section unmistakably stated the melodies GEQ style and the solos were burnin’ hot!  GEQ’s debut was a success!

GEQ was honored to regularly perform at Baker’s. The establishment is noted throughout the world, not only for its longevity, but for the legends who performed at the corner of Livernois and Eight Mile Road in Detroit Michigan: Miles, Coltrane, Ella, Krupa, Corea, Callaway and Fatts-- Errol Garner, Betty Carter and Art Tatum to name a few .  .  . add to the list, GEQ (the Guymon Ensley Quintet).

John Colbert took a chance on GEQ and introduced us to an audience of real jazz lovers.  I will be forever grateful for his support and encouragement. “Thanks John.”

After recording our first CD, 'Here Put This On,' WEMU Program Director, Linda Yohn took note of our music, giving us  this endorsement:  “One of Detroit area's hottest bands for the last two years has been GEQ, the (Guymon Ensley Quintet).”Linda continues to support GEQ and frequently plays cuts from the album on her show on WEMU FM 89.1.  Thank you for everything Linda, you're the best!

WDET’s on air personality and Jazz Historian Ed Love said "It is rare that a new band on the block gets the chance to perform at such a noted event as the Detroit International Jazz Festival in Detroit Michigan. He gave GEQ his endorsement to perform at the prestigious event in 2003.  Ed continues playing cuts from the CD 'Here Put This On' on his DESTINATION JAZZ program. Ed Love is noted for introducing listeners to new  artists and continues to play the classics of years gone by – what he likes to call 'Ed Love Flashbacks' on WDET 101.9 FM. “Thank you Ed." 

Jamaica became our second home, aboard several Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Thanks to 'Blue World Travel' in San Francisco, California, GEQ performed to worldwide audiences during five separate 'Festival At Sea' Cruises. The exposure was outstanding for the band, giving the world a chance to hear our music. “Thanks Blue World.”

 

These are only four of many people and organizations that have contributed to GEQ's success. The DVD will be a chronology of our journey, with original music, photos and video. Stay tuned, it will be available soon!!!


I'd Like Your Opinion

 

I’d like your opinion on a matter that many recording artists have had on their minds at one time or another. Many of us love to write, perform, dance to, groove by, meditate to or otherwise appreciate music from more than one genre.  Whether its classic jazz, smooth jazz, contemporary jazz, fusion, reggae, Latin funk, R&B, blues, county, hip hop, bebop, rap, bap, slap, clap, gospel, Christian rock, contemporary Gospel, sock bop, slip lock, pop knot, pop hop, pot mark or hip lock, there's usually more than one kind of music that moves us.



As artists, we have a tendency to record a CD that is of only one genre. Our projects most often consist of songs that "can" be categorized into one category. Even though the different types of music are pigeon-holed into particular genres of music (which may or may not mean anything), the contrast may not be as wide as the difference, in let’s say, country and hard metal or rock and baroque. However, it may be as close as smooth jazz and R&B or funk and fusion. You may enjoy listening to Earth Wind and Fire's "Gratitude," but would you enjoy hearing James Brown's "Hot Pants" as the next cut on the CD?  In your own music collection, if you are in the mood for Motown and selected The Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” would your mood change if the next song segued to “What Is Hip” by Tower of Power.

As an artist, I've primarily written, performed or recorded at least three different genres of music; classic jazz, contemporary jazz/R&B and contemporary Gospel. As you know, my band and I are currently writing and recording a new CD. My dilemma is this: should I include music from more than one genre on this project? I’m speaking of classic jazz (straight ahead jazz), contemporary jazz and R&B.   

What’s your opinion? . . . whata ya think? 

I appreciate you as a fan of my music. Your opinion is valuable and I thank you for taking time to leave your comment.

Without Charley, there would be no "GEQ"

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