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IT IS TIME TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION! (Bill Ortiz - Highest Wish)
There was once a time when hip hop provided us with the answer to a question that we didn't even realize that we had. That's because we didn't really think of it as a question yet. However by the time the answer came along, apparently it was too late for the question or its answer to have any meaning whatsoever.
Back in the 1995, trumpeter Branford Marsalis was probably the most famous jazz musician in the country. As the bandleader of the "Tonight Show." he had a successful nightly platform for his artistry. However in 1995 Branford announced that he would be leaving the show in order to focus on a new project that would fuse together jazz, funk and hip hop. He said that he wanted to help to bridge a generation gap that he saw forming, and that he had a musical vision, that would not only fuse together these musical styles, but also create a communications vehicle for the fans of those musical styles.
That project was called "Buckshot LeFonque," and IMHO the two "Buckshot LeFonque" albums released in the 1990's were two of the best Black music albums of the decade, they were artistic masterpieces. However the albums failed to reach their intended audiences. Other attempts at a similar type of "fusion" in the early to mid-1990's from artists such as Guru/Donald Byrd, Digable Planets, US3, Miles Davis/Easy Mo Bee and others were artistic successes, by were commercially uneven, never truly reaching their intended audiences. A whole musical "sub type" called "Acid Jazz" focused on this fusion between jazz, funk and hip hop, which proved to be quite popular in the UK, but never made a real commercial impact in the United States.
The whole question of fusing together jazz/funk/hip hop was a legitimate one, from a musical, cultural & audience perspective. The problem was that despite all of the great music that was produced during this period, the "answer to the question came about 5 years later than when the question should have been asked in the first place."
When Branford Marsalis embarked on his quest, the reason he gave at the time was that he felt that the music could be the basis for a vehicle to open up an avenue for inter-generational communication, which could avert a split in the Black community that had never existed before. He said that he felt it was his duty to do what he could do to head off what could possibly be a tragic "generation gap."
Despite the best of intentions, his idea was bound for failure. That's because, unknown to him as well as the rest of us, with the acceptance of "Gangsta Rap" as a lucrative/mainstream form of popular music, hip hop (and its fans) would never look back and seek to be a part of the continuum of Black culture. It would instead seek its own path and it's fans would insist that it was "something new" and had no connection to anything else. In fact it would have its own language, culture, dress and attitude that would have nothing in common with anything else that proceeded it.
Perhaps a few of you out there remember this period of time?
Fast forward to 2012...
I say all of this to say that the album Highest Wish, by Santana trumpeter Bill Ortiz harkens back to the 1990's strain of thought that a generational bridge, with music as a basis. To do this, Bill Ortiz reaches even further back for a frame of reference, in using the late/great Gil Scott-Heron to help provide some of the context.
Once again this is a very successful musical endeavor, much as the musical efforts in the 1990's were:
--If you are a funk music fan, then you will love this album.
--If you are a jazz music fan, then you will love this album.
--If you are a hip hop music fan, then you will love this album.
This all goes without saying.
And of course you can check it out for yourself at:
However there is more…
IT IS TIME TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION!
Everything that Branford Marsalis predicted back in 1995 has come to pass.
Only it is far worse.
IT IS NO LONGER JUST A "BLACK PROBLEM."
The generational gap that Branford spoke of in 1995 is a universal one that threatens the ability of our entire society to move forward. It is now absolutely critical that younger people and older people find a basis for common communication. Far too much knowledge is being lost, and that lost knowledge contains essential facts that younger people require, for their own survival.
The mid 1990's may in fact have been the wrong time to have the conversation. Perhaps it should have been held earlier? I dunno. But I do know that it needs to be held RIGHT NOW. Because with each passing day the opportunity to have that honest conversation, drifts further and further away.
Let's face it, most of today's hip hop fans likely know less about the music of artists like Guru/Donald Byrd, Digable Planets, US3, Miles Davis/Easy Mo Bee, Buckshot LeFonque and others than does GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Although it may feel like it was just yesterday to some of us, many of them weren't even born yet in the mid 90's. Therefore it is incumbent upon those of us who do know to:
CHANGE THE CONVERSATION!
We have to be willing to do the "outreach," we have to be willing to take the time to expose younger music fans to music such as Highest Wish, by Santana trumpeter Bill Ortiz. This is one of those kind of things that if we care about, we have to be proactive about. If we want younger people to care about our musical legacy, then we should care enough to be willing to educate them about it…
(why not…put a little skin in the game?)
GO TO: http://bit.ly/PWYY3I
Still not ready yet?
Check out the press release below...
Press Release: Santana Trumpeter Bill Ortiz Readies New Album Hip-Hop, R&B and Neo Soul "Highest Wish" Featuring Many Special Guests
Listen up yall...
I have heard this album and I am not certain that the description (Hip-Hop, Funk & Jazz) is accurate. (yet anther reason why I can't stand "labels.") If you are a fan of what I would call "great black music from the ancient to the future," then you might want to place this music into a category called "game changer."
Here is a better description...
If you like artists such as: Donald Byrd, Gil Scott Heron, Digable Planets, Roy Ayers, Public Enemy, Erykah Badu, Freddie Hubbard...
THEN YOU WILL DIG THIS MUSIC
Or if you like twitter hashtags
Stay tuned (more to come....)
Santana Trumpeter Bill Ortiz Readies New Album Hip-Hop, R&B and Neo Soul "Highest Wish" Featuring Many Special Guests
June 24th, 2012 (San Francisco, CA)-A longstanding member of the Santana band, Bill Ortiz is proud to present his new full-length release titled Highest Wish. A follow up to his "Winter in America" EP released earlier this year, this new album project features conscious emcees such as Casual, The Grouch, Zumbi (of Zion I) and K-Maxx, as well as fellow Santana member (and 11 time GrammyR Award Winner) Tony Lindsey, and iconic poet/vocalist Linda Tillery, featured with a spoken word performance of Dr. Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize speech.
"Carlos has always used music to inspire and bring people together," explains Ortiz. "I try to follow in that tradition. I've been really inspired by some of the Bay Area hip-hop artists like Casual, Zumbi and the Grouch who make music with enlightened lyrics," Ortiz adds of how he chose his featured guests. "We often celebrate ignorance in our society, so I wanted to celebrate consciousness." On his EP, which charted in the top 10 on CMJ's hip hop charts for over a month, Ortiz covers Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson's 1973 hit on the track "Winter in America" as an homage to the recently departed Heron. The concept video for this track has been featured on many mainstream hip-hop websites.
And while Ortiz is known over the past 12 years as the trumpeter with Santana, he's been involved in the Hip-Hop and R&B movements for as long as he's played music. He played trumpet on the classic hip-hop Souls of Mischief album "93 til Infinity" and has worked and recorded with Tony Toni Tone', En Vouge, Sheila E, TLC, among others. Born in San Francisco, California, Ortiz began his mastery of the trumpet at age 10. While in school he was first chair trumpet in the San Francisco All-City Band, and by his mid-teens he was playing at local dances and clubs with a number of R&B and jazz groups, giving him an early and varied start to his professional career. His horizons were broadened even further during his college years with his first exposure to electronic and Latin music.
In the nineties Ortiz began working with R&B/Hip-Hop group Tony Toni Tone' as a touring band member and featured soloist. He performed on five releases from the multi-platinum selling group, as well as toured the US, Canada and Europe. He accompanied Tony Toni Tone' when they joined Janet Jackson on her "Alive" tour and made numerous TV appearances with them. This exposure led Ortiz to recording with Destiny's Child, En Vogue, Souls of Mischief, Sheila E, TLC, Total, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson, among others.
Following his stay with Tony Toni Tone', Ortiz toured and recorded with the legendary Boz Scaggs, and began a long and fruitful association with highly acclaimed jazz vocalist Lavay Smith (with whom he still works), recording two CDs and touring the US and Europe yet again.
Presently Ortiz is recording and touring with Carlos Santana, work which includes his performances on the GrammyR Award winning singles Smooth and The Game of Love. In addition, he has been very active as a studio musician playing Hip-Hop, R&B and Jazz. In 2009, Bill Ortiz released his debut solo album "From Where I Stand," which charted on Billboard and garnered huge success among critics and fans alike in the USA and around the world. Bill Ortiz is endorsed by Shure microphones and more recently by Rebel Spirit Clothing.
Bill spends a good amount of his time and energy getting involved in music education, both as a clinician and private instructor. He enjoys mentoring younger musicians and spreading the experiences and diversity of his musical background, which he tries to bring to all of his own playing and recordings.
"My musical upbringing contains a wide variety of styles, including Jazz, Hip Hop, Latin, African, R&B/Soul, and Blues," he states. "What I am trying to do with my musical voice is reflect all of those elements of who I am as a musician and a person. I'm not a purist; I try to bring all these elements of who I am musically into one voice."
Highest Wish drops on August 4th, 2012 direct to fans. The worldwide digital and physical release is scheduled for September 4th, 2012.
For more information, please call Nicole Balin at Ballin PR at 323-651-1580 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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For Digital Distribution please contact Jerome Forney at IDCDigital at 415-292-7007 or via e-mail at Jerome@independentdistro.com
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