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Onaje Allan Gumbs | Bloodlife: Solo Piano Improvisations Based On the Melodies of Ronald Shannon Jackson

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Bloodlife: Solo Piano Improvisations Based On the Melodies of Ronald Shannon Jackson

by Onaje Allan Gumbs

This album is an eclectic collection of melodies created by the venerable drummer/composer Ronald Shannon Jackson(1940-2013) and combined with masterful improvisations on solo piano by the Legendary Onaje Allan Gumbs.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lullaby for Mothers (Good Morning)
3:01 $0.99
2. Freedom of Spirit
4:42 $0.99
3. Rising to the Occasion
5:06 $0.99
4. Bloodlife
4:48 $0.99
5. Dialogue of Angels
4:28 $0.99
6. Lydia
3:44 $0.99
7. Theme for a Prince
2:44 $0.99
8. School
6:21 $0.99
9. Our Inner Voice
5:35 $0.99
10. Tales of Entropy 2
5:17 $0.99
11. San Francisco
4:34 $0.99
12. Behind Plastic Faces
5:07 $0.99
13. Rising to the Occasion (Reprise)
3:23 $0.99
14. Lullaby for Mothers (Good Night)
2:15 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

"Bloodlife - Solo Piano Improvisations based on the Melodies of Ronald Shannon Jackson"
Produced by: Onaje Allan Gumbs
Mastering Engineer: James P. Nichols at FreeDREAD Recording Studios
Recording Studio: C.I. Recording Studios - 110 West 57th Street, NYC
Recording Engineer: Ron Saint Germain
Original Producer: David Breskin
Year of Recording: 1984

EJANO MUSIC - ejano 711-2

Melodies written by Ronald Shannon Jackson except:
Freedom of Spirit - Onaje Allan Gumbs
Rising to the Occasion - Onaje Allan Gumbs
Our Inner Voice - Onaje Allan Gumbs



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Ken Shimamoto

Onaje Allan Gumbs' "Bloodlife"
An anomalous release in Ronald Shannon Jackson's discography was his 1984 album Pulse, which consisted of drum solos, spoken word pieces by Jackson and others, and a Jackson composition, "Lullabye for Mothers," recorded on solo piano by Onaje Allan Gumbs.

Gumbs, who played keyboards in Jackson's Decoding Society on 1985's Decode Yourself, had a friendship with the monumental composer-drummer dating back to the early 1970's. It was he who introduced Jackson to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism (after Jackson heard Gumbs chanting "Nam myoho renge kyo" during a frenetic drive through Brooklyn), and the two men studied the religion under the tutelage of bassist Buster Williams. Jackson subsequently met his wife Natalie while performing in a trio with Gumbs and Williams at a Nichiren Buddhist convention in Hawaii. In his notes to the 2000 Knitting Factory re-release of Pulse (as Puttin' On Dog), Jackson called Gumbs "my mentor." The keyboardist's variegated career also includes stints with jazzy R&B purveyors Norman Connors and Phyllis Hyman, post-bop trumpeter Woody Shaw, pioneering rapper Kurtis Blow, and free-jazz bass legend Henry Grimes.

In 1985, at the behest of producer David Breskin, Gumbs recorded an album of solo piano renderings of nine melodies composed by Jackson, along with a couple of his own compositions. Since Jackson composed on the flute, Gumbs added harmonies to flesh out the pieces, giving them a lushness and spiritual warmth only hinted at in the notated versions. The master tapes were shelved for 24 years until Gumbs was able to purchase them from Breskin, and now the pianist is releasing them under his own Ejano Music imprint via CD Baby.

Gumbs' interpretations give the listener a new way to hear Jackson's music, and provide a new insight into the composer's melodic gifts. On his last visit to New York, Jackson heard the tapes and told Gumbs, "You have taken something great and made it magnificent." Highlights include the two takes of "Lullabye for Mothers" that bookend the album (subtitled "Good Morning" and "Good Night"); the title track, which unfolds relentlessly (and was the last piece performed at Jackson's final live performance in 2012); the delicately ethereal "Dialogue of Angels;" the gracefully flowing "Lydia" (inspired by a dancer Jackson knew); and "Theme for a Prince," which Jackson recorded on the Decoding Society's 1980 debut Eye On You. Two takes of Gumbs' own "Rising To the Occasion" give an idea of the interpreter's grounding in gospel, blues, and bebop. A fitting tribute, which one hopes will be only the first of more explorations of the Jackson canon by others.