Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium produces a Jazz Festival every year. 2016 brings our 17th Annual Festival. The Brooklyn grassRoots festival this year runs from April 15th until May 15. This years event was fantastic. View our magazine for a look inside.
Magazine I had to share with you the sensation I’ve been living with since the tribute I attended this morning. I was privileged to witness the rededication rituals of the Amazon in their funeral salute to the impeccably principled life, legacy and lore of Dr. Nina Simone at Abyssinian Baptist Church. I am still vibrating from such a concentrated immersion in elegant, dynamic estrogen. Men were present but this was clearly a ‘woman’s event’ and conducted under the protocols of the warrior woman. The church was filled. There were Amazons everywhere. Such a large grouping of Amazons sets in play it’s own gravitational force. The pull was tidal and cleansing. As the mosaic of speakers made testimony, magic in the pattern of presentation, revealed Dr. Nina’s final comment to America. Nina Simone transcended this earthly plane within her own life time. Her achievements in self-esteem, when combined with extraordinary talent, absolute courage, a grounded humanity and a need to tell the truth, sculpted a personality so rare, so refined, it virtually willed itself. That quality is the essence of the warrior; the projection of the self, saturated in conviction. To hear a church full of warrior women ululate for one of their greatest is music so pure, it plays through the body. Raw Spirit seeks itself. The melding of 38 IYALODE By Ed Dessisso The following is a reprint from a 2014 addition PJM
sound to Spirit is fundamental technology for the Amazon. They all can do that and differently too. The Amazon is a goddess. A testimonial for Dr. Nina Simone required no less than an army of goddesses. Her army was there. Keep in mind what it takes to be a goddess, then understand that her army was there. These are the troops that can eat their prisoners. Goddesses do that too. A quality of your cool is the level of your Nina Simone story because she was impeccably divine, but humanly accessible. To speak of Nina’s strength, as with all who came to praise her transition, is a redundancy. In so many ways the feminine image of accountability, she reigned supreme as the Queen Mother for the tribe of the unforgiving. In the Old World, the title for such sovereignty is Iyalode: ‘the adjudicator of market place issues’. It is a chieftancy occupied exclusively by women and not questioned in its authority. The transition of an Iyalode is both the closure and rebirth of eras by which people live their lives-- conduct their business. The so-called New World has no counterpart translation for the Iyalode, due mainly from the diminished valuation of the woman gender. Iyalode is the woman’s voice in the ruling Senate of Elders and the appeal of last resort within the gender. Such power carries the requirement of impeccable demeanor and comportment. Iyalode is a lonely place because it is the top. Nina Simone’s music is unlike anyone else’s music. She infused her artistry in everything she touched; possessed the soul of any song she sang. Like it or not, you always got the Nina Simone version of everything she did. She continues to be quite luminous, especially to those of us accustomed to music that is alive. Nina accurately interpreted love in the nappy-headed fashion guys like me tend to experience it. Love may start out a Gershwin tune but always ends an opus Simone by the time the kissing stops. Often long before. Dr. Nina tinged the human need for intimacy with reality bites, like the presence of diapers latent in the love making act. You recognize her priorities and make a surviving culture by adherence to them. Nina’s is the music that charts ‘love in a time of plague’, the musical landscape of keeping it real. When you connect the neighboring stars in her constellation, you’ve linked to Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. How these Iyalodes defined love is the unimpeachable standard for Africans and others in the New World. For male members of the tribe of the unforgiving, her music declared the reality that we are not forgotten, are not strange, are not alone. She blended the ‘sweet and sour taste of love’ in her music more consistently and to more memorable effect than anyone you can name. No one handles the scar tissue of romance like Nina Simone. No one gives it more dignity. The ‘going over ceremony’ for such an accomplished spirit engages the most exacting nuances of testimony because no one is capable of saying it all. Ritual provides the outlet by which many compose a portrait of the one. Ritual is the social mechanism that attacks the void and defeats death. The footpath of ritual is much grown over, but there are those who still know the steps and tread it with the purity of their initiation, for the salvation, the restoration of us all. Words cannot capture the ritual dance of the leaders as they guide us up the ancient pathway, but the landscape was indelibly, undeniably Nina Simone. Without interpretation, the non-initiate can only find release in tears of loss. We’re only human after all. But that is not the way of goddesses. Perfectly, as an invocation must be, Sister Camille Yarbrough ululated a war cry for the fallen before she put everybody on their feet in a blood rushing tribute to the memory of Dr. Nina Simone. She scorched the earth and made sacred space for all to follow within. Then Ossie Davis, the distinguished presiding elder, leaned Ms. Nina Simone on the mic adroitly on his several prerogatives to interpret Simone’s signature, ‘Mississippi, God Damn!’ right there at the pulpit. It was quite a hit, built into his lesson on the battle implications of the trumpet, and the trumpet that Dr. Nina was for the world. He sat down to a standing ovation and the amazed approval of Rev. Butts. Then flowed a river of other fascinating women, 39