7 months ago

Pure Jazz Magazine Special Women's/Jazz Month Issue

PJM celebrates women's month and Jazz month with this special issue


Pure Jazz Magazine Recognizes Kim Clarke for Women’s/Jazz Month 2018 LADY GOT CHOPS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL INC. When saluting women in the Jazz field I would be remised if Kim Clarke’s name were not mentioned. Kim is best known for her tenure with the avant-funk band Defunkt. She played with them for ten years. She hails from New York and performs popularly as a bassist. As a performing musician her main instrument is acoustic bass and its cousins electric upright and four and five stringed electric bass guitars. Kim plays a variety of genres: R&B, Funk, Jazz Fusion, Blues, Indie Rock, Jazz Alternative, Classical, Reggae and Industrial. Among the elites of the greater New York Jazz scene she is thought of as an accomplished musician. Page 14 - Pure Jazz Magazine Ms. Clarke taught herself to play guitar by ear before deciding to dedicate her life’s work to music. Her jazz interests start with her father, Henry Clarke and her late Guyanese grandfather, trombonist/bassist Henry (Hy) Clarke Sr. They are her heroes. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Music from City College, New York, NY and Long Island University, NY respectively. After her freshman year she transferred to Bennett College in North Carolina. It was there she met several musicians who told her about the Jazzmobile Program in New York. While studying in New York she purchased an acoustic bass that had a long history in Germany as well as the United States. She was a three-time recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Study Fellowship. Ms. Clarke is a long-time student of the Jazzmobile, studying under Jimmy Owens, Lisle Atkinson, Buster Williams, Victor Gaskins, Jimmy Heath and Ernie Wilkins. Barry Harris Workshops continues her formal studies. She was also a member of Harris’ Jazz Cultural Theatre’s house band for the famed Art Blakey Breakfast Jam. Her formal training, education and heritage all have factored into her success. As with woman in any industry she has additional skills. Her electric guitar playing has been described on many occasions as soulful, funky, rich and tight. Kim is also a composer, band leader and educator. Plus, she is a jewelry designer, website developer and most importantly a parent. Inspiration for the Lady Got Chops festival came in 2003, when Clarke was called to sub for another bassist at a new club in Brooklyn called The Jazz Spot, which was owned by a mother-daughter team, Lillithe Meyers and Tiecha Merritt. Clarke was impressed with the two women’s entrepreneurship, and Meyers and Merritt were happy to see a female musician come through the doors. They asked

Clarke where all the other female jazz musicians were? Clarke had toured with saxophonist band leader, Kit Mc- Clure and her all-women Big Band, so she knew plenty of other women musicians, and before long, she and her new friends were planning a celebration in honor of women’s history month. They decided to focus primarily on women jazz instrumentalists, since they tend to be more overlooked than vocalists. The club provided the space and food, and Clarke created a website, made flyers, booked the musicians, and promoted the event. “In particular, we wanted to address the anonymity issue, as refers to women (primarily instrumentalists) in music as well as provide a platform for those who had never met to enjoy an evening of performing together outside of their comfort zone,” reminisced Clarke about that first festival. The mission is to elevate Women’s History Month through promotion of women’s outstanding contributions artistic and otherwise, during the month of March. After the Café closed in 2009 Ms. Clarke continued this project with the support of female artists and caring club owners. The venues included the boroughs in NYC, Long Island and Peeksill. In 2010 a dance troupe was included, and the festival was renamed, Lady Got Chops Women’s History Month Music and Arts Festival. This grassroots festival is celebrating its 18 th year. During the 16 th year (2016) there were musical contributions from over 200 women. Recently she has been affiliated with Black Girls Rock since 2016. This year, 2018 Kim Clarke is being honored for all her accomplishments and I say; about time! Kim Clarke has an expansive touring/ performance schedule that started in her grandfather’s native country of Guyana in 1975. The tour was with the National Black Theatre of Harlem entitled Soul Journey into Truth. She has been connected to artists internationally such as; Michael Urbaniak, George Gruntz, Jens Wendelboe, Christy Doran, F r e d y Studer, Erika Stucky, Marilyn Mazur, Annie Whitehead, and Ursla Dudziak. Her tour experiences include; Joseph Bowie’s Defunkt, National Black Theatre, The Are and Be Ensemble, Yusef Lateef Quartet, Teri Thornton Trio, Bertha Hope Trio, Robert Palmer, Kit McClure Big Band, Rachel Z Trio, Bigfood, Wallace Roney and Cindy Blackman Quartet, Rhonda Ross-Kendrick, Oliver Lake and Jump Up, James Blood Ulmer Experience, Jack Mc Duff Quartet, Rodney Kendricks Quartet, Jazzberry Jam. She performed as house bassist in Manhattan and Jazz Clubs in New York City, the most prominent, The Blue Note and Pumpkins. Ms. Clarke had the opportunity to work with many famous names in the jazz world. Saxophonists Joe Henderson, George Braith Charles Davis and Branford Marsalis in addition, Louis Armstrong’s bass player Arvell Shaw. Drummer; Louis Haynes is also a part of her repertoire as well as pianists Dr Billy Taylor, Gilly Coggins, Bertha Hope, Geri Allen, and Danny Mixon After her ten (10) year stint with Defunkt, Kim went on to lead a jazz group Inner Circle Quartet and AWOL (Angels with Outstanding Lawyers). Kim is an active activist for woman in jazz and is dedicated to exposing audiences to women in jazz past and present. Having done extensive work with Kit McClure Big Band where she has been a member since 1986 to honor International Sweethearts of Rhythm. You can see this is important and ongoing work for Ms. Clarke. This band has released an album called the Sweethearts Project. She remains actively connected with many female artists such as Lakecia Benjamin, Tia Fuller, Akua Dixon, Sherry Maricle and Kim Thompson. In reviewing Kim Clarke’s career it is evident that she is committed to jazz and being at the “top of her game.” She is also known as coming from the “Ron Carter School of Hard Beebop.” She is far from egocentric and helps all musicians especially those from Guyana. She believes in giving back as she gives jazz workshops from kindergarten to college willing to expose all to the music that she loves and is ingrained deeply in her heart. Elizabeth K. Collins Ms. Collins is PJM’s special products writer Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 15