last weekend i attended the savannah jazz festival up in savannah, to honor and support our good friend and world renown congo player, mr. Big Black.
in case you’re wondering, Big Black is very big, and yes, he’s very black.
Black, as he’s known to his friends, has played with most of the “old guard” jazz greats, including Miles, Dizzy, and my personal favorite keyboard artist, McCoy Tyner. Black’s brother, an eclectic musician (gone for some years now) named Fish Ray, who played a home-made instrument that looked like a cross between a tin washtub and a broomstick-neck bass fiddle, which he jubilantly played with the original Lord Flea’s band, back in the day when calypso was the true voice of the people. the people i’m speaking of were mostly island-types, but also from all other walks of life (and all races) where, just as today, movement and dance are just as integral with human expression as the sound of instruments, including the soulful one of the human voice, singing the joys of life, as well as its pains. yet when Lord Flea chose to sing about the pain of life, he sang with great joy, still.
Big Black is practically the only one left of that era, when Lord Flea rocked people’s hearts, and Fish Ray made everyone want to jump up and shout, and Big and Fish’s sister, Becka, that gorgeous nubian princess, caused a sensation with her rendition of the “sand dance,” an erotic slice of rhythm and physical stamina performed, on a patch of sand placed on a shiny stage, to the blood-current-tingling sounds of Lord Flea’s calypso band.
check out you tube’s Lord Flea clip. you’ll know what i mean when you see it. the early ones who knew that music was to celebrate the spirit, and uplift the soul.
black invited us to come and help him celebrate being inducted into the jazz All-Stars, the veritable Hall of Fame for the greats, featured at the savannah jazz festival. we enjoyed hearing him and all the All Stars Band play, and all the other fabulous musicians, including the jazz band of the university of florida, and simone, nina simone’s sensational daughter (oooh, love those neat coppery coily-dreads!), whose lusty voice was strong and will be heard a lot more, i dare say.
meanwhile, back at the flea ranch, mom has suffered a slight set-back. i’ve been busy rushing back and forth to doctor and hospital, and we finally determined she’s had a TIA, a transcient ischemic attack, which is sort of like a “mini stroke” but much less severe than that implies. all of a sudden she couldn’t finish her sentences, was confused, and grew increasingly scared about what was happening to her. terror set in when she tried to pay her bills and numbers just swam in front of her eyes.
life can change…for all of us…in just the blink of an eye.
mom is fine now, thanks, but … she’s been given a clear warning sign from the Great Beyond, that she has to make some major changes (diet, exercise, mindfulness, calming herSelf into let-go-let-God-ness) if she wants to live to her 91st birthday. which we’re all sure she will.
she’s a strong, incredibly self-reliant person, and i’m very sure i wouldn’t be half the artist, writer, and spiritual warrior that i am today, if i hadn’t been raised by this particularly unique, lithuanian-descent woman (well versed in all the pagan-catholic fairytales that that culture embraces)–my mom. i don’t want to lose her, now that i’ve finally found, and accepted her.
thanks, mom. it’s a pleasure and a delight to be able to give you some loving support in your time of need. for years, i couldn’t. now i’m strong enough, well enough, and self-reliant enough, like you, to pay back just a small portion of what you’ve given me all these years. i love you and i accept that i had to be raised by someone so different from me, in order for me to find out who i really was.
i send love and Light, healing and invigorating, and filled with joy…to each and every one of us,
lord flea, your pal