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cd cover Afro-Semitic Experience
Plea for Peace (Reckless DC)

This African-American-Jewish jazz alliance offers a unique perspective, both musically and philosopically. Using tools expected and unexpected (bass, horns and drums are met by dobro, violin, African percussion and clarinet) they make a music that will grab the ear of mainstream jazz and Jewish fusion fans because no matter the genre, it is genuine, original and surprising.

...when the temple is rebuilt
I wish I knew...

What the artists' say about the recording:

Plea for Peace and it is our strongest effort yet and really a group effort. On this album we ofer a program of pieces that encompass a wide range of sounds and styles--there are original compositions along with our distinctive arrangements of synagogue songs, gospel songs, hymns, West African, Cuban and Puerto Rican drum beats, jazz songs and cantorial music. We are a band that is proud of our religious and political message. Plea for Peace is a politically charged and spiritually centered cry for peace, world wide spiritual unity and communication.

The title track, Plea for Peace, was composed by band co-founder Warren Byrd and is an expression of his sincere desire for the world to find a way to work things out. In fact, the composition is more of a prayer than a plea. Other pieces on the album include an arrangement by Will Bartlett of Almighty God, a composition from Duke Ellington’s Second Sacred Concert, and a group arrangement--Descarga Ocho Kandelikas, an Afro-Cuban jam on the classic Hannukah song. Baba and Alvin merge West African drumming and gospel on our interpretation of Dottie People’s On Time God and we add just a touch of Puerto Rican Bomba to my arrangement of A Song for When the Temple is Rebuilt–an updated version of Yisroel Schorr’s cantorial composition, Sheh Yiboneh Beis Hamikdash.

About the musicians:

Warren Byrd is the youngest of a large fundamentalist music_imbued family. He started performing as a child, gaining extensive experience as an actor, a singer, and pianist, and absorbing a vast, A to Z variety of music. At age 18 he entered Hartt College of Music on full scholarship. He soon left to develop his own methods, emerging as a self_taught composer, arranger, pianist and lyricist, and subsequently, a celebrated New England Artist. Warren's extensive musical work includes directing Gospel choirs, composing for Theatre and Dance, and performing in all genres with some of the finest artists, including Archie Shepp, Jay Hoggard, Kwawaku Martin Obeng, Roseanne Vitro, and Saskia Laroo, and too many more to mention. Warren also accompanies dance and teaches in the Southern New England area. He has been nominated eight times as best keyboardist in the Hartford Advocate's Reader's poll, chosen as one of the top twenty_five pianists of the Thelonious Monk Institute's 1999 contest, and recently released his first album,"Truth Raised Twice".

David Chevan was musically active from an early age. He grew up in a Conservative-Egalitarian Jewish synagogue where he led services from the age of 10. Although much of his performing method on the double-bass has been self taught, Chevan credits the master bassist, Lisle Atkinson with showing him the pathway to self-education. As a composer Chevan has primarily focused on works for improvisors. He has written works for a wide range of artists and ensembles, including several collaborations with dance and film. In addition to performing regularly in a duo with pianist Warren Byrd and leading their group, The Afro-Semitic Experience, Chevan has had the opportunity to perform and record with a wide range of creative musical artists, including Ali Ryerson, Joe Beck, Jaki Byard, Harold Danko, Ellery Eskelin, Giacomo Gates, Frank London, Andrea Parkins, and Cookie Segelstein. He is an Associate Professor of Music at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and holds a Ph.D in Music History from C.U.N.Y. He has published numerous articles on the history of early jazz, developed and taught courses on Jewish and African-American musical traditions and is currently studying the music of bassist Milt Hinton as well as a comprehensive study of Jazz Fake Books. Chevan is proud to be a member of the board of trustees of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.

Will Bartlett has over twenty-five years experience as a professional musician and music educator. He studied with Jimmy Heath and Lew Tabackin and performed with Frank Foster, Lee Konitz, Slide Hampton and Roswell Rudd among many others. He leads his own group, Joy Spring as well as the Will Bartlett Ensemble. His family belongs to and are actively involved in the Lebanese-American Christian community of Connecticut.

Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. (Babafemi) is a multi-percussionist who had his musical beginnings on congas and later added drum set and many other types of percussion to his list. He currently focuses on afrikan-american improvisational music but has been active in many different musical styles for many years. Alvin leads his own groups LEGACY: The Keepers of Tradition and The Alvin Carter Project. He also performs with Rafiki, which is led by Alvin Carter, Sr.

Baba David Coleman is an African drumming Master and a Yoruba priest. He was born in New York and has spent the better part of his adult life traveling and performing. He recently moved to New Haven where he quickly established himself as a leading figure in the local African drum world. He has studied with Baba Femi and continues to be a disciple of the legendary Chief Bey, the oldest African-American hand drummer.

Stacy Phillips is a self-taught, internationally acclaimed resonator (slide) guitarist and violin player. He has performed with Mark O'Connor, Bela Fleck, Leon Redbone, Judy Collins, Peter Rowan, and many other of the top acoustic musicians in the world. Stacy has three solo albums and is featured artist on the Grammy award-winning album The Great Dobro Sessions. He has been called "one of the hottest pickers around" (Guitar Player magazine), "a totally fluid, totally present practitioner of American roots musics" (The Klezmer Shack on-line reviews) and "a resonator guitar virtuoso. . .stretching the stylistic limits of his instrument" (Dirtly Linen magazine). He is the author of more than 25 books and DVD's on various aspects of his chosen instruments, including "The Klezmer Collection" and "Easy Klezmer Tunes". They are seen in the music rooms of the world's best string players.

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