President Obama’s Eulogy: A Rock for All Ages!

In the video link below is a 2004 interview conducted with Juan Williams author, “This Far by Faith.” We discussed the importance of the African American church in America and in the lives of black communities. This topic is especially relevant today in the aftermath and response to the massacre of nine worshipers at the Mother AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 17, 2015.

Obama Ame church Getty:Win McNamee

President Obama delivered one of the greatest presidential eulogies ever made. His words heard around the world were spoken on behalf of his friend Rev. Clementa Pinckney one of nine victims killed by a racist terrorist at Mother AME Church in Charleston ,South Carolina last week.

It’s obvious Barack Obama’s time wasn’t wasted during those sermons he heard over 20 years while attending Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church on Chicago’s South side. Before Wright’s fall from grace he had been regarded as one among black America’s most eloquent preachers. Obama actually drew upon his own considerable knowledge of homiletics as he spoke eloquently on the theme of ” God’s grace” in the grand tradition of Drs.Gardner Taylor, known as the Dean of Black preachers, Martin Luther King-Jr and Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

Like every project he engages, you can bet the POTUS studies the bible and scripture intensely. He has listened to the songs and great hymns of Zion in black worship services, and he genuinely understands their idiom and inflections and moans steeped in the trials of slavery and racial subjugation and the blues. No doubt he’s heard great sermons across the country delivered by white and black clergy. But there is a distinctive resonance and cadence to black sermons and oratory that is undeniably and unabashedly black and American. Barack’s gravitas behind the pulpit is neither fake nor manufactured it’s hard won. He’s obviously studied with intentionality the potency of the African American church as a moral force for social, political and economic empowerment of black people in America.

Seizing the moment he summonsed his vast historical knowledge along with his considerable spiritual and scriptural reservoir which has laid fallow for six long years and set the tone for what may well prove a transformative moment in America’s readiness to deal with its original sin, slavery, Jim Crow and the lingering racism it produced. Obama understands the centrality of the Black church’s historical role and learned lessons from his experience. And I’ve no doubt that he at some point accepted and received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It can’t be readily faked. His eulogy was real and prophetic, a remarkable moment in American history and one that distinguishes him as a child of God.

Criminal Arrest in America: Is There A Double Standard between Blacks and Whites?

The Arrest of Dylann Roof:

Our nation has been in turmoil from Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island to Baltimore and North Charleston as we’ve watched black men and boys being violently apprehended even killed when unarmed. There have been marches and mostly peaceful protests. And in Baltimore, violence erupted and rioting fueled by what some view as the specter of injustice during the arrest of an unarmed black man Freddie Gray who died in police custody.

Many ask, “Why are they so angry? Intoning, the police are only doing their jobs! The video posted here is a clear representation of why so many are angry and visual reference as to perhaps how many people, black, white and of all races and creeds clearly perceive a blatant injustice in the way in which white and black assailants are treated unequally within the American criminal justice system. The racist terrorist, (I refuse to mention his name thus, grant him fame and notoriety he desires) was arrested without a scratch. In fact it appears that,only two of five arresting officers weapons were drawn, no gun shots were fired, no profanity or expletives used . It was  all conducted  in a very civil, orderly and humane manner .The suspect was politely frisked,neither was he manhandled  nor placed in an unlawful chokehold. as was Eric Garner in Staten Island who died as a result.

After being handcuffed he is then is unceremoniously escorted away in  police custody. The perpetrator’s perk walk was delayed however after he reportedly is driven to a Burger King where an officer or officers ordered him a Burger and rather than  waiting to issue him a bread and baloney sandwich as standard fare for a prisoner being processed into the local jail under custody.The world waited with baited breadth as a Statewide manhunt was underway for a racist terrorist killer of nine innocent black citizens to be apprehended.Apparently his complaint that he was hungry touched a humane nerve in the arresting officers sufficient enough to waive normal arrest protocol by allowing the prisoner, an un-remorseful serial killer, perhaps his last meal outside of prison. If that doesn’t strike one as “white male privilege” when contrasting the numerous police criminal suspect encounters seen as a pattern when black males have been seen on numerous videos being apprehended nationwide,then I for one, do not know the meaning of the word “privilege, particularly the term white privilege”. Americas’ criminal justice system is broken plain and simple!

Jazz : Preserve of the Wealthy or Forgotten Music by the American Populous?

Has today’s appreciation of jazz and national public identification with the genre become the preserve of solely wealthy Americans?Jazz is now more widely embraced by the privilege classes than by the American populous at large.Elite prep schools like New York City’s prestigious Riverdale Country School offer jazz residencies employing established jazz musicians to prepare future leaders for their ultimate leadership roles in international arenas of business politics and art.The offering of jazz studies is designed to round out a rich liberal arts education, along with other classic art forms has evolved as a hall mark of the well educated acculturated American student.The Riverdale Country School alumni include among it’s notable grads president John F.Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F.Kennedy, NFL great Calvin Hill, Richard Engle, NBC News Chief Foreign News Correspondent among others.Jazz concerts and ensembles are integrated within the core academic and cultural experience. You ask why? Because to have a truly acquired a well rounded American liberal Arts education demands knowledge and appreciation of the one cultural art form that is universally accepted as America’s original contribution to world culture- American jazz.

The demonization of jazz in the early 20th century is a relic of the past.No longer is jazz relegated to smokey bars in “Red Light districts of urban centers like New Orleans and Harlem. Jazz and it’s variations are embraced in world capitols on every continent. Jazz as artistic discipline with a core history and genus within black America and the American experience is identified universally as being quintessentially an American export. One significantly shaped by African American musicians and further refined and embraced by other ethnic and national influences. At its core body is repertoire, historical narrative emerging from the lives of the musicians whom have advanced it’s evolution,innovations,styles and influences.These elements of the genre are taught as part of American culture and specifically under scoring African America’s unique contribution to art and music.

One nation that early on embraced and incorporated jazz within it’s own rich cultural history is France. Cultivating Gypsy jazz and appropriating various other elements of tradition jazz and blues into Eurocentric influences the City of Lights remains a cultural incubator for experimentation and creativity expanding cultural boundaries yet retaining an American character.
“For several generations of black Americans, it was the City of Paris that equaled freedom. Finding it a welcoming refuge from the Civil Rights era, musicians such as Sidney Bechet and Bud Powell moved here. They mingled with existentialists like Jean-Paul Sartre in the jazz caves of St. Germain-des-Pres. Miles Davis fell in love with Sartre’s muse, Juliette Gréco, and wrote the score for Louis Malle’s film “Ascenseur pour l’échafaud.” That heyday has passed, but its legacy endures.”Quote: Washington Post 3/5/2015 D.Day 2015
(pictured lft below, American artists, Lezlie Harrison,and Saul Rubin scheduled to appear this summer at Sunset Sunside Jazz Club in Paris as part of the City’s long affinity for all things jazz, Dennis Day sings at Le Caveau des Oubliettes in Paris Latin Quarter.

American jazz artists still find receptive French audiences into today's competitive global music market for jazz.

American jazz artists still find receptive French audiences into today’s competitive global music market for jazz.

American Jazz singer Dennis Day in Paris' Latn Quarter. The French have for generations embraced jazz and blues and integral cultural components of French culture.

American Jazz singer Dennis Day in Paris’ Latn Quarter. The French have for generations embraced jazz and blues and integral cultural components of French culture.

Pianist “ELEW” RockJazz Star: In a CLASS by HIMSELF!

During my time as student of jazz performance at Manhattan School of Music Conservatory,it was my good fortune to have met and been coached by a number of brilliant teachers and perform with many great serious students of music. As an older student, in 1992, I realized I might encounter a steeper learning curve than my younger full-time student counterparts, as I continued to work full time. MSM conservatory produces musicians who become renowned leaders and top performers, in the arts related to music as composers, teachers, orchestral directors, score writers and a vast array of related artistic fields in the art and business of producing music.
Eric Lewis was among my gifted fellow students at MSM along with vibist, Marimba virtuoso Stefon Harris. The informal jam sessions that took place among students between classes in a variety of settings were unbelievable. I managed to grab my chances to sit in occasionally, as is the custom in conservatory, encouraging students to experience as many performance opportunities as possible. What I distinctly cherish from that hallowed time is how rigorous the commitment for those seeking to make a life’s career in music as either composer, performer, musician teacher or singer. Make no mistake a life and career in music requires serious rigorous discipline and commitment.

Eric Lewis AKA by his adopted moniker in recent years, as ELEW is exemplary as one such totally committed individual. I came to know and rely on Eric’s acumen and judgement as one of the top tier students among a highly esteemed teaching staff of professional jazz musicians for their expertise and coaching. Most memorable for me was the African American History Month Student recital held in February in which both Eric Lewis and Stefon Harris accompanied me on a transcription of Ella Fitzgerald’s memorable performance in Berlin singing “How High the Moon”. I was in my prime  and accepted the challenge joined by two phenomenally gifted young “lions” and a stellar student ensemble. We took an appreciative audience  by surprise  figuratively on a musical trip to the moon with a riveting vocal, instrumental rendition of inimitable “Ella in Berlin Concert 1968” backed by a group of soon to become internationally renowned musicians. Eric and I  had occasion recently to reminisce and joke about the experience, oddly we both are able to recall fondly after thousands of performances. It was a moon voyage from which I have yet to return after realizing the power and joy of truly great music. And from the looks of ELEW’S stellar career neither has he.

Years later,in 2008 Stefan Harris appeared on my successful debut jazz CD Dennis Day “All Things in Time”.  ELEW  has been called by Rolling Stone Magazine an International Rock Jazz star a genre ELEW has virtually helped define.
Eric’s distinctive style has helped him to amass a large following of celebrity fans, including Barack and Michelle Obama (for whom he has played at the White House), Leonardo DiCaprio,Donna Karan, Téa Leoni, David Duchovny, Hugh Jackman,Forest Whitaker, and Gerard Butler.[2] Throughout his career, he has performed with musicians such as Sting, The Roots,Natalie Cole, and Esperanza Spalding. In the spring of 2011, he joined singer-songwriter Josh Groban as the opening act on the American leg of the singer’s Straight to You Tour. Around the same time, he appeared as a contestant in an audition on the NBC reality seriesAmerica’s Got Talent, where he received a standing ovation from the crowd and positive scores from all three judges. Despite his positive reception, he ultimately dropped out of the competition in order to tour with Groban.[3]Wikepedia

As classmates at Manhattan School of Music,  Eric Lewis aka ELEW and singer Dennis Day  often performed with students within their performance classes as accompaniment  and during student recitals.

As classmates at Manhattan School of Music, Eric Lewis aka ELEW and singer Dennis Day often performed with students within their performance classes as accompaniment and during student recitals.

The City of philadelphia continues to produce  jazz artists as part of a hallowed tradition. Here, pictured left,on piano, ELEW at center, singer, TC Carney III both natives of Philadelphia appear at a Benefit for the Banana Pudding Jazz series in NYC.

The City of philadelphia continues to produce jazz artists as part of a hallowed tradition. Here, pictured left,on piano, ELEW at center, singer, TC Carney III both natives of Philadelphia appear at a Benefit for the Banana Pudding Jazz series in NYC.

Pianist, ELEW displays the physical energetic style and virtuousity that has won fans among celebrities and music lovers worldwide.

Pianist, ELEW displays the physical energetic style and virtuosity that has won fans among celebrities and music lovers worldwide.

ELEW on world tour opens for Josh Grobanelew Josh Groban