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Grammy U "Sound Check"
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Grammy U presents "SoundChecks"

 

By: Art Jackson
Photos By: Mann
September 03, 2009, Los Angeles:

 

As the group of students entered the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater on a hot September afternoon, the artists are already on stage engaged in soundcheck preparing for tonight’s show.  As each artist takes turns fine tuning their instruments, a collective noise and feedback fills the air until perfect harmony and pitch becomes the norms of the rehearsal set.  Chick and Stanley remains on stage practicing with violinist Jean Lou Ponty, as drummer and Lenny White comes over to address the eagerly awaiting students.

 

As Lenny meets the young group, he begins with small-talk to get a feel for the budding musicians who has been immerse  in studies, volunteering with the Grammys and previously meeting other artists such as Chris Botti for Q&A, has Lenny quips and now unfortunately you get to meet me.

 

But on a serious note, Lenny gave the students a history lesson on the background of the trio which started playing in 1973, as well as tonight historic event of having Jean Luc Ponty performing with them tonight before taking questions from the students. 

 

Grammy U:  Do you like to play in large venues such as the Hollywood Bowl? 

 

Lenny:  I have a tendency to over-play, as a performer you should be able to project, you don’t want to have your sound stay on stage, you want to project to the whole audience. 

Grammy U:  How did the band stay together for such a long time?


Lenny: It’s been the joy of the music that has kept us together.  We all have had our own individual projects over the years but whenever the opportunity to get together then we make it happen.
 
Over the years, Lenny has formed bands, produced and managed new artists and even impacted individual careers of ex-band members.  While listening to the radio he heard a tune that he liked and had to wait two weeks before hearing it again to find out the name of it.  Once obtained, he researched and found out that the producer was a ex-band member an of his, as they had lost touched over the years. But came to find out that they only lived 10 minutes each other. So he went over for a visit and was thoroughly impress with the home studio, and was told that it was all due to his being tough band leader that showed him the type of work ethic that is needed to succeed in the business.

 

Other projects of Lenny includes; working on a new CD, entitled “Anomaly”, filming a documentary “Jazz Rock” which highlights the history as one of the pioneers of “jazz rock drumming”, as well as writing a Opera in which he hopes to stretch the art form. 

 

 

Working in the industry over the years has given Lenny enormous creditably with his peers.  And when he came up with the idea of having R&B soul goddess singer like Chaka Khan to do a jazz CD it only took a few phone calls to get everyone on board.  When the call was placed to Chaka, she asked who would I be doing it with?  Chick Corea and Freddie Hubbard, and Chaka asked would they do it?  Lenny said yes, if you do it, then they would do it.  So then Lenny picked up the phone and called Freddie Hubbard and asked how would you like to do a jazz cd with Chaka Khan, and Freddie asked, do you think she would do it?  Lenny said, yes, if you do it then she would do it.  Laughter erupted from the tentative students as Lenny continued, I called up Chick, I got this record with Chaka and Freddie Hubbard. The first thing Chick said was, do you think they will do it, if you do it then they will do it. The end results was “Echoes of an Era” released in 1982 which was garnered a Grammy nominated.

 

As lover of all types of music one bit of advice that Lenny gave the young musicians was to “experiment in all types of music until you find your niche, and even then think out of the box when you do”. 
 
As the Q&A session ended I couldn’t help but think of all the great jazz history that we were just privy too.

 

Later before the trio went on stage, the students were treated to a back stage photo opt with Chick Corea as the college students were like excited pre-schoolers in getting to have their picture taken with the legendary 15 time Grammy winner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

              

              

                                            

         

 

         

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