Music has been called the universal language, capable of bringing together people of many different countries, cultures and genres. West African percussionist Aiyb Dieng also considers it an expression of love uniting performers with each other- and with their listeners.
Dieng, a native of Senegal, has worked with a wide range of musicians, including Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Bill Laswell, Bob Marley and Herbie Hancock. The list also includes Karl Berger, who founded Woodstock NY's eclectic, avant-garde-tinged Creative Music Studio in 1972 with his wife, singer Ingrid Sertso, and encouragement from Ornette Coleman.
Dieng shared his music in three different formats on Friday, February 15, at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers FL. His huge arsenal of drums and other hand percussion instruments, surrounding him on racks and tables. were at the heart of it all, even when he had some help from to different groups of musical friends.
The program began with four or five solo percussion numbers, as Dieng improvised moods and exotic melodies on his drums, shakers, other musical noisemakers, and a musical bow.
The evening took the first of two sharp turns when he brought three other players to the stage for a healthy dose of Jamaican music, a tip of the hat perhaps to his association with Marley. It started, quite appropriately, with Marley's One Love," included a reggae version of If I Were a Carpenter" and closed with Marley's Rasta Man Chant"- its poignant Fly Away Home to Zion" lyrics delivered by singer Clint Robinson and keyboardist-singer Dave Walker.
The second set was nothing like the first, as Dieng went into free jazz" mode with some creative music notables: Hammond B-3 organist Amina Claudine Myers, tenor saxophonist Rachella Parks-Washington, violinist Charles Burnham, electric bassist Ted Myerson and drummer Pheeroan akLaff.
Together, they roared through a half-dozen extended pieces, each taking solos but also blending their individual sounds into the thick musical conversation. Dieng shifted from one drum, gong or shaker to another before returning to his congas and bata drum. No vocals, no song introductions. Just sharing their instrumental harmony.
That feeling floated out into the audience, which seemed spellbound by the moment and answered that message of love with an enthusiastic ovation.
This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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