ALIVE! coming to Houston this month
ALIVE! is the name of a feminist jazz
group, the title of their first album, and
the best word to describe their music. It
is a concept album, blending the traditional and explorative modes of jazz, but
if the listener is looking for a typical sing-
along jamboree of sisterhood or background music for the dinner hour, this is
not the album.
ALIVE! was born three years ago at a
jazz workshop for women in San Francisco. It began as a trio with Carolyn Brandy
on percussion, rhiannon doing vocals and
percussion, and Susanne Vincenza playing
cello and bass. Jazz keyboardist Michelle
Rosewoman often joined the group for
jam sessions at local coffeehouses.
During the summer of 1977, ALIVE!
crystallized its commitment to music at
the Women's Music Festival in Champaign,
Illinois and again later that year at the
Women's Festival in Michigan. The two
newest members of the group, Barbara
Borden and Janet Small joined ALIVE!
early in 1979. After their first tour together as a quintet in April 1979 everything began to fall together musically,
spiritually, politically and emotionally.
It is obvious from the opening cut on
the album, Somebody's Talking to You
that these women are tuned in to each
other and can cook with the best jazz ensembles. The added touch of congas to
the combination of piano, bass and drums
augments the traditional sound and gives
the musicians a broader base from which
One of the more explorative endeavors
on the album is Dark Side of The Moon
which was written by Carolyn Brandy
and James Gardner. On this piece the
listener is taken through a whirlwind
of sound from bells, chimes and piano
strings to gongonqui, rattle and cabasa.
The piece is impressionistic, painting colors and hues for the ears, creating mood
with dissonance and a breakdown of
Much of the group's work revolves
around tempo, rhythm and percussion.
There are Latin and African motifs
throughout the album as well as touches
of bebop, whole note phrasing, parallel
motion, blues riffs and extraordinary scat
singing that would surely leave Lambert,
Hendricks and Ross gasping for air.
Barbara Borden and Carolyn Brandy
playing drums and congas respectively,
break out for some percussive jamming
reminiscent of the Brazilian Carnival in
the opening cut and again in the closing
piece, Yemaya, Sister of the Fishes. Janet
Small is both percussive with her accents
and lyrical with long flowing runs across
the keys while Susanne Vincenza pounds
out a striding bass. And then there is
rhiannon is lead vocalist and, along
with Carolyn Brandy, one of the principal
songwriters of ALIVE! Her voice has the
inventiveness of Urszula, the emotion of
Flora, the control of Cleo, and a searing
inner spirit all its own. She is at her best
with her own songs, rhiannon, Part of
Me/Changes and City Life. Her range is so
wide, her improvisation so pervasive that
the music is simply a vehicle to let the
listener have some contact with the planet Earth. Her voice has a universal quality of emotion that would be understood
in any language, but the added beauty of
the lyrics gives great depth to the jazz.
There is a harmonious balance between lyrics and music throughout the album. In Part of Me/Changes, the joy of
loving and the pain of separation are expressed succinctly: "If we can just hold
on/ To our faith in who we are when
we're alone/ We've grown so much stronger for our lovin'." Strong words written
by women for women are delivered by a
voice as full of emotion as the act of giving birth. The music and the lyrics share
a unity of spirit that can only be found
when the basic framework is securely
rooted in honesty, trust and understanding. Their message is clear: women need
to look inward to themselves and to other
women for love and truth.
The philosophy of ALIVE! sums it up
best: "We believe in the revolutionary
and spiritual power of music, which reflects our heritage as women—healers and
musicians since ancient times. Our highest
goal is to express our uniqueness as individual women while remaining in touch
with the source of our common inspiration." This is an extraordinary thought
for jazz musicians, but a fundamental
credo for women.
ALIVE! will be appearing in Houston
on January 18 and 19 at Fitzgerald's. For
more information, call 524-0342.
Astrid She/'I is program director of KUHF-
FM and worked to get ADD LIB, the
Houston all-woman's jazz group together.
Lisa Mach - commercial
and residential real estate
(co-owner of Plaza I
Properties), Judy Doran -
feminist attorney, Alethea
Dollison - investments and
Sandra Hicks - property
Announcing an opportunity for women to invest
in Houston REAL ESTATE.
Selective Enterprises, Inc. is buying and managing
income properties for investors.
Limited partnerships and joint ventures are available. Minimum investment is $1000.
Come join us and make your money work for
Selective Enterprises, Inc.
• Tax Shelter Advantages
• Property Management
1001 Oxford Suite 100 Houston, Tx 77008 869-3848
Where women make
policy and coffee!
2520 Rice Blvd.
In the Village