click to enlarge
The Babatunde Lea Quintet Featuring Dwight Trible, Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen, Gary Brown
March 18, 2010
In supprt of new CD "Umbo Weti: A Tribute to Leon Thomas"
8pm show $15 advance, $20 at-the-door
Percussion virtuoso Babatunde Lea first envisioned a tribute to legendary jazz vocalist and composer Leon Thomas shortly after the singer passed in 1999. His efforts reach fruition on Lea's fourth and latest release for the Motéma label, UMBO WETI. Featuring a stellar band of improvisers: Dwight Trible (vocals), Ernie Watts (tenor sax), Gary Brown (bass), Patrice Rushen (piano), and Lea on drums and percussion, UMBO WETI is a labor of love.
When Thomas passed ten years ago, Lea quietly vowed he would find a way to honor him in an appropriate fashion. The tribute concert was recorded live at Yoshi's in 2008. The 2-CD set includes bonus video content of the show and interviews with the players.UMBO WETI takes its name from the Thomas song titled after the yodel-like singing of the Central African Twa people from whom he adopted his distinctive vocal style.
"The most important thing I wanted to accomplish was to have the music exude spirituality." Even a cursory listen to UMBO WETI confirms Lea achieved that -- and a closer hearing unveils layers of joyful, instinctual virtuosity. Thomas' music and vision is translated and memorialized in a definitive fashion by Lea and his inspired cohorts. This tribute was well worth waiting for.