On Saturday, August 24, the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans (CAC) and the Trinity Episcopal Church Artist Series present the world premiere of trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe‘s newest composition, “Water Too High Bones Too Low” at the Trinity Episcopal Church, starring a cast of notable artists. Lokumbe has been acclaimed over the years for his long-form compositions that draw equally from the worlds of oratorio and opera, indigenous West African music, and jazz.
Though a Texas native, he spent much of the 1970s and beyond in the New York City jazz scene, where he met and played with many of his personal musical influences such as Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders and more. Within his first few years in New York, he formed the Sunrise Orchestra and produced his first album, Children of the Fire (1974) – a project that catapulted him onto the world stage through extensive touring. This was also the year he devoted an album to interpretations of Jimi Hendrix.
A prolific artist, Lokumbe has released 30 albums and written more than 200 pieces over his five-decade career. Perhaps his most famous work is 1990’s African Portraits which was originally performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra but has been performed by numerous symphonies and orchestras since. He has also received a number of national awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
More recently, OffBeat reviewed Hannibal’s 2010 release, Dear Mrs. Parks here. Appropriately recorded with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the album is of course an ode to the late, great Civil Rights pioneer – one of his reported life’s obsessions – and illustrates his gospel and choral composition abilities as well.
It may be fit that he debut his most recent composition in New Orleans though, as at just 14 years old he formed his first band, The Soulmasters, with whom he played the music and stylings of some of his favorite southern soul, blues and R&B artists like Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, T. Bone Walker, Lightning Hopkins, Joe Hinton and Etta James. Echoes of his southern soul influences seem to have never left the heart of his music. In fact, he spent some time in New Orleans just a few years ago as an artist-in-residence at the CAC.
This Saturday’s premiere incorporates several New Orleans artists, including Valerie Francis & The Voices of Purpose Choir, The Music Liberation Orchestra with Hannibal Lokumbe (trumpet), Kevin Washington (drums), James Polk (piano), Albinas Prizgintas (organ), David Pulphus (bass), Justin Thompson (child soprano), poet George Tobias, and narrator Ayo Scott.
Hannibal presents “Water Too High Bones Too Low” world premiere performance this Saturday, August 24, 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 1329 Jackson Ave. Admission is Free. Info Here.