Sunday, May 05, 2013

Rakalam Bob Moses -- When Elephants Dream of Music

On Rakalam Bob Moses of The Free Spirits
By Sean Aaron Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

“Drummer, composer, artist, poet, dancer, visionary, nature mystic (Rakalam) Bob Moses's life has been a continuous quest for vision, spirit, compassion, growth, and mastery in a multiplicity of art forms.”—New England Conservatory

Among the four members of the legendary, pioneering jazz-fusion band The Free Spirits coming to Portland in August to celebrate their friend and bandmate Jim Pepper is world-renowned master drummer and educator Rakalam Bob Moses.

Photo by Andrew Hurlbut

Born in New York City, Bob Moses began his career as a teenager performing with the great Rahsaan Roland Kirk. In 1965, Bob Moses, guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Chris Hills, guitarist Columbus Chip Baker and Jim Pepper formed The Free Spirits.

The Free Spirits jazz-rocked New York City in 1965-67, releasing just one LP, Out of Sight and Sound, before parting, each taking his own path, and now more than four decades later reuniting in the neighborhood where Jim Pepper first picked up his saxophone.

Jim PepperFest 2013: Rise of the Free Spirits
The Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival
Parkrose HS Performing Arts Center, Portland, Oregon
August 7-10, 2013

“I can see two major traditions or trains of thought colliding and merging in my music.

“One is the path of the nature visionary; one who can travel without moving, to and through various dimensions and planes of reality. In my life I have seen through the veils, kissed butterflies, envisioned animated three-dimensional scenes and stepped into those scenes, talked to and played with spirits of other worlds, past, present and future. I have been a flower, a mountain, a raging river, a stone….

“The other tradition or stream that I swim in is the Great River of African Music in all its manifestations: the importance of clave’, groove, swing, rhythm, dance, hip-shaking, rhythm and rhyme sublime, shadows and light by day, by night, Jazz, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, Hip Hop, Rap, Reggae, Calypso, Zouk, Soukous, Samba, Afro-Cuban, Salsa are all psychically if not geographically emanating from Africa….

“So the streams merge and become one vast, deep, infinite music:

“Music with groove but no walls
Music with soul but no boundaries
Music with roots but no ceilings
Music of hope and love and humor”

                                  --Rakalam Bob Moses, from When Elephants Dream of Music

Trevor, from When Elephants Dream of Music

–on Bob Moses’ When Elephants Dream of Music:

"Bob Moses has now emerged as the possessor of one of the grander imaginations in America's true classical music. No orchestral composer of this scope, mellow wit, and freshly distinctive range of colors has come along since Gil Evans."-Nat Hentoff, Modern Recording and Music

“Bob Moses, composer, drummer, poet, artist, conceptualizer, inspirer of people, has created a musical environment that is balanced, between discipline and freedom, compositional design and spontaneous inspiration. A party with a purpose. This album is original, soulful, funny…and very special. I hope a lot of people get as much enjoyment from it as I have”. –Gil Evans

–on On Time Stood Still
"Leave it to Moses, a multi-directional shamanistic groovilator, to put all the pieces together. On Time Stood Still, another sprawling production of DeMille-ian scale. He seamlessly blends Monk, funk, tap, hip hop, bebop, big band, blues, Bahia, Tanzania, and the avant garde into one organic package while paying homage to the spirits of Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Jaco Pastorius."-Bill Milkowski, Down Beat


This article was written while the author was listening to and under the influence of When Elephants Dream of Music.

The Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival is a project of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission and its partners:

The Regional Arts & Culture Council
Parkrose Neighborhood Association
Parkrose School District
Russellville Grange
Travel Portland
KBOO 90.7 FM Community Radio

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