Monday, April 12, 2004

Jazzkaar - Earth, Wind & Fire Experience 

Al McKay was one of the greatest talents behind the success of Earth Wind & Fire. On April 22 we can see the virtuoso and his companions in Tallinn City Hall.

Pop funk group Earth, Wind & Fire was first led by Maurice White, who started off with his brother Verdine in 1969. In the early 1970’s the group got its first recognition for its funk music, which was mixed with African kalimba. In 1973 guitarist and songwriter Al MacKay joined Earth Wind & Fire. He recorded seven albums with them and made the group famous for its exploration of new territories in the world of music. In 1975 EW&F topped the charts with the release of That's the Way of the World, and in the next five years won several Grammy awards. After leaving the group in 1981 the energy of EWF faded with McKay’s disappearance. Two years later the album Electric Universe was a total failure. EW&F broke up. In 1993 the group came together to play hip-hop, and issued Heritage featuring guest rapper M.C. Hammer. The group Earth Wind & Fire returned to Warner Bros.

In the early 1990’s McKay made a comeback under new name Al McKay All-Stars. The world’s brightest musicians were joined together to tell the new generations the legends of Earth Wind & Fire. The youngest of the group is Claud Woods. He is the vocals of the band with DeVere Duckett and Tim Owens . The fourth man for vocals is Bryan Loren. He has been contributing to the music also on keyboards, and has worked with stars likes Michael Jackson, Barry White and Sting. The lead keyboards are played by Ben Dowling who belongs to UCLA Electronic Music Advisory Board, and has recorded music with Michael Jackson, Madonna and Yes. Hussain Jiffry born in Sri Lanka, plays bass guitar, and has been recognised also for his dedication to the music of Whitney Houston and Michael Bolton, to mention a few. Bruce Conte plays guitar in “all-star” band, and has toured together with Santana and the Rolling Stones. Behind the drums we can find Michael Shapiro who is supported on other percussions by Joey DeLeon. Michael Harris plays trumpet and has worked for Phil Collins, The Jacksons, Little Richard and Lenny Kravitz, to mention a few. Second trumpet player is Enzo Villaparedes from Venezuela who toured and recorded with Joan Sebastian and Franco. Wendell Kelly, whose talents have been noticed by Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Joe Williams, Dan Ackroyd and Frank Sinatra plays trombone, and finally Ed Wynn, known from the groups of the 1960’s, Platters and Drifters is appearing in Earth, Wind and Fire with his saxophone music.

Each generation re-discovers Earth, Wind & Fire. Al McKay has started his own project with the mighty orchestra that origins from the same roots as the R&B society of Earth, Wind & Fire. The 21st century Estonians will probably welcome the rhythms of Al McKay the way they were hailed by the masses of the 1970s western world.


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