»I’ve heard a lot of musicals, that have been attempted here in Germany… dozens of scripts and cassettes have been sent to me. But I’ve never ever heard such fabulous music before. How did you manage to get such a highly professional recording and such fantastic singers?«
Rainer Walraff, Show Time, BRF 2, Interview, Juni 1993
SONGS FROM POKER
When we first met Frank Ku-umba Lacy - we were sitting and talking at the Sweet Basil, a jazz club in the Village - he said to us, “there’s a whole big band playing up here inside my head, and it keeps me awake on those long summer nights here in New York …”
So when composer and flautist, Geoff Warren told us he wanted a music director, who could make the music he’d written for this jazz musical reflect the entire history of Afro-American tradition, Ku-umba was obviously the man for the job. Because as a kind of Shamaan in the African Diaspora,
as Lacy calls it, he allows this tradition to flow through him. Like the two CDs he put out for Tutu Records, Tonal Weights and Blue Fire and recently, Settegast Strut. On this album he plays the trombone, the trumpet, the French horn, the congas, keyboards - and sings lead vocals on top of everything else!!
Reggae, Rap, Gospel, jazzmatazz, jazz goes Latin - you name it, he’s got it. And so have these songs. The Poker Big Band is a star line-up, a cast of musicans with an excellent track record, including among others, Bill Bickford, Kim Clarke, Ed Schuller, Bruce Ditmas, Larry Porter, Nicolas Simion, Monty Waters, composer Geoff Warren himself, whose duo album with Enver Izamilov, Dancing over the Moon is due for release shortly.
And of course, Nomakosazana. We looked for a singer, a woman with a voice, expressive, experienced, old and young at once, who could sing from the heart and sing from the belly - and she was the one! Half Zulu and half German, Nomakosazana had been singing professionally since she was 15 years old. In her mid-twenties, she already had a lot of experience, of which she gives adequate evidence on her first CD with Tutu, Trouble in Paradise in dialogue with Uli Lenz. Songs from Poker unveils an impressive sculpture-in-sound, comprised of manifold rhythms, jazz piano, screaming rock guitar and groovy el-bass, funky, genial arrangements, with red hot horn sections and futuristic ballads, which draw an arc from Africa through Europe and Spain to America and Manhattan Island. Lyricist, Ruth-Sharon Koch writes …”in a way, POKER is a product of my confrontation with Europe and the modern world”… and her lyrics are unsparing: passionate and yet ironic, bitter-sweet, tough and timeless: about men and women, sex and money, success and failure, drugs and dreams - all this and heaven, too.