NEW UNRELEASED MUSIC
“My goal for this recording was to feature arrangements interweaving jazz melodies and harmonies that had specific West African rhythms underlying them,” Divine recalled.
“More recently I studied West African chant and classical saxophone with Yosvany at the New School. The main things I looked for when selecting musicians for this recording were how well versed they were in jazz, spiritual and gospel music and also how familiar they were with West African grooves,” he continued. “Brett has such a strong lyrical presence on piano; you can really hear the influence of soul and gospel in his harmonics,” Divine said. “Anton holds everything down with a rock-solid bottom on bass and Justin is the perfect catalyst on drums – he’s able to maintain momentum, move things forward and light a fire under everybody when necessary!”
The album leads off with its title track and right from the start one hears the various stylistic elements that inform Divine’s writing as well as his and his bandmates’ playing. Rather than having one central pulse to focus on, “The Element” features several textural variations on a common theme that climax and change in energy according to which player one happens to be listening to. “Love Tap To The Solar Plexus” is a metric tune that, in addition to sections with four beats per measure, has one in 15/8 clearly influenced by West African rhythms. “The Assassin,” is a modal composition in the spirit of mid-1960s modern jazz classics like Coltrane’s “One Down, One Up” and McCoy Tyner’s “Four By Five.” The progressions and harmonies of “Night Is Near” pay tribute to Wayne Shorter whose music Divine not only learned on the sax but also on the piano; one hears echoes of “Children Of The Night” at the beginning of the tune and elements of “Speak No Evil” are quoted at the end. “Ajna” is inspired by Divine’s interest in Hindu practices and teachings; the word is sanskrit for the Third Eye Chakra of intuition and intellect. “Griot’s Tale,” one of the most popular songs in Divine’s repertoire, is a tribute to his father.
What sets Divine apart from other young lions today is that he moves the music forward in new directions while demonstrating his deep respect for the trailblazing work of tenor titans who came before him. He rhythmically respects the tradition of swing while exploring new musical concepts that make you want to dance, groove or reflect.
Currently, Divine is pursuing his Master's degree in Jazz Studies at Temple University under the direction of renowned trumpeter, Terell Stafford. Divine already started paying his dues and honing his chops in the New York City jazz scene. One month prior to graduating with this Bachelor's degree from The New School For Jazz & Contemporary Music he released The Element, his self-produced, recording debut as a leader, featuring all-original, straight-ahead material.
In July, 2015 Divine was selected by Wynton Marsalis and Jazz At Lincoln Center to perform for the Museum of Modern Art’s “New Music for New York“ series. The program features an emerging composer performing a world premiere composition. Divine premiered "Victims to Vanity", a piece he wrote in tribute to his brother Gahib Divine, who died in street violence in Philadelphia in 2011. To date, It remains unreleased.
Divine performs regularly at venues in Philadelphia and New York. Recently he performed in Rihanna’s band during her finale performance during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. His big band compositions were performed during the 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival. During the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in LA he performed in the horn line of the Dave Matthews Band having been selected from a pool of 800 auditions submitted from around the US. Divine’s group headlined Carney's Main Room at The Exit Zero Jazz Festival, The Cape May Jazz Festival, Chicken Bone Beach Jazz Festival, Center City Jazz Festival, and West Oak Lane Jazz Festivals. His vibrant live performances take audiences on a funky, soulful and swingin’ musical journey.
BAND BIOS & PHOTOS
DAHI DIVINE - SAXOPHONE
There’s always more than one side to every story. Dahi Divine (born July 10, 1992), better known for his work as an dynamic tenor saxophonist, prolific composer and jazz bandleader, is exploding onto the contemporary music scene expanding the boundaries of jazz for his generation. Now, he’s emerging as a writer, vocalist, and producer. His sound is rooted in his jazz studies, the Philadelphia music scene, and is heavily influenced by the contemporary music of his time. His latest projects are a compilation of his original jazz and original beats.
Divine’s jazz studies included instruction with, among others, Larry McKenna, Terell Stafford, Jaleel Shaw, Joel Frahm, Bobby Sanabria, Reggie Workman, Myron Walden and Yosvany Terry. In addition to leading his own quartet Divine shared the stage with James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Charles Fambrough, Monnette Sudler, Arturo O’Farrill, Kenny Burrell, and many other world renowned musicians.
JAVIER SANTIAGO - PIANO
Javi Santiago -- a virtuosi pianist, as well as producer, composer, arranger and educator.
Hailing from Minneapolis, MN, Javi (as he is affectionately called) grew up surrounded by strong artistic support from his parents who were jazz musicians. Javi began playing piano at age five. He was classically trained until middle school when he started playing jazz. In high school he gigged on the Twin Cities Music scene and started his production career making tracks for hip hop artists. He won the Schubert Club Jazz Piano Scholarship Competition two years in a row (‘06, ‘07). He held the piano chair in the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band (‘05, ‘07) and the Dakota Combo (‘07 with Bobby Watson).
In 2007 Javi was seleced to be a part of the prestigious Brubeck Institute Fellowship program in California. Since then he performed at venues all across the nation and studied with some of the world’s best instrumentalists. The Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet (‘08, ‘09), he won Best College Group of the Year in Down Beat Magazine two years in a row (2009 and 2010).
Javi has Bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC.
ZWELAKHE-DUMA F. BELL LE PERE - BASS
Zwelakhe-Duma F. Bell le Pere’s early jazz education began on double bass at New Haven's Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) and at the Litchfield Jazz Camp under the direction of Jeff Fuller. Shortly after, Zwelakhe-Duma was accepted to The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. He completed his Bachelor’s in 2011 and his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies in 2013.
He studied acoustic bass with Cecil McBee & Don Palma and studied with non-bassists Jason Moran, John McNeil, & Jerry Bergonzi. Zwelakhe-Duma performed and recorded with Christian Scott, Dave Holland, Randy Weston, Dave Liebman and Jason Moran. He performed at the Monterey, Charlie Parker, Panama, Lagos & Osaka Jazz Festivals. He is the 2011 recipient of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Fellowship and works as a teaching artist for the Litchfield Jazz Camp & New England Conservatory Jazz Lab. He resides in New York City and continues his private study with legendary bassist Ron Carter.
KHARY SHAHEED - DRUMS
Khary Shaheed of Philadelphia received his first musical training from his mother, vocalist and pianist Nadira Barba. His percussion instruction came from his father, drummer and percussionist, Kazem Shaheed. West African dance rhythms and each rhythm’s respective song, dance, and purpose were taught to Khary. These drum rhythms were used for very important forms of communication and interaction amongst the villages & communities of the traditional Mali Empire: childbirth, rites of passage, marriage, harvest and agriculture. Khary introduces his mastery of these rhythms in his playing, making his playing rich and full and making him very much in demand. When he’s not performing, Khary shares his talent, knowledge and drumming wisdom at Harambee Institute with The World African Drum & Cultural Ensemble, teaching percussion, beginning with how to make the instrument. Khary has shared the stage with several renowned musicians internationally and throughout the Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York areas, most notably pianist Cyrus Chestnut, Orrin Evans, Peter Beets and Stevie Wonder at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.