About The Tbone Paxton/RJ Spangler Septet


For over 30 years, Tbone Paxton and I have been exploring the beauty of South African jazz, inspired by such artists as Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath. We began this journey with the Sun Messengers Band in 1980, followed by the Sun Sounds Orchestra, which was awarded Best Jazz Recording at the Detroit Music Awards in 1991 for the CD "Open the Doors (Eastlawn Records), which I produced. Decades later, we then recorded a two-CD collection with our PD9 Township Jazz Project; "The Duderstadt Session/Live at the Scarab Club" (Eastlawn Records), which won a Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Jazz Recording in 2015.

Our new project, is a follow-up effort to 2020's vocal jazz recording featuring Tbone, "Back in Your Own Backyard," on the Detroit Music Factory imprint. We're starting with a collection of compositions by pianist/composer Abdullah Ibrahim, formerly known as Dollar Brand. The band is built around drummer Sean Perlmutter and bassist Jeff Cuny.  To round out the rhythm section, we tapped Phil Hale, the pianist from the Township Jazz Project. Phil is well known around Detroit as a strong jazz player and for touring the world with blues diva Thornetta Davis.

Also from the Township Jazz Project is tenor man Dan Bennett, a powerhouse player who toured and recorded with the Afrobeat band NOMO. On alto sax and flute is Rafael Leafar, a Kresge Fellow who has performed with Reggie Workman, Robert Hurst, and Wendell Harrison. Rafael offers plenty of improvisational gusto to the proceedings.

Several months into this project, Jeff Cuny had to move to Washington, DC. Jeff has been with Tbone and me for about five years, working with us in two other bands, he is my neighbor.  He did yeoman duty playing electric and acoustic bass and crafting the original arrangements heard on this recording. It was an easy decision to tap the excellent bassist Damon Warmack, who'd already played with us in the Township Jazz Project.  Daman brings the experience of a veteran musician, having toured Europe with baritone sax master Ronnie Cuber. Daman is the only musician involved with the band to have performed in Johannesburg, on tour with the modern-day Motown artist Kem.

Rafael became very busy as a producer around Detroit. This project was picking up steam, so I called Kasan Belgrave, an excellent alto sax player, and flutist who has recently played with the Jazz Lincoln Center Orchestra. His father Marcus was a legendary trumpeter. I grew up in the '70s watching my Uncle Bud play drums in the band Tribe with Kasans’ dad. We are excited to bring Kasan into this project.

Coming up in the '70s and '80s, Tbone and I were able to see, hear, and even meet both South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim. Hugh is no longer with us. We are lucky that Abdullah, born in 1934, is still active, but the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master rarely comes through town. This recording is a way to keep the music alive on US shores and beyond.

Our seven-piece band brings plenty of energy and Detroit soul to the music. South African music has always spoken to us and we wish to perform this music as part of our musical contribution to the world.

RJ Spangler
February, 2021

Paxton/Spangler Septet

'Anthem for the New Nation

Eastlawn ELD #036

The Paxton/Spangler Septet debut CD is a loving tribute to the great South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim on the Eastlawn label. Besides the leaders Tbone Paxton and RJ Spangler, the band includes Phillip J. Hale, Daniel Bennett, Rafael Statin, Jeff Cuny, Sean Perlmutter, Damon Warmack, Kasan Belgrave and on one track, guest artist James O’Donnell.

New release! Available July 2021

Song Tracks

  1. African Marketplace* (6:19) Abdullah Ibrahim; Ekapa Publishing
  2. Anthem for The New Nation* (5:28) Abdullah Ibrahim; Ekapa Publishing
  3. Cape Town Fringe/Mannenberg (10:39) (based on an arrangement by Pharaoh Sanders) Abdullah Ibrahim; Publisher-As-Shams, UMG (on behalf of Heads Up); Harry Fox Agency (Publishing), Sony ATV Publishing, and 2 Music Rights Societies
  4. Perfumed Forest Wet With Rain (7:42) Abdullah Ibrahim Music Publisher: edition TUTU
  5. Whoza Mtwana Abdullah Ibrahim (8:12) ENJA-Records Matthias Winckelmann GmbH
  6. Moniebah (7:53) Abdullah Ibrahim ℗ 1982 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Columbia Music Entertainment Inc. Used with the authorization of Mathias Winckelmann/Horst Weber
  7. Soweto (6:48) Abdullah Ibrahim, published by EPAKA (ASCAP)/Edition MAWI (GEMA), licensed from Enja Records Mattias Winckelmann GmbH

 

Videos

The Tbone Paxton/RJ Spangler Septet plays Anthem for a New Nation

The Tbone Paxton/RH Spangler Septet play Abdullah Ibrahim African Marketplace (Ekapa Publishing)
The Tbone Paxton/RH Spangler Septet play Abdullah Ibrahim African Marketplace (Ekapa Publishing) - second clip

Photo Gallery

Meet the Band

John T-Bone Paxton

John T-Bone Paxton

Trombone

RJ Spangler

RJ Spangler

Percussion

Damon Warmack

Damon Warmack

Bass

Sean Perlmutter

Sean Perlmutter

Drums

Phil Hale

Phil Hale

Keyboards

Kasan Belgrave

Kasan Belgrave

Alto Sax, Flute

Dan Bennett

Dan Bennett

Tenor Saxophone

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