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Hai Rezolution- Afro-Caribbean music involving jazz and mambo
Hai Rezolution members at a summer '02 taping of "Jazz At Sunset"

Hai Rezolution's Dwight Brewster and Sherry Scott,
interviewed by Tamm E. Hunt

Mr. Brewster has played with Willie Colon, Rick James and others.
Ms. Scott, a jazz artist, was the first female singer with Earth Wind & Fire.

Part I: carefully classified music; reflections on modern categories in light of African origins

Tamm E. Hunt(TH): Let's talk about Afro-Caribbean music and how you came to give your music the label of Afro-Caribbean as opposed to latin or Afro-Cuban.  I'm still wanting to say that this is a latin premise.  I'm getting the entire Afro-Cuban influence there, maybe it's the timbales, maybe it's in the percussion...

Dwight Brewster(DB): Well, I understand that.  What it is is that timbales and congas are all Western instruments.  They use them in Trinidad, they use them in Brazil, they use them in Canada, they use them in the United States.  Maybe their immediate history was a Cuban thing, but over the years they have become accepted as Western instruments.  But before I start there, I want to go back a little bit; we must understand that all of these rhythms stem from West Africa, all of them, all right.  Cuba or Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic or Haiti don't have the sole claim to these rhythms.  These rhythms originated in western Africa.  As we know, as they moved from West Africa throughout the diaspora, basically they went to Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States; and due to the use of the drum, or lack of--because you know in the United States, slaves were not allowed to maintain their drumming, so the music has changed, it became more of a vocal thing, but the rhythm, the sound of what we really want, never left.  So, since this music is rooted in West Africa, we felt that we were free to interpret it by those same rules and regulations.  So basically, I'm not using exclusively Cuban rules, we're not using exclusively Brazilian rules, we're using--actually to be honest they're R&B rules.

Sherry Scott(SS): African-American rules

DB: African-American rules

TH: Well, in terms of the advent of the African religious culture coming into the United States in the early '60s as well as Dizzy Gillespie's interest, working with Chano Pozo--even the political aspect of being able to get him out of Cuba and then keeping him out of Cuba, in his exile, and the influences of the music that has come through, with Chano Pozo being actually one of the icons of America...

DB: Correct.  A black Cuban.

TH: ...but for the afrocentric music, coming with the latin influence.

DB: There goes that "latin" word again.

TH: Well it has to come up because Cuba is not exempt from the Caribbean influence.

DB: I understand that.

TH: It is of Caribbean descent.  I think that it becomes geographical. ... I don't find that the Mambo music is intrinsically enhanced with the deep drumming that you find in, say for instance, the music of the Bimbe.

DB: Correct.

TH: I think that what you're projecting is a more commercial form of the religious music-

DB: Correct.  Well, let's talk about the Mambo, which is coming out of that religion.  It was invented by Cachao, alright, that's within our lifetime! So that means the Mambo is a relatively new thing.

TH: So it is a commercialization.

DB: It is a commercialization, just like Salsa.  See the Mambo has existed--Cachao invented that in the '40s, okay, but Salsa is a repackaged term for Mambo, that's all it is.

TH: Well the 6/8 rhythms, the polyrhythmic form, is what makes me keep going back to "oh this latin influence"

SS: You know I think that there is a misnomer when we use the word "latin".  None of those cultures are "latin",...

DB: Tintonius Pontilicus

SS: ...none of them.  Latin is a misnomer.  It's just like the term "jazz".  It's a misnomer for a music that nobody else could label, and they labeled it something.  So now the music that they label "jazz", is it jazz? Not really, so the same thing applies to this music.  Everybody says "latin", but it's not really latin.  I mean, that's why the "Afro" has to come first, because it's Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian.  You know what I'm saying?

DB: Afro-American.

SS: And the culture of each one of those places colored that music and interpreted it in its own way.  And, here in America, the African-Americans interpreted it as blues, gospel, R&B, jazz, but it is unique to our culture, just like that music is unique to the culture in Cuba, unique to the Brazilian thing...

DB: or Puerto Rico

SS: it's really not latin.  Latin is a misnomer and it's probably the most commercialized term that we could use for this music, and I think it's a misnomer for it.  But I think that we have to understand that when you talk about the religious foundation of this music, that in Africa, African people celebrated through music and dance every rite of passage in their life, from birth until death.  So, this music came out of ceremony.  It wasn't commercial music, it was ceremonial music.  When it came into these different cultures, it became colored by those cultures and became expanded into the general population of people, so that people could enjoy, continue to connect with that essence of where we all came from; and I think really that's the connection with the ceremonial music and how it's been reinterpreted through, you know, the other contemporary channels.

Tamm E. Hunt interviewing Dwight Brewster
DB: I would go so far as to say not reinterpreted, reinvented.

TH: I think reinvention is a good word.


Part II: African-American fanhood of mambo/salsa; a beautiful love story; facing the business of music

TH: So, Hai Rezolution, Afro-Caribbean jazz. ... So, [at your show] they have dancing?

DB: Yes, it's hidden, but we have a dance instructor, because we have a lot of people who love to mambo, they just don't know how, but when they found out that that's available, they seemed to be showing out.

SS: But we also are magnetizing a lot of the old um...

DB: Palladium crowd

SS: ...Palladium crowd.  A lot of the African-Americans have started Mambo back in the '50s, and loved to mambo and mambo two or three times a week, but at that time they had to dance to predominantly Spanish music.  One of the things that is exciting for Dwight and I is because he was raised on the latin side of the music, but I was raised on the jazz side of the music, and what we did was we put his latin sensibilities with me singing R&B and jazz standards, so that when the African-Americans come, they usually hear latin music to mambo to, now they can dance to their favorites, you know...

DB: but still do the Mambo. ... "The Funky Nassau"

SS: "The Funky Nassau", so it's kind of created something new that's really old, but it's current and it's bringing a new crowd to the dance floor that had been a forgotten crowd, and that's the African-Americans.  And in New York there are thousands of African-American Mambo dancers.  So, this is really been kind of an exciting adventure and I have to say that it came about naturally, it wasn't a planned thing.  You know, it was just something that we just do, and we did it and we said...

CS and DB together: ...Wow! [laughter]

TH: So now I want to mind your business a little bit.  Are you two married, are you partners, I mean how did you two guys get together?

DB: We're partners and we're married.

TH: Oh you are, this is a husband and wife team?

DB: Yes, it is.

TH: How'd you come together?

SS: Actually I was living in New York in the middle '80s and Dwight's record company and production company contacted me and were interested in doing a CD with me and giving me a contract, and we did and I went to Florida and we recorded and we just found that we had a very wonderful synergy in terms of creating music together and working together.  Dwight had a lot of young artists that he was producing and managing at the time and I just kind of fit into the slot as the female part of that, and for fifteen, sixteen years we did that.  We knew each other's families and kids and everything, and there just came a time when he was single and I was single.  We were talking about what we wanted in a mate, and he was like, "yeah you know, like somebody..."

CS and DB together: " you!"

SS: And I was like "yeah, you know, like..."

CS and DB together: "...somebody like you! Whoa!!" [laughter]

DB: How did we get here?

SS: And here we are!

TH: We need to write that song "Somebody Like You".

DB: Yes, we're working on that.

Sherry Scott and Dwight Brewster on "Jazz At Sunset"
SS: And actually I have to tell you the truth, because we really did not want to lose our friendship.  We had a solid foundation, you know, in terms of knowing each other very well because we were each other's confidants.  When I was having problems in my marriage, I'd call him.  When he was having problems with his marriage, he'd call me.  So, we actually married our best friends.

TH: I think that's fantastic,

DB: Right, that's what we did.  We're very lucky.

TH: fantastic, and to be able to make music together.

DB: Oh yeah.  You see me grinning.  You can look at the tape.

TH: I know.

DB: I'm happy as a [?].

SS: And we both have a love for teaching and dealing with young people.  We do a lot of things for the schools, but we magnetize a lot of young people around us, and we're pretty balanced.  I mean, we're like a mother/father to a lot of young people, in the sense that we're there to give them the information, we're there to help them be educated about the business of music, because a lot of young people think it's just about, you know, putting the gold on and getting clean and just singing to the track and it's about so much more than that.  So, we're really trying to give them a foundation that will allow them to move through the industry in a business-like manner too.  It's no good to get raped or robbed.

TH: Uh huh.

SS: That's not a good feeling.

TH: No.

SS: So, you have to get past the fact that "well, I just want to be an artist, I don't want to deal with the business".  Well, you have to deal with the business.

DB:  This is 2000.

TH: Because to protect your life.

SS: Exactly.  And to protect your creations.

DB: Let me.  I'm going to add this too.  That means you must be computer-literate in this market.  We've got a smorgasbord of computers on a network working in our facility right now.  And people say "well, I don't know if I want to be in computers".  Forget about it, I mean, if you don't have an email address, come on America, step up to the plate!

TH: Absolutely, in our community it is very important that we become apprised of the technology, because the technology is what the world exists upon.

SS: Exactly, and we currently have about seven websites.

    ... - Hai Rezolution info - Dwight Brewster's site - Sherry Scott's site

Hai Rezolution- Afro-Caribbean music involving jazz and mambo: Dwight Brewster & Sherry Scott

Part III: Hai Rezolution's musical role; insights into Dwight's success; dark revelations about the latin recording scene; setting the record straight

(TH): What do you see the future of Hai Rezolution being?

(DB): Well, actually Hai Rezolution has been designed from its inception to be the crossover band at a world music concert.  So, if we have all Africans from Ghana, and they come in, but they're going to play in America, we're the perfect act to have on the show.  If you have a salsa show, or we're also looking at Reggae Sunsplash where they say we have one day where we do Caribbean music from around the world, they've got to call us.  Once they know about this group they've got to call us, because the people want to dance.  I always found it very positive to have music that made people's feet move.  And if we could play jazz, which has been in my opinion institutionalized, and it's very difficult to find new jazz music because it's not promoted properly.  The record companies, in their present configuration, would much rather sell an old Miles Davis than develop a new artist.  So, you have to have something that's compelling in order to change those rules.  Hai Rezolution exists for that.

TH: And the audience is what makes that possible?

DB: That's correct.

TH: Word of mouth, and the appreciation.  Does Hai Rezolution have a CD?

DB: We're working on it right now.  It's about 3/5 complete.

TH: How many songs will be on it?

DB: The extended play will have five cuts, the full LP will have ten.

TH: So when do you expect that it will be ready for fans?

DB: We're looking to have it available in September, in the fall.

TH: You're recording in your own studio at this time?

DB: Yes we are.

TH: Dwight, I want to talk about you as a producer and a person who is so technologically apprised that I'm...I'm really in awe of you, actually...

DB: Uh, thank you very much.

TH: ...because I've had the privilage of seeing your operation, and how you put all of this stuff together.  When do you find time, between the keyboards, writing songs, producing and working with all of the maniacs that I know that you worked with?

(SS): You know what, I'm going to answer this for him, because I've also been in awe of him for many years.  But Dwight is one of those extraordinary people that has a level of energy that has allowed him to be the master of many things, but all tied in.  He's one of the best producers that I know, and he is technologically knowledgeable about the original analog mixing board, so transferring that knowledge from the analog to the digital was not hard for him, but it was something he wanted to do.  So he invested the time to do that, just like he invested the time to become, I mean, Dwight was the first producer I ever worked with that used the computer, and that was back in '84, and that was not a common thing at that time.
      So he invested the time to be able to bring himself technologically to this time and he's always had the ability to learn and to teach himself and to create that avenue for himself by being very focused about where he wants to go, where he wanted to take it.  Hai Rezolution is a direct result of that, because he and James Taylor and Skip Greene and a couple of the other guys, they were together many years ago, so this is kind of like a culmination of the dreams and the work that they put in years ago to bring it up to date.  Adding my ingredient which is the jazz ingredient, because I know nobody's ever heard "I Remember April" in mambo time, but yet it works.  That bring us to what he's created now, and Hai Rezolution is like a workhorse.  That is the band that not only will nuture us, but we have a few other young singers who are coming on board that we're nurturing.

James Taylor (bass) & others from Hai Rezolution
TH: So you're showcasing...?

DB: We're showcasing them too.

SS: Exactly.  And we hope to showcase quite a few young people in the context because they've got to be able to learn this format as well.


DB: Hai Rezolution...we have a 10 piece band.  It fluctuates a little bit. ... We also have a few guest artists, but our main guest artist is Sherry Scott.  If I don't say something about her, I got to sleep with her late at night, you know how that works.  [to SS] Let my throat go, honey please!

Ray Gregory(RG): So you see her as a guest artist, she's not exactly...

DB: Well, it's just to keep the dynamics of the band going. ...

TH: Sherry has a jazz career of her own.

DB: Yeah, and we didn't want to diminish that at all.  The guys in the band, I started with James Taylor with Willie Colon, that was our first act.  We were on Willie's first couple of records, so we were actually signed to Fania records when salsa was invented.  I wanted to get that in.

SS: Well, I also want to clarify the fact that when Willie Colon and Joe Santiago--Joe Santiago told me the story.  Many people thought that Dwight joined Willie Colon's band.  It was Dwight Brewster's band that Willie Colon came to and auditioned for and became a member of, but when it went to Fania, because Dwight was African-American and not Puerto-Rican or Cuban, they changed it.

DB: And that's the truth.

SS: But that credit belongs to him.

TH: But Fania was a latin label.

DB: Yeah, but I'm going to be honest.  It was Jerry Masuchi and Johnny Pacheco.  I'd like to clarify, this is on my website.  They told me that they paid me off and asked me to leave the band because they wanted me to go on and play "your kind of music".  That's what they told me.  "Go play your kind of music." "What do you mean, my kind of music? This is just as much mine as yours." "Not this company." And if you--and yes, I'm calling it what it is--do you see any black people signing to Fania records? No.  You never did, because they didn't sign black artists.  It didn't matter if you were Spanish, American, Brazilian, no.  And there were some talented people who were Afro-American.

OMC: tone...

DB: Yeah, they were into skin tone!

SS: That's why I really want to get that clear, because Dwight deserves the credit due to him.  He was one of three African-American piano players that was trained by Charlie Palmieri.

DB: And that was my teacher.  That's how I started.

RG: "El Gigante"

Sherry Scott at 'Jazz at Sunset' taping SS: So that credit is due because he has continued to fulfill that legacy.  He has continued to stand in that place where "this is the music that we all have been given".

DB: It wasn't a Cuban music or a Puerto Rican music, it was African music.

SS: It was an African-rooted music, period.

DB: And as an African-American, I'm qualified to play it.

More material including Sherry Scott, Dwight Brewster and Tamm E. Hunt is upcoming in the near future.

Jazz at Sunset video show
producer & technical director
Orlando A. McAllister

Jazz at Sunset
Brooklyn Zone

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