Olu Dara: Young Mama
NYC-based cornetist, guitarist, singer and songwriter Olu Dara has lived in the shadows of greatness for most of his career, from his early incarnation as an avant-garde jazz session player for the likes of Art Blakey and Cassandra Wilson to his turn-of-the-century reinvention as a solo artist and band leader -- a move which revealed a talent for catchy, funky, radio-ready jazz-tinged folk-blues with an ear towards modern African and Afro-Caribbean poprhythms and the storytelling speech patterns of the old homeless guy on the corner.
Though Dara, who was born Charles Jones III in 1941 in Nachez, Mississippi, still gets play on roots radio, these days, he is most often seen on stage and in the studio as a back-up musician for his son, rapper Nas, who is pictured on the left in the above picture. I can't speak to his work in the hiphop field, but his two solo albums come highly recommended, and his cornet work on The Be Good Tanyas 2003 album Chinatown is subtle and sweet.
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