Spirit of Life Ensemble (SOLE)- The music of this captivating Afrocentric and multi-cultural group is a true reflection of the ensemble’s name. Their sound is soulful, passionate, and filled with infectious energy, while at the same time, inventive and thought-provoking in its concept. Although their music is deeply rooted in the Jazz tradition, it has been strongly influenced by the myriad of musical styles found in the African Diaspora. The rhythms of Latin America, South America, the Caribbean Islands, Africa, and the African-American musical genres of rhythm & blues, gospel, funk, and the blues permeate the sound of this electrifying ensemble whose “Jazz with a World Beat” approach leaves your heart dancing long after your feet have stopped.
Formed in 1975, the SPIRIT OF LIFE ENSEMBLE, under the band leadership of multi-percussionist Daoud-David Williams (left), the collective now boasts a personnel of approximately 50 plus musicians. Generally, the group features from 8 to 18 players in performance. The jazz group was recently invited by the Spirit of Jazz Association to perform in Paris in tribute to the late trumpeter Ted Curson and vocalist Joe Lee Wilson, who both were highly respected in Europe. The group is currently set to embark on a multi-city European tour (2014).
The collective experience of the members of the SPIRIT OF LIFE ENSEMBLE includes performances and/or recordings with some of the icons of Jazz such as the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Barron, John Hicks, Nancy Wilson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Ahmad Jamal, Shirley Scott, Charles Mingus, Bob Crenshaw, Horace Silver, Buddy Rich, Randy Weston’s African Rhythms, Abbey Lincoln, Eric Dolphy, Abdullah Ibrahim, Wynton Marsalis, Onaje Allen Gumbs, Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, Miriam Makeba, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Talib Kibwe, Winard Harper, Charles Earland, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Owens and Pharaoh Sanders to name just a few.
The SOLE Jazz orchestra was in-residence at New York’s internationally renowned Sweet Basil Jazz club from 1995-2001. The group has been featured in many different Jazz festivals such as Pori International Jazz Festivals (Finland); Kaunas International Jazz Festival (Lithuania): Estonia International Jazz Festival (Estonia); Ottawa International Jazz Festival (Canada); Lake George Jazz Festival (New York); Jersey Shore Jazz Festival, (New Jersey); JVC Jazz Festival (New York); and the Panasonic Village Jazz Festival (New York), to name a few. SOLE has played at such celebrated Jazz clubs as New York’s Blue Note, Iridium, Birdland, The 5 Spot, S.O.B.’s, Village Gate, and Duc Des Lombards in Paris, France and Imatra International Jazz Festival, Finland.
Their Music Appreciation Concerts feature jazz and world music for young people. Excellent for school assemblies, these “edu-tainment” performance workshops are interactive and include traditional and original compositions of Blues, Latin, African, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and Euro-Classical music for children of all ages. Spirit of Life Ensemble is available for concerts, workshops, seminars, master classes, assembly programs, lectures and residencies. The group performs as an eight to 18-piece band or smaller combo of five to seven pieces.