There was very little information about Kenyatta, the band that recorded the well-known and in-demand funk killer track: Kick It Off.
In 2017, I started to research the band extensively, originally I believed Kenyatta was from Toledo, Ohio.
I found out that Leon Ngudu Chancler, (the famous drummer who played drums on Billie Jean for Michael Jackson) was the owner of the Ngudu Records label and he was also the owner of the Little John publishing company.
Ngudu sadly passed away in 2018, but I was able to find his daughter Doreen. She was so excited to hear that someone knew about this particular record. In fact, she found a copy of the actual 45s in her father's collection, but it was broken.
Unfortunately she had no information about the band.
I kept looking and started to focus on two of the songwriters, James Robinson and Keith Rose.
I quickly realised that these guys were actually from New York, Mount Vernon, to be precise.
I discovered that James Robinson's cousin was Paris Ford, one of the most enduring bassists of the last decades.
So I decided to contact Paris and check if he knew anything about Kenyatta or if he could put me in touch with James.
Paris replied to my post on Wednesday January 24, 2018 at 2:21 am UK time. I was so excited, I was finally making progress!
Paris Ford wrote:
"I think I have a copy of this record, it has really bad pop and scratches"
Yes I was a member of the group! I played bass with them in the 70s
I could not believe it ! I finally managed to find the guys behind the amazing KENYATTA group!
Paris and I spend hours talking about music and I quickly realised that I was talking to a legend of funk, R&B bass player. I ended up starting my own label because of him and released Boogie On Down, EPS001 in November of last year.
While we were chatting, Paris informed me that a year or two after the recording of Kick It Off, they returned to the CBS studio in Manhattan at the end of 1975 to record a full session, including 10 songs from a unfinished project that never actually came out. I asked him if I could listen to those tracks.
I was blown away when I opened the attachments and started listening to these tunes.
I've never heard anything like it and I knew these recordings were really special.
If like me, you love to listen to obscure, unknown and sophisticated killer tunes! I am sure you will love these songs.
After almost 3 years, I was finally able to get a full license of 4 unreleased songs from this session.
The master tape has been badly damaged, although the quality of the sound files is far from perfect, I do hope you will still enjoy them.
We managed to remaster them and this is the first time they are released on vinyl by Epsilon Record.Co in a limited edition.
I would like to thank Paris Ford and James Crabbe Robinson for all of their help on this project, Steve Fuji and Ed Littman for the remastering work, Joel Maslin for the impeccable design.
Hope you like these songs as much as I do!
Thank you for your support!
James E. Robinson, New York, U.S.A.
Lead vocalist, songwriter & producer
As a solo artist he signed to Tabu Records in 1987 where his one album was 'Guilty'.
That album contained the popular track 'I Feel Like Going On'.
Other artists he has recorded with include Jeff Lorber ('Every Woman Needs It'), Lenny White('Attitude') and Bob Baldwin.
While with Lonnie Liston Smith, incidentally, James wrote 'Speak About It' on which he also played guitar.
In 1995, Robinson teamed up with Mark Johnson for the track 'Daydream', taken from an album on JVC called 'Daydream', which became popular at Soul Weekenders and on London's Jazz FM radio station.
In 2001, he teamed up with another jazz keyboard artist, Bob Baldwin, for his album 'City Sketches'.
The track 'Stay', taken from this set, being highly popular.
James Robinson is also known as James 'Crab' Robinson.
Paris Ford, New York, U.S.A.
One of the most enduring Bassist of the past decades, PARIS FORD has taken his place as one of the most groundbreaking “New Old School” session players in popular music, from sharing recording sessions with the likes of Marcus Miller and Anthony Jackson to Recording and/or touring with everyone from Punk/Funk R&B recording artist Rick James to Jazz Fusion Violinist Micheal Urbaniak to name a few.
PARIS FORD’s early days of Junior High School in the Bronx, playing in local bands with a great deal of his influences Larry Graham, Graham Central Station and Francis Rocco Prestia of Tower Power to name a few, makeup the unique style of his bass playing technique. His production combines the undeniably funky soulful song writing skills of R&B Jazz/Funk and Hip Hop.
PARIS FORD has released several Recordings throughout Europe and has played Bass for Rick James, The B.B.&Q Band, Johnny Gill, New Edition, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Lenny White, Tyrone Thomas, Norman Conners, Lonnie Liston Smith, Micheal Urbankiak, Urszula Dudziak, James Robinson, Invisible Man's Band, The Village People, Glen Jones, Vicki Sue Robinson, Jean Carn, Val Young, J Plunky & Oneness and many other well known major recording artist also playing on many Jingles.
PARIS FORD endorse Spector Basses (since 86'), EMG"s Bass pickups, Mutron products and DR Handmade strings
Check Paris Ford new single:
Dave Hubbard, Paris Ford & James Crab Robinson on tour with Lonnie Liston Smith
The Bottom Line 79-78'
Keith "Key Boy" Rose, New York, U.S.A.
Lead Vocals / Percussionist
Lonnie Liston Smith, Hip hop Single and voice of 80s Rapper "The Rake - Street Justice"
Not much is known about his Career
Recording the Platinum-selling group's Album GQ "Disco Nights"
He was deported to his hometown of Jamaica where he succumb to his death in the 90s
Kenny Kirkland (RIP)
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1955, Kirkland was six when he first sat down at a piano keyboard. After years of Catholic schooling, Kirkland enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied classical piano performance, classical theory, and composition.
Kirkland's first professional work came with Polish fusion violinist Michal Urbaniak, touring throughout Europe with his group in 1977.
Coincidentally, his next high-profile gig was with another Eastern European jazz émigré, Miroslav Vitous. Kirkland is featured on Vitous' ECM recordings First Meeting and Miroslav Vitous Group.
In 1980, while Kirkland was on tour in Japan with Terumasa Hino, he met Wynton Marsalis, which began their long association.
On Marsalis's self-titled debut album, Kirkland shared the piano duties with one of his musical influences, Herbie Hancock, but was the sole pianist on Marsalis's subsequent releases Think of One, Hothouse Flowers, and Black Codes. After his association with Wynton Marsalis, Kirkland joined Branford Marsalis's band. He is also on Marsalis's funk band album Buckshot Lefonque. When Branford Marsalis assumed the high-visibility role of bandleader for NBC TV's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Kirkland became the band's pianist.
In 1991, he released his debut as a leader, Kenny Kirkland, on GRP Records. Thunder And Rainbows (1991, Sunnyside Records), by "Jazz from Keystone", is a trio album with Kirkland, Charles Fambrough, and Jeff "Tain" Watts.
Leading up to and on June 1–3, 1998, Kirkland worked with long-time associate Jeff "Tain" Watts on the drummer's debut recording Citizen Tain. According to producer Delfeayo Marsalis, "He was clearly not in good shape." When asked about going to the doctor, Kirkland responded, "After the session. If I go now, they'll make me check into a hospital." On June 4, doctors told Kirkland he had a congestive heart condition that required an operation. He attributed his poor health to twenty years of touring without adequate vacations and exercise and deemed his chances of surviving any surgery 50/50 or less. Fearful of having a cardiac procedure, Kirkland accepted his fate and was soon on the road with Branford Marsalis again.
On November 7, 1998, Kirkland attended Marsalis's wedding in New Rochelle, New York. Kirkland was found dead in his Queens apartment on Friday, November 13, 1998.
The official doctor's report listed his death as due to congestive heart failure. He was survived by his mother, a brother and two sisters.
Aki" Aleong (RIP)
He was Kenyatta manager at that time
"Aki" Aleong (born December 19, 1934) is a Trinidad and Tobago–born American character actor and singer who has also been active in songwriting and musical production. His first important role was in the 1957 movie No Down Payment, which starred Joanne Woodward and Jeffrey Hunter. He is probably best known for portraying Senator Hidoshi during the first season of Babylon 5, as well as portraying Mr. Chiang, the aide to Nathan Bates in the weekly series of V: The Series. He also portrayed the character of Colonel Mitamura in Farewell to the King. He owned the Gingham Dog fast food restaurant in Hollywood, California, c. 1965.
He co-wrote and produced the nonsense doo-wop record Shombalor by Sheriff and the Ravels for Vee-Jay records in 1958.
He has a listing in the Top Pop Singles 1955–2008 by Joel Whitburn, with "Trade Winds, Trade Winds" appearing in November 1961. The song peaked at No. 101 in Billboard on the "Bubbling Under the Hot 100" charts, and it remained on the chart for four weeks.
According to an interview with Aleong on YouTube ("Part 1 of Twyman Creative Insider Interview with Aki Aleong"), the song was Number 1 in Los Angeles in 1961. While that is not exactly accurate, "Trade Winds, Trade Winds" did reach Number 10 on KDAY and Number 11 on KRLA, two L.A. Top 40 stations.
He is a member of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) and is the executive director for Asians in Media.
He starred as "Agent X" in the WongFu Productions YouTube short starring Ryan Higa, Agents of Secret Stuff.
He appeared on the television show, "Hazel" as Mike Shiga.
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