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May, 1997

I had been in NYC for a decade. I was performing with an Afro fusion ensemble called Global Warming when I began apprenticing as a sound engineer/producer at Stormy Sky Studio on E. 26th St. I was transfixed by the West African rhythm, spirit & joy as expressed through music, so I pulled together a band of musicians who frequented NYC’s Afro-jazz scene and brought my songs to life at Stormy Sky.

The Unwavering Core of Le Collage, from L: Meg Montgomery, Mem Nahadr (below), Li’Nard (top), Dr. Martino Atangana, Azouhouni Adou. LES NYC 1997

These fabulous musicians were Dr. Martino Atangana from Cameroon, Azouhouni Adou from Cote D’Ivoire, JoJo Kuo from Cameroon, Badou Kasse from Senegal – all highly professional, respected players on the world stage. Into the mix I threw the very funky Li’Nard on bass and Mem Nahadr on vocals, with percussion by Willy White on live shows and Joao Vincente Lewis on the Recording. JoJo was partnered on drums by Jeremie Gaddie, and Aubrey Dayle performed with us at the launch party at SOBs.

Sabir Mateen and Daniel Carter joined us to perform “C’yan Tek No No”

The afro-fusion sound was well received as we made the rounds at prime NYC clubs including The Cooler, SOBs, the Knitting Factory, the Museum of Sound Recording, BAM and many other NYC venues in that heydey of alternative music, the 1990s – a magical time in NYC.

It was a smashing Record Release Party in May, 1997 that served not only as the launch for the Le Collage C’est Fou!! CD project, but it was a great hookup for some of the guest artists who were then included in to SOBs’ lineup. It was a full-on multimedia extravaganza, just as I like it – sensory overload. Gary Heidt, who wrote the liner notes for the album, introduced the artist Debbie Sutton to us who created a magnificent hanging water sculpture (I don’t have any pictures of it but it was very awesome to have WATER as a participant in that event!!!).

Other performers included Urbant Chants, an innovative beatboxing collective spearheaded by Kid Lucky (later King Luck), Citizen One, a one-man band who was also releasing his own CD at that time (later Lipbone Redding), DJ Cruz Missile, Everton Sylvester, the dynamic duo of Sabir Mateen and Daniel Carter, and Hassan Hakmoun and his band Zahar who had literally just gotten off the plane after playing the Hollywood Bowl.

Grammy-winning sound guru James P. Nichols made sure it was sonic perfection.

Ricardo Nanton made the beautiful tee shirts, which I have seen people wear around the world!

LeLaje Design made the CD covers and marketing.

From my perspective the night was the perfect, exciting, successful celebration of life, art and community. It was a moment of INFINITE POSSIBILITY.

We had a great run. I remain in humble gratitude for all the beautiful music that was made, the friendships earned, the lessons learned, the opportunities created. This album represents the magic of a moment in time.