BAY AREA JAZZ SOCIETY
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
PAUL TILLMAN SMITH • BARBARA TAYLOR • JIM COLLINS • BEN FLYNT • JOHN BENDITH • DENNIS JEFFREY • YOLANDRA RHODES • MICAL FREE
Paul Tillman-Smith CEO
When your father hands you a set of drumsticks at the age of four, chances are you'll wind up a drummer. Paul Tillman Smith's father, George Smith (Kansas City Smitty) played drums during the big band era with many well-known bands including Count Basie, Trummer Young and the Harlem Aces. He was also a mentor to singer Pearl Bailey's husband drummer Louie Bellson. At age fifteen at the urging of his mother Della, Paul began playing the piano. It was soon after that he began to write simple three chord songs like the ones he would hear on the radio. This love has lasted a lifetime. Paul has published over a hundred songs to date including the Pharaoh Sanders and Phyllis Hyman jazz pop classic "As You Are", the Norman Connors and Jean Carne hit "Stella" featuring guitarist Lee Ritenour, and the tender love ballad " Heavenly", recorded by pianist Webster Lewis featuring vocalist DJ Rogers, saxophonist Benny Maupin. "Heavenly" also featured strings by Herbie Hancock and was performed by the Boston Pop Symphony for nationally syndicated TV. Paul's album "Sharing" from his middle seventies Buddha Records recording group Vitamin E., featured the Sly Stone & Frank Zappa vocalist Lady Bianca and saxophonist Jules Broussard's vocalist David Gardener. The "Sharing" album was produced by Norman Connors and the single from that album with a special guest appearance by vocal legend Freddie Hughes and composed by Paul, became a number one hit in over twelve cities across the nation. In the ninety's, the Vitamin E. CD was reissued in Japan as a double CD which also featured vocalist Melba Moore's biggest selling CD "This is It". Paul's CD "Crying for Love" was voted record of the year by Blues and Soul magazines in England in 2001. The CD featured never released demos recorded at Fantasy Studio's by his early eighty's Bang CBS recording group "Bridge". The CD was released by the U.K. record label "First Experience Records" and featured fourteen original songs by Paul with co-arrangements by Ronnie Laws keyboardist Michael "Spiderman" Robinson. Also featured were former Motown recording artists Derrick Hughes and Debra Von Lewis. The European critic's called the Bridge CD a brilliant rare American discovery. Paul song "Higher Power" recently won a national contest sponsored by Tyler Perry, Lions Gate
Paul considers his biggest contribution to the Bay Area music scene as being the co-founder along with South Berkeley Merchants R.D. Bonds and Sam Dykes of the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival, the longest running African American Arts and Music festival in Northern California history. Upwards of twenty thousand people attend annually. He was also the first to promote free music concerts in Berkeley's Provo Park and Oakland's Mosswood Park in the seventies and eighties when he was a music and concert supervisor for "ACNAP", the Alameda County Neighborhood Arts Program. Paul's band "Bridge" is the only band in Bay Area history to be on the county pay roll other than the Oakland Symphony. Paul has been the stage manager for the Richmond Juneteenth, the Oakland Port Festival. the Laurel District World Music Festival, and the Vallejo 4th of July Festival. He also put the music program together for the city of Emeryville's Appreciation Day Festival and helped put the city of Berkeley's Artspark Festival and 100th Anniversary Arts and Music Celebration music program together and managed both stages.
Paul also is no stranger to theater and film. He has been musical director for Melvin Van Peeple's "Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death" directed by Ted Lange of "Love Boat" and Band Director for "America More Or Less", the Bi-Centennial Play of San Francisco, featuring works by playwrighters Imamu Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), Frank Chin and American Indian playwright Leslie Silko. While a senior in the Rhetoric Department at U.C. Berkeley, Paul made the
Oakland Tribune's front-page headlines for songs he and the late Lonnie Hewitt (Cal Tjader's pianist) wrote for the Off Broadway play "Dunbar" based on the writings of poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. "Dunbar" later won Paul the prestigious New York Audelco Theater Award, the highest honor in African American theater.
Jon Bendich has worked for the past thirty-five years as a producer, songwriter,and percussionist in the SF Bay Area. As a percussionist, Jon has performed with Tito Puente, The Last Poets, George Duke & Stanley Clarke, Gerald Albright, Robben Ford, Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, John Santos, Frank McComb, Lisa Stansfield, and MC Hammer. Between 1985 -1989 Jon recorded and performed as a member of The Pete Escovedo Orchestra. In 1985 Jon formed his music publishing company Tortoise Feather Music. From 1987 - 1992 Jon was signed as a songwriter and co-publisher with Famous Music, then a subsidiary of Paramount Corp. To date, Jon's catalog contains over 280
songs with more than eighty songs commercially released. Jon's songs have been recorded by an assortment of Jazz, R&B and Pop acts including Peabo Bryson (BMG), Larry Graham (Capitol), Walter Beasley (PolyGram), Will Clayton (PolyGram), Joe Public (Sony), Starpoint (Elektra), Z' Looke (Orpheus/Capitol), Omar Chandler (MCA), Shades of Lace (Wing/PolyGram), Street Fare (Atlantic),
Lenny Williams (Fantasy), and Ray Obiedo (Windham Hill). From 1985 – 2019 Jon worked as a studio musician, and recorded extensively. As a featured percussionist, Jon's work can be heard on En Vogue's award winning triple platinum album "Funky Divas," as well as on albums by Jesse Colin Young, Lenny Williams, Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Luce, Carl Lockett, Lady Bianca, Lloyd Gregory, Sakai and Jenna Mammina. From 1997 to the present Jon has also worked as an adjunct professor at both Diablo Valley College and San Francisco State. In 1997 Jon began teaching in SF State University's Music Recording Industry program, teaching such courses as "Popular Music and Cultural Exchange", "The History and Aesthetics of Record Production", "The History of the Popular Music Industry", "The Independent Record Label from A-Z", and "A&R in The Popular
Music Industry". Also in 1997, Jon began teaching Humanities courses as well as songwriting at Diablo Valley College.
In 1984 Jon received his BA in Social Science from UC Berkeley, and in 2001 Jon
received his MA in Humanities from San Francisco State University.Film's, BET, and Pastor Marvin Winan's, for the best inspirational song and video of the year as sung by American Idol finalist Donnie Williams. Paul is also the first to record Sheila E., Rosie Gaines and Bonnie Boyer of Prince fame.
Barbara Taylor Secretary
Barbara Taylor has been working in the music industry and with small black businesses since 1985. Beginning with working at Ivey's in Jack London Square where she was able to give local artists an opportunity to showcase. During that period she also managed a number of young local groups.
In the early 1990's she worked for the Mandela Institute, an African Arts Organization as the event coordinator for 11 events For six African Dance companies in the bay area and Los Angeles. She also joined the Bay Area Blues Society as a board member and helped to produce their blues festivals. In 1994 she joined the Black Business Listings/Black Expo and began coordinating the Vendors and volunteers. She formed her business called "Rhythms" a special event support for black business. Currently supporting such business as the , CDA Consulting Group ( 100 Black Women events), African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, Oakland Black Board of Trade and Commerce, Black Comedy Competition, City of Oakland Thanksgiving Dinner. Previously supported the Wiley Manual Law Foundation. Served as the Bay Area Urban Leagues special programs director.
Past President, Lend A Hand Foundation, Block Captain of her street, Special Consultant to the Rev. Gregg Brown, Miracles of Faith Community Church assisting with special projects. Currently has over fifty volunteers in her company.
Co-coordinated Berkeley Juneteenth Festival for 20 years, supplying volunteers and booking entertainment and managing backstage.
Taylor has received numerous awards and certificates from the agencies she has supported including Community Award from the 100 Black Women Bay Area Chapter 2016. Volunteer of the Year from Women of Excellence in 2000 and Community Activisim 2009 from Black Comedy Competition. Local Hero from District 4, Oakland City Council, Thank You Proclamation from Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks. Certificate of Appreciation from McDonald's and Community Activist Award from the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame. 3 Certificates from the office of Barbara Lee for Community activities.Married for over 59 years, Husband, Richard, two sons, Rick & Ken and two grandsons, Yavair & Kris.
Seeking to be entertained? Look to the stage ..Recording artist Yolandra Rhodes appears as a fresh, sultry and engaging woman, prepared to do exactly that. As a Jazz songstress, she possesses an earthiness and willingness to share her good music with the world! Watch Yolandra's stage presence, listen to her gift of song as she lovingly engages her audience with her dry wit and humor.Recently nominated as Best Jazz Vocalist by the Northern California Entertainer Music Awards and Semi-Finalist in Jazz Search West 2018, Yolandra is able to uplift spirits and stir the emotions of her listening audience with an easy grace and a subtle confidence. Her selections of tunes previously performed by jazz visionaries, such as Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson or even Rachelle Farrell, often likens favorable comparisons.
This professional has honed her skills with both local and nationally-known performers, which includes Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (performed at Kimball's East), and "showed-out" when she performed her interpretation of Sharon Paige's "I Hope That We Can Be Together Soon", equally challenging the memory of this always-popular tune.
She was also invited to perform on Clifford Brown Jr's (formerly with KBLX) "Jazz Cruise to the Caribbean", which also featured Gerald Albright and Alex Bugnon. Talk about luminaries!!
Evocative, thoughtful, and creative are a few words to describe jazz pianist and composer Ben Flint. Growing up near Memphis,Tennessee, he became enamored of Jazz, Blues, and Gospel Music.He attended University of Memphis and the prestigious Berklee College of Music on full scholarship.After completing his degree at Berklee College of Music, he returned to the South to resume his music career. Ben began by conducting musical productions and teaching at the University of Memphis. While in Memphis, he landed a keyboard position with Isaac Hayes. Working with Isaac afforded Ben the opportunity to travel to Australia, Europe, The Middle East, and all over the United States. Ben has appeared with Mr. Hayes on television shows such as Good Morning America, the Today show and Late Night w/ David Letterman. He has also performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, as well as the Montreal and Brazil's Free Jazz festivals. As Hayes' keyboardist, he appeared in the documentary movie "Only the Strong Survive".Currently, Ben lives in the Bay Area. He teaches choir and jazz combo at Diablo Valley College. In addition, he has been the Artistic Director for the Oakland Jazz Choir for the past 5 years.
His first CD, 'Onyx' was released in 1998 on the One Truth label. Since then, he has been featured on Ellen Robinson's two CD's, "On My Way to You" and 'Mercy' as both pianist and arranger. With longtime collaborator Gerard Harris, he cofounded the group World Soul Project in 2004. Their first CD, self titled, was released in 2004. The second CD, "Spirit Talk", hit the airwaves in 2011.
Visual Artist Mical Free studied art a the San Francisco Art Institute and Computor Science at Fresno State University. Very well travelled Mical also has an extensive background in stage design and photography. Neither a musician or performer the relationship to jazz came at an early age, having studied music throughout his education, he chose painting over trumpet playing in his high school years. "Jazz has always been in the background of my creative endeavers like another essential tool like a brush, paint or a pencil . With straight ahead jazz playing in the background he has been able to create fine art jazz artist portraits collected by many.
" i met Paul Tillman Smith when he was performing at an event in Jack London Square for city coucilman Larry Reed, his group was playing and I was photographing the event, later we began to collaborate and i have been fortunate to contribute a number of graphic designs for this group. It is an honor for me to be working with the Bay Area Jazz Society.
."Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Jim Collins Treasurer
Before joining the Bay Area Jazz Society in 2016, Jim served as CFO for Gastinnels TLC, a group home for adolescents in foster care in San Francisco for a number of years. From 1997 ton2001, Jim held the office of secretary-treasurer for the Labor Temple Association of Alameda County, which consist of over (12) labor unions in the Bay Area. from1996 to 2000 Jim served as Secretary-treasurer for the National Industry Pension Fund, located in the Bay Area. Jim retired after 25 years as the dispatcher and secretary-treasurer of laborers local 886 before retirement he became a member of the Lend A Hand Foundation an Oakland based non profit organization which serves the vulnerable youth in Oakland Schools and is currently is on the advisory board of the LAHF.C
Born March 11th 1955. Has owned and operated a printing business since 1991. I have an extensive background in printing newspaper to digital printing. In the 47 years I have been printing the last 4 yrs the focus has been digital printing.