Though best known as the drummer on the Michael Jackson hit “Billie Jean,” Ndugu Chancler has played a key role in jazz and popular music for the past 60 years. A faculty member in both the jazz studies and popular music programs at the USC Thornton School, Chancler has performed with such artists as Frank Sinatra, Santana and Weather Report. Chancler will share his life and music in an afternoon of video, performances by Thornton students and presentations by a select group of musicians who have worked with the famed drummer over the years. The USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra and ALAJE (USC Thornton’s Afro Latin American Jazz Ensemble) will perform compositions by Chancler joined by a litany of major Los Angeles–based artists, including USC Thornton bassist Alphonso Johnson, who has performed with such artists as Santana and Weather Report; internationally acclaimed composer, producer and pianist Patrice Rushen; world-renowned vocalist Greg Walker, who served as lead vocalist for Santana; and Grammy Award-winning saxophone player Ernie Watts.
About the Artists:Ndugu Chancler is a drummer, percussionist, producer, composer, clinician and educator. As a studio musician, Ndugu has recorded with such greats as Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, John Lee Hooker, Kenny Rogers and Michael Jackson. Working on Thriller and Bad, Ndugu was the drummer on the hit single “Billie Jean.” Ndugu has also played on a number of movie soundtracks including An Officer and a Gentleman, Indecent Proposal, and The Color Purple. As a songwriter Ndugu co-wrote hits for Santana including “Dance Sister Dance,” ”Reach For It” for George Duke and “Let It Whip” for the Dazz Band. His production credits include Flora Purim, Bill Summers and Toki, along with his own solo recordings: Ndugu and the Chocolate Jam Co. and Ndugu Chancler. Ndugu has co-produced recordings for Santana, George Duke, The Crusaders, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Tina Turner, Ernie Watts and a group he co-leads with Patrice Rushen. These associations have brought many gold and platinum albums and Grammy Awards. (Wikipedia, YouTube)
Internationally acclaimed American jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson has accumulated numerous performing, recording, teaching producing, composing and publishing credits during his illustrious career. His touring and performing credits include Santana, Weather Report, The Crusaders, En Vogue, Sergio Mendes, Quincy Jones and Sarah Vaughan. In 2010, Johnson was awarded “The Lifetime Achievement Award” by Blass Player Magazine, and he is currently a faculty member of the USC Thornton School of Music.
Multi-GRAMMY nominated artist Patrice Rushen is a composer, producer and international recording artist. She was the first woman to serve as musical director for the GRAMMY Awards, the first woman in 43 years to serve as head composer/musical director for the Emmy Awards and the first woman musical director of the NAACP Image Awards. A classically trained pianist, Rushen is one of the music industry’s most versatile and sought after artists.
One of the most respected vocalists in the business today, Greg Walker has served as lead vocalist for distinguished musicians and recording artists, such as Santana, Herbie Hancock, Kenny G. and Joan Baez. Mr. Alker is the recipient of the Los Angeles Music Awars Career Achievement Award and his album Never Better showcases his talents as a singer, songwriter and producer.
Two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts is one of the most versatile and prolific saxophone players in music. It has been more than fifty years since he first picked up a saxophone, and from age sixteen on he has been playing professionally, initially while still attending school. Watts has been featured on over 500 recordings by artists ranging from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa, always exhibiting his unforgettable trademark sound. He has toured with The Rolling Stones and is best known for his work with Charlie Haden’s Quartet West.
Organized by the USC Thornton School of Music.
Photo: Alex Kluft
For further information on this event: