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Satellites #4 - Kevin Diehl

Satellites Kevin DiehlSatellites #4

February 21st, 2018 / 8pm

Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra

Johnny Brenda’s
1201 Frankford Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19125

For Tickets: Click Here


Continuing the exploration started by our Sun Ra Mixtape Series celebrating the influence of the Philadelphia, visionary musician, philosopher, composer and band leader, Sun Ra, Philadelphia Jazz Project present, Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra. This concert series features 8 performances at some of the region's most important venues including; The Barnes Foundation, Ardmore Music Hall, Johnny Brenda's, The Planetarium of The Franklin Institute and World Cafe Live. Hosted by WRTI radio deejay, J. Michael Harrison.


Kevin Diehl is a Philadelphia-based drummer, percussionist and composer and member of the trio, The Willow Trio. He cut his teeth on the 1970s New York City Loft Jazz scene. There, he worked and studied Afro-Cuban drumming with Jerry Gonzalez. Returning to Philly, Kevin worked with Tyrone Hill and studied Bata drumming and Lukumi music with Nichola Rivera. He became a permanent member of Rivera’s Lukumi group, “Ochan La Ocha.” In 2000, Kevin Diehl formed Sonic Liberation Front (SLF). The ensemble realizes the parallels between Lukumi song composition and that of Jazz and Loft Jazz musicians. SLF has worked with Marshall Allen, Odean Pope, Billy Bang, Kahil El Zabar, Sunny Murray, Michelle Rosewoman, Thurman Barker, Kulu Mele African Dance Ensemble, Oliver Lake and Members of the Prometheus Chamber Orchestra. SLF has toured festivals throughout North America and won critical acclaim for their five internationally distributed albums.

PJP spoke with drummer and composer Kevin Diehl who will serve as drummer for the fourth concert [Satellites #4] of the Satellites Are Spinning Concert Series.

PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?

Kevin Diehl: I see the The Willow Trio as a continuum of my path as a musician. And in the Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra concert series, Satellites Concert #4, I feel is an extension of my time in Arkestra member, Tyrone Hill’s Deep Space Posse. With Tyrone, we played with a deep groove to space ratio. The unit opened a number of shows for rapper, C-Knowlegde (Digable Planets). We got to see clubs full of people dancing to our version of Sun Ra's classic composition, “Nuclear War.


Kevin Diehl 020As a unit, we three of The Willow Trio have similar musical interests. Trumpeter, Paul Giess brings a very deep spiritual Jazz feel with his talent and musical curiosity. Bassist, Bert Harris has such a diverse and compelling musical story. He's a pleasure to just vibe with. Having The Willow Trio serve as the core for the Satellites #4 concert is an awesome opportunity and has us going into some astounding musical territory. Sun Ra's influence on the Philadelphia artist community is significant and deserves exploration.


PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?

Kevin Diehl: Anyone from New Orleans especially, The Hot 8 Brass Band. Then there are Fela Kuti, Lagbaja, King Sunny Ade, all from Nigeria. Really, I'm influenced by any and everyone from Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) to Ornette Coleman.  As a drummer, I'm always trying to keep up with The Jones’; Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones. The loft jazz royalty; Dennis Charles, Steve McCall, and his band mates in Air (Henry Threadgill and Fred Hopkins). Arthur Blythe, Jack DeJohnette, James Blood Ulmer. The Art Ensemble of Chicago. The Rumero-Jazz cats of 80’s NYC, Jerry & Andy Gonzalez, Gene Golden, Milton Cardona, Don Alias (All of whom were on Jerry’s seminal album “Ya Yo Me Cure”), Steve Berrios, Ignacio Berroa, Patato Valdez. From Cuba: Los Chinitos, Abbilona, Tata Guines, Papo Angarica, Davis Camponioni. And, of course, my great friend and mentor, Sunny Murray.


PJP: Tell us about the mixtape series that inspired this concert series.

Kevin Diehl: PJP's Mixtape Series Sun Ra Edition provided the opportunity that many of us have to bring together folks of different performance disciplines, to speak in new ways, with new voices. From the audience side, it is an amazing, if not exhaustive catalog/document of Philly's vital creative music and performance scene.

PJP: Tell us about the Satellites series. What are you planning to present at the Ardmore Music Hall?

Kevin Diehl: In this the 4th concert in the Satellites series, we are bringing grooves... grooves made from Saturn's rings, grooves dug out by the spin of the Asteroid Belt... grooves that are at once intergallactic, yet earthbound. And earthbound is about gravity. It's all about gravity and groove. It allows the booty to shake and the earth to quake. We aren't trying to be Sun Ra's Arkestra. We are just trying to honor the creativity, the vision, the legacy and it's enduring impact, as best and as humbly as we can.

PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important?

Kevin Diehl: There's another place. There is a higher level of consciousness. It is a continuation of the mythical/non-mythical place which Sun Ra created; where beauty and love reigns supreme. Just as Alice and John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders did the Astral Jazz thing.


Kevin Diehl 2PJP: Who is working with you on this?

Kevin Diehl: The Willow Trio is Bert Harris on electric and upright bass, Paul Giess on flugelhorn and myself, Kevin Diehl on drums and percussion. The extended ensemble includes Erica Corbo of the Space Whale Orchestra on keyboards, June Lopez is our DJ and on electronics, Raphael Xavier is a rapper/poet, Parris Love' is our featured vocalist, Tim Price on reeds, Josh Lee on baritone sax, Terry Lawson on tenor sax and Julia Lopez as spoken word artist/storyteller.

PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment? 

Kevin Diehl: We want to advise the audience that we are all about person to person connection. We feed off of the positive energy the audience sends out and reflect it back. That what makes this such a fulfilling experience. We are giving you a reflection of you.


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Kevin Diehl: I developed into a Jazz artist after hearing “Un Poco Loco” by Bud Powell with Max Roach playing a deeply polymetric, original, latin tinged groove. Around the same time, I heard Philly Joe Jones play “Billy Boy” on brushes with Miles Davis. When Philly Joe passed, WRTI, Philadelphia's jazz radio station, played a 24 hour Philly Joe Jones marathon. I was listening on a clock radio. One one tune, when Philly Joe took a solo. I remember touching the radio and thinking that Philly Joe, with his sticks was touching the drum heads. The vibrations of which were in turn touching the microphone, which were touching the speaker in the clock radio, and touching me. Philly Joe touched me from the other side. I felt that. Ever since that day, this has been my life.


Satellites #4

February 21st, 2018 / 8pm

Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra

Johnny Brenda’s
1201 Frankford Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19125

For Tickets: Click Here



Check out The Willow Trio featured at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.


Special Thanks: The Sun Ra Estate, Irwin Chusid, Michael Anderson, J. Michael Harrison, Kim Pedro Rodriguez, DMHotep, Antoine Haywood, Gralin Hughes, James Solomon, Nija Walker, Bobby Zankel, Jay Levin, Agent Zero, Eric Bogacz, Alex Santilli, Gary Dann, Anthony Tidd, Dmani Lopez, Dan Blacksberg, V. Shayne Frederick, Asha Jackson, Julia Lopez, Melissa Talley Palmer, Gail Fountaine, Stephanie Seiple and Rich Nichols.


For more information about Sun Ra:

Sun Ra Estate Website
Sun Ra Arkestra Website
Sun Ra Facebook
Mission Creep Sun Ra Resources
Pitchfork's Essential Sun Ra Music
The Sun Ra Music Archive
Perfect Sound Forever Sun Ra Article
University of Chicago Sun Ra Exhibit

Stay tuned for details about this series!!!


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.