And the Illusions
'THE BEST KEPT SECRET ON STRONG - ISLAND' We had a band called the 'Majectics' at times The Mighty Majestics'. The band played for all kinds of events and social functions. One time we were the opening act for Count Basie at Tangle Wood Park in a small town called Lakeview. We would do gigs, dances, mostly at clubs like the Malibu right on Jones Beeach. Other times we would play at the Elks club in Hempstead, where I'm from. On weekends we would sneak in the back door and watch Bernhard 'Pretty Purdy,' later to become Aretha Franklins' drummer and musical director I'll never forget the time we played at Jackie Robinsons' mansion in Connecticut. They had two 'great danes' and they each had their own room, as big as my room back home! Speaking of back home, in downtown Hempstead often referred to as the 'village' there were two movie theatres, the Calderone and the Rivoli. On occasions though they would have live concerts with groups and bands from Motown and more! From atop the balcony I got to see the greatest acts from the late 60's to the eaarly 70's. We rarely missed a show because here we could get ideas for our own band! One time we played at Jimmy nottinghams house on Carolina Avenue in Hempstead. I lived right around the corner on Alabama Avenue. The Nottinghams had a built in swimming pool, diving boards, the works. Nottingham was a staff musician at CBS until '73. In '70 he opened his own club in St. Albans. He had played with Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Ray Charles abd Dizzy Gillespie. His son played football in high school and was expected to do good in the pros. Hempstead had a rich sports tracition, having produced greats that include former football star John Mackey abnd basketball whiz Al Williams. Unbeknownst to many, Julius Erving was raised in Hempstead before moving to Roosevelt. One can remember ther being a lot of tension in the air somewhere between 68 and 72. Ironcially we have a similar situation today with the Roosevelt Schools. 'A real story of a breakdown of society and community.' During the summer months we would travel to all the different towns of Long Island. Lakeview, Roosevelt, Rockville Centre, Long Beach, Inwood, Far Rockaway and Freeport. A truck called the Teen Canteen would roll into the parks projects of these towns, open up it's side turn on it's lights, and it was show time. My group was a showband. We would bust out in green and black uniforms with short jackets or pink and white uniforms with long vests! James Brown and Sly Stone were very popular at that time. We did a lot of their songs with choreography, singing and everything. I can remember Dr.'J' getting his flying act together on the basketball court as we were pumpin' out the funk in Roosevelt Park. The Teen-Canteen was a community oriented project so the people would come out, making it intense and beautiful. The music of Alonzo Gardner and the Illusions is of that time! ALONZO GARDNER What I hear wheb I drop this one on is shades of Clarence Carter singing Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp ;Pee Wee Crayton with Johnny Otis show; James Brown down on one knee pleading that it's a man's world. What I hear in essence is a throwback to the Stax-Volt revue, to southern soul that wasn't afraid to be downright country even as it swung horn charts as sophisticated as those Quincey Jones and Frank Foster wrote for Ray Charles back in the fifties. The music of Alonzo Gardner and the Illusions is what rhytthm adn blues was just as Jamaes Brown was turning it into the funk; tales of love and woe lollygagging along on lumbering bass lines and chicken-licken guitar scratches that undergird vocals that owe more to, say Blind Lemon Jefforson than Marvin Gaye. This is music with roots so deep into primal days of Muscle Shoals and Memphis jam sessions you might suspect it to be but a parody here in the age of the Linn Drum and sewuenced Synclavier. But it ain't. It's heaaartfelt, downhomey, finger-poppin good old soul music with sax solos like King Curtis used to play and bass lines like Duck Dunn used to stroll along with, wnd if it ain't quite the latest thang it ain't defunkt either and maybe those rebels knew more thatn they let on when they said the wouth would rise again. You have only suspect they didn't know it would be on the goodfoot and not from the shadow of defeat. GREG TATE.