epkFrom: Atlanta, GA

Genre: Jazz, Blues, Bebop, Swing, Soul, Gospel

Members: “Sweet Lu” Olutosin – Vocals

Bio: (Vocalist, lyricist, composer)

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Meet Me At The Crossroads (select tracks)

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Be My Mamacita

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  Performance Calendar

    •  

      • Sun. April 14 2019
        Nat King Cole Centennial Show
        Atlanta, GA
      • February 2019 
        Real Jazz Gives Back concert
        Atlanta, GA
      • Fri-Sat,  January  11-12  2019 
        (TBD)  
        Savannah, GA
      • Sun.  January 2019
        Roswell Roots Festival
        Roswell, GA
      *Fri-Sat, December  22-22, 2018*
      Jazz Aspen Snowmass
      Aspen, CO  (Holiday Show)
    • Thur. December  13
      National Guard Birthday salute
      Marietta, GA
    • Sat.  December 8
      Georgia Justice Project Holiday party

      Atlanta, GA
    • Sat. October 6
      Jazz @ the Mount

      Decatur, GA

    • Tue. October 23
      Minton’s Playhouse
      W/ Antonio Ciacca’s Swing Society
      Harlem, NY
    • Fri.  October 26
      The Commerce Club (Private event)
      Atlanta, GA
    • Sun.  September 23
      W/ West Side Winds Big band
      Douglas Theater
      Macon, GA

    • Thur.  August 2
      Art Porter Jazzweek
      Little Rock, AR
    • Sat.   August 18-25
      Rancho La Puerta Jazz Series
      Tecate, Mexico
    • Fri. August  31
      Solis Hotel
      Atlanta, GA

Past Performances

    • Friday, February  2, 2018

      1st Congregational Church
      Atlanta, GA – 125 Ellis St. NE

    • Tues, February  13
      Pierre Hotel  
      2 E 61st St, New York, NY 10065

       

    • Sat, March  31
      National Council of Negro Women (NOVA)
      Tysons Corner, VA
    • Fri, April 6
      First Friday @ First Congregational Church
      Atlanta, GA – 125 Ellis St. NE

    • Sat  19 May
      Red Light Cafe 

      Atlanta, GA

       

    • Sat, June 23
      w/ West Side Winds Big band

      Southwest Performing Arts Center

      915 New Hope Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30331

    • Sat, June 30
      w/ West Side Winds Big band
      Southwest Performing Arts Center915 New Hope Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30331
    • Sat, August 18-25
      Rancho La Puerta Jazz Series
       Tecate Mexico

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING  

“Sweet Lu” Olutosin is one of the most promising male jazz singers around… “

~ Scott Yanow,
Jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers

 

”  He deftly infuses our cultural history and family values utilizing a tapestry of blues, gospel and jazz that is pure entertainment from beginning to end…”

~ Carl Anthony, 
Jazz historian & curator, Notorious Jazz.com

“… he successfully endeavors to “tell the story of how jazz has been beaten up, changed up, and ends by giving a gospel flavor to inject the feeling of origin in the song,” 

~ Willard Jenkins
DC-area based journalist, broadcaster, and concerts/festivals curator

 

  “… a stage presence that can warm up the audience, a display of medium and low register but then able to surprise with successful forays in the tall one with a clear timbre that recalled the teaching of soul singer James Ingram”.

Napoli da Vivere

 “ … he may have just paved the way to new standards in the vocal jazz idiom”.

~ Geannine Reid,

Allaboutjazz.com

 “The soulfulness of his well-rounded masculine voice is a beacon in the male jazz vocal idiom and one voice I hope to hear for many years to come“.

~ H. Allen Williams,

JazzTimes

Live Performance shorts

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“Sweet Lu’ Olutosin 

Meet Me at the Crossroads

Liner notes by Willard Jenkins

 

Vocalist “Sweet” Lu Olutosin proudly bears the honorific nickname of an honored of sweet bat swinging and basketball shooting sports heroes named Lou; from a jazz perspective he keeps good company in the sweetness department with the great saxophonist Lou Donaldson.  Meet Me at the Crossroads is Lu’s third outing as a leader, and a honeyed follow-up indeed to his last date, Sweet Lou’s Blues from 2014.

 

Born in Gary, Indiana, raised primarily in Jackson, MS, and currently based in the Atlanta area, retired military Colonel Lu Olutosin has adopted a deeply ingrained familial immersion in gospel music to develop a most soulful approach to jazz song.  Though anything other than gospel music was frowned upon in his upbringing, a chance aural encounter with Al Jarreau set Lu on the path to musical independence as he assertively responded to the irresistible call of the art of the improvisers.

 

For this latest outing Sweet Lu has enlisted the assured hand of pianist-composer Donald Brown in the producer chair.  The two met on the strength of Brown’s thumbs up to Lu’s lyric to Brown’s magnetic “Theme for Malcolm”.  “Donald heard my lyric,” Lu reveals, and “he loved it,” said “it was very creative the way you told the story.”

 

For this crossroads meeting Lu has enlisted additional jazz classics to lyricize, including Billy Strayhorn’s sophisticated line “Intimacy of the Blues,” which Lu christens “Sister Sadie’s Blues.”  For the album’s closer Lu wrote lyrics to Joe Henderson’s indelible Brazilian flavor “Recorda Me,” which in Lu’s context becomes “Don’t Forget to Remember.”  “I wanted to express in a relatable way that the cycle of life is unending,” Lu says of his investment in the Henderson classic.

 

Lu’s original songs for this date include “Skin Game,” a particularly resonant lyric in the wake of the troubling racial chasm in this country.  In his assertive, though lighthearted way, Lu decries the ludicrous nature of our historic skin game divide, dismissing this artificial separation of the human race just as his granny admonished him.  “I intentionally, but playfully, poke the big bear called racism with an implied question: “what if we didn’t have skin color to cloud our judgments,” he asks.

 

Another of Lu’s originals, “Tunji Baby” details a particularly appealing set of feminine wiles, a tune whose flavor neatly straddles the invisible line of demarcation between R&B and jazz.  “I just wanted to pay homage to all the beautiful, smart, fine women who are just outside the grasp of the man who’s hot on their trail.  Maybe if the guy comes correct he can get Tunji,” Lu declares.

 

With “How You Do That,” in this world of seeming insurmountable hurdles, Lu sings of folks achieving the unexpected in a world of “haters,” delivered in an eminently radio-friendly manner.  Clearly our leader has developed musical platforms that neatly balance originals and classics.  In the case of the classics, dig how Lu re-harmonizes the timeless Gamble & Huff line “You’ll Never Find,” bringing that chestnut into the realm of jazz interpretation.

 

Achieving such a finely balanced program of material is no small task, but Lu Olutosin aces that mission.  “I wanted to show the relevance of jazz music in today’s society; although there are considerable stylistic differences between today’s popular music and jazz, the roots of both come directly from African-American gospel music,” he asserts.  Exemplifying this approach he cites the Kevin Mahogany-penned opener, “Still Swingin’”, where he successfully endeavors to “tell the story of how jazz has been beaten up, changed up, and we end it by giving a gospel flavor to inject the feeling of origin in the song,”  neatly referencing the “Cross-Roads” theme of this release.

 

Of equal importance with his careful program selection, Lu has chosen his compadres well, accompanied throughout by the rhythm section of his arranging partner Tyrone Jackson on piano, bassist Kevin Smith, and drummer Henry Conerway 111.  For certain selections he broadens the instrumental palate with trumpeter Lester Walker, and tenor saxophonist Mace Hibbard, employing some of the Southeast’s finest practitioners to give wing to this balanced program.

 

“I believe jazz is, was, and will forever be the music of the struggle for freedom.  I think the players who realize this point are the ones we feel and connect with on a spiritual level,” is how Lu sums up his approach here.  Open up those ears and that sensibility and “Meet Lu Olutosin at the Cross Roads.”

 

Willard Jenkins is a DC-area based journalist, broadcaster, and concerts/festivals curator who can be found at www.openskyjazz.com. 

      

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