Friday, April 17, 2009

KOOL AND THE GANG - Part 2

The last several months have been dedicated to completing the third set of panels honoring the Kool and the Gang Band. Scenes were taken directly from DVDs of concerts and even an early appearance on Soul Train. It has been a pleasure creating these panels. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

KOOL
This is the largest stain glass panel in the Koolzeum. It is an unmistakable and classical pose of Kool & the Gang's namesake musician. His body language conveys his majesty, confidence, authority, mastery of his instrument, and his rhythmic showmanship as the man to provide the bottom line for the world's most prolific Funk-Jazz band. Why he has that name KOOL speaks for itself. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.


The Sax Duel
This panel articulately illustrates the intensive highlight for the shows from 2003 - the present. It is performed in Get Down On It, when Khalis Bayyan takes his tenor solo past the limits and mesmerizes the audience. He is swiftly joined by Dennis Dee Tee Thomas on alto in what is first a harmonious duet, but progresses into a saxophone duel which delights the audience with its musicianship, professionalism, and explosive energy. This panel makes this a frozen moment and adds its own energy for all time. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.

Soul Train
This unforgettable pose of the Kool & the Gang horns is another moment now frozen in glass. It happened at the band's first appearance on the "brand new" dance show Don Cornelius' Soul Train. It was network television's rhythm- loaded response to Dick Clark's American Bandstand. From left, Khalis Bayyan on tenor, Spike Mickens on trumpet and Dennis Thomas on alto carved a sound unlike anything previous - only to change the face of music and influence bands from every genre for decades to come. The dancers in the audience melted into the show, their dances are part of the choreography, and their 1970 perfect Afros became part of the show's wardrobe. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.

The Fist

In 1969, the civil rights movement had informally changed names to The Black Power Movement. America's inequity towards African Americans had the Black community at the boiling point. The assassinations of the leaders and slow reaction to fair demands signaled an emergent need for power to be transferred to the people who were the victims. When Tommy Smith and John Carlos put black leather gloves on and held their clenched fists up to the sky, while looking down to the ground, in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, it was a symbolic message to the world that it was a new day. Still teen-agers living in public housing projects, the anger was strongly felt by the musicians of Kool & the Gang, their staff, families, friends, neighborhood, and national community. The sign of the fist had been respectfully given to the band from the audience nightly at all the shows and the band used their choreography to face the crowd, turn to the right simultaneously, look down and pump their clenched fist as a tribute to the people. It was touching and meaningful then - but no permanent record of it has materialized until this stained glass panel four decades later. The late Claydes Charles Smith (seated playing guitar with a halo) was very laid back but extremely important to the music and the message. The light coming from the fist above the band has obvious significance. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.


THE FRENCH DOORS - A double set of panels that are 19" x 50" before frames.


The Flip

Performed in Get Down On IT from 1981 - 1987 as an extreme crowd-pleaser, then lead vocalist James JT Taylor and trumpet dance-master Michael Ray would back up to each other during the lyric line "Get Your Back Up Off The Wall" and the final time they chanted it, the flip over the head would take place meticulously in synch with the rhythms and the steps. It delighted audiences around the globe, as Kool & the gang slipped into the position of the world's best selling act, which they maintained throughout the entire decade. Part of the thrill of it would be supportive background steps from Clifford Adams, Curtis Williams, Dennis Dee Tee Thomas, and The Funky George Brown on Drums. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.



The Liberator

Also from Get Down On It from 1981- 1987, Curtis Williams, who joined the band in 1981 at barely 18 years of age, he quickly rose to more than an instrumentalist. This was a part of the night that blossomed into a show-stopper. Williams would strap on the keyboard known as the Liberator and dramatically step down from his multiple keyboard fortress a half flight above the band to the right corner of the stage. When he landed on solid ground with the band he would continue a merciless solo - featuring interacting steps with band-members Clifford Adams, JT, Dee Tee, and Michael Ray. Their fluid like motion on stage is felt with the water color shades in this panel. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.


Stevie Wonder

The genius and artistry of Stevie Wonder has had an impact on the universe in ways beyond measure. His effect on the musicians of Kool & the Gang has been overwhelming. His strengths as a music writer, lyricist, producer, studio musician, live show performer, and multi-instrumentalist, and a voice that defies description are probably overshadowed by his commitment to humanity and his ability to make differences. His charitable contributions as a philanthropist, his insistence on forcing the passing of the King Holiday bill, his assaulting expose of the former South African aparthide gained the attention and respect of the world. Wonder's manhood to boldly confront what is wrong and offer equitable solutions led multi-millions in America to support the Obama bid for the presidency, also causing more people than that to register and vote. This is a hero that is not to be taken lightly. Here, Wonder is captured in glass, incorporating cultural symbols while he is universally communicating through music in his recording studio. This stained glass panel was designed by Cleveland Brown and Olimpia Perez and is exclusive to Cleveland Brown's Koolzeum Archives.







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