As we will do on ocassion I'm taking the blog off the rumba grid to talk about a fantastic group called the Spirit Ensemble. In its 30 plus years of existence, the Spirit has played all over the country, celebrating the Africanismo in much of today's modern music. Featured among the members are the one and only Chief Bey (Ibae) about whom volumes can be written. Suffice it to say he was a mentor and spiritual godfather to scores of percussionists who belonged to his Ocha Ile. Neil Clark, Randy Weston's wonderful percussionist is also in attendance as is my buddy of more then 34 years, Jimmy Cruz on piccolo, flute and shekere. Zuleka, the organizer of this particular version of the Spirit Ensemble is featured in the first video talking about his musical background and the history of the group. Some of the performance video, which was from a live Kwanzaa show at the Museum of Natural History in NYC (12/26/99), was being used to capture still shots for a documentary of the group. Zulekas sudden demise put the project onto a back burner. Please overlook the out of focus scenes as the shots were being captured. Three of their tunes are featured.