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Seleno Clarke honored, Shanto, Eddie Palmieri

Ron Scott | 7/9/2012, 3:44 p.m.

The Hammond B-3 organ will make one shout "Amen" or keep dancing until the early morning, depending on whether it's Sunday morning or Saturday night. It is the only instrument that can sound like a funky quartet, big band or gospel choir. However, it seems the powerful music box that jazz musicians took out of the church and turned into a legitimate jazz instrument may have lost some of its luster.

Regardless, Seleno Clarke is carrying on the Hammond B-3 jazz organ tradition in grand style. For him and his fans, the Hammond remains in its glory just as it was in the 1960s, when the kings of the Hammond--Jack McDuff, Richard "Groove" Holmes and Jimmy McGriff--kept Harlem swinging.

Most recently, Clarke was honored with a proclamation by the American Legion Post 398 for his effortless support of the organization by bringing a diverse group of musicians to the Harlem community and keeping jazz alive. Upon accepting the proclamation, Clarke thanked Commander Randy Du Pree and his staff for their dedication to jazz and consistent support over the years.

Clarke and the Legion were celebrating the 14th anniversary of his show, where, every Sunday from 7 p.m. to midnight, he plays a mean organ and hosts his international jam session. Clarke is known as "the Ambassador of Jazz."

Musicians from around the world have spread the word that when in New York, you have to make it to Harlem for Clarke's jam. On any Sunday night, musicians from such countries as South America, Europe and Japan wait to show their stuff.

Clarke, basically a self-taught musician, originally played saxophone, studying under George Coleman before moving over to the Hammond B-3 under the tutelage of Jack McDuff.

"It was a lot of practice and hanging out in the clubs, watching the greats like McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes and all those guys," said Clarke. "Schools don't teach you how to groove, they just teach theory. Some of the young musicians who come on Sunday are looking to catch that groove."

There is no cover charge at the American Legion, 248 W. 132nd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Southern cuisine and drinks can be purchased at a moderate fee. For more information on Clarke or to check out his CDs, visit www.selenoclarke.com.

A young group called Shanto are making a name for themselves in the land of Brooklyn in the Bed-Stuy community. The group's ages range from 12 to 22 and includes electric bassist Jamel, electric guitarist Sabah, drummer and musical director Rashid and keyboardist-conga player Jamal. Mama Nyash and Aschee are also members of the group.

Jamal, the oldest member, started playing keyboards only three years ago and is attending DeVry College, where he is majoring in engineering. "I love playing music. It gives me a chance to express myself," said Jamal. "Music is my plan B and engineering is first on my list."

Shanto has developed a distinct sound, a mix of reggae, soul and world music. Their repertoire only includes original compositions. The band members agreed they like composing new songs as much as playing. It was a cozy gig in the front yard of a brownstone with family and many friends.