‘Akua’s Dance’ release party held at Sistas’ Place

MONIQUE NGOZI NRI | 5/18/2017, 12:47 p.m.
Akua Dixon held court at Sistas’ Place last night. I am not one of those folks for whom the word ...
Akua Dixon

Akua Dixon held court at Sistas’ Place last night. I am not one of those folks for whom the word queen comes naturally in addressing my sisters, but truly Dixon reigns supreme in the accomplishment of her craft. She maintains a firm but gentle tone as she moves apparently effortlessly (as is true of the real craft masters) from her playing arrangements of Mingus to Mancini on her unique Yamaha cello, covering songs from the blues to a funky rendition of Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo.” Perhaps a surprise for those who know her only for her playing is that when she stands up to sing, her voice is truly a powerful embodiment of her spirit.

For the release party at Sistas’ Place in Brooklyn, the enthusiastic audience was treated to many selections from her CD entitled “Akua’s Dance,” and she introduced each song with an anecdote that told the story or the context of the composition. One piece she composed for her son, Orion Turre, who accompanied her on drums for this performance. She explained the piece about his then teen years when our youth are sure that they know everything and take things, as she described it, right up to the edge of the line although not necessarily over it. I nudged my own teenager in the audience at this remark, but she was not impressed. Dixon is proud of her son for his dedication and skill in learning the music at its source. He did an excellent job.

In a tribute to Women’s History Month, Dixon played a composition by Aziza Miller, with whom she went to college, entitled “If My Heart Could Speak To You.” Dixon made the point that we should honor new favorite compositions, especially the work of Black women. Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away” was rendered with great effect to close out the first set. Ahmed Abdullah, the musical director for Sistas’ Place and MC for the night, remarked that he and his wife had heard this song on WBGO recently and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Guitarist Richard Padrone, who hailed from Cuba, played his instrument with that African-Cuban sensibility, really stretching out on the title track of Dixon’s 2011 CD “Moving On.” Kenny Davis on bass, a regular fixture at Sistas’ Place, swung his way through many of the tunes. His contributions on “Black Is Beautiful,” closing song of the night, were simply sublime.

Abdullah reminds audiences each week that at Sistas’ Place, the music played is jazz, a music of the spirit, and he adds that it is a music of resistance, and resilience and resurgence in these troubled times.

By the time we were ready to pay the exit fee by purchasing one of Dixon’s CDs, our spirits had been lifted so much that it seemed only natural to want to take some of it home with us, and you can, too. Go to https:/www.cdbaby.com/cd/akuadixon3.

For more information, visit sistasplace.org or call 718-398-1766.