Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lenox Mayes and the Kalimba

I met this guy at the Bally's on Oakland - Mr. Lenox Mayes.

He is one of the few great Kalimba players in North America.

What, you ask, is a Kalimba?
It's a metal instrument from South Africa. Some people call it a thumb piano.
For those of you playing along at home, this is how they are tuned:

You're kinda locked into the key of G, unles you buy another Kalimba in another key. 
Here's Mr. Mayes performing at a club in Chicago. 
And in case you're wondering, Mr. Mayes still has all the hair.  I see my balding noggin' in the mirrors at Bally's, and then I see Lenox Mayes working out, and I look upon him with envy and covetousness.  Lenox Mayes looks like a retired Lion King.

I've got his 2nd CD, and the music has a dreamlike quality that still demands that you pay attention.  Perhaps you're just wondering how he does all of this with just thumbs. 

If I've done this correctly, you should be able to go here and listen to a sample track from Lenox's latest CD:

BIG NIGHT available on iTunes by LEnoX mayes jr

Here's his MySpace page. 

And here's the Lenox Mayes home page

Enjoy ! 

Note to Mike Coyne and Dr. Ralph....Take out your guitars and improv over the iTunes tracks.  It's fun stuff.


Dave K said...

Earth, Wind and Fire used the Kalimba in many of their songs through the 70's and their label was actually called Kalimba Records. Their earlier, pre-disco/pre-techno work featured it more.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I'll have to check some of that out. I used to play "In The Stone" over and over and over.

Dave K said...

WS, "In the Stone" was a good song. If you look them up in Wikipedia, you can find their Discography. WP lists their "Classic Period" as '73-'80 but I would call it '72-'77, starting with their album "Last Days and Time" through "All 'N All". What I would call their classic work had a lot more soul, funk and spirituality.

"In the Stone was off the album "I Am" which was best known for a disco hit with The Emotions and the ballad "After the Love Is Gone".

They also released a live compilation called "Gratitude" in 1975 that I would recommend. I played that one into the ground when I was younger.

Anyway, after '77 they had a brief flirtation with disco then went techno. They completely lost their sound with an album they released in '83.

Maurice White was the one who played the Kalimba most of the time. He did one solo album in the mid-80s but I've never heard it.

Thus concludes my brief history of EW&F. :-)