Solo Meditations

Solo meditations a
Recorded at AlMax Studios (Columbus, Ohio)
Meditation No. 1 recorded on June 18, 2015
Meditation No. 2 recorded on June 28, 2015
Meditation No. 3 recorded on July 28, 2015
Meditation No. 4 recorded on August 16, 2015
Meditation No. 5 recorded on August 17, 2015
Meditation No. 6 recorded on March 19, 2016
Meditation No. 7 recorded on November 3, 2015
Meditation No. 8 recorded on September 28, 2015
Meditation No. 9 recorded on January 12, 2016

Edited and mastered at AlMax Studios by Mark Lomax, II
Produced by Mark Lomax, II for CFG Multimedia, LLC
Liner Notes by: Ben Weiss
Composer Notes by: Mark Lomax, II
Cover Design by Mark Lomax, II
Photo Credits:
Cover unknown
All other photos by Amirah J. Lomax
www.amirahlomax.com

Mark plays RBH Drums exclusively
visit them at www.rbhdrumsusa.com
 

Solo Meditations

Mark Lomax, II

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As modern humanity has moved away from striving toward its essential self, the voice and language of the Drum has lost its meaning. In his 1992 article, Drum is the Ear of the Gods: Africa’s Inner World Of Music, Richard Hodges asserts that “[s]ubtle verbal expressions may be encoded in drum language. Almost everybody can understand this language at a basic level; often there will be other levels of meaning woven in which can be understood only by drumming initiates of a certain level of experience. This is the source of the concept of the “talking drum.” Drum language can be used for reciting history and myth, for praising kings and patrons, for topical social commentary, for long-distance communication.” This concept of the Drums talking, “reciting history” and “topical social commentary,” is the basis for this series of recordings.

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  1. 1 Meditation No. 1: Charleston and Memphis 33:08
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  2. 2 Meditation No. 2: Fire Baptized 20:14
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  3. 3 Meditation No. 3: July The Fourth 05:24 Free
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  4. 4 Meditation No. 4: Visions For Black Men 11:50 Info
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  5. 5 Meditation No. 5: Joy 07:11 Info
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  6. 6 Meditation No. 6: Rhetorical 01:17
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  7. 7 Meditation No. 7: Awakening 15:57
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  8. 8 Meditation No. 8: KEMunity 15:26
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  9. 9 Meditation No. 9: Hope 12:46
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You might also like this solo recording by Mark Lomax, II.

You might also like this solo recording by Mark Lomax, II.

Meditation No. 1: Charleston & Memphis

Recorded in response to the assassination of Senator  Clementa Pinckney (Pastor), Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, & Susie Jackson at the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The shooting occurred at 9pm on a Wednesday night during prayer meeting.

This piece represents a confluence of emotions. Anger, sympathy, hope, joy, sorrow, peace. The shooter is a victim of a system predicated on racism/white supremacy as much as those he murdered in a cowardly terrorist act, but the sense that their faith in that moment gave them comfort that their souls would return to the One suggests that we should celebrate their lives by working to bring an end to this wicked and evil spirit. The hope lies in the promise of tomorrow, the power that we all have at our most human and divine core to overcome.
Meditation No. 2: Fire Baptized

Recorded after five Black churches were set ablaze. As of this writing, 8 have now burned to the ground within ten days of the Charleston Massacre giving me the sense that my generation, our present moment, is being baptized by fire because of the apathy of our elders, and our subsequent inability to effectively combat the racist constructs that allow for such evil to exist in this country. Kwame Toure said that “[p]power begins at the point of conception.” This piece represents my belief that our collective power starts at the point of our shared humanity. It is time to take the freedom that is rightfully ours.









 
Meditation No. 3: July The Fourth?

7/4/15: In NYC watching fireworks and enjoying time with my family. At the end of the show a normal looking European American guy next to us just said, “America!” We looked at each other and laughed that a mediocre fireworks display would illicit such a response, but, on the cab ride back to our borrowed apartment in the village, his sentiment and the emotion, the sense of awe behind it, nagged at me. I realized that it nagged at me because it was a sentiment that I could not share. My sense of what amerikkka is stands as a complete opposite end of his. That moment summed up the tale of two countries. One that inspires and uplifts, and the other which subjugates and obfuscates my peoples humanity.

July 4th 2015 came just days after 8 black churches had burned to the ground, 9 African Americans had been gunned down in the midst of prayer service, and after President Obama sang a hymn composed by a slave ship captain after having spoken eloquently about the racial situation. He named each of the fallen and said that they had found grace in death. The President then asked that God would continue to “shed His grace on the United States of America,” but I wonder when Blacks in amerikkka will find the grace?

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglas said, “There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.” These words, spoken 163 years ago, could not be more true today, and I believe that the grace President Obama prayed for will not be given until amerikkka admits its crimes against humanity, and pays reparations.
Meditation No. 4: Visions For Black Men

#BlackLivesMatter was a movement created by strong Black women. Chicago has given rise to strong Black mothers who are brave enough to sit on street corners to deter the senseless violence our people have perpetuated against themselves as a result of internalized hatred. Black women have been on the front lines throughout our history here in amerikkka and are continuing that tradition now, but where are the men?

Due to the patriarchal nature of the amerikkkan culture we do not know all of the contributions that women of Afrikan descent have made to our struggle for humanity, but for every Malcolm, Martin, and Medgar, there are hundreds of Fannie Lou’s, Shirley’s, and Assatta’s. Maybe that is why things have yet to change. As Shirley Chisholm said, “In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are
equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.” It’s time for our  Brother’s, the warrior’s, to stand with our strong Sista’s. Stand in front of them, accepting their wisdom and being the MEN our people need to gain freedom.

In Visions for Black Men, Dr. Na’im Akbar writes that “…men and women are inextricably tied to each other and the conditions affecting the lives of African-American men and women are inseparable.” This piece is a meditation on that link which is our collective strength, a reminder of who we are as Men, and a call to action.
Meditation No. 5: Joy

My father, Rev. Dr. Mark Lomax, Sr, recently preached a series on faith in which he suggested that faith is a concept that is transforming, fearless, insistent, active, inherent, and a living aspect of our being in this world. My meditation on faith led me to a more profound understanding of Joy. Why? Because having a faith that empowers me to act, be insistent, be fearless, transformative, inherent (as in a power greater than myself), and to live is a faith that becomes a constant source of joy, peace, and power. Focusing here on the first aspect of this triad leads to the others, and helps us to continue the daily struggle to BE in amerikkka.
 
Meditation No. 6: Rhetorical

The more I hear about the senseless killings of Blacks in amerikkka and 'white rage' that has come to be the spectacle of the Trump campaign, the more these words ring in my Spirit. This piece is an expression of angst and outrage at a system that privileges the humanity of a few while denying the same to most. The poem was written the summer of 2015, but it took me some time to think through how best to express it on the instrument.
Meditation No. 7: Awakening

“We have got to awaken from the color blind slumber that we've been in to the realities of race in America.“- Michelle Alexander

“There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.“- Martin Luther King, Jr.

A universal battle for human rights is being waged around the globe. Most are killing for the perception of power, but what is most powerful is knowledge of self. At the point that we understand that power flows from within, we connect with and command the universe. The revolution won't be televised because it manifests from the inside out.
Meditation No. 8: KEMunity…We Are One

“Music Is the Healing Force Of The Universe.”- Albert Ayler

Woke up with an overwhelming sense of connection to the Universe and a reaffirmed understanding that in spite of the way cultural, political and religious systems have cultivated separation, we are manifestations of the Divine. It is our duty as artists to elevate the consciousness of our audience toward the frequency of unity.
Meditation No. 9: Hope

Dr. Kaba Kamene (Booker T. Coleman) has said that english is a language of lies. It is a language that allows one to talk much without actually saying anything. The word ‘hope’ is an excellent example of this. Used as a noun or verb, it refers to a feeling of expectation that can exist without cause (i.e. one can hope for an outcome without exerting any energy toward said outcome). This ambiguity, desiring an effect in absence of a particular cause, is the way in which the word ‘hope’ has been given to oppressed peoples in amerikkka. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others hoped that their appeals to the nations conscience through acts of civil disobedience would be the catalyst in the death of racism/white supremacy as amerikkka’s dominant socio-cultural position in the mid 20th century. Many Americans hoped that the election of Barack H. Obama would usher the country into a post-racial age in 2008. And today (2016), African Americans hope to survive daily encounters with the nations police force who have killed Blacks with immunity for the most minor, if any, of infractions.  In essence, hope is a word that can render most inert, but it also has power.

Hope is a word that can inspire action, evolution, and revolution. Without hope, MLK would not have had the courage to march and dream, Obama would not have run, and Blacks in amerikkka would never leave the relative safety of their homes. This piece is a meditation on ‘hope against hope,’ action versus inaction, evolution and revolution instead of stagnation. It is due to a powerful sense of hope that I continue to grow and BE for without hope, there is no reason to create our future selves and a better tomorrow.





 
Liner Notes

There comes a time when words just aren’t enough. A time when so many people are talking at each other and no one is listening. A time when everyone is “talkin’ loud and ain’t sayin’ nuthin'.” It is exactly in times like these when a new voice comes to the fore bringing clarity, an enlightened humanity, and unity of purpose for a lost people. This voice is at once ancient and contemporary, foreign yet familiar. It is one that unveils, engages, and evokes an inner strength yet unknown to the listener, and its power bridges the gapping hole of misunderstanding by revealing the essential harmony of humanity. This voice, that of the Drum, is a voice that conjures the past, illuminates the present, and calls forth that which is to be. It is a voice with the power to transform, to build and destroy, and it has been forgotten.

As modern humanity has moved away from striving toward its essential self, the voice and language of the Drum has lost its meaning. In his 1992 article, Drum is the Ear of the Gods: Africa’s Inner World Of Music, Richard Hodges asserts that “[s]ubtle verbal expressions may be encoded in drum language. Almost everybody can understand this language at a basic level; often there will be other levels of meaning woven in which can be understood only by drumming initiates of a certain level of experience. This is the source of the concept of the “talking drum.” Drum language can be used for reciting history and myth, for praising kings and patrons, for topical social commentary, for long-distance communication.” This concept of the Drums talking, “reciting history” and “topical social commentary,” is the basis for this series of recordings.  

Understanding that a master musician is not just an entertainer, she or he is an artist with a profound understanding of the ways in which the art functions in the cultural context it is created in. There is an important difference between an artist and the entertainer. An artist can be entertaining, but is more concerned that the art uplift and edify humanity, where the entertainer is concerned with the singular aspect of providing amusement. Entertainment is often good for the soul, but can also be used to distract from the important issues of human development. Art, on the other hand, is a unique product cultivated from the depths of the spirit in conjunction with lived experience. True art connects with humans at their core and often elicits a response that may, itself, be beyond the immediate comprehension of the respondent. It is this reaction, raw and unfiltered, that generally initiates a process of reflection, and this contemplation often leads to growth. There are few artists in America’s contemporary art music scene that have cultivated a career centered around empowering their audience toward a fully realized spiritual existence. Dr. Mark Lomax, II is one of the few and in his drumming we hear a modern expression of the Drum’s ancient voice.

Born in Blacksburg, Virginia in 1979 to parents who were leaders in music and word ministries at Virginia Tech, Lomax grew up in a fertile environment that married music and spirituality. He showed signs of musical ability early on, and was playing at the drums by age 2. At 6 he was playing for local churches and became a regular drummer for his mothers children’s choirs by 12. Thus began his training in music as a spiritual art.

They say ‘the teacher will appear when the student is ready,’ and by 14 Lomax had began to develop a reputation as an up and coming drummer in the Columbus Ohio church scene. That was also the year he met James “Smooth” Elliott, a local drummer who had played with Jimmy Smith and many other well known musicians on the West Coast. It was James who introduced Mark to jazz. He took him around to the local jam sessions and put him in contact with other local legends like saxophonist Gene Walker (Rusty Bryant, The Beatles), and organist Hank Marr (Rusty Bryant, James ‘Blood’ Ulmer) with whom he played his first jazz gigs.

It was the influential combination of drummers James Elliott and Billy Brown (Hank Marr, Gene Walker) that cemented his desire to become a jazz drummer. James showed Mark that the drums could be more than a simple accompaniment to the rest of the band, while Billy taught the beauty of swing! Both melodic in different ways, Mark  learned about tuning the drums so they would speak from Elliott, and blues inflected phrasing from Brown. These men laid the foundation for an approach to solo drumming that wouldn’t manifest for another two decades.

After being active as a first call drummer in the Central Ohio area, he began to gain exposure with musicians like Victor Goines, Wessell Anderson, Pharez Whitted, Raymond Wise (gospel), Marlon Jordan, and members of the Marsalis family. He composed the music for and released two recordings by age 21 (Blacklisted (1999), Tales of the Black Experience (2000)), both dedicated to music that fed the spirit in the tradition of his musical heroes Coltrane (Elvin), Coleman (Blackwell), Mingus (Richmond), and Roach.

Disappointed at the lack of depth in the expression of many mainstream jazz musicians, Lomax returned to Columbus, Ohio and began to study classical music. Lomax continued to compose, perform, and record during his 13 years of formal study. This period birthed a collection of Negro Spirituals (Lift Every Voice, 2006), several independent releases on his own imprints (Blacklisted Musik and CFG Multimedia), and his first international releases with Inarhyme Records (The State of Black America, 2010 and Isis & Osiris, 2014) which met with great critical success. But he felt these accomplishments inadequate with the growing social unrest and the rise of inadequate with the growing social unrest and the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, at which point he began to look more deeply at the relationship between music (vibration) and human beings.

Coming into the knowledge of how frequency affects human physiology, Lomax began to search for an instrument and approach to playing that incorporated more of a spiritual aesthetic in order to do his part to affect healing in the world. This search led him to Bruce Hagwood and RBH drums. His discussions with Hagwood during the winter of 2013 brought forth a new instrument Lomax called ‘Ngoma Lungundu,’ the Drum that thunders, and it is with this instrument, tuned to the five pitches of a pentatonic scale laid out in thirds to form a G minor 11 chord (snare G, high-tom F, mid-tom D, first floor-tom Bb, second floor-tom G, bass drum C), that Lomax began to cultivate the intensely lyrical expression heard on his first solo recording ‘Modern Communications in Ancient Rhythms,’ and here in a more refined and improvised version on Solo Meditations.

“It became apparent to me that Black American culture was missing an essential element in the search for itself, the voice of the Drum. We don’t remember it, so we can’t remember ourselves.” He believes that his quest to re-establish the spiritual connection between Ngoma Lungundu and Africans in America will help his people find themselves again. At a time when words seem inadequate, maybe, just maybe, the primordial language of the Drum can reconnect African Americans with their essential selves; that place of infinite power and wisdom from which they can rise out of the muck and mire of the oppressive system of racism/white supremacy, and realize that freedom that is the birthright of the Human Race.


Ben Weiss
June 2015