Faruq Z. Bey (born Jessie Davis) is a saxophonist/composer from Detroit, Michigan, USA. He is best known for his work with Griot Galaxy. Griot played hard free jazz with distinct compositions, often by Bey. Odd meters and polyrhythms were a frequent feature of Griot tunes, which would give way to free sections. Originally started in 1972, Griot Galaxy settled into its most stable line-up around 1980, when Bey was joined by saxophonists David McMurray and Anthony Holland, as well as bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Tani Tabal. Popular in Detroit for a Free Jazz band (often pulling audiences of a few hundred people), Griot toured Europe in the mid-80s and was at the height of its international acclaim when Bey was in a serious motorcycle accident that left him in a coma.
Almost a decade passed before Bey returned to performing. He re-emerged with an all woodwind ensemble called The Conspiracy Winds Ensemble. He began to play in Speaking in Tongues and Hakim Jami's Street Band. He joined forces with The Northwoods Improvisers, who've largely devoted their last several releases to Bey's music. His frequent collaborators, saxophonists Michael Carey and Skeeter Shelton, join him on most of the Northwoods Improviser's recordings. He also currently plays in Kindred- a quartet with Kennith Green, Kevin Callaway and Joel Peterson- and in Odu Afrobeat Orchestra.
Some of his most noted releases are: "Kins", "Opus Krampus" and "Live at the DIA" with Griot Galaxy and "Auzar" and "Ashirai Pattern" with The Northwoods Improvisers.
Bey has published two books of poetry, Year of the Iron Sheep and Etudes in Wanton Nesses, in addition to a theory book Toward a "Ratio"nal Aesthetic (1989).
M.L. Liebler (born Michael Lynn Liebler in 1953 in Detroit, Michigan) is the author of several books of poetry including the 2001 finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize and winner of The 2001 Wayne State University Board of Governors’ Award for Written In Rain: New & Selected (2000) and The Moon A Box (New Issues Press, 2004) which received The 2005 Paterson Poetry Award of Excellence.
His forthcoming books are Wide Awake in Someone Else's Dream (Wayne State University Press, April 2008) and Working Words: An Anthology of Labor, Art & Literature (Coffeehouse Press, 2009).
Much of his work has been published in both national and international journals and reviews, and he has recorded compact discs of poetry and music with such well-known musicians as Al Kooper, Country Joe McDonald, Jorma Kaukonen, Mike Watt, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix and his own Magic Poetry Band. In addition, he has read and performed his poetry extensively in Russia, China, Israel, Europe, Britain, Mexico and most of the United States.
In 2005, he was named The first Poet Laureate of St. Clair Shores, Mich., his hometown. Liebler is the founding Director of The Writer’s Voice Project and the recent Metro Detroit Writers Literary Organization.
He has taught English, creative writing, world literature, American studies and labor studies at Wayne State University in Detroit since 1980. He also has a writer daughter, Shelby Lynn, and a journalist son, Shane M. Liebler.
Reverend Robert B. Jones has more than twenty years of experience as a performer, musician, storyteller, radio producer/host and music educator. He has opened for and played with some of the finest musicians in the world. Still, Robert considers his greatest honor to be his call to the gospel of ministry.
Jones was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1956. His father was from West Pointe, Mississippi and his mother hailed from Conecuh County, Alabama. Consequently, Robert grew up in Detroit in a very Southern household. Early on, Robert Jones fell under the influence of his maternal grandmother’s record collection. He grew up listening to and loving a wide variety of music, especially the blues.
By the age of 17, Robert had already amassed a record collection of early blues and begun to teach himself guitar and harmonica. By his mid-twenties, Robert was hosting an award winning radio show on WDET-FM, Detroit called “Blues From The Lowlands”. Concentrating primarily on traditional acoustic blues, Robert started performing at some of Detroit’s best music venues including the Soup Kitchen Saloon, The Ark and Sully’s.
Influenced by legendary bluesman Willie Dixon, Robert developed an educational program called, “Blues For Schools”. This program has literally taken him into classrooms all over the country, and for approximately the next 15 years Robert polished his craft both as a performer and a music educator.
Answering a call to the ministry Robert began to study under Rev. James Robinson, Sr. at the Sweet Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. Emphasizing the cultural, historical and educational aspects of blues, Jones began to think of his music as an outreach of his ministry. Essentially, he was a singer who preached. However, the death of his pastor in January of 1999, changed the direction of Jones’ life and his music.
In 2002, with his home church in the fourth year of upheaval at the loss of it’s leader, and with no end to the confusion in sight, Robert was called by his church to become it’s next pastor. He reshaped his “Blues For Schools” program into “American Roots Music In Education” (ARMIE), a program that could encompass a wider variety of music including spirituals, gospel and folk songs.
2006 marked a decided return to performance. Especially influenced by sacred musicians such as Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Rev. Dan Smith, Joshua White, Blind Connie Williams and Rev. Robert Wilkins; Rev. Robert B. Jones now presents “Holy Blues” to new audiences.
In 2007 Robert was recognized as with a “Keeping The Blues Alive” award in Memphis, TN., as “Educator of the Year”. In the last two years Rev. Jones also presented his American Roots Music In Education program at various venues in the United States, Canada, England and Germany.
Whether he is performing alone, with his good friend Matt Watroba or with his wife of twenty-two years, Sister Bernice Jones, Rev Robert B. Jones is now enjoying, more that ever, the thrill of making music and spreading the gospel to ever expanding audiences. Rev. Jones has also returned to radio as the host and producer of “Deep River”, a program of spirituals and gospel, airs Sundays on WDET (101.9 FM) in Detroit.