Over four decades have passed since the formation of Yellow Go-Rilla Productions Ltd. on 4th April 1975. At that time there weren’t many Black Production companies working with Jazz in New York. Due to the help of two prominent impresarios, Ron Delsener and the late Sid Bernstein, the dream came alive. The first function was held in June 1975 @ Town Hall in New York City, with artists Ray Barretto and Roy Ayers Ubiquity. We went on to work with Alan Douglas of Douglas Records representing the first radical Rap Group, The Last Poets.
Moving into personal management, Yellow Go-Rilla went on to represent Hugh Masekela, at the time of his hit ‘Grazing In The Grass’. At his suggestion, we went on to represent Miriam Makeba, travelling all over the world with live performances starting in Malmo Sweden and performing for many African Presidents.
In the late 1970’s we built an association with Black Music Department at CBS Records, now Sony Records, headed by the late LeBaron Taylor. This led to the first of Yellow Go-Rilla’s biggest fundraisers for the Louis Armstrong Memorial Project “Satchmo 1976” at the Beacon Theater in New York, in April 1976. This fundraiser headlined Lou Rawls, Freddie Hubbard, Robin Kenyatta, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Orchestra featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater, hosted by Marian Etoile & Ed Williams.
Dr George Butler, then running CBS Jazz Department, invited us to join Special Events to promote new artists signed to the company, the first being Makoto Ozone, (Japanese pianist) and then later, working with the Doctor to put together a Tribute to Alberta Hunter.
Yellow Go-Rilla’s experience in African music came to pay dividends later when Roy Ayers took his first trip to that continent, working in Nigeria with Fela Anikulapo Kuti, whilst touring the entire country.
At the beginning of the ‘80s decade, Yellow Go-Rilla relocated to London, England initially to work with Cab & Chris Calloway but rekindled it’s relationship with Hugh Masekela who was based there. After a few years trekking around Europe to build a market and reputation, by 1987 Paul Simon had produced an album called ‘Graceland’ which was mainly South African music. He was under fire for breaching the boycott by going to South Africa to record this album. He had appeared on the BBC’s Terry Wogan show, explaining how this had transpired and Yellow Go-Rilla stepped in to provide him with a solution that would give the work some integrity by meeting with Hugh Masekela. Ultimately this lead to the Gracelands Tour, supporting live dates with prominent exiled South African artists, Miriam Makeba and introducing to the world Joseph Shabalalah of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The tour travelled extensively across the globe for more than two years.
Yellow Go-Rilla’s previous association with CBS/Sony Records lead to Dick Scott, Manager of New Kids On The Block asking us to represent the band in Europe and set up a fan club in the early 1990’s.
Following NKOTB, the rest of the decade was almost all devoted to Jazz/Jazz Fusion and representation of US Jazz artists in Europe, except for Tony Remy Group who were UK based. Lonnie Liston Smith, Norman Connors, Michael Henderson, Robin Kenyatta, Sunny Murray, Plunky, Lenny White, Chico Hamilton & Euphoria, Blossom Dearie, Freddie Hubbard, Ronnie Laws are just some of the artists represented at this time across European Festivals and Clubs. Much of the latter part of the decade was focussed on re-establishing Wayne Henderson/Wilton Felder’s Jazz Crusaders (formerly The Crusaders), augmented by Patti Austin as vocalist and Bobby Lyle on keyboards on occasion.
The next decade continued with the demand for US artists in Europe, with tours for Lonnie Liston Smith Super Expansion Band, Jazz Crusaders w/ Vanessa Rubin, Lesette Wilson, Jean Carne. London Radio Station Jazz FM were putting together an autumn spectacular for Soul and Jazz Fusion, culminating in a ‘Philly City of Brother Love 04’ Tour, comprising Billy Paul, Jean Carne, Dexter Wansel and Bunny Sigler, with Musical Director the late Nathan Heathman pulling it all together. Sandra St. Victor, former vocalist for Roy Ayers and co-founder of Family Stand, living in the Netherlands had formed a concept with friends and contemporaries called Daughters of Soul. Comprising Lisa Simone, Indira Khan, Lalah Hathaway, Nona Hendryx, Joyce Kennedy, Caron Wheeler & Deniece Williams, the concept was good although difficult to work contractually as the stars all had their own careers.
Universal Music’s Verve Label under the tutelage of Wulf Muller re-established Yellow Go-Rilla’s Jazz credentials, mirroring the earlier days of CBS/Sony Records Dr George Butler with a promotional tour for Makoto Ozone, (one of Japan’s award Jazz pianists) with his Trio James Genus & Clarence Penn. At the suggestion of Weldon Arthur McDougall III, following the successful film ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’, Yellow Go-Rilla worked to bring Jack Ashford/Joe Hunter’s Funk Brothers to Europe. After the passing of Joe Hunter, Jack Ashford returned for UK performances to renew his acquaintance with George Clinton as they had been at Motown together. With the Motown 50th Anniversary approaching Funk Brother Jack Ashford returned, this time joined by Tito Jackson of The Jacksons to tour Spain. Jean Carne came into London again, this time with Friends – Alyson Williams & Shirley Jones. The Revelation Reunion in the summer of 2012 comprised Doug Carn & Jean Carne featuring music they had worked on together when they had been husband and wife.
The South of France was beckoning and the Festival de Jazz A L’hospitalet, Narbonne was crying out for some International input. It’s host, Gerard Bertrand, who prides himself on being forward thinking wanted to expand his festival and worked with Yellow Go-Rilla in attracting the likes of Tito Jackson with his Bowler Band, Funk Brother Jack Ashford and Billy Paul over consecutive years. This was Billy Paul’s last live performance in France, where he has a huge following and he didn’t let us down. Around that time, The Jacksons were trying to re-establish themselves, they had been working in Las Vegas when Tito asked if we’d like to represent The Jacksons in South of France. In 2014 we put together a Jackson Weekend, starting in Monte Carlo and ending in Hyeres.
More recently we have been working with Doug Carn’s West Coast Organ Band and Lisa Simone.