The annual Red Bull Music Academy has grown into a hotly anticipated event of seminars, classes and performances, and being held in New York City for the first time has driven the quality and demand up to new heights. In one of the most anticipated events of the month long festival, A Night of Improvised Round Robin Duets at Brooklyn Masonic Temple was a magnet of multiple genres and sensibilities, making for an once-in-a-lifetime musical potluck that nourished music lovers of all types. Here’s a recap of every duet:
James Dewitt Yancey has garnered all the posthumous acclaim you’d expect for a hip-hop visionary underappreciated outside of his circles. Whether it be for his impeccable choice of samples through a multitude of different styles, his uncanny knack of blowing your mind with his musicianship or his humility in a sea of egos and gold chains, he is revered as a legend beyond the realms of hip-hop music, and rightfully so.
On harmonica, for a brief, yet memorable moment was Gregoire Maret. What I did not know was that you can really play the harmonica. We’re not talking about the technical element of the instrument (which he does brilliantly, I might add). We’re talking about what Little Richard did on the keys, what Chuck Berry did on the guitar. We’re talking about the difference between someone who was “singing” and someone who was “sangin,’” as they might say in the black church. With every other note, Maret dipped and swayed as his bended knees supported a man unbridled. To watch this seemingly mild-mannered individual take off his metaphorical cool was perhaps the most amusingly captivating moment of the night. It was showmanship at its finest and most unexpected.
On Dec. 12th at DROM, Blend Media Group presents Cuban pianist and composer David Virelles’ highly anticipated album release Continuum, featuring Jazz legend Andrew Cyrille (drums), Ben Street (bass), Roman Diaz (percussion/poetry), special guests Roman Filiu (saxophone), DJ ?uestlove and Tyondai Braxton.
Robert Glasper will be bringing together an all-star cast featuring the Robert Glasper Experiment (Derrick Hodge, Mark Colenburg and Casey Benjamin), Lalah Hathaway, Eric Roberson, Stokley (from Mint Condition), Questlove and others to produce a two-night tribute to the music of Stevie Wonder. The performances will include new arrangements of Stevie’s music and the premiere of new Harlem Stage commissioned compositions by Glasper, inspired by Stevie Wonder.
Revive Music Presents: Mark de Clive-Lowe , DJ Questlove (The Roots) + Casey Benjamin (Robert Glasper Experiment) & Special Guests For Monthly Series, CHURCH. Residency Celebrates its One Year Anniversary at DROM on December 7th.
There is more to David Virelles’ music than meets your ears. From the vast array of media to the cultural implications employed throughout his intertwined mesh of improvisation and composition, Virelles consistently transports both his musicians and listeners to new spaces of creativity and mind-space that they have yet to inhabit. Bringing his experiences both from Cuba and his travels around the world, Virelles has created a masterpiece of mood with ‘Continuum,’ his highly anticipated debut.
The Robert Glasper Experiment’s anticipated remix of Black Radio dropped earlier this week with a whole new set of gems to match the originals. With names like Questlove, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Solange Knowles, and Georgia Anne Muldrow among others attached to the project it was sure to pack some heat and surely it did.
Aside from the obvious influence of Fela on modern music, you don’t want to miss Antibalas interpreting his music in the Broadway format. In celebration of this music, we are offering a special promo code for $49 tickets!
Five-time Grammy nominee Joe Jackson has brought together a very different group of musicians to help him reinterpret 15 Duke Ellington tracks (compiled into 10 for the album) on his forthcoming tribute album entitled The Duke. “Ellington didn’t consider his own arrangements to be sacred,” Jackson notes. “He constantly reworked them, sometimes quite radically. So I think my approach is in the spirit of the man himself.”
He’s modern jazz. He’s innovative. He’s the future… I feel as though Robert has that baton – the baton that 20 years ago Bill Laswell and Herbie Hancock had in their hands runnin’ with it and all that came after it. His jazz chops are so on the ball they can start doing real progressive things! They can take those J Dilla chords and apply them to 7/8 meter. Especially when The Experiment is performing… they’re really doing some aggressive rhythmic stuff together. They’re really applying a lot of polyrhythms that really haven’t been executed before in hip hop or jazz. -Questlove on Robert Glasper
What you hear in her voice is ancient and inexplicable. She channels grandmothers and griots to bring audiences to the precipice of tears as easily as she incites eruption. Erykah Badu takes stage as both installation art and high wire act. While she has not made a career of being boastful, it is very clear that the queen bee knows who she is. A combination of Abbey Lincoln, Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, Parliament’s mother ship, and a Hendrix solo, Erykah Badu is the direct byproduct of a lineage preserved and most effectively expressed through song. A sociologist with a rolodex of great producers and an equally impressive catalog of hits, Badu sings a world based very closely upon the one she inhabits, but clearly thinks and aspires to a plane none of us will reach in this life. A voice as joyful as it is pained, her sound does less to rely on the ridiculous range that carries most vocalists, leaning instead on an awesome amount of versatility, unpredictability, and depth.
As the great voices of jazz and soul music are silenced, Erykah Badu – arguably the first successful mutation of both movements — could very well be the last of a dying breed. In an interview with music superstore, Amoeba, trumpeter Christian Scott may have said it best, “I always applaud her for her conviction because she’s such a great artist and really on a lot of levels I feel like she could be the last great jazz singer, which is kind of disheartening a little bit. But just her sensibilities – her ideas about music, how she approaches her music, the notes that she sings, her inflections; I think she’s really a huge light for us right now. Hopefully there will be someone that’ll come and grab the torch from her, but I don’t really hear it yet, so she’s the one right now.”
After the night was over, I was looking for more stuff to get into. It was so late, there was nothing else happening, but the show was so great that I didn’t want to stop listening to music. I wanted to keep going. So I went home and literally put on my headphones and kept rocking.
I told him, “Man, I’m not trying to make any money, I’m just having fun.” He told me that with my voice and talent, I should be making money doing it. But it came in one side and kind of just hung up there somewhere. Then when I was 18, he called me up and said that I had to write a song. I was like yeah right, because at that time I was preparing to be an All-American basketball player. I laughed about it but didn’t pursue it. He called back a few more times, each with more urgency and persuasion. Finally he told me he had made a bet that he could cut a record as good as a Motown record that we’d have on the radio within three months. He had seen a commercialism in me that I had not even seen. I just knew that people would shout, clap, and yell “Yay Mike” when I sang at the jazz supper clubs.
t is first and foremost a documentary, produced by digital media professionals, telling the life, music, and philosophy of the great Roy Ayers. It is also art, talented artists who use their gifts to express themselves through canvas, murals, and other mediums capturing the spirit of Roy Ayers. It is also performance, bring together Roy Ayers himself with talent musicians to perform live at venues across the country.
Album Preview of Jazz vocalist and multi Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon joins hip-hop quartet The Beast to release Freedom Suite: a 10-track collection of creative reflections on jazz and hip-hop. Freedom Suite will be available for FREE download, digitally released on Okayplayer’s jazz inspired channel, The Revivalist, on October 26, 2010.