Stevie Wonder is the prototype of the modern day one-man-band. From Shuggie Otis to Prince to Lenny Kravitz to D’Angelo, the 22 time Grammy Award winner is the zenith of celestial DIY music. From 1971’s Where I’m Coming From to 2005’s A Time 2 Love, Wonder has written, produced, arranged and played nearly every instrument on every song, with very few exceptions. While a majority of those instruments are an assortment of keyboards and synthesizers, Wonder’s prowess on the drums is especially unique.
If it weren’t for playing the drums, you may have never heard of the name Marvin Gaye — well, at least maybe not as prolifically on Motown at least. In the early years of Motown Gaye had lost himself as a frustrated student, armed serviceman, dishwasher, and vocalist. By 1959, Marvin was recording as a part of Harvey and the Moonglows on Chess Records, but the group quickly disbanded with Harvey Fuqua and Marvin moving to Detroit to work with Gwen Gordy at Anna Records.
This past week has not only been a great one for music, but also tons of videos from some of our favorite artists. Check out below for some must-see media from Robert Glasper & Derrick Hodge, Christian Sands & Kris Bowers, and Ric’key Pageot & Dessy Di Lauro!
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.
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.
EJ Strickland is bringing together an incredible line-up of musicians for a two-night tribute to the great Stevie Wonder at Zinc Bar this week. Strickland has made a name for himself both as a part of Ravi Coltrane’s long standing quartet as well as in collaboration with his brother Marcus Strickland. EJ put together the arrangements for the show and will be playing drums alongside his group of seasoned musicians.
Multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer, Louis Cato is a ball of versatility and a special brand of bright. Armed with perfect pitch and a precocious thirst for sound that first surfaced in him as a child, Cato is next in the lineage of ear, aesthetic, and outright skill – forces that have combined in the past to offer stylistic progenitors Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller – that have helped bring the sound of the bass from the side to the fore.
London’s legend of the mic, Omar Lye-Fook will be joined by one of our favorite beatboxing, producing talents, Taylor McFerrin, for a free duo performance at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn this coming Saturday (6/2/12). McFerrin has been gaining buzz from the release of his debut EP Broken Vibes which features his unique blend of beatboxing, musicianship, and production.
Between projects with Quantic, TM Juke, The Park, as well as her own solo projects, Alice Russell has carved out a unique space of artistry that defies the traditional confines of genre. Though many compare her with the growing English soul scene, Russell remains confident that she can’t be confined to just one genre or specification. She is ever-changing and evolving, navigating her projects with the prowess of a veteran musician. Read on as she runs us through the ins and outs of the life of a thriving vocalist.
I think from a pure writing standpoint, Synthesis is the best overall written album that I’ve done. I think my songwriting has gotten better; that’s my perception. From an artistic, musical point of view, we may have gone a little into making the record that you make with those musicians as opposed to a record that is my particular artistic perception in terms of the sound of it. If I had to do Synthesis over, there are some things I’d do different in terms of the sound of it, because it goes a bit into the generic, because you have all these musicians and they play what they play.
E.J. Strickland brings a slew of artists and musicians together in tribute to Stevie Wonder taking place on Feb. 11th at The Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.
Bobby Womack is the type of person that when you sit down to interview him, you get both a lesson on the history of the music business and a unique insider’s view from someone who has been to the top and back. Questions weren’t prompted during the interview. Memories became stories, stories became lessons, and lessons became new stories. Womack promised one thing only during the interview and that was his perception of the Truth.
There was a time not so long ago when artists were as concerned about their performance, their persona, and their outfits, in addition to the funky grooves that they were sending out into the airwaves. The Revivalist shares with you our favorite images of funk fashion royalty, artists who have carried trends over the decades, and pioneered aesthetic choices and started trends, while simultaneously audaciously declaring their identity through their choice of clothing.
Hey Yall! It’s about that time again. The Friday Round Up is here to let you know all the of new awesome interviews, album reviews, and album streams we have posted this week. Here’s all the funky thangs that went down this week.
Dennis Coffey has racked up an arsenal of fire recordings through the span of the past five decades, and now at 70, he’s still going strong. The former Funk Brother once electrified Motown’s library with funky guitar licks, and his trusty wah-wah, appearing on tracks for Valerie Simpson (Ashford & Simpson), Funkadelic. Coffey was the first white performer on the popular show Soul Train, and his now infamous song “Scorpio” once was set at #6 on the Billboard Pop Chart, an amazing feat for an instrumental record.
At 18, Stevie Wonder was still deeply invested in the hit machine known as Motown. It was, however, just that—a machine. There was an understanding that the process of music making was a mechanical endeavor—ostensibly manufactured. Under this theory of production, artists vanquished much, if not all of their creative freedoms for the sake of well-tested, radio friendly records. For Stevie, this changed in 1970 when he, at the markedly young age of 20, leveraged his own potential, gaining the first Motown contract proving complete artistic autonomy.
Who doesn’t love a celebrity even more when they give back to their community? Stevie Wonder has teamed up with Ten O’Clock Classics (TOC), an amazing organization that brings classical concerts to non-traditional settings, as well as provides free music lessons and musical outings to low-income youth. Stevie Wonder has autographed a beautiful Steinway piano, up for auction now, to benefit TOC programs.
It’s Friday and it’s spring and it’s Stevie Wonder’s birthday! It is officially time to celebrate. Stevie Wonder is a beloved icon and musical genius who has brought us countless album (26 to be exact) of vibrant and joyous R&B and pop music. To honor Wonder’s continuing musical legacy, we gathered some of our favorite Stevie clips. Enjoy!
Esperanza only began playing the bass when she was 15, was not particularly challenged by school, and through some trials and tribulations arrived at Berklee on a full scholarship. Her hunger, intrinsic musicianship, and authentic artistry are what have allowed her to bring jazz back into the forefront of our minds. There is something profound to be said about a person who can play a jazz version of Stevie Wonder, appeal to the hip-hop generation, and serenade President Obama.
Jesse Fischer grew up with parents of a mixed background… musically that is. With the classical influence of his father and more rock oriented influence of his mother, Jesse grew into something most musicians (and anyone for that matter) dream of; he is sensitive. Sensitive to other musicians and a sensitive multi-instrumentalist, but most of all sensitive to the music. It is rare to find a musician so in tune with his own ambitions and abilities as Jesse, so without further adieu, Jesse Fischer…