by dklee13 Categories: Concerts, ReviewsTags: "She Bangs The Drums", A$AP Ferg, Afrika Bambaataa, alabama shakes, Alice Smith, Allah-Las, allen stone, Aloe Blacc, Alphabetics, Alune George, Audio Push, Babies On Acid, BABY BABY, Bad Religion, Banks, Banoffee, Beat Connection, beck, Ben Folds, Biffy Clyro, Black Uhuru, Blood Orange, boston, Broken Bells, Bush, Cat Stevens, chance the rapper, charles bradley, Chet Faker, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Chvrches, City and Colour, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cloud Control, Cloud Nothings, Cocorosie, Cody Chesnutt, Cold War Kids, concert photos, concert review, concert video, Crosses †††, Cults, De Lux, Dead Dawn, dead sara, denitia and sene, Doe Eye, Doja Cat, Dr. Madd Vibe, Dreamland, Drowners, Dum Dum Girls, Ed Sheeran, Elle Varner, Elvis Costello, Empire of the Sun, eric hutchinson, Escape The Fate, Faith Evans, Fall Out Boy, Falling In Reverse, Fartbarf, Fascinator, FEA, Fear, Feathers, Fire In the Hamptons, Fishbone, Forest Swords, Fractures, Future Islands, Gaslamp Killer, Gateway Drugs, Gavin Turek, geographer, girl talk, Glass Battles, Glen Hansard, Goapele, GOAT, GoldLink, Gossling, gramps morgan, Green Gerry, Grouplove, HAIM, Heartless Bastards, Holy Child, Hopeless Jack and the Handsome Devil, Hopeless Jack and The Handsome Devil (1st Performance), Hopeless Jack and the Handsome Devil (2nd Performance), Houndmouth, how to dress well, illumination road, Incubus, iron & wine, Jackson Browne, Jagwar Ma, James Supercave, Jamestown Revival, Jhene AIko, Jill Scott, Joe Fletcher, Joe Pug, Jonathan McReynolds, Josiah Bell, Julian Casablancas, Kevin Lyttle, Kid Cudi, king, King James & The Special Men, Ky-Mani Marley, Lake Street Dive, Lana Del Rey, Laura Mvula, Lecrae, Lenny Goldsmith, Leslie Stevens, Level & Tyson, Linda Perhacs, Linkin Park, Little Dragon, Little Hurricane, Little Wings, LiV Warfield, Lo-Fang, Local Natives, Lorde, Lucinda Williams, Machine, Matt Kivel, Matthewdavid, Maxwell, MØ, Merle Haggard, Metronomy, Midi Matilda, Miniature Tigers, Mod Sun, Morning Parade, Moses Sumney, motorhead, Mr. Little Jeans, Myron & E, Mystery Skulls, Mystic Braves, Nathaniel Rateliff, New Politics, Nick Waterhouse, Nikki Lane, nina diaz, Nina Persson, Ok Go, omar souleyman, Outkast, owenstone, Pastilla, Peanut Butter Wolf, Pet Shop Boys, Pete Molinari, Phantogram, Pharrell Williams, Phebe Starr, Phosphorescent, PINS, pixies, Quantic, Queens of the Stone Age, Rachel Goodrich, Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls, Ray Campi, Reignwolf, Riff Raff, Rise Against, Rival Sons, robert glasper, Roman GianArthur, Rose Quartz, Rudimental, Run The Jewels, Scars on 45, setlist, Sex Stains, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Shelby Lynne, shy girls, Silver Hands, Slum Village, snarky puppy, snoop dogg, Solander, SPEAK, Speedy Ortiz, Stacy Barthe, Strangers You Know, Sturgill Simpson, System of a Down, Takeoffs & Landings, Talib Kweli, Tank, Tashaki Miyaki, Terrace Martin, the 1975, The Afghan Whigs, The Barr Brothers, The Briefs, The Damned, The Dandy Warhols, The Electric Sons, The Far West, The Filthy Souls, The Futures League, The Grizzled Mighty, The Head and the Heart, The Internet, The Killing Lights, The Kills, The Kokoro, The Lone Bellow, The Men, The Mercy Beat, The Naked and Famous, the national, The Pharcyde, The Preatures, The Record Company, The Replacements, The Scandals, The Slightlys, The Stepkids, The Strypes, The Tontons, The War On Drugs, The Warlocks, the weeks, The Wild Reeds, The Zombies, Thruster!, THURZ, Tiara Thomas, Tkay Maidza, together PANGEA, Tokyo Police Club, Tom Odell, Torches, Valerie June, Walk The Moon, Wanda Jackson, We Met Tomorrow, White Lies, Woodkid, Woods, Wynonna Judd, YG, Young the Giant, Yuna, Yusuf Islam
I’ve been working in the music biz for while a now, and I’ve been in studio sessions before, but it’s never been anything special. Most of the time, it’s vocalists overdubbing, or a bunch of people sitting on couches listening to mixes. It’s not like I’ve ever been in a studio session when “genius” happens. I’ve never sat in a studio when a studio engineer pushes the “record” button and some music-savants just jam out their ideas playing off of each other.
Well … I guess I can cross something off of my bucket-list.
Terrace Martin had invited me to his performance at The Troubadour when he opened for Snarky Puppy. Like his gig at the Del Monte Speakeasy, he had Grammy-Award winning pianist/producer Robert Glasper join him on-stage for part of his set.
After Snarky Puppy had finished their concert, I tried looking for Terrace to congratulate him on a killer set. Since I couldn’t find him, I shot him a text to thank him for hooking me up with a free ticket to the show. As soon as I started the ignition of my car, he shot me a text back to meet up with him at the studio where he and Robert were working. It was a weekday, and I had a conference call at 10am, but I couldn’t pass this up.
I plunked the address he sent over in my GPS. I must have rolled-through two stop signs, rushing to get to the studio. When I walked into the building, the people at the front desk asked me which session I was there for. I didn’t know, so I texted Terrace.
Holy …. I kinda lost my breath.
I opened the door of the studio, and Terrace greets me. He tells me that I can snap some pics, but that I absolutely couldn’t shoot any video. I didn’t argue.
I scanned the room and saw Robert Glasper to my left, and Thundercat to my right. My brain started hurting just thinking about the music IQ in the room. I’ll admit … I was a little intimidated, so I relegated myself as a silent observer. I had no problem with that.
I spent the next two hours watching these gents “work” in the studio. I got to see them joke around, talk smack … oh, damn, they sure can talk some smack … and, most importantly, play. Watching Thundercat play a riff with such maddening speed and precision that he had to stop to stretch out his hands afterwards. Watching Terrace tell the studio engineer to adjust the mics on the drum kit because of how hard Ron played the drums, then to watch Ron smash the set with violent abandon. Watching both Robert and Terrace lose themselves in the music that they were playing. Oh, man. It was truly an experience that I’ll not soon forget.
When I looked at my watch it was already 2am. Lord knows I would have killed to stay in that studio until the sun came up, but damn that 10am conference call.
As I got up to leave, I addressed the group by thanking them for letting me sit in. I then decided to keep talking and mentioned that, “I wish I was a studio-rat like you guys” (you know … like a gym-rat? …. someone who can’t leave a certain place because of their dedication) … I should have kept my mouth shut.
Thundercat look up from his bass and said, “Rat? Are all musicians rats, now.” Everybody started laughing. I started blushing. Then Robert and Terrace chimed in with the same ribbing. I felt like a fool, but at the same time it also felt somewhat endearing. I sheepishly thanked them all again, and bounced.
When I got to my car, it came to me. I should have said “studio-cat”…
When Terrace Martin invited me to his gig at The Troubadour opening for Snarky Puppy, lord knows that I couldn’t turn that down, especially when he mentioned that Robert Glasper would be joining him. Terrace Martin, Snarky Puppy AND Robert Glasper in one night at a legendary performance venue? Hell, yeah, I was going.
I arrived at the venue relatively early. Knowing that it was a sold out show, waiting in line would be the only way I could get up front with my camera to take pictures. After all, the lighting in The Troubadour makes it a tough venue to shoot in. Unfortunately, for me, there were about a hundred other people already in line by the time I got in line.
There isn’t much I can say about how dope Terrace’s set was. After all, I’ve already seen him perform twice this year (once at the Virgil in January and again at the Del Monte Speakeasy in February), and I’ve already preached how seriously amazing his live shows have been, so I won’t get into here. His music, and his musicality in interpreting jazz classics, is what modern jazz should aspire to be. As far as I’m concerned, he’s an ambassador of the West-Coast Jazz movement that I’ve noticed gained traction recently.
Though I usually never convert my photos to black and white, I had to in this instance. The lighting was so low in the venue, the only way I could get some of the images I liked to really pop was to convert them. Though I’m much more partial to having the photos presented in their natural light, without some really high end (and expensive!) photo gear, this was the best I could do. I took pretty decent pics of Cody Chesnutt’s performance at the Troubadour, but I was up in the front for that gig. I guess, with the gear that I’ve got, I’ll have to get up closer to the stage for good pics. You live and you learn.
It feels just like yesterday that Terrace Martin released his last album, the sublime “3ChordFold”. But ever the relentless, working musician, you knew that he had more up his sleeve, ready to share with the world. His latest release, “3ChordFold Pulse” is a follow up worthy of some serious attention.
Not only does he once again call upon the help of some of the highest caliber musicians around (Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy, Thundercat, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, 9th Wonder and Ethan Farmer, just to name a few), but the album is a musical offering that, at least upon my initial listen, seamlessly covers the musical spectrum.
From the jazz elements in the title track “Pulse” (ft. Preston Harris) and “Its Yours” (ft. Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy and Thundercat), to the soulful R&B vibes in “You and Me” (ft Preston Harris), “Come and Get Me” (ft. Wyann Vaughn) and All The Things (ft. Don Dolla), to the surprising blues offering in “Lets Go Get Stoned” (ft. Snoop Dogg and Tone Trezure) to the jazz infused hip-hop of “Poetic Justice [Live in New York] (with Kendrick Lamar) and “Never Have To Worry” [Live in New York] (with Snoop Dogg) … this album has a little bit of everything.
Perhaps my favorite track on this release is Terrace’s live rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly” which was recorded at the Del Monte Speakeasy, a show I was privileged to have been at, and features otherworldly performances from not only Terrace, but also Robert Glasper, Ethan Farmer, Marlon Williams and Ronald Bruner. It’s an amazing recording. I’m lucky that I’ll be able to purchase it to have in my collection for life.
Hey, Terrace? When are you dropping your albums on WAX?!?!? I NEED!
For some reason, I am unable to embed the media player into this post, so CLICK THIS LINK TO GET REDIRECTED TO THE DJBOOTH WEBSITE TO LISTEN TO THE ALBUM IN FULL.
Earlier this month, I read a great article on LA Weekly’s website about the resurgence of jazz music in Los Angeles. It was a terrific article that opened my eyes to new venues and music to keep an eye on in the Los Angeles area (I’m definitely going to check out The Piano Bar when the West Coast Get Down are playing and pick up a copy of Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic” once it’s released). But even without reading the article, I’d already been trying to learn more about the Los Angeles Jazz scene, and my conduit had been Terrace Martin.
In honor of Black History Month, Terrace decided to gather a few friends to join him at the Del Monte Speakeasy to celebrate the music of some of the great, black musicians/composers. The musicians who turned up to share the stage with Terrace were, to put it simply, legend … wait for it … ary.
Ethan “Ebassman” Farmer, Ronald Bruner, Marlon Williams and Robert Glasper formed the “house band” and throughout the night others jumped on stage to jam. Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who is a very talented spoken word artist, and Myka 9, a member of Freestyle Fellowship (whose album “Innercity Griots” is still, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest, and the first, jazz infused hip-hop albums ever produced) free-styled a song. Kamasi Washington, who Terrace acknowledged was one of the main reasons why Jazz was alive in Los Angeles, joined for a song. Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist, Ben Wendel, and the incomparable, modern day drumming legend Chris Dave stepped onto the stage to play.
I’m not going to wax poetic about the musicality of each of the players, and the amazing music that I witnessed that evening (you can see and hear it in the video highlights below), but I will say the experience that night was something special.
Being up at the front of the stage for the gig, I could overhear the playful banter and ribbing among the players that made the performance that much more engaging. Ron and Robert kept going at each other about their Grammy wins, with Ron jokingly telling Robert that he was going to make him sound better. After Marlon played a quick lick of a theme from “What You Won’t Do For Love”, Terrace and Robert goaded him, albeit reluctantly, into the spotlight for a solo moment to demonstrate his playing chops. While praising his sound man, Terrace honestly told the audience the band hadn’t sound checked earlier in the evening because they were eating, drinking and watching the NBA all-star game. Ron Bruner stepped up to the mic to freestyle sing, after which he told Robert, “See, I told you I’d make you sound better.”. The lighthearted atmosphere of the session kept the evening fresh. When other musicians took over the reigns on certain instruments, or took breaks, they stepped into the crowd with a drink to watch the magic that was happening on stage as well.
With extraordinarily skilled musicians taking turns to play on themes throughout the evening, I imagined that the atmosphere that night was something like the New York jazz scene during World War II where and when legends like Ben Webster, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie outdid each other on a nightly basis. In the packed and humid venue, with music swirling and dancing in my ears, I lost myself to the genius that was present and playing in the room. A terrific evening of music with an incredible, and practically unbelievable, roster of talent. Something that I wish happened more often. Especially in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.
If you are visiting Los Angeles, and music is your thing, hitting up a show at the Troubadour (or another iconic performance venue) should be on your list of things to do. If you are a Los Angeles resident, and you haven’t been to the Troubadour … shame on you. I kid … kind of.
With a maximum capacity of 400, the Troubadour has hosted music royalty like Elton John, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, Radiohead, Prince, Nine Inch Nails, and the list goes on. Hell, even John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were kicked out of the club for heckling the Smothers Brothers back in the 70s. Needless to say, the tiny, iconic venue has a lot of history. As soon as I heard that The Robert Glasper Experiment was playing a gig there the Friday before the 2014 Grammy Awards, I immediately purchased a ticket.
Now, I was lucky enough to catch his performance at the Roxy in 2013, so I knew that it was a going to be a show filled with musicianship (and a special guest or two) that couldn’t be missed. That show at the Roxy was amazing, and my only regret was that I didn’t have a camera good enough to take pictures in a low lighted setting. That experience made me invest in a new camera that could.
Armed with a capable camera (you can check out some of my concert pics at my Instagram account [@Methodman13]), I got to the Troubadour with the hopes of staking out some prime real estate for the show, only to be told by the bouncers that I couldn’t’ bring my pocket sized, point and shoot camera into the venue. I could respect the policy for the show as they apparently were filming the evening for Robert’s forthcoming documentary titled “Of Dreams To Come: Robert Glasper” [To learn more about that project, head over to the website www.ofdreamstocome.com for more info]. Of course, the first thing I noticed when I got inside were people who had snuck their cameras into the venue, using the their flash no less. A bit of a bummer, as I literally had front row “seats”; but I learned that if I’m ever asked if I have a camera on my person, I am going to say, “No.” Little white lies never killed anybody, right?
I wasn’t going to let my not being able to bring the camera into the venue put a damper on the evening, and apparently the music gods saw fit to bless me with some great music karma. Let’s see ..
1. For the first time … ever … a group of three taller gentlemen, standing at least 6 feet tall each, offered to move around to give me an unobstructed view of the stage. Yeah, I’m short, and yeah, I totally appreciated that. It was a very cool gesture.
2. As expected, the music was beyond amazing, and special guests like Javier Starks, Algebra Blessett (who sang “Calls”), Wayne Brady (who covered an amazing version of Coldplay’s “Yellow”), Grammy Award winning songwriter PJ Morton (performing a song he co-wrote with Robert called “No Worries”), an amazing vocalist and Grammy nominated artist B. Slade, prolific trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and Malcolm Jamal Warner joining the incomproble Lalah Hathaway to perform a moving and powerful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America”, made the evening’s performance that much more memorable.
3. I stood next to a pair of wonderful ladies who grooved with me throughout the set, even nudging my shoulder when songs hit magic moments of musicality, and who Robert poured drinks to from the stage (more to come on them later).
4. As soon as Robert ended his set, I took a chance, called out his name and asked for the small piece of paper that I noticed was resting on one of his keyboards. That small piece of paper was his “partial setlist”, and he gladly gave it to me.
5. My friend Terrace Martin was at the show, and happened to be on stage at the end of Robert’s set after I received the setlist, and I was personally introduced to him.
6. Robert spent time after the set greeting his fans, friends and family, so I waited until the crowd dispersed a bit before I approached him to ask for his signatures on my three Robert Glasper LPs. I started to apologize for interrupting him, when one of the wonderful ladies, who happened to be standing next to Robert at that moment, looked at him and basically vouched for me. THAT was freaking awesome.
If there are forces that control the destiny of musicians and those who love music, they were definitely watching over me that evening. Word can’t describe my glee when it was all said and done, and it’ll take a lot for the other concerts I plan on going to this year to compare. Hopefully, the music gods will be keeping an eye out on me …
Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard a good concept album. A Concept Album is an album where “all of the musical or lyrical ideas contribute to a single overall theme or unified story.” In this decade (the 2010’s) there have been some solid, highly regarded concept albums that have left their mark: Adrian Young with Ghostface Killah collaboration called Twelve Reasons to Die (a black mafia member who gets betrayed by his lover), Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs (its themes focus on regret and lost youth) and Danny Brown‘s XXX (about growing up, the fall of Detroit, and the impact of drugs on both).
A concept album was even nominated for both Album of Year and Rap Album of The Year at this year’s Grammy Awards (2014), Kendrick Lamar‘s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City” which centers around Kendrick’s life in Compton, California and how he strived to escape it. Each song in the album follows this theme and furthers the story line. As an aside, even though I loved “The Heist”, Kendrick should have won the best rap album award … just sayin’ …
Coincidentally, a producer on Kendrick’s album released a pretty damn good concept album in 2013 as well. His name is Terrace Martin, and the album is titled “3ChordFold”. Terrace is a musician’s musician, who has produced tracks for and worked with artists like Kenrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, 9th Wonder, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, etc.
Though the album is filled with many guest appearances by notable artists (Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop and Lalah Hathaway), Terrace’s songwriting and musical sensibilities shines through with his latest effort, use elements of jazz, soul, R&B and hip-hop, creating an album that is based on a theme of the three types of “loves” one may encounter in the search of their true love: The Freeloader, The Renter and the Buyer.
Everyone can take what they want from the music, but listening to the album in a vacuum, I came up with my own “summary” of the album. Perhaps, I have missed the mark on a song or two, but hey, it’s music. Take from it what you will. You need to listen to it for yourself and make your own determinations.
Set against a strong saxophone line, Ab Soul introduces the idea of the trials of love, and the perils associated in the quest of looking for someone who is not a freeloader, or a renter, but someone who will “buy me out” (Intro). The problems are more fully set forth in the next song which explains the conundrum of when a “circle and a square don’t fit (Triangle Ship). The soft and sultry voice of Wyann Vaughn (the “poetess”) introduces in spoken word the idea of the “The Freeloader” which immediately has Terrace (the “protagonist”) romancing the freeloader with offers of leaving it all behind and taking off with him (Get Away) only to have those hopes shattered when he realizes that the person he is in love with isn’t as into him, as he is her (Something Else).
Still in love with freeloader, the protagonist has his first epiphany, learning that “love changes over time” and in this case, “you don’t call, you don’t text, no love, not even sex,” asking “what I’m supposed to do? Sit around and wait for you?” After the first epiphany, both the freeloader and the protagonist admit and realize that this relationship wasn’t meant to be (No Wrong No Right). Even though the protagonist knows that the freeloader can never be his, he still mourns the loss of the little things from the relationship lost (Watch U Sleep).
The poetess’ voice fades back in, and explains the situation of “The Renter”, where both parties already know “the terms” of the relationship at the outset, as they’ve both signed “the lease”. The protagonist and the renter then sing about the possibility of building a bridge between them, perhaps to erase the renter moniker, but really the renter’s modus operandi is already deeply rooted, and turning the renter into a buyer seems an unlikely scenario (Move On).
In trying to move on from the renter, the protagonist is offered the advise that “love can’t hurt you, it should be motivation” (Motivation), which seems to be taken to heart as the protagonist tells the renter that he doesn’t want to rent, he “just want[s] a happy home”, and he’s willing to do it with “The Buyer” (Happy Home), who will be his “angel” (Angel).
The protagonist then further goes into what qualities it would take for his buyer to have his love (You’re The One). On the outro, the protagonist, in spoken word, professes his love to a potential buyer, and during his preaching of what love means to him, the poetess fades in and completes the thought stating “Freeloaders get expensive, Renters never stay […] but me, I can’t help how I feel […] I’ve signed the final paperwork [.]” The protagonist’s voice then fades back in to join the poetess on “finished up in escrow, I got you baby. Long haul […] Let’s go.”
The album seems to be heading towards a happy ending as the next song is a profession of both parties swearing that they won’t play games with each other’s hearts (I’m For Real), even going a step further by offering words of encouragement with the mantra of “just pray and be patient” (Gone). There is, however, a sense of rough waters ahead as the vocals seem to warn that they are “moving to fast”. Following a wandering instrumental, the music morphs into a cover of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It” which on the one hand could be seen as a reaffirmation of the love that the protagonist has of the buyer, but on the other hand, reading into the lyrics, just who is the “angel in disguise”? Didn’t the protagonist already acknowledge the buyer as his angel? Could it be that the protagonist finds another angel and can’t help but retread the 3ChordFold again?
These days, the consumer predominantly tends to only purchase singles off an album. And though those individual tracks are able to stand alone, sometimes they are much more meaningful when listened to in the entire context of the album as a whole. I think Terrace Martin’s album is an album that needs to be listened to in its entirety if you are to really appreciate the music’s overall sentiment. I’ve told Terrace that his album is an album that should be released on vinyl, not only because I selfishly want to own a copy for myself being a record collector, but also because it’ll force the “buyer” to listen to the entire album without fast forwarding or skipping tracks.
Earlier this year, a friend of mine posted a video clip on Facebook of a performance by a singer named Jose James. I liked what I heard, and started googling him and his music. When I stumbled upon his amazing cover of Freestyle Fellowship’s “Park Bench People”, I nearly lost my mind. I mean, I grew up with “Innercity Griots”, and I have always preached how that that album is in my top 10 list of best and most influential hip-hop albums of all time. What made that album so groundbreaking was how it pushed the limits of hip-hop (at the time), thematically and musically, especially using live jazz instrumentation, courtesy of members from The Underground Railroad (I even got to meet Onaje Murray– who kills it on Freestyle Fellowship’s version of “Park Bench People” in high school once, but that’s another story). Needless to say, I was feeling what Jose James was doing with his music and the fact that he picked one of my favorite hip-hop songs to cover earned him some mad respect.
While I was watching some of the video clips on Youtube, I noticed that Youtube had a tiny little caption in the video description that showed where he would be performing in Los Angeles next. I clicked through the link trying to see how much the tickets were, but apparently the show had sold out. Apparently, it was a KCRW promoted concert, and to my dismay, they had just featured Jose the day before, and tickets for the show sold out immediately. Slightly disheartened, I simply “liked” Jose’s Facebook page for updates on when he’d be in town in the future.
Facebook. Some people can’t stand it. I can’t live without it. About a week after trying to get tickets, I get a notice on FB that a second show had been added. I logged on and purchased tickets. FYI, the ticket for this second show also sold out. Thank you, Facebook.
It had been a tough couple weeks leading up to the show. Work had been overwhelming, and it seemed that everybody I was working with was heading to South By Southwest to work on various projects. I’ve never been to SXSW, so I was a bit envious. But since everyone was in Austin, TX for the music festival, I got a little reprieve from phone calls and emails to enjoy myself for the evening.
When I got to the venue, I picked up my wristband and got stamped at the door. The performance venue was downstairs in a dark basement with low a ceiling. My guest and I roamed the venue looking for a good place to stand, and we ended up basically where we started off, by the entrance, close to the stage right. The show was scheduled to start at 10pm, but the bouncer at the top of the stairs told me that he started around 11 the night before.
The later it got, the smaller our little space got. People kept filing in, and the temperature of the room started rising. You could feel it. Note to self: bring a small handheld fan for the next show I attend there. The air-conditioning was on (so says the venue), but you couldn’t tell.
Close to 11:00pm, the band the took the stage. One by one, the band members took the stage. Kris Bowers (keyboards), Solomon Dorsey (bass), Takuya Kuroda (trumpet) and Richard Spaven (drums). Each member introduced themselves to the audience through solos, and after a good 10 minutes of jazz instrumentals, Jose joined them on stage to sing “It’s All Over Your Body”, the first track of off his latest album . That song is about 5 and a half minutes long, but they jammed out for at least 10 minutes. It seemed to me that the audience truly understood the musicality of the gentlemen on stage. Each of them was truly skilled at their respective craft.
The room was getting hotter and hotter, and if you came in wearing a jacket or a sweater, you weren’t wearing it anymore. You could feel the the body heat coming off of the person standing next to you. You would think that the temperature would be unbearable, but no. Girls were shouting out Jose’s name with each line he sang, and bodies were swaying to the rhythm. If anything, people were sneakily pushing their way towards the stage, immersing themselves in the sweltering heat. The music was that good. No one wanted too leave their spot (at least where I was standing).
Jose has preached his musical root as being set in Jazz. He’s a tremendous “classic” jazz vocalist, as his duet album with Jef Neve, titled “For All We Know”, clearly showcases, but his talent and stylings are so much more that traditional jazz. Like Freestyle Fellowship, he takes a genre and stretches its boundaries.
People have compared vocals to D’Angelo and Bill Withers. People say that he evokes the 70’s soul of Gil Scott Heron. As cliched as it sounds, he’s Jose James. His performance showed me that he is his own style … meaning, if you heard his voice on the radio, you’d probably be able to tell that it’s him and not some other singer.
I usually try to take video clips of a handful of songs of the concert I go to, but after the show I realized that I had only taken clips of three songs. It was the kind of show where you didn’t want to watch it from the tiny screen of a cell phone. I was no more than 15 feet from the stage. I was going to soak it all in with my own eyes. Luckily, the three videos that I did take were of some of the highlight I took away from the show.
I had seen Robert Glasper earlier this year, and it just so happened that the music of “Vanguard”, one of my favorite songs off the album, was written by him. Jose wrote the lyrics. Great song.
Jose covered Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”. A great song. A great voice.
It was 1am when Jose closed his set with “Do You Feel”, and people started to leave. It’s almost understandable. Almost. After all, it was a Wednesday, and people have 9-5 jobs. The show was already over 2 hours. I, technically, have a 9-5 job. BUT he hadn’t played “Park Bench People” yet.
After a bit of cajoling from the faithful who moved forward to take up the space from those who couldn’t hang, Jose came on stage and started to sing a cappella a Marvin Gaye medley of “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me”. What he did with the medley blew my mind. The voice is an instrument, but what he did with his instrument left me amazed. He became the human record player, scatting lines making it sound like a DJ was spinning records.
“What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me”, with their strong social commentary, segued brilliantly into “Park Bench People”, a song about the ravages of homelessness. He continued the scat passages of “Park Bench People” like he did with the medley and made those songs … for lack of more poetic words … his bitch. He took a song that I already loved, and left me amazed with his performance. Close to 1:30am, Jose and the band wrapped it up.
I was able to tell Jose before I left that I was amazed by his set, and that there was nothing I appreciated more in the world than good music, but upon retrospect the concert itself was a one of a kind experience. To experience that kind of musicianship, in that venue, with the heat, and skin, and vibe, excitement, and movement … Before I left him and his band alone, I was able to get Jose and Takuya autograph my 12” single of “Park Bench People”.
They say that listening to good music is like having sex. On March 13, 2013, in the crowded, sweltering basement of the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice Beach, I left a concert drenched in my own sweat (and probably the sweat of others), my feet and legs aching from the physical exertion of standing for over two hours. I was physically and emotionally spent, but absolutely in awe of the performance that I was lucky enough to catch. When I got to my car, I sat there smoking a cigarette just to relax for a moment.
Yeah … I needed it.
I’ve always prided myself in being a jazz aficionado. I’ve tried to educate myself in the history (I’ve watched Ken Burns’s documentary twice) and cultural significance (I wrote my senior Anthropology paper on the influence of Jazz Music on society and culture) of Jazz Music.
I don’t listen to much radio these days, and the music that I “discover” tends to be through word of mouth. I’m a Jill Scott fan, and one day she posted a tweet that caught my attention:
Now, I had heard good things about Robert Glasper (I knew that he was nominated for a 2013 Grammy), but I really didn’t pay too much attention to his music, so this tweet caught my attention. I mean, Jill Scott is so incredibly talented, that if another musician were to give her musical fits, that musician MUST be as, or more, talented than she.
I started pulling up some video from YouTube, and was instantly hooked. It was like a modern day version of Guru’s Jazzamatazz albums. I noticed in one of the YouTube videos a link to purchase tickets to an upcoming show he was to have at the Roxy, and with the Grammy’s that same weekend, I thought it may be a good idea to purchase a couple of tickets to catch the his show. After all, his latest album “Black Radio” had tons of features on it, and who knew how many musicians may have decided to swing through that evening.
I went to the show with a friend, and I’m glad I bought tickets ahead of time I smirked a little bit when the people in front of me in the box office line were told that tickets had sold out.
We got inside while DJ Shafiq was spinning, and were relaxing comfortably when Taylor McFerrin took the stage. It was my first time listening to Taylor McFerrin’s music. He’s a talented producer/vocalist who is signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder Label. His show consisted of a freestyle improvisation where he riffed on a vocal pattern, stored it in his computer module, and looped it while playing keys or singing over the looped elements. All of a sudden, he started to sing Bobby McFerrin’s “Thinkin’ About Your Body”. I mentioned it to my friend in passing. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized he was Bobby McFerrin’s son. LOL.
After Taylor’s set, The Robert Glasper Experiment took the stage.
The set was amazing. I do not, unfortunately, know all of Robert’s music by heart (yet), but I think that they MUST have played the following songs, because the featured artist’s came on stage to perform as well:
Bilal: “Letter To Hermoine”
Bilal and Lupe Fiasco: “Always Shine”
LaLah Hathway: “Cherish The Day”
Ledisi: “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)
And although they weren’t featured on any of the tracks on “Black Radio”, Marsha Ambrosious and Elzhi (of Slum Village) stepped up to the stage to perform as well. Ms. Ambrosious was kind enough to snap a picture of me after her set.
The vibe and setting in the Roxy was intense. Whenever the band started going off an a jazz riff, I kept thinking to my self, “This is what it must have felt like to be at a John Coltrane or Miles Davis show, back in the day.” People were entranced. The music enraptured.
The Robert Glasper Experiment performed with an intensity and focus that is impossible to measure. The beats were on point. The solos amazed. The performance was brilliance animated. Here are a few snippets.
And the kicker was that it was all accessible. Though Jazz is the foundation for American black music, people seem to lack a certain appreciation for it. This evening, the people in the audience ate it up with a spoon. Maybe it was because all of the guest artists made it seem to be more of an R&B or Neo/Soul show, but at the heart of it, it was all jazz. Pure, unadulterated jazz put through an R&B filter. The results? Amazing.
The Robert Glasper Experiment won a Grammy the following night. I’m glad I got to experience the music before the win.