Produced by Boi-1da with additional production by Terrace Martin, Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment just dropped a track on Youtube … and this shit is #FIRE! Continue reading
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.
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.