Will start with this:
Spend some time with this:
And end where the spirit leads me.
Will start with this:
Spend some time with this:
And end where the spirit leads me.
Thanks to WCLK I learned of the Schemes and Dreams Foundation benefit concert on May 5. The featured performer for the evening was the Robert Glasper Experiment. At last I would finally get to see Glasper and the group in action after missing the opportunity to do so at Jazz Fest last year.
About the Benefit
Schemes and Dreams “is a 501(c)(3) based in Atlanta, Georgia that teaches our youth the value of nourishing their creative outlet while also creating a path to wellness and personal success. We provide programs for at-risk youth that avidly support them in formulating progressive schemes to follow and become their dreams.” The audience was able to enjoy the fruits of the foundation’s music program in the form of Jazz Future, a group of high school students.
Jazz Future played a short set featuring a few standards and closed with a lively take on Roy Hargrove’s Strasbourg/St. Denis. Following Jazz Future were the Be-Hip All Stars. A collective of musicians who are all artists on Be-Hip Records. Standout performances from the collective came from Akeem Marable on saxophone and Lester Walker on trumpet. The collective closed with a nice rendition of Donald Byrd’s Alter Ego.
The Robert Glasper Experiment entered the stage with Glasper thanking the audience for supporting Black Radio while making jokes about his belly, the Best R&B Album Grammy awarded to the group for the album, and how people think that he has all the artists that appeared on the album in his pocket. What we found out on this evening, was that it doesn’t matter who this group has in its company, it can play with anyone and play anything.
Set List (as I recall it)
All I Need (Radiohead)
Think Twice (Donald Byrd/Erykah Badu)
No Church in the Wild (Jay-Z, K West, F Ocean)
Cherish the Day (Sade)
I think I’m In Love (Unknown title and artist)
Ah Yeah (Glasper/Musiq/C Michele)
All Matter (Glasper/Bilal)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
Letter to Hermione (D Bowie/Glasper/Bilal)
Encore -Say Yes (Floetry)
This set list is an excellent representation of what the Robert Glasper Experiment is about, a cross genre musical exploration, with a jazz foundation. All the songs were at once recognizable, but were interpreted to be more funky, more mellow, more jazzy or more striking than the original. I loved every single minute of the performance but was particularly enthralled with their interpretations of No Church in the Wild, Cherish the Day and Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Drummer Chris Dave is THE Funky Drummer that James Brown sang about it. Bassist Derrick Hodge has some bass virtuoso chops and is newly signed to Blue Note Records. Saxophone, Flautist, Vocalist Casey Benjamin can do everything. I’m not much of a vocoder person but Benjamin is GIFTED, he makes it sound sweet and there was all manner of swooning going on during Ah Yeah and Say Yes. Then there’s Glasper.
Glasper sat alone on stage under a red light. His playing, I’d like to describe as waves of sound. Not crashing waves, but continuous, consistent ones. These waves are produced on what sounds like five pianos/keyboards at a time. I did not recognize the songs that he played, what I did recognize was his technical prowess and his touch — waves.
This Experiment is successful. The versatility, skill and musicianship of the band was on full display as evidenced by the set they played. The performance was seamless with some playful bits from Glasper interspersed. What I really enjoyed about this show was that the music was the star. As great as Glasper and his band mates are, the music they played moved the crowd and at the end of the day what else can you ask for.
If the Robert Glasper Experiment comes to your town, queue up for a ticket if you want to hear and experience something that will stretch your musical sensabilities.
For more information about the Robert Glasper Experiment and upcoming tour dates please visit the website.
(Note: Black Radio 2 is complete, some of the artists on the next release include Brandy, Faith Evans, Jill Scott and Dwele. Stay tuned.)
I know a good ticket when I see one and this ticket was a deal. For $40 + all those ridiculous surcharges, on Friday night October 19, the old broad headed to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center for the Ladies of Jazz show featuring Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding.
Last time I went to the Center was four years ago. Having been open only a few months at the time, it was a sparkling facility and it’s just as sparkling now as it was then. The ushers were very friendly and helpful, the bathrooms and common areas were spotless. Upon being seated in the auditorium the crowd seemed to be fairly light. Which was unusual because for a Friday evening, there were no traffic snarls on the way to the venue. Little did I know that there would indeed be a full house. People were just late and not even fashionably late but rudely late. Many arriving halfway through the first artist’s set. Atlanta music patrons, please get it together. The artists deserve better than that.
Terri Lyne Carrington
Drummer, Terri Lyne Carrington and her band opened the show. Her set was short, too short for me which amount to about seven songs some of which were from her most recent release Mosaic. I’d only recently discovered her music after watching a YouTube video with footage from some of the Mosaic recording sessions and finally purchased Mosaic a few weeks ago. Carrington opened her set with “Triad” (from Mosaic) which is a burner. Her band consisted of guitar, acoustic bass, trumpet and saxophone. Moving quickly through her set, other standouts tunes included the third cut “Hopscotch” followed by a cut entitled “Sweden” which she said was inspired buy a recent tour date there. The finale which I cannot name opened with an outstanding drum solo, which from what I hard and saw, makes me really dig her playing, which is her efficiency. There’s no wasted energy, no theatrics, flying drumsticks, sweaty brow and such. Carrington takes command of her kit like a bawse! I’ve heard many a drum solo in my day and have watched drummers play as if they’re trying to kill their kit no such thing with Carrington. She commands while being understated and it works.
The saxophonist, who also played in Spalding’s band is special. Her name is Tia Fuller. She’s released a few albums as a leader and can flat-out blow. I also would have like to hear more from the bassist. The guitarist was efficient and the trumpeter seemed to be having some wardrobe malfunction with her shirt sleeves. I don’t know how she played as I was distracted by her shirt sleeve fidgeting
Upon hearing Carrington live and reading up on her I regret being late to the party. From this show, I’d say she’s a musician first and a performer second. There’s no doubt that more of Terri Lynne Carrington’s music will be added to my library and hopefully additional opportunities to hear her live.
Turns out that the auditorium was full for the second set when bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding hit the stage. I first heard Spalding via @Fave and his former podcast show Friday Favecast. She was all the hype at the time and won a best new artist Grammy in 2011. Though I’m not a music journalist, I am a bit of a music snob and when I hear hype or what I perceive as hype I steer clear. Fast forward to 2012 and he release of Spalding’s Radio Music Society. I “caved” copped it and loved it. She has a sweet vocal and in my ear I hear shades of two important vocalists, Michael Franks and Minnie Ripperton. Divergent, a bit, but to me she references them both in delivery and tone but let’s be clear it’s not just Spalding’s vocals that garner attention, she gets down on the bass, acoustic and electric.
I can honestly say that I’m now a believer. For me the true test is always how a musician comes across live and quite frankly she nailed it. She has the musical and performance chops and is really engaging. Her band was excellent and didn’t miss a beat. Spalding definitely has the chops and will hopefully be around a long time to bless us with her talent. I’d certainly see her again.
If you caught the Atlanta Ladies of Jazz show or have heard these artists live in your town. I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to do so in the comments.
As a matter of fact I know nothing about opera other than what I seen on TV and what my parents told me as a child. I can name who I know on one hand, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Kathleen Battle and Luciano Pavarotti. I’m not an opera hater, quite the contrary, I recall “fake opera singing” quite a bit as a child. I just never carried any enthusiasm for it into adulthood until now early one Sunday I watched with bleary eyes a community program on TV People to People which did a segment on a local opera production called LaRoche by Americolor Opera Alliance. The story was compelling, centered around Joseph Philippe Le Mercier LaRoche, the only black passenger on the Titanic. I called up my always game for something new girlfriend and we set out for LaRoche.
The performance was held at Atlanta Metropolitan College in a classroom. The set was minimal with the chamber (musicians) seated diagonally from the state. The stage was soon lit up upon the arrival of the performers, who in the first scene of Act I were in a Haitian marketplace.
From the opening of Act I to the finale in Act III I really enjoyed all that I heard. The cast members all sounded beautiful in chorus in each of the scenes that featured choral type vocals. There were of course some really standout performances as follows:
Reisha Lauren, soprano – Ni Ni, flower vendor in the market place. Lauren had a beautiful voice and great stage presence Her range could probably break glass. I tapped my girlfriend and said “that girl can SANG.”
Timothy Harper, tenor – President La Conte, Mr. Futrelle, Father Byles. There was no raised seating in the room and I was seated behind some fairly tall people. When I heard his voice, I had to stand up and see from whom that sound was coming. His voice was really moving.
Marlyssa Brooks-Alt, soprano – Juliette LaFargue LaRoche. The clarity and strength of her voice was the perfect vehicle to portray the heartache Juliette must have felt as she first separated from her father to go back to Haiti with her husband, and when she separated from Joseph who went down with the ship.
Wendel Stephens, bass – Joseph LaRoche. Stephens voice was surprisingly beautiful. Not because I had an expectation that he couldn’t sing, but surprising because his voice had “boom”. I guess I expect a big guy to sound like that, yet he was a really average sized guy who produced a really big vocal which was fitting as the lead of the production.
This wasn’t all opera as it had elements of a stage play, parts of which were absolutely hilarious. The farewell dinner with the back and forth between the LaRoche servants as they mocked Madame LaRoche (Joseph’s mother) was dead on and Madame LaRoche had the aristocratic demeanor down pat. There was also a funny scene (if you can imagine) as the Titanic was going down between two drunken card players, who continued to “drink to that” as though the fun they were having at that moment was all that mattered.
LaRoche was a perfect first timer’s Opera. The founder and director of Americolor Opera Alliance, Sharon J. Willis has done a masterful job at bringing opera to the masses in a palatable form, while telling a compelling story. That the company is primarily made up of persons of color made it all the more worthwhile for this first timer and has even piqued my interest to go hear more. What I’d like to see happen with the Alliance is growth and that growth can happen through sponsorship. As such if you’d like to know more about Americolor or become a sponsor, please visit their website.
The intention was to get a little walk, talk and look for a photo to post for the G+365 Project with a girlfriend of mine. While looking for something compelling to photograph, across the street I saw some nice artwork on the side of a building. I looked at the front of the building to see the name of the business which was Decatur CD. Girlfriend and I decided we would stop in for a second on the way back to the office.
Why on earth did we do that?
The place gets no interior design points but it gets MASSIVE points for its music collection and the memories it invokes of the neighborhood record shops of old. They have CDs and Vinyl which collectors will surely enjoy. What made me particularly excited was the jazz collection. Being a worshipper of the Emperor Coltrane, the jazz section was my first stop. A large portion of my Coltrane collection was on cassette, all of which was discarded over a decade ago with the intention of replacing these items by either recording to CD my father’s vinyl (which is massive) or re-buying everything on CD. Digital was never an option for Coltrane as I MUST HAVE the liner notes to see the musicians and as well as the where and when of the recording. Low and behold two of my favorites (well they all are) were in the stack, Impressions and Africa/Brass. Since I didn’t have sufficient funding I hustled my tail back to the office to get my card and went back to make the purchase.
The store owner’s sales records are decidedly old school, notebook and pen. He said, “this is how we kept track of everything before computers.” (He does have a credit card machine). I’ve got no qualms with the way he keeps records as long has he has good music, I’m good.
If you’re in the neighborhood, go check out my man at Decatur CD and forget about leaving there empty handed.
Note: Africa/Brass was my first listening selection. When I heard those first bass notes of the intro, I went into a FULL SHOUT in the car.
Oh, today’s R&B singers should be so nice as Eric Roberson. Now since I’m not a music journalist I can say without shame that I came late to this brother’s music in fact I started listening to him about three years ago. The first song I heard by him was Softest Lips and I nearly passed out when I heard him sing it LIVE about two ears ago. But I digress. Having added Left and Music Fan First to the collection Mister Nice Guy was a no brainer. “Erro” is a guy that really doesn’t require a preview of the album and Mr Nice Guy is no exception. Here’s the track by track breakdown.