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.
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.
But thanks to Twitter I can get real-time results on them and flip to see performers I like. But, seriously I don't watch award shows. I went started boycotting them in 1989. I've watched two all the way through since then, the Source Awards the year Suge Knight dissed Puffy (yeah he was Puffy back then) and last years BET Awards in hopes of a Michael Jackson tribute, which was awful and to see Maxwell after his long hiatus (he was last). In fact I probably haven't been really excited about music award shows since MJ's Thriller days and Prince's Purple Rain days. What I found is that the people that I like never won and the shows were always too long and showed categories that I had absolutely NO interest in. As for 1989, two egregious things happened that turned me off FOR GOOD!
actually arrived on a day when I was not feeling well. Having been knocked out
by pain relievers the UPS delivered me from my near comatose state and
delivered Shibuya. Here’s my track by
Way – The vocal is light and breezy, mixed with the instrumentation and I can’t
really tell what all was used, it makes for an overall breezy track. Based on the lyrics and again the music you
feel like no matter what’s going on in the city, you still love losing your way
Station – this has a very metropolitan sound and puts me in the mind of Weather
Report brand fusion. The tune conveys a hustle and bustle, an energy that makes
you want to go do something.
Really a continuation of the previous tune. I didn’t pay attention to the track
listing so thought it was the same song that had changed up a bit. The
transition is flawless.
the Ueno Park – The rain sound is a nice back drop. This isn’t a dreary rain
song, but more of a comforting kick back rain sound. Again I’m hearing fusion.
what hear on this one is fusion meets Jack Your Body era house.
Night – This is a party song. I love the
vocal, the house style beat and keys. You can see the party going on and it’s
the part of the party where everybody is feeling it, dancing and enjoying the
Under the Neon Moon – this is the on the
way out the party transition.
– This is a perfect wind down song, it has a jazz flavor but not smooth jazz,
not fusion either. This is the sit down
and kick your shoes off exhale song.
Shrine – this sounds like a shift. There’s a sound in that sounds either like a
bell or breaking glass I’m not sure. There is a mystery to this cut and I want
to know what it is.
Dancing – I don’t know anything about Asian musical tradition, but I feel like
some of it might be conveyed here. This
also sounds theatrical when those string sounding keys come in.
Garden – this conveys rejuvenation, like the sun is coming up and everything is
waking up to meet it.
Train – on the first pass this sounded like a Monday morning time to go get it
as I listened a few more times it sounds more like it is about focus on any day
of the week.
in another life – the vocals make sense on this and I like how they are layered
near the end.
– like the “horn” sounds. The title
conveys, departure from the city as well as departure from this musical experience.
– I will say that Nicolay is dead wrong for this one. Dead wrong because it’s a
teaser. I was feeling it, it was swinging, and the vocalist was swinging. This
should have been a full length track.
instrumental versions of Lose Your Way, Saturday Night and Wake Up In Another
read any press on this I knew it was coming out and the only expectation that I
had was if this was a Nicolay project that it would be good and it is. What makes it good is that: 1)There are no
songs to skip through on this CD. It’s
tightly produced, the songs are not opus length but are a length that is
enjoyable (with the exception of Shibuya Epilogue, which was too short), and
the number of tracks is right. 2)The CD tells a story. For me it tells a story that is in a certain
locale but could be in any metropolitan area. The story is told in two parts
and the two parts work together to make a whole. 3)I believe that the sound is
cross cultural, cross genre and cross generational. It could be listened to in the home, car or iPod
of anyone and finally 4)the vocalist Carlitta Durand. What I hear is that she is
comfortable singing in more than a few musical genres. We got a taste of what
she can do on Shibuya, let’s hope we get more.
If you have
any rotation right now, I recommend Shibuya: City Lights, Vol. 2 for heavy
I don’t know if there was journalistic hype about the
project, but I know I was hyped about the release of Kamaal The Abstract. Q-Tip is a musician not just an MC, not just a
lyricist, not just a producer. We all
get to hear his musicality on this set.
Here’s my track by track opinion.
1)Feelin – this cut is heavy on the guitar and keys with
about a one minute rap vocal. The remaining vocals are all sung by Q-Tip and
female background vocalists with a solid musical arrangement. The sound is hip-hop in the beginning but
becomes more groove as it goes on.
2)Do You Dig You – all vocals on this cut are sung and at
about three minutes in the song becomes all about the music particularly the
flute by Gary Thomas. Upbeat with the synth bass making the cut hip-hop in
sound but the remaining instrumentation has more of a fusion sound.
3)A Million Times – all vocals are sung and there are only
two phrases “We’re gonna do it again and again.” “I thought I told you a
million times.” The song is really about the guitar, the keyboards, the groove.
4)Blue Girl – all vocals are sung, with a brief verse and
repeats of the chorus. The feature on this cut is the piano.
5)Barely in Love – Q-Tip and the female vocalist singing
about a girl and being barely in love. The cut has more of a rock vibe. This
one is made for live performance. (Did
see the Jimmy Fallon performance but unable to pull it)
6)Heels – this song immediately put me in mind of early 90’s
Red Hot Chili Peppers. Q-Tip performs a rap vocal about high heels and the
sexiness of said heels on a girl in different settings. The refrain, “put your
heels on girl, put them heels on lady.” Love the energy of this one.
7)Abstractionisms – Q-tip delivers “abstractionisms” on a
brief rap vocal but the cut is really all about THE alto saxophonist Kenny
8)Caring – a sweet short song that features more of the
female vocalists than Tip.
9)Even If It Is So – My favorite track on the CD is about a
girl doing what she has to do to get educated and make things better for
herself and her daughter. Really nice groove on this one.
10)Make it Work – This is the only cut in which Q-Tip
delivers a full-on rap vocal that is longer than a minute or two. This is most hip-hop of all the cuts on the
CD and could have easily fit on the last ATCQ CD.
My first spin through Kamaal the Abstract was cool. I wasn’t
hot, hot for it I believe because I’ve spent the last year listening to The
Renaissance which had a much bigger sound.
Kamaal the Abstract for lack of a
better term is “tighter”. The tracks are more intimate, more out of a jazz
tradition and more about Q-Tips musicianship and the musicianship of the
artists featured on this project. If the
listener is looking for a hip-hop record I would say, it is hip-hop but not
like anything we hear right now. He’s
not Jeezy, Weezy, Ye nor Hov and this CD is void of all things autotune,
thankfully. The shelving of the project was mind boggling to me but in the end the
timing turned out to be fortuitous. There is a major vacuum in hip-hop. Outside
of the hot boys mentioned above (of which Jay is the only one I listen to)
there is a dire lack of creativity, artistry and musicianship. As such hip-hop
fans of “a certain age” like me and fans who just don’t like all that’s being
played on traditional radio right now are left wanting. That said, Kamaal the Abstract is welcome
relief, one that will stay in the rotation.
Good music is good music, that’s what Q-tip is delivering on this one.