Archive for December, 2009
Regina Carter at the Smothers Theater in Malibu at Pepperdine CollegeRegina Carter at the Smothers Theater in Malibu at Pepperdine College
I have been so enamored with strings for such a long time
and it is always a pleasure to encounter individuals who perform at the peak of
their craft. Just a few short weeks ago I was on stage hosting at the Monterey
Jazz Festival with the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars and on violin, the
wonderful Regina Carter!
Tonight she is back to her usual position as a leader and
she brings together an eclectic array of sound and splendor with some wonderful
worldly colors for our musical pallet. Accordion and kora along with bass and
drums are such beautiful compliments to the violin. Sounds and cultures coming
together and uniting in universal language bringing us one-step closer to the
global human experience.
Classical, European and the African Diaspora is just genius
in terms of sound articulation and combined with the rhythms of jazz, the world
should take note not only of the music but also its implications. I love when
musicians smile at each other during a performance. This suggests that the
musicians hear and feel each other beyond the sound of the music and that
impeccability is streaming in consciousness!
Alvester Garnett is situated behind his drum kit approaching
the situation skin to skin. The use of his palms and fingertips open up the
doors where new connections with other rhythmic pallets exist allowing
authentic and natural backdrops for stories of music to be told. Stories indeed
is what you will hear when the new album, “Reverse Thread” will be released in
January of 2010. Sounds like a distant fantasy but as winter closely is upon
us, we will be indulging the day sooner than you think.
Regina opens up with the title track of the disc, a piece
called “Interi” and a composition entitled, “Kano”; which is the story about a
man that would gladly turn himself into diamonds or gold for the woman that he
loves only to know that this miracle still would not bring him closer to his
The kora is simply an amazing instrument and I do not use
that adjective lightly. The sound is a vast and marvelous array of speed and
versatility amassing the emotions and spirits of other worlds. With the rhythm of superior strength as
its core, Regina’s strings skip, sing and dance so lovely on top of fragrant
frequencies. The audience chimes in on the syncopated mantra and they begin to
clap in unison as part of the fuel for the composition.
Accordion is not commonly used as an instrument for jazz but
as the world progresses, and walls of genres are crumbling by the intension of
creative thinking, nostalgia takes a back seat to inspiring new creations and
the prisms of brilliance shine in many delightful directions! The elements of silence, a bow and a
string are so poignantly powerful and Regina’s respect for tradition and honor
to the freedom of the future of the music, fill the air with elements of
happiness and joy!
As kora player Yacouba Sissoko exits the stage transforming
the ensemble into quartet form, Will Holshouser plugs in an ipod next to his
accordion and the sound of a woman’s voice sets the tone for “Black Bottom
Dance” as her African dialect leads the group into song. There are so many
uplifting and pleasing little nuances of sound as each member uses their
instrument to create unusual tones that stretch beyond. Regina’s use of
vocalese and strings vibrates on a lovely bed of resonating splendor.
The second set begins with a duet of violin and accordion
that make love out of Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion”. This is the second time in
two days that I have heard love and respect spoken in such high regard to Astor
Piazzolla’s name and his alternative interpretations of tango music. This
should be a clue to those who are not hip to get hit in your soul from the
source of inspired beauty. Knowledge and its origins is King!
Back to the ipod as the sounds of an African field recording
where the men played the accordion and the women were allowed to chant and
clap. Thank God there are no restrictions placed on our brilliant women today
or we would be left with blowing each other up as apposed to having the subtlety of love desensitize our barbarous nature.
Which brings me to thoughts of one of the most beautiful
pieces in the performance. “The Beetle” from the film, “The Constant Gardner”
was so wonderful I had to rush to the video store to see the film again and
hear the music with a newly heightened experience.
Regina’s intensions for beautiful music for the world of
multiple genres are fulfilled. Stretching out into the galaxy and deep into
your soul connecting music, mind, experience, thought, love and culture making
one world one!
The Walt Disney Concert hall is one of the most fabulous
places in Los Angeles to see and hear music. The one thing that you don’t want
to do is be late and have to get your experience fulfilled from the monitors in
the hallways. Yes, I did start my evening off late but once in my seat, the
vibe was right on time!
Charles Lloyd, master saxophonist is currently creating with
the young masterminds of altered rhythmic implications. Jason Moran, Rueben
Rogers and Eric Harland are undoubtedly the truth when it comes to blending,
twisting and delivering the freshest and freest spontaneity and Charles is
definitely lifted up by that kindred spirit.
Tonight is about the beats, the Beats man, the cats who were
slick, are slick and speak the truth to the world through poetic phrases and
often expressing views that pit reality up against the status quo and push the
minds of sheep toward enlightenment. With a narrative that is cool, hip,
straight to the point or perhaps left with much space for self-derivation,
Michael McClure’s lyrics roll over, through, behind or straight ahead with the
music to emphasis poignant perplexions. Deep is the key word as the non-linear
vernacular formulation articulates divided sentiments leaving its recipients
with choice or ignorance.
Images serve as the backdrop for the performance, which
presents the audience with a trilogy of stimulation that, may or may not be
able to be dissected simultaneously. Usually, when listing to intricate music
you take the sound, separate it, pair it with different instruments, bring
forth the certain parts while leaving the others in the background and of
course listening to all of the colors as a whole. With black and white
photographs, a voyeuristic sense separates the images from the stark reality of
color and allows you to emote the feelings of the subjects or even replace
yourself as the subject or in the scenario. And poetry, especially that which
is loaded with a full pallet of socio-political lyricism that engulfs your
interests and leaves you formulating opinions is a hard pill to swallow when
each artistic expression is so multi-faceted.
I guess it all depends on the level at which you perceive
and how comfortable your knowledgeable is about each of the subjects. Each of
the poets read excerpts of poems they selected from respected poets that they
admire, varying in style of delivery and subject matter. Charles Lloyd, who
vocally recited spiritual poetic blessings, caressed, sculpted and provided
plenty of cerebral space in the sound allowing enough room to take in one or
more of the other sensibilities.
For the second part of the performance, the star-studded
stage once again is filled with some of the extraordinary talents we have in
jazz music. Christian McBride is joined with Alan Broadbent, Peter Erskin,
Joshua Redman and special guest John Handy. Michael McClure shares the lyricism
this time with his poetic constituents Exene Cervenka, David Meltzer and
vocalist/reader Kurt Elling. Each of the poets flowed over familiar standards
delivered with creative elegance, and of course Kurt Elling blends in the story
as partial instrument/storyteller himself. An evening of divine interpretation
graced with the beauty of jazz, imagery and deep fulfilling resonations of