The Jazzcat

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

by on Dec.14, 2009, under News



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!


LeRoy Downs





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West Coast, Left Coast Jazz and A Night of the Beats at the Walt Disney Concert Hall!

by on Dec.14, 2009, under News


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



LeRoy Downs

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