The Jazzcat

Nels Cline: Music from Lovers Live West Coast Debut April 8th @ Royce Hall!

by on Mar.28, 2017, under News

Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA is proud to present guitar explorer Nels Cline, best known as the lead guitarist in the rock band Wilco, in the live West Coast debut of Music from Lovers, plus instrumental trio Big Lazy at Royce Hall. Tickets ($29–$59) for Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m. are currently on sale at, via Ticketmaster and at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310.825.2101.

Cline will perform wide-ranging material from his expansive new Blue Note double-album, Lovers, backed by a 17-piece band comprised of some of his most gifted collaborators, including conductor-trumpeter Michael Leonhart, guitarist Julian Lage and trumpeter Steven Bernstein.

NELS CLINE – electric guitar GLEN BERGER – C, alto & bass flutes, oboe, English horn, alto sax, Bb clarinet STEVEN BERNSTEIN – trumpet ALEX CLINE – drums DAN CLUCAS – trumpet MICHAEL DESSEN – trombone BRAD DUTZ – vibraphone, marimba, percussion JEFF GAUTHIER – violin BEN GOLDBERG – contra-alto clarinet, Bb clarinet VINNY GOLIA – woodwinds DEVIN HOFF – bass  YUKA C HONDA – celeste, synth JULIAN LAGE – electric & acoustic guitar, Dobro MICHAEL LEONHART – conductor, trumpet, flugelhorn ZEENA PARKINS – harp MAGGIE PARKINS – cello SARA SCHOENBECK – bassoon GAVIN TEMPLETON – Bb clarinet

Inspired by the likes of Bill Evans, Jim Hall, Gil Evans, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini and others, Lovers features Cline performing originals, standards and covering Sonic Youth, Arto Lindsay and others with a large ensemble. “I have been dreaming about, planning, and re-working my rather obsessive idea of this record for well over 25 years, and it was always going to be called Lovers,” says Cline. “It is meant to be as personal in its sound and in its song selection as it is universal in its endeavor to assay or map the parameters of ‘mood’ as it once pertained, and currently pertains, to the peculiar and powerful connection between sound/song and intimacy/romance. In this, I hope Lovers offers something of an update of the ‘mood music’ idea and ideal, while celebrating and challenging our iconic notion of romance.”

Cline was named by Rolling Stone as one of 20 “new guitar gods” and among the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” His recording and performing career — spanning jazz, rock, punk and experimental genres — is well into its fourth decade. Cline has led various groups of his own, most consistently the avant-garde ensemble the Nels Cline Singers, and appeared as a guest or feature player on more than 200 albums. In addition, for the last dozen years, he’s been a full-time member of the acclaimed rock band Wilco.

The evening opens with Big Lazy, hailed by the New Yorker as “the elegantly gritty instrumental trio led by the extraordinary guitarist Stephen Ulrich.” Simultaneously noir and pastoral, gothic and modern, Big Lazy conjures images of everything from big sky country to seedy back rooms. With sparse instrumentation — electric guitar, acoustic bass and drums — the trio creates richly evocative soundscapes with a distinctly narrative quality and an undeniable sense of place. The band is back supporting a new album, Don’t Cross Myrtle, after a hiatus of several years while leader Stephen Ulrich spent time as the composer for the HBO series Bored to Death and most recently the film Art and Craft.


Tickets for Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m. are currently on sale at, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 310.825.2101 or in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office on campus. $15 UCLA Student tickets and $25 UCLA Faculty and Staff tickets are available while supplies last.


Tickets: Admission ranges from $29-$59; UCLA Students $15; UCLA Faculty & Staff $25.  Tickets can be purchased online at, via Ticketmaster, by phone at 310.825.2101 or in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office. On the day of the show, the box office at Royce Hall opens one hour prior to the event start time.

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Kendrick Scott at the Jazz Bakery

by on Mar.27, 2017, under News

Our man Kendrick Scott. I call him ours because we embrace this brother so tight and hold him in the highest esteem when it comes to moving our emotions with the integrity of his compositions! As part of the Jazz Bakery’s Movable Feast, Kendrick performed at the Moss Theater with his band of young purveyors of sound Taylor Eighsti, Joshua Crumbly, Mike Moreno and John Ellis.

Kendrick started out the evening with a tune written just two days ago, so fresh it does not even have a name yet; a new born beauty. With seamless modality to Auduban speed, we transcend into weightless gravity experiencing not G-force, but the gentleness of effortless mastery as we arrive in new dimensions of time. Kendrick has always been a drummer of choice and always concerned with the real truth of emoting composition. His sound speaks and reflects upon intellect multiplied by feeling divided by complex groove to the fifth power.
Synchrony was a piece from an earlier album, “Conviction” and “Apollo” was written by good friend and our very own Walter Smith III, John Ellis also contributes with a piece called Milton.

Mike Moreno on guitar warm and encompassing while John Ellis delivers precious alluring melodies gracefully massaged by rhythm. Taylor Eigsti is one of the best on piano and keys, team player and fearless leader crafting landscapes of gentle color then dancing on them. Brother Crumbly, resonating with drive, compassion and an honest truth whose vibration has and ever present solid connection with the waves of our bodies.

A drum solo with definite triggers, Sun house and all defining serious subjects not for the faint at heart but, messages for us all. Leader of the free world, a man whose soul, symbiotic with the common man cannot dismissed what is happening in the world. The voice of President Obama speaking facts about the color of our skin and acknowledging the truth that lies beneath the consciousness of evil beings. The revolution may not be televised but you can watch the last breathe of our people at the hands of fearful authority on live and in living color by pressing like on your favorite social platform; reality rim shots of death and human destruction. Kendrick stripped away all of our layers, opened up our feelings, fused our consciousness into one source, and the had Mike Moreno heal us with the beauty of the “Lotus”.
Music doing its part to heal the world! Brother you are the Oracle!

LeRoy Downs


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The Silverscreen Sextet at the Los Angeles Center Studios

by on Mar.26, 2017, under News

Straight outta Oakland, meets the most extraordinary sounds in Los Angeles to form the Silverscreen Sextet! Vijay Anderson and Hafez Modirzadeh join William Roper, Roberto Miranda, Bobby Bradford and Vinny Golia. These elements form an organic compound whose sonic equation, derived by the sum of its unique parts, can only be vetted in the actual moments where the cross section of visual, audible, emotion, integrity and truth create temporary portals of unequivocal consciousness.

This is a very different environment for music and extremely cool! We are at the Los Angeles Center Studios, a full service television and film facility near downtown Los Angeles.  On the grounds outside is the Vortex Immersion Dome,  an immersive audio-visual experience, constructed like an igloo is where tonight’s planetary experience takes place. Visual artist Tim Hix has allowed us inside his colorful world, pomp and circumstance pressing the re-play button on life,  just in case you missed it!

Imagine a circle and at the center is you, the pendulum upon which all things will swing from and around. Look up, to the side and everywhere is your brain filled with vivid color, dimensions, scenes, plots and stories that will unfold and paint truths as you live and inhale the music.

A three hundred and sixty degree cinematic experience and in front of us are the cats, the musicians; on the ceiling and all around us are projections of earth, sea, sky, space and other mystical magical imagery. The music is the magic of a secret world indeed! Art and music enrapt us as the space and time take us back to a space in time, shedding light on the fact that, in the decades of our existence along a continuum of time and knowledge, the facade has changed but, movements in philosophy of human love have been unwavering.

Flashing pictures of truth trigger thoughts within us of the polar opposites of privilege and bitter fruit. The slow motion movement has a gravitational sensation that allows you to float in a world of sound and see beyond solo perspectives and experience the opaque pleasures of few and the colorful pains of the many. Rita Graciela Werner produced the images, the Silver Screen Sextet produced the sound and there you have it, the red pill matrix elixir of truth.


The rabbit hole indeed. The next thing you know the music is playing and the imagery starts to change. Surrounded by moving video scenes of Los Angeles crafted together beautifully with photos to tell its story. The crafting is beautiful, the story is yours to imagine but, with pictures of privilege on the one hand and degrading poverty on the other, it is not hard to distinguish the harsh reality of America’s past and its present. Now with a four  year regime of ignorance, arrogance and Red, WHITE and Blue wall building, health care slayers in the house of white, 2017 and 1917 might not be one hundred years apart at all. 

The Silverscreen Sextet makes so much sense as the images are melted to the sonics. Rhythm, no, Melody, no, but harmony galore, thought provoking and invoking! Usually with music as sensational as this, you are left to use your imagination to create the narrative. Hear the music and your inner voice tell the stories like Mingus’ “Scenes in the City”; Brass black and white images, over sensory perception, Rodney King and white picket fences. Imagine the definition of “swing” and how you would define it, a musician would define it, young protected children playing in posh backyards would define it. What about the Rodney’s, Gray’s, Trevon’s, and Garner’s of the world. Yeah, a much different kind of beat.

I am not dreaming but, I hear Martin speaking in my mind with abundant passion and words silenced by the speed of sound. The rhythm is the beat of a different drum with riots, fires and homeless tents to the left; privilege, swanky cribs and images of Skipper from Gilligan’s Island to the right. One city and 180 degree perspectives on life. Multiply this times 52 weeks and repeat it 3 times and you have the latest US reality show, only the “so called” boss is not undercover, and “You’re Fired” happens to any and every body who does not concur.

An evening of provocative thought, sound and imagery. The lessons are there and experience has taught us that acceptance of the status quo does not yield any colorful results. And once the picture has been painted with the truth revealed, knowledge can no longer be avoided, the question remains…Stand, Sit, Sink or Swim!


LeRoy Downs


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MCLM Presents Azar Lawrence At The Double M Jazz Salon March 26th

by on Mar.26, 2017, under News

On Sunday, March 26th at 2 p.m., The Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum, located at 4130 Overland Avenue in Culver City, will present another of the late Mimi Melnick’s Double M Jazz Salons. The much-anticipated concert will feature prolific saxophonist, composer and bandleader, Azar Lawrence.

An edgy, risk-taking, world world-class ensemble, The Azar Lawrence Quartet includes, pianist Theo Saunders; Henry Franklin, bass and Tony Austin, drums. During unencumbered, spontaneous forays, the artists will showcase original compositions that challenge the imagination while offering unique renditions of classic standards.

From downbeat to cadenza, unsuspecting listeners are ushered on a spiritual odyssey. Azar reveals, “As we cross the bridge into the New Age, the music of the spheres guides us.” Steeped in timeless traditions, Azar will blend the brew while praising the ancestors. Delving deeply into his vast repertoire, the titan of the tenor will stoke the fire and serenade lovers as he abruptly turns balladeer. His horn of plenty remains poised for either occasion.

A native Angeleno, Mr. Lawrence has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, performing with McCoy Tyner, Alphonse Mouzon, Horace Tapscott, Nolan Shaheed, Harold Land, Jr., Roy McCurdy, Kevin Toney, William Henderson, Nate Morgan, Tootie Heath, James Leary, Bobby West, Phil Ranelin, Dwight Trible, Fritz Wise, Michael Hunter, Rashied Ali, Larry Gales, Miles Davis, Albert Dailey, Onaje Murray, Sunship Theus, Ron Carter, Gene Harris, Woody Shaw, George Cables,

Elvin Jones, Herbie Baker, Earth, Wind & Fire, Richard Grant, and scores of others.

Sunday, March 26th at 2 p.m

Azar Lawrence

The Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum

4130 Overland Avenue

Doors open at 12:30 p.m. At 1:00 p.m., Azar will briefly reflect on his stellar career, in an informal discussion with jazz historian, Jeffrey Winston. The first of two sizzling sets, will begin at 2:00 p.m. The Double M Jazz Salon will continue its unique program series at the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City. In 1996, Jazz Baroness Mimi Melnick launched her first salon at her Encino home on Strawberry Drive. Mimi loved jazz. She organized the intimate salons to support L.A.’s jazz community. Producer Steve Isoardi notes, “We are now celebrating the 22nd year of Mimi’s unique series!”

“We are very proud and extremely honored to carry the torch”, said Executive

Director Lloyd Clayton. The MCLM, collects, preserves, exhibits and celebrates, the vast history and cultural heritage of Americans of African descent. Seating is limited. Salon tickets are $20.00 and may be purchased online at

or call, (310) 202-1647.

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Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s Centennial with Jane Monheit and the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra!!

by on Mar.08, 2017, under News

On Sunday, May 7, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra will celebrate its 15th Anniversary with a special tribute to Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial birthday. This 7pm concert will feature guest vocalist Jane Monheit performing with the SJO’s 67-member jazz orchestra, the only ensemble of its kind in the United States.

With support from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, the SJO will perform a number of Ella’s beloved jazz orchestral arrangements by Nelson Riddle, including “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Won’t Dance,” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

This one-of-a-kind celebration, which will take place at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at 6200 Atherton Street in Long Beach, will open with a work remembering SJO co-music director, the late George Duke, and feature two exciting world premiere works by Alan Chan and Gordon Goodwin, featuring saxophone soloist Eric Marienthal. The Carpenter Center is home for the SJO as they present a series of free educational and community concerts there called “Arts for Life.” An Arts for Life event will also take place the afternoon of May 7 with hundreds of students from across LA country in attendance.

Photo of Ella Fitzgerald; Agency: Redferns (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Photo of George Duke EsperanzaSpaldingSchenectady080308

The 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is uniquely dedicated to the blend of jazz and classical, as exemplified by George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The orchestra, led by music director Mitch Glickman, has performed across Southern California at such venues as the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall, the Ford Amphitheater, and more. The SJO has received peer review grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Irvine Foundation, Music Performance Fund, Meet the Composer, the ASCAP Foundation and others. Soloists who have joined the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra include George Duke, Christian McBride, Dave Grusin, Raul Midon, Lee Ritenour, Justo Almario, John Clayton, Bill Cunliffe, Peter Erskine, Robert Hurst, Phil Perry, Ernie Watts, and The Yellowjackets.

Since its debut in 2002, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra has commissioned ten new works, and performed fifteen world premieres. Previous commissioned composers have included George Duke, Lee Ritenour, Lesa Terry, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and Darcy James Argue. Each year, the SJO selects a composer to write a new piece through its ASCAP Foundation/ Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Commissioning Prize.

In addition to performing and commissioning, the SJO has become an integral piece of music education in Los Angeles County, bringing their “Music in the Schools” program to 170 classrooms totaling almost 4,000 students each week, with a focus on schools in underserved neighborhoods. This year-long program integrates with and enhances students’ understanding of math, reading, science, history, and creative writing. In some of the neighborhoods served by the SJO, like Compton and Watts, the program is in schools that have had no arts education in decades. This program is supported by national and local educational partnerships with Turnaround Arts, the Herb Alpert Foundation, LA County Arts for All, and the Arts Community Network in underserved elementary schools across LA County.

SundayMay 7 

Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s Centennial

with Jane Monheit

at the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Concert

at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach


Symphonic Jazz Orchestra founder and music director Mitch Glickman notes, “For 15 years we’ve given composers the world’s greatest Crayola box of sounds – the 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra comprised of Hollywood’s finest studio musicians, adept at jazz, classical and so much more. By perpetuating this uniquely American form of music that began with Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” we continue to move the genre forward and feature some of the world’s finest soloists. And for the past 9 years, we have developed a unique K – 5th grade music curriculum that is now in 12 schools in Watts, Compton, Long Beach, Culver City and Los Angeles. I am continually amazed watching the students compose and perform their own blues songs, improvise on the keyboard, analyze the music of Bach, and sing the music of Duke Ellington.”

Tickets for the event are $35 and $55 and are available. Additionally, there are a limited number $100 of VIP tickets that include a pre-concert reception at 6 pm, followed by preferred seats for the 7 pm concert. Sponsors for the event include the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Turkish Airlines, and KJAZZ Radio.



For more information please see




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The Theme is Love and Unity: Santa Monica High Jazz Ensemble, Purple Gums and Dianne Reeves

by on Feb.27, 2017, under News

A day with music in my life is always a blessed day. There is so much to learn, so many people to meet and see how music affects their life and what jewels that you share in common. Saturday was a day with a timeline full of extraordinary sounds pulling on many different emotions. “Parks Day, Come Play!” was a special campaign lead by the City of Santa Monica Parks and Recreation to get friends and family to come out and enjoy the parks! At 10am in Stewart Park in Santa Monica, now know as Gandara park re-named after a World War II Vet, they provided music by the Santa Monica High School Jazz Ensemble as well as other local bands to play outdoors on a crisp clear afternoon. Watching young student musicians celebrate the music of the forefathers of jazz and then turn it up with a twist of contemporary emphasizes the linage one must go through to find themselves in the music. The Fire Department, frozen yogurt and food vendors as well a project taking pictures of random groups of people celebrating diversity, community and togetherness. Love and togetherness was the theme that blended throughout the entire day.

I took the train to Little Tokyo for my next adventure at the Far East Lounge Community Center for the Purple Gums Ensemble. All I knew is that tuba player William Roper, the legendary cornet player Bobby Bradford and, down from the Bay Area, Asian Improv label owner and saxophone recording master Francis Wong would be in the house. Say no more, I’m all up in there! But, little did I know that I was in for much more than just music. Another lesson of love and community that brought the house to tears.

A man and a life. I say this with such simplicity because there is nothing simple about a human life. Each as you know, has a story that is mostly overlooked by the speed in which we live our lives. I myself am no saint to this endeavor. I showed up and saw Brother Roper at the door and of course was happy to see him, anticipating some super eclectic sounds to add to my sonic vernacular. I looked on the door and saw a sign that said, “Celebrating the life of Glenn Horiuchi”. I ask Roper, “Hey man, who is Glenn, I don’t know him”. He proceeded to tell me that he was the piano player that played on many of his records. Now, I have played many of the records on the radio, and have read the players names on the air; I am sure I read Glenn’s too. But in my excitement of the music, I never slowed down to think about this musician or who he was, or his life outside of his sound, only digging his contributions to the music.

The Far East Lounge is a small place that shared its space for the music that afternoon. I was able to grab one of the last seats for the performance but the people kept coming in. I could not maintain my seat as women and others were left standing behind me so I moved up closer and sat on the floor, long legs, big feet and everything. My busting excitement slowly changed tempo when I looked upon these musicians that I adore and saw eyelids with pools of quivering water, brave wounded men holding heavy hearts and facing their audience with the love and the pain of sadness from the loss of another warrior for truth, spirit, light and life in the music.

The audience was mostly Asian and full of people who knew and loved Glenn. I felt almost like somewhat of an imposter coming just to experience the music. Glenn’s wife read a story written by their son who was not able to be in attendance. As I recall the details, their son is now in his twenties, was 4 years old when his father passed and wrote this story when he was 14 in the 8th grade for a class assignment. He only had faint memories of his father and mostly remembers him from pictures and video. He mentions his dad’s best friends, Roper and Francis and recalls a time not being able to sleep because of his fear of the dark. His dad stayed next to his bed chanting peaceful Zen vibrations and when he awoke, his dad was right there by his side.

Francis and Roper told stories of Glenn and how the bonding of their brotherhood through the music continues to be a vital part their life and music today. Francis remembers when Glenn went to UC Riverside and told one of his professors that his dream was to be a concert pianist and the reply was “Well, that’s not going to happen”. Just the right motivation to put Glenn on a path towards his own truth and musical righteousness, taking many as willful prisoners along the journey. Roper told us he bought this particular tuba specifically for Glenn because he needed a gentler sound for their music and his other tubas amassed too much power. The sound had to be right in compositions that were in and of themselves powerful. They performed “Dew Drop”, a piece about precipitation and the morning dew. Roper tells us of a story about pine needles and how Glenn got a message from higher spiritual beings saying that he needed to go out and collect some pine needles and then eat them as an herbal remedy. Roper thought this was craziness but, without totally understanding, proceeded to help his friend with this task and now imagines “Dew Drops” on pine needles.

Joined by Melody Takata on the taiko drum and dancer Lenora Lee, I watched as these guys cried and played, I am now the one with streaming dew drops. I looked across the audience and studied their faces. As many had their eyes closed and listened intently to the music, I know they were being healed somewhat by the togetherness, the memory of brother, husband, friend; remembering and celebrating the joyful moments that helped impact their lives. This made me think about each one of them, their lives, how they have lived and what impact this one man has made that shaped a part of their personal happiness. This all may sound like someone who just recently passed; No. Glenn Horiuchi passed seventeen years ago, so to see and experience these flowing emotions many years later is even the more an attribute to the legacy of a man and a life. Afterwards I introduced myself to Lenora and Melody and thanked them for their performance and gave big hugs to the guys. They made me stop, hear, feel and now know some of the origins of improvisation and recognize a great master and friend partly responsible.

Lastly but certainly not least, I pick up the girl and head for UCLA Center for the Performing Arts at Royce Hall! A place where many extraordinary concerts have been held before. Tonight, back again is a beautiful friend, storyteller and one of the worlds most natural song deliverers and singers Dianne Reeves. It’s been way to long since we have connected and I have felt the power of her voice take over the space! Her band is like family to me and always so happy to lose myself in the presence of their vibration. Upon entrance to Royce, I immediately see my good friend Rashid Duke and his girl Stephanie. Rashid, again another close family member in this big world of music, one hug and three decades flash in an instant. Holly Wallace with Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA take us back to the lounge to enjoy a few bites before the show.

Now I have seen Dianne perform many many times in my life and one thing always holds true and that is how she commands the space with integrity, spirt and the down home truth! Listen as she describes scenarios her life, which is your life and then proceed to sing your life to you. I am always amazed at how these familiar frequencies remain after many decades to be so comforting and filled with the pinnacle of joy! Her band is not merely a group of musicians, there is eternal love running through what you see onstage, backstage, on the tour bus, on the plane at home, it’s all the same. And what may sound like a far off notion of someone visiting her home and her cooking for you, no truer words have been spoken!

Of course these are troubling times and the vibration of love and togetherness win over fear. Dianne knows all to well about sharing the music, and letting our stories be the fabric of our lives with the needle and thread that makes us one. “All shades, All hues, all yous”! I know that art and music are the powerful tools that will keep us mentally strong as we physically stand together for all humanity. Dianne is, has been and continues to be one of the powerful torch bearing voices delivering messages of solidarity caressed with peace, love, truth and blessings. It’s gonna be alright!

LeRoy Downs

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Vijay Iyer Residency at SFJAZZ

by on Feb.16, 2017, under News

SFJAZZ My first experience in what I call the “new building”, although there have been quite a few years of performances prior to my arrival. It feels so good to be back in “The City”! Arrived in The Haight, grabbed some quick Thai food and now here to explore the vast dynamic sounds of the many sides of Vijay Iyer.
A quick intro of Vijay and Wadada and we are off.
Space is the place where we begin. Floating in silence amongst the stars and as we move past the planets discovering, witnessing and feeling the love as evolution takes place. Improvisations take form like new creations exploding into existence. Life begins like a flower growing ever so slightly in the morning dew of each day. From seed to full blossom, we feel the velocity, mystery and wonder as we slowly spin into evolution. From keyboard to piano to synthesizer, Vijay paints the canvas while Wadada’s horn reaches inside for us to see the path of our own individual life; one that has brought us “hear” to this moment. His color expresses our pain, our pleasure, our human story.


Photo by Rick Swig

It’s a dance, a conversation, an ebb as we flow and breathe. We are described as the music, by the music. Turmoil, obstacles and challenges as we face giants. Our spirits are joined together and together we become giant. People, Cultures, Religions, sounds and colors hearing a call to stop, come out of our individual existence and touch each other, love each other, learn together and discover our strengths.

This music is the best tapestry to dig deep within and not only discover ourselves, but our relation to one another. Moments of retrospect and immersion, resonating notes ground us as fleeting ones set the tone for our freedom!

Photos by Rick Swig

Words are merely sounds shaped and molded by wind distinguishable by tone. If you listen closely you hear the words of Brother Malcom speaking on experiences and describing the nature and structure of things that are. And we wonder why those echos, those words of wisdom and truth still reach out from the rings of past vibrations and speak in this 360 degree parallel universe. We are moving forth on the timeline yet coincidentally, or not, experincing deja vu and discovering that the past of your ancestors is your future.
These winds blow change and we are the flowers that bend and sway. But once all the petals have detached, once the pollen disenegrates and green turns to brown; we have the chance to do it all again and hopefully and through red clay, love prevails. “Life is worth living, and when it gets dark, you possess the power to turn on the light!!!

A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke.
Encore is a piece Wadada wrote I honor of Marian Anderson, a woman with a rich and beautiful voice singing to entertain and struggling to over come mid century prejudice. The first black woman to sing and perform at the Metropolitan Opera and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 Rudresh joins Vijay for part 2 of an already extraordinary night of sound and this is only night one! With a similar vibration we begin. This time the pulse beats from a different atmosphere. A caressing yearning that breezes into existence; a calm and peace lay the foundation.  Bursts of brightness splash the canvas as an image of Chiraag Bhakta appears. There is a slogan, “from now on it’s not the dying we must fear but the living.
People are looking at life and expressing their love for all humanity more than ever! Love Trumps hate! “Land of the Free crossed out, home of the brave. Their are many ways to approach some of our age old philosophies. Sound is unifying and an extraordinary way to shower our conscious minds with the powerful fortification and nutrients that we need to form a force field of impenetrable love.

Chiraag Bhakta is an American artist and designer currently living in San Francisco and a good friend of Vijay. Like many of us living here in this country growing up as an innocent and suddenly looking at the ways and means of differences. But artists speak and create thought, new ways of seeing the world through perspectives brought on by lifes personal experiences! And simply by expressing those thoughts and ideas through art, there is power to move and be moved! He expresses the commercialization of a Culture and how either we stand up and recognize or be slowly eroded from the pages of his story as color and truth turns opaque with rhetoric.


Mantras are codes, beliefs in positive repetition will heal and protect. Our musicians get it! Rudresh, Vijay and Wadada are protecting our souls. The culmination of thought, intent and sonic positivity are the keys the unlock the secrets of love and strength within us. A force for good! “Trident” a tune that Vijay and Rudresh performed together some 20 years ago here in the Bay Area. A few chuckles of memories from Rudresh as he proceeds to lay down the rhythm over one of  Vijays dynamically strong melodies. I personally remember banging this one hard on past radio shows down in Los Angeles; the frequency radiates just as powerful as ever. A Timeless Classic!White Supremacy crossed out.There are many colors on the pallet wheel and white is certainly one of them. No pigment, no dominance, but equal in its ability to voice a sound and therefore just as relevant as all of the colors with a sound to voice. Politics will now play, and really always has, a major roll in everything we do and as we go forth, it is our beautiful musicians who will paint the landscapes in true and vivid colors.
This is indeed a great deal of information to decode but, whether you listen actively or simply come and accept the sound, your presence signifies that you now know or seek the knowledge. So the message has been transferred to you for you to go forth and be a force for good!!!

The second night into another part of the brilliant mind of Vijay Iyer. It’s always poetry but tonight another reunion Teju Cole; author, poet and caring brilliant human being . The two met on the subway and no not by chance because all things are for purpose. Teju has a brand new book coming out this summer and if his penetrating narrative is any indication, then there is opportunity for you to be the collective drop of water for change.

Blind spot. Breath from the opening note and the strings set the tone. Speech, words powerfully simple and plane set the channel for the imagery. This is more than just a reading, or a story, this is a live docudrama and we are living it. In vivid, descriptive, detailed analysis a story, told with space, time and music. Teju is the director and has us all, molding and shaping the future of our conscious. Death and dreams of falling. The death toll is always one plus one plus one plus one.

Pictures and words that slowly seep into our beings. As the stories are told I am mesmerized.  Not by the pictures but by how the sound of Teju’s voice, and the strings of Steven Krump’s bass and Okkyung Lee on cello sear the messages and imagery into my soul. Photographs so simple an undetected yet so rich with story. Like the small whispers in your mind that you ignore everyday but, if you stop and listen, an abundance of meaning lies in its simplicity. These signs may say nothing and may hide in plain sight as just ordinary signs but are or can be an homage to greater things. Let this be a sign! These stories and more blend together only to show us that history connects our humanity.

After intermission, a larger casts graces the stage. This is truly one of the most incredible ensembles; but of course, that’s how  Vijay does it! Horns of plenty with Ambrose Akinmusire, Graham Haynes, Mark Shim, Steven Lehman; Sun Ra said it best, “My Brothers the Wind”. Air is everything. These musicians have discovered many more uses on their instruments that were originally intended for singular sound.

Teju mixing it up with larger sonics. The narrative is just as impressive creatively turning the kaleidoscope of our minds. Brass and smash! Tyson Sorey with a menagerie of beats and fills driving the tempo while individually and collectively the horn section radiates in four part brilliance. Guitarist Rafiq Bhatia with riffs of energetic elevation and Patricia Brennan twisting thought on  peculiar ponders. Vijay and vibes cutting colors with a tremendous full flavored sound! The audience hears and the message is clear. Each of the solos tonight are so intensely beautiful; sonically fierce on the edge. Driving forces head on together is not to be a collision, but a uniting of divinity. The platform for tonight’s sound is on high and below the earth that has acquired its color by the blood dripped down from trees. Creators be advised, the grade on the curve has changed.

Night three turns out to be one of the largest audiences. I guess the word is out!
A mellow and lovely beginning is always quite the journey. What is so great about Vijay is that all compositions are a unique journey unto themselves. A masterful dance of three tonight. Usually Brother Marcus Gilmore is on drums but tonight, just as ambitious and incredibly wise in complexity is Tyshawn Sorey; Master improvisor and dynamic pulse creator. Always tremendous in every  Vijay Iyer formation, as well as a few on his own, Stephen Crump. And Vijay, man brilliance recognizes brilliance as the ménage à trois of saturated colors and textures enwrap us in swirling melodies and graceful Ravel-lations! The sound is lifting and bright filling the room with an even layer of anticipated juvelation.

The trio has been at the base of all of the sound for this series and tonight the prominence is full throttle front and center. A rolling thunderous sound that we are blessed enough to live right in the eye of its existence; a welcome storm. Laying out new compositions as well as bringing new life to original music. So much spontaneity in the crux of the sound continuum.  Paying tributes and Monkering without mocking. I am hearing the sound and imagining holographic images of a spherical break dance; the spinning Monk! Sorey bringing the continent into the equation as the sound communicates through the lush. The heartbeat tics and skips on point; arrhythmic aneurysms of the very best kind. From Monk to MJ! And I ask why, why, must they do me this way! Deconstruction and rebuilding a better tomorrow today! Our world needs to follow suit. The time is NOW. Pointnant thoughts followed by a powerful tributes to Eric Garner; a life, full of life, his life, our lives, your life matters, Black and otherwise.

And the there were 5! Straight Ahead “Out of the Tunnel; A road less traveled but a welcomed sound! Swinging that foot the tappin’ pendulum all the way around the meter! Both Ambrose and Shim sound even more dynamic tonight!  Ore freedom, more space, more time to dig deeper into their roles asintegral as they always are. There is no doubt that everyone Turley understands how marvelous and necessary these vibrations are;  it to be taken for granted.






Tribal Wisdom Indeed! Prasana displays an mystic groove with modern day Cultural twists. Nite Mitta tunes his instrument which is not an easy task, but once it’s right, the flavor grounds us in a percussive rue of ancient times. Prasana uses his guitar and finds the most exciting peculiar ways of creating expression and his voice synchronizing with chords and crossing rhythms is mystifying .  If it is possible, then the Universe will make it so. He writes about the differences between Classical Physics and Quantum Physics.

This is like a ten year debut and both Vijay and Prusana have not been back in San Francisco performing for quite some time which make the occasion that much more special. The range of sounds produced by Nitten is quite extraordinary. The bass on the drums is resonating and the power and speed of deliver in his fingertips is stunning. Vijay wrote a song for his grandparents which eventually took on a larger meaning particularly referring to transitions that are currently taking place in our country. Maybe this will give us all something to collectively meditate on!

I have been here meditating for four nights and I am exhausted listening, re-coding and hanging on to each and every note. Active listening takes physical work. I realize that most people do not look at their entertainment as work but, you have been welcomed and invited at the request of the artist so, your presence and participation required. Giving back your energy completes the circle. I can imagine how Vijay must be. This is no simple task to balance mental preparation, practice, rehearsal with seven completly different versions of your music, travel, rest and oh yeah food. Things that most people don’t think about when they come to see a performance. But watching every night, I can see that all of this has no bearing on the intensity of music. When they walk out on stage there is a new energy fueled partly by the excitement of performing and partly by the presence of the ever anticipated energy of the audience. There is a comfort in the trust of creativity, spontaneity and freedom that the spirt of the music requires. Of course there is a great deal of joy that comes from doing what you love but, there is also a great deal of sacrifice and all in order to give the absolute best back to Mother Earth that has fed, nourished and provided. Three hundred and sixty degrees, just like the gravitational pull that keeps it all in balance. At the core is life, love and giving back, never taking away. Seek it, appreciate it, enjoy it and return it! An all encompassing win win!

LeRoy Downs “The Jazzcat”

Chiraag Bhakti provided the artwork and performance photos for the collage

Photos of Vijay with Wadada and Rudresh on the night one by Rick Swig


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REDCAT Presents Steve Lehman and Georgia Anne Muldrow Saturday, February 4, 2017

by on Jan.28, 2017, under News

A Double Bill featuring the music of Steve Lehman and Georgia Anne Muldrow

Steve Lehman – alto saxophonist, composer, musical scholar and newest member of the CalArts music faculty, opens with his stunning composition Manifold, for solo saxophone, interactive electronics and a trio of “virtual instrumentalists.” Developed, in part, during a research residency at IRCAM, these works incorporate detailed programming, live processing, and computer-driven improvisation, and call for an instrumental soloist and a trio of virtual instrumentalists to navigate a series of highly structured compositional grids. The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, Lehman is an alto saxophonist who has performed and recorded nationally and internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Meshell Ndegeocello, and High Priest of Anti-Pop Consortium, among many others. Lehman’s 2014 release Mise en Abime was cited as the #1 Jazz Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. His 2016 album Selebeyone was selected as a Top 10 CD of 2016 by NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times Popcast, among others

Saturday February 4 at 8:30 pm.

Visionary Afrofuturist singer-songwriter and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow, who fronts a five-piece band. A prodigy of soul, R&B and hip-hop sought after for her distinctive vocal style, rhythmic production and complex songwriting, she has collaborated with artists such asMadlib, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Dudley Perkins and Rickie Byars Beckwith. As the LA label Stones Throw’s first female signee, Georgia released her critically acclaimed debut solo EP Worthnothings, followed by Olesi, Ocotea (2010), Seeds (2012) and A Thoughtiverse Unmarred (2015).

Saturday February 4 at 8:30 pm.

REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, presents a double bill bringing together two of today’s most bracingly original voices in jazz and urban experimentalism. Steve Lehman and Georgia Anne Muldrow will perform!!


Lehman’s recent electro-acoustic music has focused on the development of computer-driven models for improvisation, based in the Max/MSP programming environment. Lehman’s work has been favorably reviewed in Artforum, Downbeat magazine, The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Wire, and on National Public Radio, the BBC, and SWR.

As a Fulbright scholar in France, Lehman began researching the reception of African-American experimental composers working in France during the 1970s. His article in the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation, “I Love You with an Asterisk: African-American Experimental Composers and the French Jazz Press, 1970­­–1980,” is based on his Fulbright research. More recently, Lehman has published writings and presented lectures on a wide range of topics, including jazz pedagogy, rhythm cognition, and European notions of American experimentalism. His current scholarship, including a forthcoming contribution to the Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music, examines the overlapping histories of spectral composition and jazz improvisation.

Lehman received his B.A. (2000) and M.A. in Composition (2002) from Wesleyan University where he studied under Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard, and Alvin Lucier, while concurrently working with Jackie McLean at the Hartt School of Music. He received his doctorate with distinction in Music Composition from Columbia University (2012), where his principal teachers included Tristan Murail and George Lewis. Lehman has taught undergraduate courses at Wesleyan University, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, New School University, and Columbia University, and has presented lectures at Amherst College, UC Berkeley, The Berklee School of Music, The Banff Centre, The Royal Academy of Music in London, and IRCAM in Paris, where he was a 2011 research fellow.

“If this is the direction jazz is heading, Lehman, as usual, is miles ahead.” —Downbeat

“Lehman is a dazzling saxophonist… A state-of-the-art musical thinker.” – The New York Times

Steve Lehman:


Born in Los Angeles to acclaimed jazz musician Ronald Muldrow, known as an instrumentalist with Eddie Harris, and Rickie Byars-Beckwith, leader of the famed Agape Choir and a noted spiritual teacher with the New Thought movement, Georgia was exposed to music at an early age. Upon graduating, Georgia moved to New York for The New School’s jazz program and met fellow students Robert Glasper and Bilal. Connecting with the likes of Wajeed led to her works on the critically acclaimed Platinum Pied Pipers’ Triple P album, but being on the NYC subway underneath the World Trade Center during the mayhem of that tragic event led her to abandon New York for Los Angeles. Working with local producers such as Ras G, Dibiase and Sa-Ra grew her buzz, which attracted major artists Erykah Badu and Mos Def.

Currently residing in Las Vegas, Muldrow and rapper, poet and producer Dudley Perkins a.k.a. Declaime, unite under the alias of G&D. Besides handling production, the two are co-owners of their independent label SomeOthaShip Connect. The duo live, record, and raise their family, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, strong family unit and connection to their Afrocentric roots, all of which is reflected in their music. Fed up with labels, the two decided to start their own and in 2009 inked a deal with leading independent distributor eOne Entertainment. Their first release, compilation Ms. One Presents…, was followed by Perkin’s Holy Smokes and Muldrow’s solo Umsindo which included the hit “Roses” included on Mos Def’s Grammy-nominated The Ecstatic. In 2011, Muldrow released experimental jazz instrumental album Ocotea under the alias Jyoti, a name given to her by spiritual mentor Alice Coltrane. The record was chosen by UK tastemaker Gilles Peterson as the Jazz Album of the year at his 2011 Worldwide Awards. In 2012, Muldrow released Seeds with Madlib handling production.

Georgia Anne Muldrow:

“Georgia Anne Muldrow is one of the most daring and important (albeit underappreciated) artists of her time” —Allmusic Guide

“Georgia Anne sounds like Alice Coltrane and J Dilla rolled into one.” – Erykah Badu


Date/Time G m/ST CA
SAT 2/4
8:30 pm
$20 $16 $10



For current program and exhibition information call 213-237-2800 or

THE THEATER | Tickets for programs held in the theater are available through the REDCAT Box Office, by phone 213-237-2800 or online at Group, member, student and CalArts faculty/staff discounts available.

Box Office Hours: Tuesdays–Saturday from noon until 6 pm or two hour prior to curtain.

THE GALLERY | REDCAT’s Gallery presents five major exhibitions each year, and publishes artist books and catalogues. Admission to the Gallery is FREE.

Gallery Hours: Tuesdays–Sundays from noon until 6 pm and through intermission.

THE LOUNGE | Open to the public six days a week, the Lounge is a great place to spend an afternoon or grab a drink pre- and post-performance.

Lounge Hours: Tuesdays–Fridays: 9am until 8 pm or post-show; Saturdays: noon until 8 pm or post-show; Sundays: noon until 6pm or post-show.

Location/Parking: 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles CA 90012

REDCAT is located in downtown Los Angeles inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex with a separate entrance at the corner of West 2nd and Hope Streets. Parking is available in the Walt Disney Concert Hall parking structure. $9 event rate or $5 for vehicles entering after 8:00 pm on weekdays.

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