The Jazzcat

Miles Electric at The Soraya, The Valley Center for the Performing Arts!

by on Mar.11, 2018, under News

The Valley’s Center for the Performing Arts, recently named “The Soraya” after family’s generous gift, is one of Los Angeles’ premium venues premiering the worlds music, arts and culture. Of course always included in their fine programming is a solid line up of jazz performances and tonight, the excellence is certainly on par. Miles Davis, The Cheif, The Prince of Darkness and of course known by so many other iconic monikers, was one historic figure who set the tone for elegance, innovation, pristine sound by demanding progression in his path to creativity.

There are many whose compositions reach the pinnacle of success and become standards in popular culture. Most regurgitate that acclaim and continue their journey living on the success of that moment. But others exist in a smaller minority. They unabashedly move forward chasing the light to discover new meaning for sound, new dimensions and ways of expression. Liked, loved or hated, these artists are seekers powered by the determination to produce new work that is important to them; that is their success. Create the art in hopes that the public will follow and be moved by the sound. Miles Davis was one of those in the minority. Can you imagine what the world would be like if he just stopped and rode out the rest of his life surfing on the sea salted white caps of his ocean of profit? When you stop and settle, life is over and the music dies. Never for the man with the horn!

Many, many many times over, Miles Davis set new trends in the music and Electric was one periods. Nef; family creates future as the Miles Davis spirit lives on. Vince Wilburn Jr. is Miles Davis’ nephew and one who had the honor of playing with “Unk”. He had the opportunity to watch, listen and learn from a family perspective, a human perspective and also as an integral part of “The Band”. These multi-in-depth perspectives shape not only the future of a man, but are responsible for the continuum as the everlasting sonic wave spans out to blanket a new generation with its omnipresent vibrations.

The Miles Electric Band represents a time of freedom when Miles selected the right players and let their intuition be the natural direction for the music. Here in 2018, the bloodline continues with Nef at the helm and yes, he knows how to put a group of like minded musicians together to create a benevolent contemporary representation of the sound that came before. Several members of this band played with Miles at some point in this eclectic electric period. The concert began with a wonderful video montage of video and photos all hailing, “The Cheif”. The smallest touch rings the truest sound as tabla player Debasish Chaudhury’s solo open the set with a tune that represents heroism and strength in the single whisper of the name; “Jack Johnson”. Stick and move. Miles was a boxer and I am sure the dance, the finesse, the strength, the clothes, the attitude and the spotlight were all things that reminded Jack Johnson of himself.

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Slide Show photographs by Richie Porter

The band is like the many minds of Miles the painter, looking at the morphing canvas and brushing in the right mixture of color as the vision progresses and “In a Silent Way”, John Beasley’s celeste like rhodes intro lovingly drops us off at the front door. The transitions between all of the tunes are strikingly mystical and seamless and “It Get’s Better”!

If you close your eyes and listen to Cheif Atunde Adjuah together with Antoine Roney, you can picture audible sepia tone sketches of Mile and Wayne the way they darted out to the stratosphere, wove the fabric of the music, and brought you home through mantra codas. Atunde Adjuah (Christian Scott) projects in such a way that the bright tone has his stamp, yet leaves one foot in the Dewey sauce which is not a copy, but a perspective of freshness leaving young and old steeped in respect.

Chicago native Robert Irving III roles out an array of color in his piano solo as a prelude to Nefertiti. He also got down on a keyboard battle with Beas! And if you didn’t know what time it was, our brother Munyungo Jackson shouted out “DINNER” on “Decoy”, as he reached into his percussive magic bag and keep light speed tempo on the triangle. It was an amazing feat, eight minutes later solid stellar rhythm. He also got down on the shekere with aerobic feats straight out of P90X before a happy duo on cahon with Debasish on tablas; a conversation of rhythm and mathematics. DJ Hapa spinning scratching and mixing at those low levels supporting the groove but, blasted his solo mixing in the music as well as the voice of the Cheif! Darryl Jones, with the tones, lying in the cut and emerging on “Jean Pierre”, immersing that buttery bass sound deep in the groove leaving us on that subliminal bob your head frequency. After the countdown, David Gilmore takes his guitar and blasts off; no problem in Houston!

This is Miles Electric!

LeRoy Downs

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