The Jazzcat

Tag: Reviews

Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith at Occidental College!

by on Apr.16, 2016, under Events, News

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.46.56 PM It is always a special time when the world gets to experience music through the many vast combinations that the world puts together. Tonight at Occidental College near Highland Park in Los Angeles was one of those times indeed!
Occidental_Thorne_HallThorne Hall at the end of the campus at Occidental College game me the impression that I have arrived after the beautiful stroll through the campus.  Our moderator this evening tells a story of G William Hume, a young man who attended Occidental College or Oxy in the early 50’s. He actually worked as director of Throne Hall for many years and was an avid stamp collector. Turns out that he left his estate to Oxy and his massive collection of stamps curated the G William Hume Fellowship of the Performance for the Arts. The existence of this  endowment has traveled through time and has transcended to art. From crazy stamp collections to pristine sound waves that connect directly to our core, Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith shape and mold vibrations of beauty into a kingdom of self discovery.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.51.44 PMIn the beginning silence, until there was sound. Two gentlemen walk on the stage, approach their instruments and proceed to engage with the atoms in the universe. Space is the trio as the three dance, play and communicate with our inner beings. The sound is a textile made for Royalty and we get to wear the crown.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.52.08 PMThe notes drift, float, hover and illuminate vibrations of light. If you come to to music with open arms, you receive and abundance of love in return. This is not song or melody or sections in a composition, it is life in a story of sonic expression. Reaching, fleeting, pulsing are the extensions of your being. Velocity, speed and its nemesis in the helix dance of the soul, with the adduction of each drop formulating our entire being bringing us back to the one.

Landscapes and silent winds swirl across colored pastels to infinate horizons that see beyond planes, that exist and connect to many dimensions. If you are thinking, you have missed the communication. You can only be, there is no other existence. One with the creators. If it were not for this then who would we be?

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.52.30 PMAll roads lead here to peace, to silence, to tension, perplexing curiosity, to resolve or not. What matters is that there is a gift that is graciously given and graciously received.


Wadada floats like a Monarch spreading wings and flying in cepia tone. Vijay is ballet on ivory and the two create a slow motion snow globe vacuum of transparency where you can see and hear your past and present while looking back from your future. Discovery aboard the vessel of your being.


From the skies to the depths of the ocean, your search for awareness slips into the realization of the sequence of moments that has lead you here. Your journey ends where it has began and you realize you have already answerd your questions.

Breathe deep, inhale sound and spread love!


LeRoy Downs

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Kendrick Scott Oracle’s Final Destination the Blue Whale

by on Mar.14, 2015, under Events, News

The Oracle- The word “oracle” comes from the Latin verb ōrāre “to speak” and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction


Another full house here at the Blue Whale, the best room in Los Angeles for premium quality sound. The benevolent and wise Joon Lee, creator of the club is back in town and the music never wavers.


Kendrick Scott, the peaceful soul behind the melody, leading an all-star cast of cognition.P1080034Out front Walter Smith III with tenor logistics and Mike Moreno whose guitar fills the room with warm waves of echoing vibrations casting a blanket of love on us.

AG, Aaron Goldberg laying down melodic loveliness as the joy in his notes hold up the sound and reach out to caress us. Joe Sanders, whose tone becomes us as we feel the pulse, caressing and playing as he holds the lady close.

Then, there is Kendrick, king rhythm, driving all roads with a suspension meets every bump and curve with a barrage of distinction. There is a force, a casual calm breeze with tenacious readings on the Richter scale but, we are not shaken as we willfully embrace the power of the music.

P1080029Kendrick introduces all of the cats and many he has played with for quite time.

Conviction, the title track of the last album, is about Kendrick addressing himself and asking questions to see if he is living by the standard and mores that are true and in sync with his being. While he searches to find the truth within himself, perhaps we will take that same look at ourselves, the good and the bad and learn from the experience.

They proceed with a Herbie Hancock composition, “I Have a Dream”. For these cats Heroes and legends have turned into peers. The inspiration has grown a new culture that respects, stretches, reaches and uses the environment of today to tell modern day stories while leaving a foot, or at least a few toes in the soil. One thing that any Master will tell you is to speak and be heard by the distinction of your own voice. Music is an art, a search and a journey that can imitate life and transcribe dreams.  A nocturnal spirit connected to notes and prayers.


What I love about the Blue Whale is how the concentration of the audience becomes part of the sound. The silence is so precious and the blessings of sound bestowed upon us are so vast. We are a bundle of energy feeding and feeding off of each other. We are living inside the O of Oracle like an atom; one tiny dot in the Universe whose sound travels through the Galaxy emanating light and love.


There is such a natural and strong bond between the musicians. Friendship and trust are key elements to cohesiveness. Songs are skeletons that are made human every night. They are familiar but never played the same. “Like Water” is a perfect example.
Bruce Lee, Master and lord of the art of Chinese Martial arts says that we should, “be like water my friend”, able to flow and adapt in an every adjusting world. Crash!
Lotus – a tune from the up coming album is sweet and calm as the sun and morning dew produce the elements for life a flower. We listen and imagine life evolving and unfolding before us.

This band is together as a sound. No antics, no drama, no check me out, only the deepest respect and admiration of the beauty of compositions. Bringing them to life through their performance.


Some of this new music will be featured on the next new Oracle album for Blue Note Records. Flying Lotus’, a derivative of Coltrane, composition that features the other Kendrick, Kendrick Lamar was performed by Kendrick Scott who composed this piece from Lamar’s rap. Brother Was, the Blue Note wise one, is reviving the legendary label by signing all of the young brilliance and making sure that when you search for that beacon of sound, the one that draws you near and begs the question ‘Who was That” after hearing the most intriguing vibrations, the epicenter is Blue Note records.


Last set of the tour, the music tonight is on high, titled or untitled, it’s precious. “Milton” is the title of a John Ellis piece, young musicians inspired by young musicians, peers and brothers. Sanders is now is making his instrument weep, tears falling all off of those strings! Aaron’s sense of travel has velocity, while Mike rides on top of the melody. Walter’s tenderness abounds, there are no vocals but the sound sings!
Duke Pearson’s “You know I Care” is a standard but played like an original. Not with new changes and chord structures, but with simplicity, tenderness, respect and ownership.

neo spoonLaden with groove and direction that starts right here and points towards the future. “What the Oracle told you is only for you, Neo”. “Do not try to bend the spoon, that is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth; that there is no spoon”.


Be water my friend!


LeRoy Downs


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