educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom
June is Black Music Month, and on this past Friday June 1st, I had the dilemma of choosing between seeing a FREE jam session with Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin, or going to downtown L.A. to see Digable Planets. I decided to hit the free jam session.
Turns out…it was the right choice because I found out later Digable Planets had another show scheduled for the next night in Orange County. So I now had my weekend planned. Two shows in two nights.
So in this post, I’ll update you on night one. (For night number two, click HERE.)
So I drive down to Leimert Park looking for the J3 Collection art studio. I didn’t know what to expect. Instead of a being held inside the gallery, the venue was set up in the alley behind the gallery. The set up was cool…outdoors, large enough for the crowd, but still intimate somehow.
Even though Robert Glasper was the primary draw for the audience, the artist who was the glue behind the entire event was the incomparable, multi-talented producer Terrace Martin. He has a love of good music, but he has a love for the Crenshaw District of L.A. and Leimert Park in particular. His introduction of the event brought back memories I have of being there in the ’90s, getting my ass beat by the chess players outside while jazz music blared out of 5th Street Dick’s.
Here is a video of Terrace Martin introducing the event.
So the group began with a cool rendetion of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly”. Really cool. Robert Glasper is so damn talented. He captured the essence of the song and still maintained his signature style. The solos were good, and although it seemed like they drew the song out too long, it’s the nature of a jam session. Musicians play for a while, searching for arrangements and ideas while playing with a theme.
That’s when we were hit with a surprise special guests.
J Dilla’s younger brother illa J stopped by to do a verse from “Thelonius” from Common’s “Like Water for Chocolate” album. Here’s a clip from that performance.
Then we were hit by another special guest. The beautiful actress, singer, comedian, activist Amanda Seales hopped onto the stage and performed the spoken word poem “Hot Shit” that she delivered back on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.
And THEN we were surprised by another special guest…Estelle. She was asked to come up and sing, but she didn’t have anything planned. So she sang through whatever came to mind until Robert Glasper convinced her to sing “American Boy”. And then what came next was the reason we all need to see artists have fun with each other. (My video cut out right before she went into “Killing Me Softly”.)
And then we were surprised by a final special guest, Rose Gold (who is part of the newly formed group called The Pollyseeds with Terrace Martin and guitarist Marlon Williams). Here’s the intro of the performance Rose Gold did, but I didn’t record the whole song.
It was an incredile night. Here are more pics from the jam session.
Fantastic night…but the weekend is not over. Click HERE to read about the following night with Digable Planets.