Drummer vs DJ – 11.3.16 @ Spirit Lodge

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On Thursday night, Loyal Order and Faresh Brand hosted an evening of music at Spirit in Lawrenceville entitled Drummer vs DJ.  Apparently, this wasn’t the first event in this series. But for me, due to a few choice names on the bill, it was the first one that was an absolute must-see type of event.  Those names, Selecta (James Scoglietti) and Throck (Dave Throckmorton), happen to be the best-in-the-city at their respective crafts IMHO, so I was SUPER excited for this.  I was also really interested to see the other performers, most of which I had never seen.

The lead up to Selecta and Throck, who played fourth out of the five sets, was well sequenced.  Pete Butta and drummer Loran Mann kicked things off with a hard hitting set of more popular stuff (Kanye, etc) that really set the tone for the night.  Honestly, my expectations for this were for there to be about 25 people, mostly dudes wearing baseball caps and hoodies (like me!), nodding their heads to experimental hip-hop and break beats.  I was really kind of surprised (pleasantly) to see a large and diverse crowd up on the dance floor from the get go.

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Next up was DJ Hank D performing with drummer Young D.  Unfortunately, apart from a few great moments, I ending up missing the majority of this set.  I hadn’t seen Throck in a while so I chatted with him for a little back by the pizza counter.  It was cool to hear what he’s been up to musically, including bits about (the sorely missed) Space Exchange Series and Thoth Trio, as well as to get some basic hints about what might take place in his upcoming set with Selecta.  The third set of the night was by DJ/producer Preslav Lefterov and a drummer whose name I didn’t catch. This set took things in more of an electronic/house kind of direction and was a nice change of pace, especially for the dancers in the crowd.  But honestly, with absolutely no disrespect to these guys, after about 30 minutes, I was ready for some hip hop. So much so, in fact, that when I noticed Selecta standing a few feet from me in the back of the room, I shared this sentiment with him to which he simply smiled.

It was probably inaccurate, but up until this point, I kind of got the impression that many or most of the people at Spirit did not know what was about to happen.  Selecta is really popular but Throck hasn’t done a whole lot of his hip hop/drum ‘n’ bass type stuff lately.  So when I saw Throck up there setting up his cymbals and re-tuning all of the drums in the house kit (including the bottom heads), I just smiled in eager anticipation.  I don’t remember what they opened the set with, but I can say that they absolutely KILLED it for about 45 straight minutes.  It was basically one classic-era hip hop banger after another with some ridiculous “Throck-Oc” solos mixed in between.  In the video below, I was fortunate to catch what was possibly the highlight of the set for me (before my camera froze up).  Selecta set up Throck nicely to stretch out with a short but high-level solo, which he managed to segue out of with the beat to Bobby Byrd‘s/Eric B & Rakim‘s “I Know You Got Soul“.  It was perfect!  For the whole magical 45 minute-ish set, I felt like these guys were tapped directly into my wavelength.  This was EXACTLY what I wanted and needed on that particular night.  Classic shit from start to finish.  Unfortunately, I could not hang out to see DJ Nugget.  It was just too late.  But, I REALLY look forward to more of these events in the future!  Attendance is highly recommended. Enjoy.

 

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Deantoni Parks – Technoself (2015)

Drummer Deantoni Parks is ridiculous…in the greatest way possible.  I first heard of Parks when he was playing in the eclectic New York-based band Kudu around 2001 or so.  Around that same time he also played an insane drum & bass/jungle beat on a track entitled “Frequency One” on DJ Logic’s The Anomaly record (Ropeadope).  At the time, this beat and Parks’ playing blew my mind!

Tomorrow, Parks is releasing a new record entitled Technoself on the Leaving Records/Stones Throw label.  Technoself features Parks solo on a drum kit and sampler played live with no loops or overdubs…and it’s pretty amazing.  Here’s a video of from the 2014 dublab anniversary concert…

The album is currently streaming on Soundcloud but you can buy it in a variety on formats at the Stones Throw online store.  Get it!

Makaya McCraven – In The Moment Remix Tape (International Anthem 2015)

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My car still has a tape deck, so I like to blow the dust off of some cassettes from time to time for my morning drive into work.  A couple of weeks ago, I bought my first NEW cassette tape in years.  The In The Moment Remix Tape from drummer/producer Makaya McCraven has been in my car ever since.  Here’s a description from the International Anthem Records Bandcamp page:

“…reworks the already-chopped, altered, and looped spontaneous compositions of Makaya McCraven’s 2xLP In the Moment. Crossing the boundaries of improvisation, composition and sampling, nine producer/beat makers from around the globe reworked the tracks into new beats and creations of repurposed audio. Makaya then remixed their remixes into two continuous mixtape sides…”

Buy the cassette or just a digital copy HERE.  You won’t regret it.

Makaya McCraven – In The Moment (International Anthem – 2015)

Chicago based International Anthem Records just released a collection of recordings by drummer Makaya McCraven via digital, CD and vinyl formats.  The label describes it as:

Nearly 48 hours of live improvised performance recorded at 1 venue over 12 months and 28 shows – culled, cut, rendered, and remixed into 19 potent pieces of organic beat music.

At $25 plus shipping, the vinyl was a bit pricey for me so I pre-ordered the digital version. It features some guys that I’m very familiar with and a big fan of (like guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist Joshua Abrams), and several of whom that I’m not (for now), like vibraphonist Justefan.  The set is made up of 19 raw live exploratory pieces where some minor overdubs and looping have be added.  At one point, McCraven says something like, “…so basically we’re just making shit up!”. Explaining why I like a record is not something I’m very good at so I’ll just say that I really dig this.

To me, the label’s description certainly calls to mind the Space Exchange series here at the Thunderbird Cafe and the possibilities of releases alot like this one.  One can only hope that something like this is in the works.  Maybe those guys know something I don’t!  Enjoy.

Idris Muhammad (1939-2014)

IdrisMuhammadJazz drummer Idris Muhammad died on Tuesday.  Muhammad, born Leo Morris, is probably my favorite drummer of all time.  He has played on so many incredible recordings by some of my favorite jazz artists like Lou Donaldson, Grant Green, Lonnie Smith, Bob James and many many more.  Whether you’re a fan of jazz, soul, funk, or hip hop, you’ve definitely heard his funky, groove-oriented beats.  The genre he helped create, “Soul Jazz”, in the mid to late 60’s is my absolute favorite little pocket or sub-genre of music by far.

Although I’m reluctant to mention it on a jazz blog, I play drums on occasion in a soul-jazz band here in Pittsburgh, called Cadillac Club (actually named after Lou Donaldson’s live LP, The Scorpion: Live At The Cadillac Club, which features Muhammad on drums).  Words cannot express how deeply I’ve been influenced and entertained by his playing.

Here are just a few of my favorite tracks featuring Muhammad throughout the years.

Dave Throckmorton Quintet – 3.5.13 – Thunderbird Cafe

When I moved to Pittsburgh in 2003, there was a band playing around town that I had heard about in college that I needed to check out immediately.  What I’d heard about them is that they had two bass players, a ridiculously sick drummer, and played spacey improvised hip hop.  That band was called BEAM.

At that time, my interest in hip hop was at an all time high and my love of jazz was growing.  Live music was also a big part of my life and I couldn’t wait to be in a city to be able to check out what was happening.  BEAM was a perfect fit and I saw them every chance I got.

BEAM was made up of two bass players, Paul Thompson (later Anthony Pecora) and Steve Landay.  Paul (later Anthony) held down the groove and Landay would play the effects heavy “space bass”.  On drums was Dave Throckmorton, whom I’ve covered on this blog several times, and who is one of my favorite drummers of all time.  DJ Supa C, probably the best scratch DJ in the city at the time, manned the turntables and vocals were provided by Akil Esoon, whom I eventually had the opportunity to work with on a few projects.

The music BEAM created was basically drum ‘n’ bass infused, improvisational hip-hop.  They had no written songs in the beginning.  It was all live and all improvised.  Their debut release, Inception, is a collection of some of their best live recordings. However, to fully experience them, you had to go out to their shows.  Their live shows were not for everybody.  They were often too jazzy and experimental for the hip-hop kids and too hip-hop for the jazz heads.  Also, when an entire set consists of nothing but improvisation, including freestyle lyrics, there are going to be some lackluster or “off” moments.  But when they clicked, even if it was only for 10 or 15 minutes out of a 45 minute set, it was a spontaneous and unique experience that you felt lucky to be witnessing and to be a part of.

Last night, I went down to the Thunderbird for the Tuesday night Space Exchange expecting to see the advertised lineup of Opie, Thompson, Parker and Throckmorton, basically Thoth Trio featuring Chris Parker on guitar.  What I did not expect was for Akil to be there, mic in hand, and Ben Opie using a Guitar Hero guitar to trigger Midi effects.  BEAM 2.0?  This certainly felt like a BEAM reunion.  Akil said that he and Throck have been talking about getting back together for a little while and this was the night for it to happen.  This show brought on alot of feelings for me, mostly because it has been 10 years since I first saw BEAM and I realized how fast the time has gone and how much has changed in my life since then.  There was a good vibe in the T-Bird.  Throck, Akil and PT seemed super excited to be performing together again and this audience member was super excited to be taking it all in.

Here are a couple of videos I shot from the show.  Enjoy…