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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Throckmorton 4 – 2.23.16 – Thunderbird Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA

Dave Throckmorton – drums
Ben Opie – electronics/saxophone
John Shannon – guitar
Paul Thompson – bass

Drummer Dave Throckmorton dusted off his jazz/fusion/electronic/hip-hop/ambient/groove quartet for a performance at the Thunderbird Cafe last night. He mentioned that this project had been “on the back burner” for a while, but that he thought it was time to bring it down off the shelf.

To me, or anyone else familiar with Throck’s work over the years, this group is sort of a rebooted/reincarnated all-instrumental and less-hip-hop version of BEAM, which also featured Paul Thompson on bass and had a very similar vibe.  The last few appearances of this group, billed last night as the Throckmorton 4, featured former-Pittsburgher Chris Parker on guitar. Filling in for Parker last night (on a flying V guitar I might add!) was John Shannon.  The show consisted of two long sets of almost non-stop improvised genre-spanning music that always maintained a deep Throck/PT groove.

Being a huge fan of these guys, I always look forward to seeing any and every one of the various Opie/Thompson/Throck projects (Thoth Trio, Flexure, Opek, etc.).  I can’t really say that I have a favorite (although it might be Thoth), but I certainly wouldn’t mind if Throck decided to keep this one on the front burner for just a little while longer.

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.

Deltron 3030 – 7.15.14 – Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA

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Deltron 3030 made a stop in Pittsburgh last night for a performance at the Altar Bar in the Strip District.  The hip hop super-group’s self titled debut album features some of my favorite production of all time.  Deltron consists of rapper/MC Del The Funky Homosapien, producer Dan The Automator, and DJ/turntablist Kid Koala.

Local hip hop trio Fortified PhonetX opened and did a nice job loosening up the growing crowd just in time for a Kid Koala DJ set.  Koala used 3 turntables to spin vinyl with no headphones. His set included takes on Beastie Boys’ “So What’cha Want”, a Yo Gabba Gabba kid’s themed jam, and a tripped-out yet stunningly beautiful take on “Moon River” which was dedicated to his mother and all women over 50.

kk_1By time the stage was set for Deltron, the house was absolutely PACKED.  Since I had never been to Altar Bar, I took a quick walk around to explore the venue at the set break and it seemed like every square inch was full of people waiting intently for the headliner to grace the stage.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to a show that was this crowded, but it felt good,  I was glad Pittsburgh came out for this show!

Accompanied by a backing band of guitar, bass, and drums, Del, Automator and Koala started things off with the obvious and perfect opener, “3030” from their debut LP.  “3030” is my favorite Deltron 3030 song and I definitely expected it to be the opener and was super excited that it was.  They proceeded to deliver a high energy set that more closely resembled a rock show than a typical hip hop performance.  Some personal highlights included “Positive Contact” and “Virus”, both from their debut as well as some songs from their second LP that I am still not familiar with.

The song choice for the encore made it obvious to me why this show was so heavily attended by such a diverse group of people.  After hearing the first few notes of the Gorillaz tune “Clint Eastwood” the crowd exploded.  Having never gotten into the hugely popular Gorillaz, I hadn’t made the association between Deltron and Gorillaz until that moment, but both Del and Dan the Automator were involved with that group as well.

automatorThe only downside to this show was the sound.  I’d never been to Altar Bar before last night, but I’m pretty sure that the room just sounds bad.  Like other venues that were once churches (i.e. Mr. Smalls in Millvale), the place is just not built for this kind of event and therefore the sound is often really muddy, distorted, and bass heavy, as was the case last night. The poor audio on the video clip above is only a slight exaggeration of the actual sound from the show.  But this was not totally unexpected, so I was able to look past it and enjoy a rare live performance by a killer group that I’d never expected to see live.

Record/Tape Scores – Erie Edition – 6.14.14

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Steven Halpern
Spectrum Suite
1976

I spent this weekend with family in Erie, PA.  The weather was pretty nice so I decided to go out and hit a couple of sales in the morning.  I came away with a pile of records that included some meditation and Yoga records and this ambient Steven Halpern record.  The entire first side features Halpern playing ambient instrumental solo pieces on a Fender Rhodes electric piano.  On the second side he is joined by a flute and a guitar.  Cool random find.

However, the biggest score of the day in my opinion was the pile of classic hip hop cassettes shown below, or as Robert Walter of the Greyboy Allstars called them on my Instagram post, a “nice stack of awesome”!  I love hip hop cassettes.  This was the format that I grew up with for this kind of music and it has a special place in my heart.  Plus, my car still has a tape deck!  I left a few behind because they were a little pricier than I had hoped, but now I’m regretting that decision.

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Ongaku by elusive

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It’s already been a few weeks since my last post.  There just hasn’t been much in the way of jazz shows that I’d be interested in and I really haven’t picked up a whole lot of cool records either (although I did trade a few things for a very clean reissue of Herbie’s Takin’ Off at Record Fest!).

One thing that I did stumble upon just yesterday is this beat tape by LA based producer, Elusive, entitled Ongaku.  I really dig this loose, sample based, jazzy style of beat making.  I only wish that some of the tracks were a bit longer and more fleshed out.  I’m unfamiliar with Elusive’s work, but now I’ll have to be sure to hear more of it.

Morning Commute – Reminder “Continuum” (2006)

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A few days ago, I posted a link to a Nicole Mitchell live performance from NPR’s JazzSet series.  With that set still fresh in my mind, I went down to my basement and blew the dust of the big plastic bin containing the few remaining CD’s that I haven’t been able to part with to try to pick something out for my ride into work .  Right on top of the messy scattered lot sat Continuum by Reminder (Joshua Abrams).  This is Abrams’ first release under the name Reminder which is his downtempo/hip-hop/jazzy/electronic production project. Abrams plays bass on the Nicole Mitchell performance as well as on her newest release, Aquarius (2013 Delmark).  So I felt like Continnum would be the perfect soundtrack for my commute.

Continuum was released in 2006 on the Eastern Developments Music label.  For a few years in the mid 00’s I was really into production from the likes of DJ Shadow, RJD2, Madlib, Bonobo, Scotty Hard, etc.  I knew very little about Josh Abrams at the time other than he was a bass player in the Chicago jazz scene and that he was the original bass player in The Roots.  But I had heard a few tracks from this disc and based upon the eclectic sample-infused production style mixed with live instrumentation, I needed to check it out.  The album features a few guests on occasion including Nicole Mitchell on flute, Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217, etc.) on guitar, and Tyondai Braxton, son of musician/composer Anthony Braxton, on vocals.

Since then, I’ve heard Abrams’ bass work on several releases including one of his own entitled, Natural Information from 2010 on Eremite Records.  On this vinyl- only release, Abrams plays the guimbri, a three-stringed animal hide bass traditionally used by the Gnawa of North Africa in healing ceremonies, among several other percussive instruments.  Natural Information also features Chicago jazz musicians, Jason Adasiewicz, and Frank Rosaly.  Here is a video of Abrams playing the guimbri.  Enjoy!

Earl Sweatshirt – Doris (2013)

The debut album by 19 year old L.A. based MC, Earl Sweatshirt, entitled Doris was released earlier this week. Sweatshirt is a member of the Odd Future collective, which also includes Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, Casey Veggies, and Domo Genesis.  I can’t say that I know much, or anything, about Odd Future or any of it’s members, so I won’t pretend to.  However, this release has been covered pretty heavily on sites such a Potholes In My Blog over the last several weeks.  So much so, that I felt like I HAD to check out Doris for myself.

Now that I’ve spent a couple of days with it, I can say that I really like this album.  To put it simply, the beats are good and I like his flow.  I like raw hip hop beats, i.e. Madlib, J Dilla, and RZA (who actually contributes a track here), that use chopped samples and enough space for the lyrics.  I also dig Sweatshirt’s laid back and thoughtful lyrical style.  His flow reminds me a little of MF Doom and, in my opinion, some of the tracks on Doris sound heavily influenced by the 2004 Madvillainy LP (Stones Throw), which is one of my favorite records of all time.

The top video is for one of the better tracks from Doris entitled “Hive”.  I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of career Sweatshirt will have.  With a debut like this at the age of 19, he is off to a pretty good start.

Here’s Sweatshirt’s performance of “Burgundy” on Jimmy Fallon’s show backed by The Roots.  Enjoy!