When he started to make the music that appears on his new album, trumpeter Terence Blanchard wasn't thinking of Eric Garner, Michael Brown or any of the other recent high-profile police killings of African-Americans. He was thinking of desired collaborators: Donald Ramsey, a bassist and high-school classmate; Oscar Seaton, a drummer with whom he'd worked on film projects; Fabian Almazan, the pianist of his other band; and Charles Altura, a guitarist he'd encountered online. And he was thinking about a sound different from the left-center jazz quintet he leads: something overtly funky, with electric bass and guitar and processing and human voices and dance grooves.
As the E-Collective came together — both as a band and in terms of its repertoire — it took on another guiding light. Blanchard, no stranger to political statements, saw the music as an opportunity to speak out on current events he was unable to ignore, especially as a black man. The eventual recording came to be a commentary on the treatment of minorities by American law enforcement, in the vein of the #blacklivesmatter movement. The album's title references Eric Garner's last words, "I can't breathe"; it's called Breathless.
The heavy and the party recently came together for a week-long run at a jazz club in D.C., though the mood was much more on the party side when the E-Collective stopped at NPR headquarters. The mood was relaxed and jovial from the time the group stepped into the lobby, with Englishman Chris Bailey supplying plenty of backbeats on our house drum set — though there was a moment toward the end of the set when Blanchard casually explained the project, setting up a lyrical, almost elegiac solo. This music was a modern update on jazz fusion, sure, but also one where we dance to ward off despair.
Set List "Soldiers" "Confident Selflessness" "Breathless"
Credits Producers: Patrick Jarenwattananon, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Brian Jarboe; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Adam Wolffbrandt, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Elena Saavedra Buckley; photo by Lani Milton/NPR
March 1, 2018 | Abby O'Neill -- Roy Ayers arrived at his Tiny Desk performance beaming with positivity. The 77-year-old funk icon and vibraphonist sauntered through the office with a Cheshire grin on his face, sharing jokes with anyone within earshot. Accompanying him was a trio of brilliantly seasoned musicians — keyboardist Mark Adams, bassist Trevor Allen and drummer Christopher De Carmine. Later during the performance, pride washed across Ayers' face as his bandmates took the spotlight. (Be sure to watch as Adams woos not just the room but brightens Ayers' face during his solo.)
The set began with one of Ayers' more recognizable hits: an extended version of "Searching," a song that embodies the eternal quest for peace and love. During "Black Family" (from his 1983 album Lots Of Love), you'll hear him call out "Fela" throughout. That's because Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti was a huge influence on Ayers in the late 1970s; the two eventually collaborated on an album, 1980's Music Of Many Colors. "Black Family" is, in part, a tribute to Fela, even if the original version didn't include his name.
Concluding this mini-concert, Ayers closed the set out with his signature tune, "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", a feel-good ode if there ever was one. The essence of this song flowed right through him and out to the NPR audience.
SET LIST "Searching" "Black Family" "Everybody Loves The Sunshine"
MUSICIANS Roy Ayers, Mark Adams (keyboards), Trevor Allen (bass), Christopher De Carmine (drums)
CREDITS Producers: Abby O'Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kara Frame, Bronson Arcuri, Dani Lyman; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Jenna Sterner/NPR.
Cécile McLorin Salvant and the Aaron Diehl Trio Live at Dizzy's Club December 28th, 2016, with special guest Anat Cohen
Cécile McLorin Salvant - vocals Aaron Diehl - piano Paul Sikivie - bass Lawrence Leathers - drums Anat Cohen - clarinet
Let's face the music and dance - 0:22 Somehow I never could believe - 8:15 Outside of That - 19:02 All Through The Night - 22:32 Sophisticated Lady - 27:30 Everything I've got belongs to you - 33:58 The Jitterbug Waltz - 40:55
Cecile McLauren Salvant is one of the best young jazz singers to appear on the scene in years. She's the prefect combination of what many think a great singer should be. She creates her own songs, allowing us to see the world through her eyes and she also combs American music history looking for semi-obscure gems to polish and present to a new audience.