Standards have always been a way for jazz artists to come together on common ground and find a collective sound. For generations, musicians have joined together in jam sessions and played “Autumn Leaves” or “My Funny Valentine” or “Caravan,” putting their own unique, modern spin on these timeless classics.
Toronto trio BADBADNOTGOOD found their sound with a much more contemporary standard – Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade.” The three members met while students in the jazz program at Toronto’s Humber College, but it was their shared love of hip-hop that brought them together as a group. “Being at jazz school, a lot of people were just into jazz because that’s obviously what they’re studying, but we bonded because we had a lot of other common interests,” says keyboardist Matthew Tavares.
Those interests have now resulted in three albums and a burgeoning career as producers with some of the very hip-hop artists whose work they admired, including collaborations with Odd Future members Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator, and Frank Ocean. Their latest CD, III (Innovative Leisure), is their first composed wholly of their own original music, foregoing the hip-hop and rock covers that distinguished their previous releases. They’ll perform some of that music – and reprise a few of those trademark covers – at MilkBoy on Saturday night.
So is BBNG a jazz trio with hip-hop leanings? A hip-hop crew with jazz roots? According to bassist Chester Hansen, “It’s a difficult question. I don’t know if we could accurately say that it’s one thing or the other. I think it’s really just a combination of all of our influences; jazz and hip-hop are definitely in there in great amounts, but it’s open to interpretation.”
“I wouldn’t really call it jazz because a lot of the songs don’t some of the elements that people consider to be jazz,” adds Tavares. “Other songs do, but maybe they’re missing other elements. It’s really a big mish-mash of stuff we like to listen to, the music we like to learn and approach and explore and be creative with.”
III definitely showcases the hybrid sound that the band has forged over the last several years. Continue reading →
Thee Idea Men, a bluesy Philly indie rock band that formed in 2011, are ready to debut its second full-length, New LevelShoes, released digitally today. The 10-track album is reminiscent of The Black Keys in terms of their static and grit. Each song is different from the next, jumping from a sinister, psychedelic rock vibe in “Shake It” and “Underplayed” to a slower more mellow bluesy sound like in “Please” and “Addicted.” You can listen to a full stream of the album below and catch Thee Idea Men at MilkBoy on May 31st for their CD release show. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Australia’s Chet Faker will perform at Union Transfer tonight following his Free at Noon performance at XPN’s Non-COMMvention. The recent World Cafe artist released his debut LP Built On Glass in April, following up a pair of EPs and his remix of “No Diggity” by Blackstreet that originally put him on the radar. Take a listen to his soulful, electronic World Cafe session here and download a live version of “1998″ below. Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here.
Back in 2003, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Murphy Lee urged you to “Shake Ya Tailfeather” and now local rapper El Malito is conveying the same message in his new video “Llego La Hora de Mover La Cola” which translates to “the time has come to shake your butt.” In the black-and-white clip, we see an exact reflection of the this as women (and men) prance around to the song’s cheeky lyrics. At times there is a shimmering effect when El Malito appears and in one scene he dons a super shiny suit. He asked ordinary people to send in videos of themselves dancing to the song and it turned into a kind of fun flashback to early ’90s dance videos in terms of the dancing and camera work. Check it out below and get tickets to El Malito’s show at Milkboy on May 24th here.
Tonight, underground rap sensation Pharoahe Monch will bring his talents to the Milkboy stage as he celebrates his new album P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The new disc, which features guest appearances by Black Thought, Talib Kweli, and more, is a continuation of the story he tells on his previous record W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) of his place in the industry as an artist and in America as a black male. Listen to lead single “Bad MF” below and get tickets here.
Haunting Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson (known commonly as just Ásgeir) is playing a handful of U.S. dates this summer, including an appearance at MilkBoy on June 17th. Tickets for the 21+ show are on sale Friday May 2nd at noon via the venue’s website.
Earlier this year, the 21-year-old Ásgeir released his sophomore LP In The Silence, propelled by the popular single “King and Cross.” He also appeared on World Cafe with David Dye in March. Listen to his entire session and download a performance of “Going Home” below.
Tonight, M.I.A. graces the Tower Theater stage and fans (old and new) should, as always, expect a little bit of everything from the singer-songwriter’s genre-bending music. On her latest album Matangi, it’s clear that her sound is still a hybrid of electronic, pop, hip-hop and world music. Best known for her 2007 platinum hit “Paper Planes”, M.I.A. isn’t a traditional singer or rapper; she’s crafted a style that’s somewhere in between and it’s infectious. Watch “Y.A.L.A.” below and get tickets here
Just when you thought The Shining couldn’t get anymore classically creepy, it does. Tonight at PhilaMOCA as part of the Cinedelphia Film Festival, the 1980 horror classic will be projected forwards and backwards simultaneously on one screen creating an even more chilling experience for the audience. This idea originally comes from John Fell Ryan’s work with Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater and later from a 2012 documentary Room 237. To top things off, Philly goth punks Psychic Teens will perform a live score to accompany the film. Watch their video for “LESS” below and get tickets here.
The third Annual Center City Jazzfest was held on Saturday afternoon, pleasing a sellout crowd with sixteen genre-spanning jazz performances spread out over four locations in Center City Philadelphia. The four venues were Fergie’s Pub, MilkBoy,Chris’ Jazz Cafe and Time – all within a few blocks of each other and three of them on Samson Street.
The festival offered remarkable value at $15 per ticket if you bought them ahead of time, so you were paying less than a dollar per artist. Your ticket purchase earned you a wristband that allowed you access to any of the four venues whenever you wanted. Events were running at each venue simultaneously, so like any festival, you had to pick and choose what you wanted to see and hear. I kept on the move and was able to catch partial sets and photograph ten artists on the bill, and at times I definitely wished I could clone myself and see more than one set at once. It was an afternoon full of memorable performances that reminded both the attendees and musicians of the togetherness and pure joy that music can create.
The opening act of the fest, vocalist Rhenda Fearrington set the tone for the day. She and her four piece backing band gave a spirited and powerful performance that rocked the tiny upstairs at Fergie’s Pub. Another highlight of the sets at Fergie’s were the Jazz guitar stylings of Mike Kennedy, who was backed by a tight three piece keys, upright bass and drum trio. Of all the locations used for Jazzfest, Fergie’s best recreated the intimate, packed clubs that many Jazz greats cut their teeth in. The small upstairs room got more and more full as the day went along, and many fans seemed to set up shop there for the afternoon.
The events held upstairs at Milkboy also got more and more crowded as the afternoon went on. This venue hosted impressive sets by Giovana Robinson and Justin Faulkner. Panama’s Robinson and her group pleased the mid-afternoon crowd with a set featuring her passionate vocals and distinctive style of music – a mix of pop, world music and Jazz elements.
Late in the day Philadelphia native Faulkner’s thunderous drumming led a trio through an hour of groovy, prog-like space jazz to a packed and rapturous audience that included many of the other musicians from other bands on the bill.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe’s dinner theater-like set up and large stage area were a perfect fit for the musicians who played there on Saturday. Early in the day the Cafe hosted a fourteen piece Jazz orchestra of youths from The Kimmel Center Creative Music Program for Jazz. Despite being young they proved to be old souls with a swinging, powerful ensemble performance that showed that Jazz has a bright future in Philly. Later in the day the stage was owned by Joanna Pascale and her band. Pascale delivered an well received set of torch songs and included a meditative and memorable Jazzy take on Carole King’s classic “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”
The Time restaurant hosted some of the best shows of the day in it’s large mirror and clock filled bar area. The bar area featured a lot of open standing room space, natural light and two large sliding windows behind the stage area that were usually open. The open windows allowed passersby and fans who couldn’t fit into the frequently packed venue to hear some of the music outside. Early on, trumpeter Charles Washington led a five piece backing band through an excellent set that evoked the spirit of the early Miles Davis combos.
After them brassy Brooklyner Miss Ida Blue drew one of the largest, most enthusiastic crowds of the day. Her look was eye-catching: she aptly described herself as a “vamping dame” in one of her songs. Miss Blue and her clarinet/trombone/banjo and tuba backing band delivered a raucous set of her innuendo-laced Jazz that had the crowd roaring with laughter and appreciation for her singing and the group’s talent.
Next up was Stacy Dillard who had the crowd smiling, bobbing their heads and exchanging “did you hear that” glances as he blasted out complicated runs of notes on his sax while leading his trio through an impressive and powerful hour of music. Last up at Time was Trio Up, composed of virtuoso performers Rick Tate on Sax, Ronnie Burrage on drums and Nimrod Speaks on bass. They showed their mastery of their instruments and their ability to create beautiful music together during a highlight-filled hour of muscular and complex Jazz that thrilled the packed restaurant.
Electro-pop singer Kate Faust is no longer bound by the chains of inhibitions and freely expresses it in her new video for “Matter of Trust”. Lifted from her latest EP Crucial Companion, the video shows Faust happily going about her day with a new-found sense of self and independence. The electronic overtones drive the melody and color the song’s structure as she sings: “If you gotta believe in someone, know yourself”. Watch it below and see Faust play live tomorrow at Milkboy with special guests Elegant Animals who recently joined us for their Key Studio Session. Get tickets here.