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Ali Shaheed Muhammad: On Life and The Low End Theory

Angelika Beener
Contributing Writer
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes

This past September marked the anniversaries of some of the most pivotal music of my generation. It has been twenty years since Nirvana shook up the pop culture macrocosm with their momentous Nevermind album, turning indie rock into a mainstream phenomenon. Pearl Jam has also reached the double-decade landmark with their album Ten, which was released just a couple weeks before. Growing up in the 90s, thirty-something music junkies like myself revel in these musical milestones, not simply for the nostalgia, but because of the actual genius of these ground-breaking stalwarts. However, there is one group whose essentiality matches that of their rocker contemporaries. Twenty years ago, A Tribe Called Quest released The Low End Theory. Hip hop would never be the same.

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The Moment It All Clicked

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @retronius

In my younger days, I used to hold a strong belief that the Fender Rhodes was the most pretentious instrument ever invented. I kept fatuously wondering what made it so different from a keyboard. Just because it’s a Fender product doesn’t mean it’s so special that it can’t be called a keyboard like anything else that emulates the piano in most every way that’s readily noticeable (other than, y’know, the sound). Apparently, most folks in the 1980s thought the same thing, but I didn’t know any better and didn’t realize that the Rhodes was invented before the keyboard. Still, as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and as my tastes have changed, I learned the aesthetic value of the Fender Rhodes. There’s a distinct sound that many cherish. It’s worth it to be that particular about a musical instrument. There very well should be a clear classification between the Fender Rhodes and other keyboards and electric pianos. That differentiation makes a difference. The classification is necessary. One day, it just clicked.

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Robert Glasper Experiment Announces Release of 'Black Radio'

Blue Note Records
Press Release (Excerpt)

On February 28, 2012, Robert Glasper Experiment will release Black Radio (Blue Note Records/EMI), a future landmark album that boldly stakes out new musical territory and transcends any notion of genre, drawing from jazz, hip hop, R&B and rock, but refusing to be pinned down by any one tag. The first full-length album from the GRAMMY-nominated keyboardist’s electric Experiment band—saxist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Chris DaveBlack Radio also features many of Glasper’s famous friends from the spectrum of urban music, seamlessly incorporating appearances from a jaw-dropping roll call of special guests including Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), KING, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Mos Def, Musiq Soulchild, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Stokley Williams (Mint Condition).

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Streaming This Week: Ari Hoenig's 'Lines of Oppression'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop.com / @retronius


[Listen to Ari Hoenig in the Nextplayer]

Ari Hoenig is versatile. The Philadelphia native has played jazz standards, Pink Floyd covers, and his own compositions with equal aplomb, and justifiably so. This year, Hoenig’s drumming has managed to stand out on two major albums: Threedom with Jean-Michel Pilc and François Moutin and his own Naïve Records release, Lines of Oppression. In both albums, Hoenig makes his distinct voice heard playing original compositions and jazz standards. Both albums manage to put deconstruction on a whole new level with masterful arrangements. However, Hoenig’s Lines of Oppression allows Hoenig to showcase his talents more. While the collaborative factor is clearly important in the jazz form (especially in piano/bass/drum trio of the Pilc/Moutin/Hoenig longstanding trio), Hoenig’s arrangements on Lines of Oppression allow for some spectacular drumming to shine through in unforeseen ways like in "Rythm" alongside Tigran Hamasyan's beatboxing, the intro to an equally impressive version of “Rhythm-a-ning”, or when crafting the perfect tableau of shifting tones and falling action in a sort of clunking time in the intensely powerful closer “Higher to Hayastan”. The man’s got skills and his group of the aforementioned Tigran Hamasyan on piano, Gilad Hekselman on guitar, and Orlando Le Fleming and Chris Tordini switching off on bass have equivalently impressive skills to put an album like this together. This is a pretty cool album that actually released earlier this year, but we feel that you should really give it a listen this week so something this good doesn’t pass you by.

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Darcy James Argue's 'Brooklyn Babylon' Premieres Tomorrow

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @retronius

In another note in the files of “Why Does New York City Get All the Nice Stuff, Phooey, I Hate You”, Darcy James Argue is premiering his new show, Brooklyn Babylon, with visual artist and animator Danijel Zezelj tomorrow, Wednesday, November 8, at the Next Wave Festival at the BAM Harvey Theater in Brooklyn. The show will run through the festival to the 12th.