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donderdag 20 november 2008

Grazzhoppa's DJ Bigband: Around the world in 80 beats

DJ Grazzhoppa is back with his Bigband. The latest incarnation contains 11 DJ's, a horn section and two singers. On the 19th the new show was presented at the KVS (the Royal Flemish Theatre) in Brussels. At first I was a bit apprehensive, because the previous show wasn't all that. Every track they did had a build-up, layer per layer, and then just stopped instead of going somewhere. They weren't really songs, but more a basic backbone to what might become an actual song. This time around though the songs were there. I was actually impressed. There were some classic "let's drop a beat and a scratch" moments, but the interplay between the dj's, the horns and the singers worked remarkably well. The previous to last song, called Anywhere but here, even gave me goose bumps, it was that amazing. They still need to get rid of some sloppy execution here and there, but with touring I'm sure that will disappear. In short, if they're in your area, go and see that shit! In the meantime, go to their homepage for some music and videos.

"around the world in 80 beats" live snippets from grazzhoppa on Vimeo.

dinsdag 11 november 2008

Gza presents Liquid Swords

Last night's concert was more than I hoped for. Gza played his seminal album Liquid Swords at the AB. Hardcore beats from the early Wu-Tang period. The best record he has ever made. It's a bit strange to hear every track from a record live, but even if you know what the next track will be it still remains too good when it drops. After he did all those songs, he followed up with some new stuff, but also with some of the old like clan in da front, crash your crew, Triumph and even ODB's Shimmy shimmy ya. As a support the amazing Killah Priest was there. Unfortunately the latter didn't do Tai chi, but ya can't have it all I guess.

This is the third time I've seen Gza, and each time he sucked ass. Too drunk to stand up straight, he didn't finish any of his sentences while rapping over a DAT tape. Luckily Dreddy Krueger was there to make the shows acceptable. This time however, he was sober, and spot on. The best Gza show to date, with nothing (or as good as) but dope ass beats. The only let down, was the fact he refused to do an encore. Killah Priest did something which resembled half a song and then just stopped. What can you do? Rappers are mostly amateurs when it comes to being professional musicians. I'm very happy with the Liquid Swords experience, and I hope other hip-hoppers will do follow his lead. Imagine Nas doing Illmatic, KRS doing Return of the boom bap or his self titled album, Gang Starr doing Step in the arena, Jeru doing The sun rises in the East, Black Moon doing Enta da stage, ... One can only hope.

Here's a video from a show two days earlier:

vrijdag 7 november 2008

Five Peace Band

Last tuesday Chick Corea and John McLaughlin were incredible. The are now on tour in Europe with the Five Peace Band, which is made up of three (as McLaughlin put it, in excellent French) heavy-weights in the world of Jazz: Kenny Garrett on sax, Christian McBride on bass and the incredible Vinnie Colaiuta on drums.

Chick Corea started his career with the likes of Herbie Mann and Stan Getz, before replacing Herbie Hancock as Miles Davis' pianist (appearing amongst others on Bitches Brew). After leaving Davis he formed the fusion band Return to Forever, with Stanley Clarke, Bill Conners and Lenny White. After the break up in the late 70ies he played in a variety of settings before forming the Elektric Band in the mid 80ies, which included the amazing drummer Dave Weckl. In the 21st century he's still releasing strong (solo) records, which are jazz and fusion oriented.

John McLaughlin is another virtuoso who featured on the classic Bitches Brew record. He was the leader of the Mahvishnu Orchestra and was a member of the incredible Lifetime, both classic examples of the fusion era.

The show was an absolute tour de force. At times soft, at times hard as fuck. But with a craftsmanship to be reckoned with. The songs were a mixture of some new and some old tracks, blended with a lot of improvisation. What more can you ask? Admittedly there were two or three minor moments where it was probably more fun for the musicians than for the listeners. But these moments didn't last too long. Herbie Hancock was also there. He was invited at the end of the show to play an improv track which was absolutely amazing. They may be getting a bit older, but these guys have not lost their energy. Absolutely amazing.