I'm so sad to be missing out on their four part Timeless Composer/ Arranger Series. Here's a beautiful write up from the ArtDon'tSleep blog about the first one :
A simple blend of wide eye toddlers, hoodies, heels and slacks was enough to warrant such a lucid celebration of sound, but the fact that every person was traveling similar Ethio-Jazz wavelengths together and gave a standing ovation was a first of many historical moments for LA. Upliftment was definitly the air of the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex; there wasn’t room for anything else. With soul netting music by Egon, Quantic and Cut Chemist, the set up was perfect! The Ethio-Jazz builder and father, Mulatu Astatke walked on the stage to a fifteen piece orchestral ensemble and drenched applause! Not only that, the orchestra was spotted with legends, like Bennie Maupin, Phil Ranelin and Azar Lawrence, but that’s a very short list of names.
Mulatu, backed by a stunning lineup, poured some favorite pieces in to waiting ears. Cuts such as ‘Yekermo sew’ and ‘Tezeta’ soaked the auditorium. The night was a beaming, rare and ethereal experience; one that made the sober high. When the celebration was over, people left with smiles radiating from their souls and knowing that for the next eight weeks, The Timeless Composer/Arranger Series will be LA’s soundtrack! From here, it only escalates!
Suite For Ma Dukes Session January 2008
To live infinitely in music is one thing, but to simultaneously transform and jump in puddles of different genres is a dream. James Yancey, AKA Jay Dee, J Dilla, Dilla Dawg, Dil Withers and whatever other monikers he carries weight with, was there with his family, friends and fans. You could see it in the heads knocking and swaying to orchestral beats! You could hear it the green room, beneath where the 40 piece orchestra was stomping time as they celebrated. You could feel him in the rhythm section and in the heartbeats thudding in eyes watching something Timeless!
“A Suite For Ma Dukes” was an LA rarity with the energy in the house sun beaming love everywhere! It was even evident in the new dry towels that had to be brought on stage for Miguel Atwood-Ferguson to wipe his brow; which never seemed to be dry in the beginning because of the way he was pushing and pulling an orchestra suited in all white! Even Ma Dukes spoke on the beauty emanating and its endless musical possibilities. The audience’s excitement continued to elevate throughout the night like somebody turning the dial to up the volume. When Carlos Nino announced that J Dilla was a trained cellist, Atwood-Ferguson took the with Dilla’s original instrument in hand and when special guest began appear, the attendants began to glow even more so. February 22, 2009 was stunning. It was a conjuring celebration; a ritual in the most visible setting!
To further permeate the tribute, House Shoes and J. Rocc kicked turntables, Bilal, Amp Fidler, Dwele, De La Soul’s Posdnous, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira’s daughter Diana Moreira and Talib Kweli gripped mics and enthralled emotions just as string instrumentalist rocked while they plucked strings, which of course pulled tears and kept us all counting on the next note and the next note felt nothing like its precedent. The night was precedent! With “Fall in Love,” “Find A Way,” “Runnin,” “Stakes is High,” “Reminisce,” “The Official” and a little Erik Satie, A Suite For Ma Dukes was beyond imaginable expectations!
It was though we were in the heavens. It was an experience to pray for and emotions were sold out! No matter what any mouth exaggerates, the greatest of all time was there and forever remains standing. Turn it up!