Recap: adidas Originals presents the blue-over (LA) on 4/16

Last night the Do-Over and Giant Step took over the adidas Originals pop up store at Space 15 Twenty in LA. It was a brisk night for LA standards, but the crowd kept more than warm dancing to DJ sets by Wooden Wisdom (aka Elijah Wood & Zach Cowie) and do-over residents Haycock and Strong.

As a special treat Wooden Wisdom curated a large selection of 7” vinyl loaded into a jukebox at the store. Go to Space 15 Twenty (1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles) and sign up for a chance to win the entire collection. For a taste of the record selection, check out the spotify playlist below:

James Tillman & His Excellent Brazilian Infused Soul

Hailing from DC, residing in NYC, and having recorded his upcoming project in Brazil, New School vocal jazz student James Tillman is quickly proving himself to be a force.

Citing classic soul greats like Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers as influences, his sound also touches on modern talents like Jose James and Michael Kiwanuka, while still holding an irrefutable air of the tropical and tranquil Brazilian charm.

His debut EP, Shangri-La, is just around the corner with an April 29 release; lucky for you, we’ve been able to dig up three out of the four tracks for you to cozy up with.

Watch the video for “And Then” above and listen to “Shangri-LA” and “Love Within” below!

Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers Bring Jazz to Wu-Tang Classics at ‘Mo’ Betta Wu’ Show in NYC

Killandra Bea

Words by Korby Benoit

Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers recently debuted their live collaboration Mo’ Betta Wu at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York.  Mo’ Betta Wu is a one of a kind show where the artists reinterpret hip hop classics by the Wu-Tang Clan as jazz standards. It all results into a spirited and comedic performance that will amuse hip hop heads and jazz cats alike.

Backed by an accompanying 4 piece band dubbed The Shinobis, Seales handles all the vocal duties as the character Killandra Bea (the name is a play on the term ‘killa bee’). Killandra is a long-time resident of Staten Island’s Stapleton housing projects. She is bold and quick witted, as she engages the audience with clever quips in between the reworked Wu-Tang bangers. Songs like “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shimmy, Shimmy Ya” and “Triumph” are presented in a manner in which most hip hop fans would never imagine.

Seales flexes some impressive vocal range, while the arrangements of jazz pianist Kris Bowers  manage to retain the head nodding appeal of the original Wu-Tang material. The beats are easy to recognize yet unfold in new ways. This was a significant challenge for, Bowers as he explained, “That was a worry of mine as an arranger. Whether or not people were going to hear the samples through what we were playing. So I was glad that the audience picked it up.”

Much of the show is driven by the chemistry between the artists and the audience. Amanda Seales displays a certain awareness which allows her to be playful and improvise much of her performance as Killandra Bea.  She states, “It comes from a genuine connection to the audience. I’ve been really lucky to have that intuition and to be able to feel.  And this is going to sound really existential, but to be able to feel beyond what people are showing me. It’s what helps me be a good comic. It’s what helps me be a good DJ and good performer.”

With the 20th anniversary of  Wu-Tang’s seminal Enter The 36 Chambers upon us, as well as other hip hop masterpieces such as NasIllmatic, it is refreshing to see artists pay homage. Perhaps projects like Mo’ Betta Wu are a way to remind us of hip hop’s limitless potential.

Photo: Black Rock Coalition (Santana Retrospective Redux) @ Joe’s Pub, NYC – April 8

Photos by Eddie Pearson

The Black Rock Coalition brought together a dynamic tribute to Carlos Santana at Joe’s Pub. The show featured an hour and a half of Santana’s biggest hits as well as some special guests, including Vernon Reid (of Living Colour) and local Brooklyn Guitarist Marcus Machado.

Thievery Corporation ‘Saudade’ Transcends and Transports

ESL220

Words by Amelia Viner

It’s dusk. The sun sits on the skyline and its glow radiates on the water. You watch the sun sink into the horizon from your chair as you tap your strappy tan heels on the restaurant’s cobble stone. The bartender hands you a Caipirinha and you sip it slowly, drumming your fingertips on the glass, still looking at the sunset.

You stand up and close your eyes, start to sway–maybe because you’re tipsy, but mostly because “Décollage” by Thievery Corporation has just come on. It streams into the outdoor space like a soft rain and you can’t help but drift with it. You let the gentle French phrases by Lou Lou Ghelichkani, the humidity, and the sweet drink carry you into a calming trance as you glide past the gleaming bodies to the dance floor.

Saudade, Thievery Corporation’s seventh studio album, has the power to transport you here– to a Brazilian city you may have never been to, yet may feel more comforting than anywhere you’ve ever been or dreamt of. Saudade’s strings and Latin claves blend with the gentle hum of the restaurant; the clinking of wine glasses and plates combine to create a spontaneous live accompaniment. And that drink in your hand, the Caipirinha, is one of Brazil’s cultural symbols. It is constantly being reinvented with varying ingredients. Just as the sum of its parts can morph into something new yet preserve its authenticity, so too can Thievery Corporation’s blended sound revisit its first love in Saudade: bossa nova.

Read the rest after the jump