Giant Step’s Resident 43: Jack Peñate, Asher Roth, Buraka Som Sistema, Chrisette Michele

hannibalmatthews_asherroth-490

Photo of Asher Roth (c) Hannibal Matthews

By Mawuse Ziegbe

One of my favorite songs right now is Jack Peñate’s calypso-laced “Tonight’s Today.” The cheery percussion is buoyed by a heady choir, balmy guitar, plucky Kalimba and possibly the best of the use cowbell since The Rapture. A pale English kid with artfully mussed hair who’s besties with stars like Adele and The Maccabees, his 2007 debut Matinee features jittery rock with faint doses of ska tossed in for good measure. But any pouty kid with a garage and some guyliner can churn out guitar-driven pop. Cheers to Jack and his beachy jam; I raise my Mai-Tai in praise.

Another music man I must toast is Asher Roth. (Yes, that stoner kid with that stoner anthem, “I Love College.”) He and Chester French rocked the Blender Theater the day after the release of his debut, Asleep In The Bread Aisle. And I had so much fun! He and his equally blithe crew ripped songs like “Lion’s Roar” and “Be By Myself.” The band joined him for a quick rendition of Soul For Real’s “Candy Rain,” complete with the cheese-laden ’90s dance moves and then Beanie Sigel bounded out of irrelevancy to kick a verse. When the crowd erupted during “She Don’t Want A Man,” the flail of uncoordinated frat-boy arms was almost poetic. I was truly converted when he fired off a pro-organic food freestyle that both dropped jaws and silenced nonbelievers. The gleefully drunken college kid thing usually screams shallow, trendy hype but I really can’t hate on this. Sometimes, blonds just have more fun.

And if you’re into fun your new favorite band is Buraka Som Sistema. The Portuguese collective infuses the snappy Angolan genre of Kuduro with gritty club beats on their LP Black Diamond. They gripped a sold-out Bowery Ballroom with their urgent dance-or-die rhythms. I’ve posted up in more than a few venues but I’ve never seen New Yorkers go batshit like that. The group is officially four dudes but guest frontwoman/dancer/party-starter MC Blaya shut it down with her tremulous booty. The crowd bounced en masse, yelping along to hits like “Sounds Of Kuduro” and Buraka barely left the stage before the revelers whooped for an encore. Then, while DJ Sega gracefully crowd-surfed, the rest of the band splattered the audience with a Super Soaker.

Also doing the tour thing is Grammy-winning songstress Chrisette Michele. Her jazzy style harks back to that gin-swishing, smoking coat era when dames were dames and she flaunted her sass throughout her hour-long BB King’s set with angsty anecdotes about men who done done her wrong. With her platinum pixie and prefacing of “Best Of Me” with “has anyone ever fallen in love with an idiot?” she read like an adult contemporary Etta James. She also chatted about her John Legend collaboration, “Love Is You” breezed through her boppy single “Epiphany,” and enjoyed a brief guest appearance from Danity Kane’s D. Woods. Even with post-breakup bitterness, a 45-minute wait and random pop vixen cameos, the crowd was enamored with her. And that’s what makes a dame, a dame.

Scion’s ‘Installation 5: Self Portraits’ Stops In NYC May 7 – May 21 2009

tessar-lo-untitled

Untitled painting by Tessar Lo

Launched in October 2008, Scion’s fifth Installation Art Tour featuring Andrew opens tonight in New York City at The Showroom NYC (7 PM – 11PM). Attending artists will include Angela Boatwright, Blek Le Rat, Christina M. Felice, Edwin Ushiro, Logan Hicks, Tessar Lo, plus music provided by Blue Jemz.

Designed to give exposure to both established and emerging artists, the Scion’s installation program will hit 8 other cities including Miami, Portland, Minneapolis, San Jose, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix and Washington D.C. This year each artist was asked to create his or her literal, or non-literal interpretation of the theme ‘Self-Portraits.’

Click here for the flyer and more info.

Scion | Installation 5
[Read more...]

Scotty Barnhart’s Solo Debut: Say It Plain

albumcoverFeatured trumpet soloist with The Count Basie Orchestra for 17 years, Scotty Barnhart records his debut album Say It Plain out May 19th.

On it, he has assembled an incredible lineup of musicians including Wynton Marsalis and Clark Terry to perform his arrangements of six originals and six standards. From a radically new arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” complete with whistle and its danceable New Orleans groove, to a duet with Wynton Marsalis on Dizzy Gillespie’s Latin standard “Con Alma” and the rocking church feel of the title track complete with tambourine, the music contains a variety of styles from early jazz to straight ahead 4/4 swing, ballads, blues, medium Latin grooves, and up tempo burners that will satisfy any listener regardless of particular taste.

Barnhart “possesses one of the loveliest trumpet tones I’ve ever heard, can be playful, a deep thinker, virtuosic, adventurous, and a down home summoner of the sort of soul from which jazz comes,” says Stanley Crouch in the liner notes.  “This recording is well thought out and superbly executed.”

More info here.

‘ONE LOVE JAM’ Fundraiser For The Funeral Services Of The Beloved Son Of Amp Fiddler

amp On Friday May 1st, Amp Fiddler’s only son Dorian Fiddler died of heart failure caused by diabetes.  It was a shock to the Detroit community and all of us at Giant Step.

A benefit concert will be held tomorrow for the funeral, which will be on Saturday.  For those who cannot make it to Detroit, a fund has been established.

All of the pertinent information can be found at the link below:

Thursday, May 7th, 2009
‘ONE LOVE JAM’ Fundraiser for the Funeral Services of the Beloved Son of Amp Fiddler
@ Bert’s Marketplace, Detroit
More Info

Please send your condolences to Amp Fiddler and his family.