The problem with jazz

Jazz saxophoneWashington continues to amaze me musically. Two weeks ago it was a phenomenal performance at Bohemian Caverns by local musicians Allyn Johnson and Divine Order. This past Thursday, it was unexpectedly encountering gifted harmonica player Frederic Yonnet at the Holiday Inn. I stopped in after work at the hotel’s bar, the 21st Amendment, which features jazz on Thursdays and Fridays. I first heard Yonnet last March when he performed onstage with Prince in L.A. What a surprise it was to see him performing in the small lounge of a hotel across the street from where I now work. Continue reading →

Prince: the concert experience of a lifetime

Prince ticketThe three Prince concerts in L.A. on March 28 made this the musical event of the year. It was a phenomenal experience, and I have just one word: genius.

Three of us from Gemini Soul drove down from the Bay Area Friday morning. Andre has been an ardent fan since the first album, For You, and knows every obscure fact and song. Alex had never been to a Prince concert; Purple Rain came out before he was born. I fall somewhere in the middle of those two. All three of us were blown away. Continue reading →

Music and Obama’s inauguration

Aretha FranklinBarack Obama’s inauguration ceremony was graced with two sensitive musical performances. First, Aretha Franklin delivered a powerful, rousing version of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” (aka “America”). In 1831, Samuel F. Smith set new words to the tune of the British national anthem “God Save the King/Queen,” and the song served as a de facto national anthem for the U.S. for much of the 19th century. Aretha’s rendition transformed the rather tepid lyrics into something profound, proving that she still deserves the title Queen of Soul (take THAT, “Hey, Nineteen”!). Continue reading →

The making of “Dark Skin Babies”

Sea Ranch StudioIn November, Gemini Soul spent three days at Sea Ranch on the Northern California coast recording the new double CD Dark Skin Babies : The Movement (to be released January 20, 2009). We set up our equipment in the second story living room with windows looking out at a meadow and the Pacific Ocean — the ideal creative environment. The songs were all improvised based on themes and patterns composed by bass player Ajamu Akinyele. Continue reading →