Taking me back to my R & B, jazz and gospel roots in St. Louis today while I’m here in Studio G at the Mohn Broadcast Center. Working on a spot for UCLA Live at Royce Hall featuring powerhouse, gospel singer, Mavis Staples and citizen of the world, Billy Bragg.
These are two icons/musicians from back in the day when I wore a black arm band while marching and voicing an opinion about social injustices. You see, in St. Louis, there were a lot of fine musicians and it didn’t matter what shade you happen to be. If you made good music and the vibe was right, it was about the sound, where you put your fingers on the keys or strings and nothing to do with the race of the players.
Mavis Staples and Billy Bragg are both bound by the spirit of social injustice and activism and are coming together for a special celebration of music. Mavis Staples blazes a rhythm and blues trail while hanging on to her gospel roots. The Lifetime Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was honored as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of all time. Billy Bragg’s inspiration stems from the socially conscious folk tradition of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. Bragg has two Grammy-nominated albums with Wilco — "Mermaid Avenue" (1998) and "Mermaid Avenue, Volume II" (2000).
Currently in Studio G at the Mohn Broadcast Center I’m working on an underwriting spot for the Hammer Museum featuring the Mandala project. Many years ago I attended a demonstration observing the detailed, pain-staking process Tibetan monks do to create a sand mandala. Placing the smallest grains of sand in a perfect design and then sweep it all away. Amazing!
Hammer Museum presents the Mandala Project. This is a two-week program which features the construction of a Tibetan sand mandala by a team of traditionally trained Lamas from Nepal. Comprised of millions of grains of colored sand, the sacred painting represents boundless compassion, purity and clarity. Visitors may view the monks at work during the 10-day ceremony, Oct 26-Nov 7. More at http://hammer.ucla.edu.
John and Jeff Clayton of the infamous Clayton Brothers sent me a brand new, hot-off-the-presses CD called, “The New Song and Dance,” which is receiving rave reviews. As I open the package and play the CD here in Studio G at the Mohn Broadcast Center, I am not disappointed. The brothers are cookin’ again and have done an incredible job on the album.
Their Grammy© nominated quintet, The Clayton Brothers, was originally founded in 1977, and while their paths would sometimes diverge, the brothers continued to share a common musical vision that would draw them back together. The brothers place a strong emphasis on sharing what it is they know and are dedicated jazz educators who travel extensively to participate in workshops and music clinics around the world.
Currently, the quintet consists of John's son, Gerald Clayton on piano (also Grammy© nominated for his 2009 CD "Two Shade") and Obed Calvaire on drums. Terell Stafford, a highly regarded trumpeter and band leader in his own right, is also a member of the quintet. For more information on the Clayton Brothers, http://www.johnclaytonjazz.com.
A challenge in production is to NOT get stuck searching for the "perfect" music bed. It's tempting when you love music like I do. How easy it would be to spend hours playing track after track of brilliant creations alternating with fast forwarding thru trash cuts. After years of doing production--you soon realize that is a time-eater. I'm working on an underwritng spot for the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust here in Studio G at the Mohn Broadcast Center. LAMH is celebrating the dedication of its new home, in Pan Pacific Park, across from The Grove and Farmer's Markets. The music must reflect a sensitivity to the memory of the holocaust while celebrating the dedication of a new home. Searching for the perfect music was approaching, but not quite, at quest level yet. I knew in my "sound mind" I wanted to hear a cello on this music bed.
As diverse as the music scene is in Los Angeles, all the more interesting it makes for my day here in Studio G at the Mohn Broadcast Center. I worked on an underwriting spot for the upcoming performances of Corella Ballet Castilla y Leon. The sheer grace and beauty of ballet was a welcomed departure from some of the usual production elements I assemble. I searched for the production music bed for this spot and found American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, Angel Corella on You Tube. Ballet has particular powers of athletic dazzle that has always impressed me. When dance is responsive to music, and brings energy and celebrates movement and releases human expressiveness, it can touch my soul. That is how it felt watching this ballet company.
Quickly emerging as one of the most vibrant ballet companies performing today, Corella Ballet Castilla y León features celebrated dancers from around the world. Founded by American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Ángel Corella, (http://www.angelcorella.org/home2.html) Corella Ballet's repertoire includes works by some of the most exciting and renowned choreographers. Only their second appearance in North America, the company will present two captivating programs at the Music Center. Los Angeles audiences will experience Soleá choreographed by famous flamenco dancer and choreographer María Pagés and performed by Ángel and Carmen Corella, DGV and For 4 by the prolific Christopher Wheeldon, Bruch Violín Cocerto Nº 1 by the award-winning Clark Tippet, and Clear by the gifted Stanton Welch. This ballet company will be performing November 5-7 at Dance at the Music Center. For schedule information, http://www.musiccenter.org/cal/events/.