Daily Archives: November 27, 2016

From the hit TV show “Pitch,” Black Violin shatters stereotypes, inspires kids in Denver

In between, they’re selling out venues that in some cases seat thousands of fans. “If someone says you can’t do something, you should use that as fuel to prove all of them wrong and break stereotypes,” Marcus said. Since they came together, they’ve tried to take what they love and do it in a way that’s different than everyone else. The title of their latest album, “Stereotypes,” sums up in one word what motivates them. They’re the first to admit that their image doesn’t match the stereotypical violinist. “I understand these kids. and Europe. The pair’s message to the kids was as much about music as it was about inspiring the children to overcome the odds and chase their dreams. Wearing hoodies and baseball caps, they look more like hip-hop artists than classically trained musicians. They shared a music stand at Dillard High School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Wil B plays the viola; Kev Marcus plays the violin. They grew up playing classical music in the school orchestra, but what they listened to on their own time was hip-hop. Now, two former high school classmates have found a way to blend the two genres in the breakout duo Black Violin. Earlier in the day, Wil B and Kev Marcus performed for the elementary students at STRIVE Prep-Ruby Hill school, where all children are on the free and reduced lunch program. This year alone, they have performed for nearly 100,000 students across the U.S. “When we were growing up, we were always talking about, ‘How can we do this in a way that no one has ever done it?’ ” said Marcus, whose actual name is Kevin Sylvester. Black Violin visited Denver last week to perform at the annual fundraising gala for the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. That’s why we do what we do,” Wil B said.  
“I could have been a seriously troubled kid, but yet I found art, I found the viola,” said Wil B, whose birth name is Wilner Baptiste. Now, they spend their lives traveling the world, sharing their music and their message. “People will be like, ‘Oh, this isn’t cool, the violin isn’t a cool instrument.’ Well, we said, “We’re gonna make it cool,’ and that’s what we did,” Marcus said. In 2005, Black Violin won the coveted competition “Amateur Night at the Apollo,” putting them on the national music map. Black Violin band members Kevin Sylvester, left, and Wilner Baptiste play at Stride Prep Ruby Hill K-8 November 15, 2016. “We want you guys to do the same thing,” Marcus told the kids. That’s what they did, and it worked. Now about 15 years later, they’re scoring the soundtrack for the FOX TV show “Pitch.” They’ve performed or toured with Aerosmith, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Linkin Park, Tom Petty, Lupe Fiasco and the Wu-Tang Clan, among others. “If you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a basketball player, whatever you want to do, just find a different way to do it  than anyone has ever done it.”
This story was first published on DenverPost.com — and they’ve been creating music together ever since.

Holiday gifts for the jazz obsessive in your life

Saxophonist John Irabagon, who helps to illuminate the new disc, will make the trip to Dazzle with bassist Thomas Kneeland Dec. 8-9. It’s three discs of rehearsals and studio alternate takes from the trumpeter’s most accomplished quintet, the ’60s band with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Records got scratched easily, they skipped…the artwork was always lovely, though, and anyone who collects LPs and admires this “defiant giant,” as she referred to herself in conversation with me shortly before her 2003 death, will be delighted with this package. Heretics who still like CDs can obtain the same material in that format for roughly a third of the $140 vinyl set retail price, by the way. Alternate suggestion: the just-released “Swiss Radio Days Vol. And Rudy Royston, who grew up in Denver but now calls New York home, returns to Colorado to promote his just-released, model trio recording, “Rise Of Orion” (Greenleaf Music). So you’re seeking holiday gift suggestions for that particular Jazz Obsessive in your life? 41 – Zurich 1961” (The Montreux Jazz Label), a perfectly recorded evening of the man at his peak. 5” (Columbia-Legacy): What have the Miles Davis Vault Gods at Sony placed before us this year? Clarinetist Don Byron and The Adam Bartczak Democracy are slated for Nocturne on Nov. 2. These ’60s recordings represent the cream of this singer-pianist’s massive discography. Get tickets at dazzlejazz.com. 29 and Dec. “Orion” is a stunning recording, with plenty of drama and virtuosity, and it should be a late entry for numerous 2016 top 10 lists. The accompanying booklet is authoritative, and the inventive music is of similar sound quality to the recordings Young made for Blue Note. These are, of course, hugely influential records from “The Genius,” cut between 1957 and 1961, melding blues, gospel and jazz, resulting in some of the most glorious soul music ever conceived. Louis Hayes, who powered innovative bands for Cannonball Adderley and Yusef Lateef, performs with the UNC Jazz Faculty ensemble for two sets on Dec. Ray Charles, “The Atlantic Years (In Mono)”:  Another vinyl box set, this time available in an MP3 edition as well, but how exciting could MP3s possibly be as a gift? Nina Simone, “The Philips Years” (Verve): Speaking as someone who grew up with vinyl, I’ve never been as committed to the reinvigoration of the format as people a decade (or more) my junior. Hey, it’s my pleasure! It’s instructive to hear how these monumental recordings came together, and it works as a audio documentary, though it’s probably important to seek out the albums that were the result of these sessions first: “Miles Smiles,” “Nefertiti” and “Water Babies.” It’s worth mentioning that Denver-bred Don Cheadle’s Miles movie, “Miles Ahead,” would be a nice DVD or Blu-Ray gift for the Davis fan in your life as well. Larry Young, “In Paris – The ORTF Recordings” (Resonance Records): I’ll bet he or she doesn’t have this — one of the finest sets of 2016, showcasing nearly two hours of previously unreleased soaring majesty from the ridiculously neglected organist. Miles Davis Quintet, “Freedom Jazz Dance – The Bootleg Series Vol. 30…
This story was first published on DenverPost.com 6…Big Bad Voodoo Daddy plays The Oriental Theater on Nov. Meanwhile … Two drummers from different generations are scheduled to appear at Dazzle Jazz in the days to come.