we saw it happen

photos.
reviews.
random thoughts.
By Kevin Jones

The Dirty Dozen brass Band (opening for Lettuce) - Nathan Phillip Square at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, 25.06.14

Read Kerry Doole’s review of the funk-filled New Orleans culture-show for Exclaim.ca here!

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Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society - The Music Gallery (Toronto), 22.06.14 (for Exclaim.ca)

See the review by Kerry Doole for Exclaim.ca here.

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Saidah Baba Talibah, bringing the Rage last night before TV on the Radio’s set at Luminato - Toronto, ON 13.06.14

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Kelis w/ Son Little - The Hoxton, Toronto 11.06.14
[for Exclaim.ca]

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[Concert Review]: The Roots / Adrian X with the Philly Funk Sandwich Luminato Festival, Toronto ON, June 7
By Kevin Jones

As a sure bet for the type of live experience that just leaves you smiling and satisfied hours after the final note, you’d be hard pressed to match the Roots and what they bring to the stage so consistently, year after year — or night after night in their current day gig as Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show house band. The group is simply in a category of their own, a crew of dynamic musicians each with the chops, personality and background to carry the band’s sound in so many different directions, fronted by one of the most skilled MCs to ever grip a microphone.

But with the creative demands of that still remarkably genius day job, it was a bit of a wonder going into the group’s latest jaunt through town — the umpteenth time I’ve been lucky enough to see them through the years — just where they dig up the inspiration to continue to set it off on the road. The answer came about halfway through their set, after I spotted yet another bandmate in stitches from one of Black Thought’s constant inside wise-cracks: It’s fun! These guys, after all these years, are still having the time of their lives.

Guitarist Adrian X — a local industry superstar in his own right for his years in the trenches guiding and contributing to the music of Nelly, Drake, Kylie Minogue and others — handled opening duties, warming up the crowd with cuts from his new disc Soulgazer. Backed by his Philly Funk Sandwich bandmates, Adrian guided his singing electric guitar melodies through a series of spacious soundscapes that began in the vein of classic Sade and became increasingly crunchier as the set progressed. Undulating retro-futuristic synth lines swelled and receded beneath the bassist’s meaty tones, as Adrian’s classic rock sounds powered along to his set’s high point, a molasses-thick rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” that allowed the guitarist to reach beyond song structure restrictions and unleash his searing solo skills.

With the table then properly set, the night’s headliners slowly ambled on stage to the ominous opening of new track “The Devil”, and then leaped headlong into the loose jam session format that has now long defined their live show approach. Songs from new album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin slipped seamlessly into older fare before the familiar sounds of Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” began to finally loosen up the crowd. Questlove soon led fellow percussionist Frank Knuckles through a mini call-and-response session followed by a surprise appearance from the crew’s former human beatbox, Scratch.

But despite their early hijinks, there was an unshakable feeling that the band was simply running through its paces, with Black Thought’s half-rapped verses best defining a pervading nonchalantness about their performance. That initial grogginess finally began to crack, however, as the set transitioned into a stage of soul-soothing nostalgia with a string of songs from the near 20-year old record Do You Want More?. The group began to truly come alive with a jazzy “Mellow My Man” meets “Fantastic” by Slum Village amalgam.

From there, fans were treated to touches of vocoder-inflected Marvin Gaye, variety show sousaphone solos, slinky dub breakdowns and a jaw-dropping, marathon run-through of the Roots’ trajectory-changing smash “You Got Me” that quite fittingly showcased a band operating on another plane. Black Thought’s adopted southern flow and subsequent trap percussion reworking gave the classic a new modern sheen, before guitarist Kirk Douglas snatched the reins and took the song on an insane journey of murderous axe play complete with a taste of Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” and a tireless voice and guitar solo pairing that was the stuff of true musical mastery.

From that point on, the Roots’ own excitement became the star of the show, with members mounting Questlove’s drum kit and running laps around the stage while Black Thought performed his own lyrical acrobatics on the mic in the set’s scorching final moments. As for any doubt about why those men continue to go as hard as they do given the daily grind (and likely the tidy retirement fund) of their Tonight Show obligation, the genuine smiles and emotion the legendary crew shared on stage is the best reason you could possibly find.

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Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Massey Hall, Toronto 06.06.14
[For Exclaim.ca]

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Kraftwerk 3-D - Sony Centre for the Performing Arts [Toronto]
03.29.14
[for Exclaim.ca]

See Greg Bouchard’s review for Exclaim.ca here!

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[album review]: Elaquent - Green Apples and Oranges
Guelph-based beat creator Elaquent approached his latest project tempering of some of his more characteristically unconventional sound references and loose drum patterns in favor of tighter, more planned out song structures, and the resulting focus wraps eight surprisingly distinct musical concoctions into one cohesive and expectedly creative listen. The respected beatsmith draws from an array of light, lush synth tones to paint the glimmering melodies running throughout Green Apples and Oranges, particularly on the sprightly “Alone At Last” and spacy, minimalist “Oreos.” Clear influence J Dilla earns a nod directly on a pumped-up interpretation of the Jaylib classic “The Official” and in the smooth key changes and snappy, intentionally “sloppy” beat hits of “Almost There,” while a quirky flip of Tyler, The Creator’s “Treehome95” reveals eQ’s affection for the Odd Future mastermind. An unexpected dip into a more dancefloor-focused vibe on “The Little Things You Do” mixes things up even further and is one of many clear examples of the producer’s growing confidence, something listeners are coming to appreciate more and more with each subsequent release. (For Exclaim.ca)
By Kevin Jones

[album review]: Elaquent - Green Apples and Oranges

Guelph-based beat creator Elaquent approached his latest project tempering of some of his more characteristically unconventional sound references and loose drum patterns in favor of tighter, more planned out song structures, and the resulting focus wraps eight surprisingly distinct musical concoctions into one cohesive and expectedly creative listen. The respected beatsmith draws from an array of light, lush synth tones to paint the glimmering melodies running throughout Green Apples and Oranges, particularly on the sprightly “Alone At Last” and spacy, minimalist “Oreos.” Clear influence J Dilla earns a nod directly on a pumped-up interpretation of the Jaylib classic “The Official” and in the smooth key changes and snappy, intentionally “sloppy” beat hits of “Almost There,” while a quirky flip of Tyler, The Creator’s “Treehome95” reveals eQ’s affection for the Odd Future mastermind. An unexpected dip into a more dancefloor-focused vibe on “The Little Things You Do” mixes things up even further and is one of many clear examples of the producer’s growing confidence, something listeners are coming to appreciate more and more with each subsequent release. (For Exclaim.ca)

By Kevin Jones

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Disclosure - Danforth Music Hall (Toronto), 1.14.14 - for Exclaim.ca

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[album review]: Blu & CookBook - Yes
Blu has never been one to go very long without a new record on deck, at times turning out one collaborative effort just as folks catch wind of a release date and new single for another. While he’s still best known for his wordplay, Blu’s increasingly dependable beatcraft has played a growing role in helping him keep that pace over the years. On the Yes EP, the tireless rapper/producer puts his musical handiwork out in front once again, this time behind fellow LA rapper CookBook. The longtime L.A. Symphony crew member weaves his lively flow and classic, “I live hip hop”-fashioned lyrical themes into a bustling, eight-track skills session over Blu’s mid-to-high tempo soul beats and characteristic film snippets. The productions are pretty solid despite a number of cuts suffering from the same disregard for a clean final mix that’s been a running knock against Blu’s output for a while now. Still, Yes offers up a tight little throwback vibe and, while it’s not the most moving piece of business, with its 25-minute running time, the record makes for a decent in-the-meantime listen on your way to your next bigger, brighter experience (for Exclaim.ca).(Just-Us)
By Kevin Jones

[album review]: Blu & CookBook - Yes

Blu has never been one to go very long without a new record on deck, at times turning out one collaborative effort just as folks catch wind of a release date and new single for another. While he’s still best known for his wordplay, Blu’s increasingly dependable beatcraft has played a growing role in helping him keep that pace over the years. On the Yes EP, the tireless rapper/producer puts his musical handiwork out in front once again, this time behind fellow LA rapper CookBook.

The longtime L.A. Symphony crew member weaves his lively flow and classic, “I live hip hop”-fashioned lyrical themes into a bustling, eight-track skills session over Blu’s mid-to-high tempo soul beats and characteristic film snippets. The productions are pretty solid despite a number of cuts suffering from the same disregard for a clean final mix that’s been a running knock against Blu’s output for a while now.

Still, Yes offers up a tight little throwback vibe and, while it’s not the most moving piece of business, with its 25-minute running time, the record makes for a decent in-the-meantime listen on your way to your next bigger, brighter experience (for Exclaim.ca).
(Just-Us)

By Kevin Jones

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