Upcoming shows you should check out
J. ROCC UP IN THE CRRR-RRR-NAMSAYIN’
Forty years ago, Kool Herc threw copies of an Incredible Bongo Band record onto a couple the break back over and over again, and a new style of music was born. A little more than 20 years ago, West Coast turntablist J. Rocc founded a collective that would help carve out that style of instrumental hip-hop as its own art form; one that would thrive outside of the increasingly insular world of DJ battles and of the MC-dominated popular spectrum that had developed since Herc’s time. The World Famous Beat Junkies — its most famous members also include Babu of Dialated Peoples and DJ Rhettmatic — retired from the battle world almost as quickly as they burned through it and started releasing mixes of recorded turntablism that didn’t hold back on the hire wire act, but also knew when to let the tunes take center stage. The World Famous Beat Junkies, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 were vibed-out, laid-back parties on wax that featured predecessors like De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers amidst unknowns like future Stones Throw stablemates Homeliss Derelix.
Their group output slowed down dramatically after the early 2000s, with J. Rocc’s stamp moving to a mixtape series of slickly curated bossa nova, funk and soul grooves called Taster’s Choice, before finally dropping his debut solo record in 2011, Some Cold Rocc Stuf. He finally got to show off his skills as a producer rather than strictly as a DJ, making great use of a profusion of samples like Gil Scott Heron, Schifrin and Barbara Streisand. He strikes a much more soulful balance rather than leaning strictly on the tracks like with Taster’s Choice, or the theatrics as in the early recordings. This year, his output has favored vocal edits, chopping verses by Action Bronson and Myron & E into break-heavy oldstyle jams. When J. Rocc comes to perform this Thursday at the third installment of the Dance From Above series at the Crown at Carolina Theatre, he’ll be joined by an artist that directly credits Rocc with instilling a love of turntablism. Asheville producer Marley Carroll caught a live performance by the Beat Junkies and Dilated Peoples in 2000, and today, he’s a Dance Music Authority turntable champion and a creator of inimitable original beats. Cover is $10 and the music starts at 9 p.m.
THE JOHN COLTRANE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL IS BACK FOR ITS FOURTH YEAR
You can call the third John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival last year a success, even if it wasn’t, and may never be, a festival worthy of its eponym. Young trumpeter Christian Scott delivered an incredibly personal, at times confrontational set, and headliner Al Jarreau’s timeless songcraft was exploded by his stillprodigious, unreplicable vocal talents, not to mention the incredible band that he brought with him that was tuned to the key of Al. In between, there was the Music Makers Revue, which included stellar performances by the ever-unsung electric pianist Ironing Board Sam and the vivacious guitarist/soulwoman Pat Wilder. Then there was a hammy, often grating pre-headlining set by Dave Koz’s Summer Horns, a seeming necessary evil for broad-scale jazz events to have a draw in this century. His music pandered to insensible tastes as much as Scott challenged them, which, from a close-up vantage point, touched the nerve of the Coltrane festival’s sedate crowd. Scott prefaced “KKPD” with its origin, an encounter with NOPD that left him pants-less and humiliated on the side of the road. The groans from the VIP section were audible, one fellow rebuking, “Now, we don’t need to hear that now,” like some poltroon version of Laurence Fishburne in “Boyz n the Hood”.
Maybe it’s more indicative of mainstream American jazz tastes than the Coltrane Festival itself, but its listeners no longer want to be challenged. As such, the fourth annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival presents a lineup this Saturday that does not challenge at all, but still offers potential for enjoyment. You have guitarist George Benson, commercially and critically milquetoast for the better parts of the ’60s and ‘70s until Breezin’ became a pop smash, despite being characterized by legendary critic Robert Christgau as “mush”. There’s Latimore, who falls under neither jazz nor blues, but does still get played frequently on festival sponsor WQMG. Boney James meets the smooth requirements as palatably as anyone; Andreas Varady is a teenage guitar phenom who’s been compared to Benson; and singer Morgan James stylistically resembles a young Teena Marie so closely that she’s playing her on Broadway. James is an immense talent, however, and begs early arrival on Saturday. Tickets are $60 in advance and the gates to Oak