Live Experience of the Year
Rapper and actor Ice-T joined musical director and trumpeter Ron McCurdy and his quartet in a brilliant 21st century realisation of American icon Langston Hughes’ creative masterpiece, the epic twelve-part jazz poem “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” at the Barbican in November of last year as part of the EFG London Festival. The Guardian called it “a raging, inspired revival that would make Langston Hughes proud”.
“The Langston Hughes Project” blends passionate spoken word and original soul, swing and gospel music composed by McCurdy with a vivid visual backdrop featuring the works of African American visual artists who Langston Hughes either admired or collaborated with. Honouring the poet was not the only objective for McCurdy and Ice T’s project. The projects secondary purpose was to highlight the fact that music had become “too segregated” from other art forms and was trying to blur the lines by creating a true multimedia performance with a clear social message.
Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.”
She performed with her Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Symphony Hall Birmingham in November to much acclaim and some of the orchestra have been with Schneider since 1988, through all her Grammy wins. They understand her music but they bring so much of their own personality to it as well and every feature felt distinct and in keeping with the spirit of that particular composition.
As well as performing live, Schneider and her orchestra have a distinguished recording career with twelve GRAMMY nominations and five GRAMMY awards. Schneider and her orchestra were awarded two Grammys at the 2016 award ceremony, one of which was given for ‘Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album’ acknowledging her brilliant work on “The Thompson Fields”.
Taylor McFerrin is a jazz, soul and electronic musician and producer whose first recorded appearance was as a background singer on “Jubilee”, a song included on his father Bobby McFerrin's 1982 debut album. Moving on three decades, Taylor released his amazing debut album ‘Early Riser’ on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint in 2014. The album featured guest appearances from Hiatus Kaiyote’s Nai Palm, Thundercat, Robert Glasper, Cesar Mariano and, returning a favour from 32 years prior, Bobby McFerrin.
McFerrin’s performance last year at the Rio Club in Glasgow as part of the Glasgow Jazz Festival was a highly energetic affair with superb performances from both McFerrin and his highly talented drummer Marcus Gilmore. The gig featured fantastic beatboxing from McFerrin and thrilling drum solos from Gilmore. Taylor continues to tour worldwide supporting the release of his album both as a solo act, and as a duo with prodigal drummer Marcus Gilmore. In addition to headline shows around North America, he has performed alongside artists such as Erykah Badu, The Roots, Nas and Talib Kweli and a new album is scheduled for release on Brainfeeder 2016.