LifestyleGlasper's 'Black Radio' tribute celebrates Duke Ellington and J Dilla

Glasper’s ‘Black Radio’ tribute celebrates Duke Ellington and J Dilla

It was a magic musical takeover when pianist, composer, producer and recording artist Robert Glasper and orchestra director Derrick Hodge beautifully blended the music of American music jazz icon Duke Ellington and hip-hop hero J Dilla at the Kennedy Center on March 30.

Lalah Hathaway and Bilal perform Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” during “Robert Glasper—Black Radio: A Duke x Dilla Celebration,” a tribute concert on March 30 at the Kennedy Center honoring the American music legacies of Ellington at 125 and hip-hop producer J Dilla. (Courtesy of Jati Lindsay)
“Robert Glasper—Black Radio: A Duke x Dilla Celebration” concert, part of the Kennedy Center’s ongoing series “Ellington 125,” showcased Ellington and Dilla’s and work left audiences with a taste of the artists’ global impact on music 

Featured performers included celebrated artists Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, DJ Karriem Riggins, and the two living members of the rap group De La Soul.

At the beginning of “Duke x Dilla Celebration,” Glasper noted the significance of the concert’s date, March 30.

“I don’t even know if this is by chance, but it just so happens that 10 years ago today, hip-hop came to the Kennedy Center. That makes this even more special,” said Glasper, a Kennedy Center’s Hip-Hop Culture Council member.

Worthy Historic Musical Tributes

Ellington’s impact on American music is unquestioned. The D.C. native’s music not only influenced jazz, but classical music, popular music and even the District’s native sound go-go.

However, J Dilla may not be as widely known. A Detroit native who died in 2006 at age 32, Dilla’s work was impressive and not just in hip-hop. He was a member of two groups, Slum Village and the Soulquarians. 

Dilla also produced singles and remix projects for artists such as Janet Jackson, The Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Raphael Saadiq, Brand New Heavies, Erykah Badu, Poe, Talib Kweli, Common and De La Soul. Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, was at the Kennedy Concert and received the DC Mayor’s office accolades for her son’s work.

Whenever five-time Grammy winner Glasper comes to the Kennedy Center, he reminds us why he is considered a prolific music artist. Glasper and Hodge, the two-time Grammy winner who conducted the Black Radio Orchestra and arranged the music for this concert, always take audiences way beyond the music recording. 

They opened this celebration with a lovely piano and orchestral arrangement of Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Glasper played around with the audience about not having his setlist, a ploy to bring out Bilal to wild applause. 

Bilal, who often performs as part of “Black Radio,” began by singing, “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” Next, the audience heard a long orchestral introduction, with the guitarist sampling The Blackbyrds’ “Rock Creek Park,” which transitioned to Ellington’s “Caravan.” That music segue was pure art.

“It was perfect to work in that nod to D.C.,” said audience member and Northwest, D.C. resident Juan Dunlap about the pairing of The Blackbyrds and Ellington.

Give Us More ‘Black Radio’

Glasper introduced Lalah Hathaway, another of his “Black Radio” vocalists. She and Bilal performed “In a Sentimental Mood,” which showcased their multi-octave range. 

We later heard Hathaway sing “The Look of Love” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Drummer, rapper and producer DJ Karriem Riggins performed, bringing his connection to Dilla. 

De La Soul was brought to the stage with two original members, Vincent Mason, known as Mase, and Kelvin Mercer, known as Pos or Posdnuos. There was a lot of love in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall as the audience rapped along with the group’s hits. The Grammy-winning group continues to perform strongly following the February 2023 death of their fellow founding member David Jolicoeur, known as Trugoy the Dove. 

Hathaway returned singing the slow jam “Love Ballad,” which sped up and hooked into an added rap with De La Soul. 

 The sold-out “Duke x Dilla Celebration” illustrated the beauty of Glasper’s genius. He intentionally gives us an irresistible, seamless music mix we did not know we needed.

Source: Washington Informer

“The Morning Roast” With Cast of Professional Black Men Launches Season 2 in Major TV Markets

Nationwide — Live from the Cave: The Morning Roast is back for its highly anticipated second season, premiering on WGN TV Chicago on April...

Founder of Black Woman-Owned Streaming Service Launches Platform to Fund Stories Told by Black Creators

Nationwide — kweliTV, the premier streaming service celebrating Black culture from around the globe, announces the launch of kweliFUND, a groundbreaking crowdfunding platform designed...

Hip-hop and jazz festival at Kennedy center features hip-hop royalty

A standing-room-only, sold-out throng of hip-hop and jazz enthusiasts filled the seats of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Northwest...

Imani Jean: Freshman standout achieves early success at Howard

From the late Althea Gibson to retired legendary players such as Serena and Venus Williams and Zina Garrison to Naomi Osaki, Sloane Stephens, Ora Washington...

Davey Yarborough honored at Duke Ellington’s 125th birthday concert

As a celebrated musician and arts educator, still making strides in teaching jazz to young musicians, Davey Yarborough, will be honored during “Ellington at...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest

“The Morning Roast” With Cast of Professional Black Men Launches Season 2 in Major TV Markets

Nationwide — Live from the Cave: The Morning Roast...

Founder of Black Woman-Owned Streaming Service Launches Platform to Fund Stories Told by Black Creators

Nationwide — kweliTV, the premier streaming service celebrating Black...

Hip-hop and jazz festival at Kennedy center features hip-hop royalty

A standing-room-only, sold-out throng of hip-hop and jazz enthusiasts...

Imani Jean: Freshman standout achieves early success at Howard

From the late Althea Gibson to retired legendary players...

Newsletter

Don't miss

“The Morning Roast” With Cast of Professional Black Men Launches Season 2 in Major TV Markets

Nationwide — Live from the Cave: The Morning Roast...

Founder of Black Woman-Owned Streaming Service Launches Platform to Fund Stories Told by Black Creators

Nationwide — kweliTV, the premier streaming service celebrating Black...

Hip-hop and jazz festival at Kennedy center features hip-hop royalty

A standing-room-only, sold-out throng of hip-hop and jazz enthusiasts...

Imani Jean: Freshman standout achieves early success at Howard

From the late Althea Gibson to retired legendary players...