Brandon Coleman’s Release Party For ‘Resistance’ At The Lodge Room, Thursday September 13th 2018
The Lodge Room was hosting a very special show on Thursday night, keyboardist maestro Brandon Coleman was releasing his new album ‘Resistance’, and the party that followed was one for the ages. Presented by Art Don’t Sleep, the ‘Jazz Is Dead’ soiree featured a long night of legendary DJs such as Wyldeflower, Jeremy Sole, Mono/Poly and BATTLECAT, as well as a set by Stones Throw’s the Steoples, whose musical genre is still to be determined. The night stretched for so long that Brandon Coleman Coleman and his impressive band took the stage after 11 pm. Coleman being a frequent band member of Kamasi Washington’s band, I was hoping to see the famous jazz saxophonist among the special guests, and my wish got fulfilled as Washington came on stage with the 14 or 15-member band – I may have lost count.
Coleman, who has collaborated with a long list of artists, from Ciara to Mulatu Astatke, Childish Gambino, Shuggie Otis, and Babyface, has released a genre-bending album on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, putting the emphasis on creative freedom: ‘I’ve been in the studio a lot in recent years, writing with this or that artist and I always felt constrained… like I had to compromise and submit to a ‘pop’ sensibility,’ he explained in an interview. ‘This time I just wanted to create something that was really free… something original… to incorporate all the styles that I represent, because often when I’ve tried to do that in the past it’s been met with resistance.’
The night was a good example of this artistic freedom, an epic statement in a world where we often want to categorize and reduce artists to a one-dimensional musical drawer or single-idea record bin. The night embraced many genres with a constant uplifting vibe and the joy that the performance brought to the lucky crowd was palpable all-night long.
The stage got crowded with people, instruments, mic stands, and pedals – the anti-thesis of this recent David Byrne’s empty-stage show – but the music was nevertheless spacious and free-spirited. Horns, bass, drums, keyboards, keytar, percussion, back up singers, violin, it was a full house vibrating at the sound of Coleman’s wobbling keys and R&B vocalizing falsetto. With his hat and casual demeanor, he looked like the perfect ambassador of his inviting sonic journey, a golden-sun-reflecting-glasses man with a glowing aura, a joy purveyor with a high-flying voice and magical keys.
The horn-driven music quickly filled up with memorable multi-keyboard numbers and you could have recognized many influences in this wide-screen musical odyssey, from Stevie Wonder’s keys to George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic, working together like a full rainbow of notes as if they were, at times, produced by Quincy Jones, while leaving a large part to experimentation and imagination. Even though the large ensemble played tracks featured on the album, there was still a lot of space for improvisation and complete freedom inside the songs, this is how Coleman seems to conceive them, space for a keytar sole, or a drums-and percussion part, and, of course, plenty of space for epic saxophone solos, executed by master Washington himself. ‘This is jazz,… jazz is never dead’, said Coleman at one point, reinforcing the idea of complete freedom in his conception of music.
Coleman’s meandrous vocals, going through his special kind of mic and fusing together human and machine, did convey more emotions live than on the record, and that was a good way to bring a massive ball of overwhelming feelings in everyone’s head and throat. This was particularly true during the well-named ‘Giant Feelings’ with inspiring astral vocals by his backup vocalists. And when it was not completely about emotions (‘Love’), the music was all about infectious beats or bouncy grooves (‘Sexy’), working their magic on the crowd almost the same way, thanks to a loaded truck of electrifying boogie piano and empowering horns, mixing jazz, R&B, Funk and soul with explosive style and beaming joy.
The first time I read that Brandon Coleman had released an album called ‘Resistance’, I immediately thought about a political statement, it would not have been a surprise during these times, especially coming from an African American artist. However ‘Resistance’ has much more to do with overcoming the adversity we encounter every time we aspire to be true to ourselves, every time we want to be free. It is a much more universal statement than an anti-Trump common pose, it reaches for the shining stars (like one of the songs of the album) with all-embracing music filled with generosity and love.
Just Reach For the Stars
All Around the World
A Letter to My Buggers