Photos by David Andrako
If you hail from the borough of Brooklyn, go ahead and pat yourself on the back; it seems your city has a history of churning out some incredibly talented artists. This summer marks the 36th season of the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series, hosted by the BRIC Arts & Media non-profit organization. Hosted in Prospect Park , the ‘Bandshell’ is surrounded by an expansive seated arena (holds about 2,000 chairs) that stretches out further into the green lawn to accommodate more visitors. This past Saturday, we saw the park filled with people of all boroughs, looking forward to performances by Aja Monet, Glenn Kotche, and headliners The Robert Glasper Experiement, with a special performance by Talib Kweli.
The show opened with lush delivery from poet-songstress Aja Monet. Half spoken word and half musical musings, Aja’s voice rises and falls with a jazz beat, spitting stanzas and lyrics rich with meaning. Her stage presence leaves nothing to be desired-she is both enthralled in the performance and aware of the audience-calling out several times to ask questions, introducing her poem-songs with quips like “This one is for any of you who’ve ever felt f*cked up by love.” She maintains a strong sense of pride in her hometown of Brooklyn, reaching out to those in the audience who share her heritage. After stunning opening performance, we hope to see more of this artist’s rare presence soon.
Aja Monet at Prospect Park Bandshell
As you’ll see in our exclusive interview with celebrated drummer/composer Glenn Kotche, this man has an expansive and cerebral taste. His solo performance utilizes anything and everything-from electronic percussion systems to cricket boxes- to display an expansive range and creativity. His set, using only percussions, built and broke tension, and was flush with unexpected twists and turns. It created an almost cinematic experience for the audience-most evident in a composition sampling sounds from The Terminator. His style makes it easy to envision the percussionist composing music for feature-length films, and highlights the unexpected creativity of instrumental performances.
Glenn Kotche enthralled in solo performance at Celebrate Brooklyn.
The Robert Glasper Experiment Feat Talib Kweli
Robert Glasper leads the The Robert Glasper Experiment as a skilled pianist and experienced record producer who’s previously worked with a slew of all-star vocalists: Erykah Badu, Common, Brandy, Jill Scott, Lupe Fiasco, Most Def, and Jazmin Sullivan. The group is a genre-bending act, fusing jazz and hip-hop, even electronic music in the form of Casey Benjamin’s warped electronic vocals. Their performance featured several unique covers, ranging from Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ to Nirvana’s hit ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. The group invigorates the stage, celebrates each other and the music, granting generous bass, drum, and piano solos for each member. The presence of Talib Kweli also drew large crowds, and when he opened with famous ‘Just To Get By’ , the crowd jumped to their feet, chanting lyrics along with the MC. Kweli and Glasper maintained a brotherly dynamic onstage, jokingly challenging each other to a half-hearted rap battle mid-way through the show. Glasper also performed a tribute to long-time inspiration J Dilla near the end of their performance. Robert Glasper Experiment released Porter Chops Glasper, its most recent EP, in Feburary. It features remixes of RGE’s work by Mr Porter (a.k.a. Denaum Porter), famed hype-man of Eminem and founder of rap collective D12.
Photos by David Andrako
See the Celebrate Brooklyn Facebook page for even more photos, videos, and news on upcoming concerts.