Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In good company with three musical masters

Let's go on a journey. Start with a lazy afternoon sittin' on the dock of the bay with the king of soul. Then as the day turns into night follow the sounds of the blue train down into the club and dine with the master of jazz. With renewed energy, learn da art of storytelling into the wee hours of the morning from a legendary hip-hop duo. What a trip that would be, right?

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was born in 1941, the year President Roosevelt established the Fair Employment Practice Committee and prohibited racial discrimination in hiring by federal departments. Though his death was untimely, he was 26 and his biggest hit "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" was yet to be released, Otis Redding's is identified by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he was posthumously inducted in 1989, as synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying. 1967 marked other untimely deaths as riots for African American civil rights escalated. But like the ebb and flow of Redding's bay, positive strides were also made that year. Justice Thurgood Marshall was inducted into the Supreme Court and state prohibitions to interracial marriages were ended.

John William Coltrane was given to us in the year of 1926, born in the small, North Carolina town of Hamlet, and left us the same year as Redding in 1967. Early family deaths and the discipline of The Navy constructed the design of his early life, and the rest is jazz history - he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation in 2007 for his masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz. He seems to have attained a Zen-like jazz through the mastery of internalizing his surroundings, learning from fellow musicians and friends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, by absorbing information and returning it to the world with a signature that could only be John Coltrane.

Outkast is Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Known to their mommas as Andre Lauren Benjamin and Antwan Andre Patton, they were both born in 1975 in Georgia and have a passion for hip hop. Musically, Outkast weaves elements of funk, soul, rock, electronic, spoken word, jazz and blues together to create an original and diverse sound. And though they are succeeding by measure of awards, sales and popularity, Outkast stands for a different measure of a (wo)man....

i'm speakin about you playin with that phony stuff you sharin
in your raps Mercedes Benz and all your riches
thinkin you got it, but get it get it

Their ability to transform the basic principles that guide their lives into music is what makes them legends. To them, hip hop is a lifestyle - a mindset even - and proves to be a solid foundation for their infinite creativity and good will. Check out...


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