Engagement Story -- Paris 2018

Our Paris trip!! Got engaged to my best friend and my partner in life!! Here’s how our engagement story. So Chaya is getting her PhD in Race Politics at Princeton Univ. So I knew I wanted to take her to a place in Paris where James Baldwin use to study and write. I did some research online and found this neighborhood called St. Germaine. I come to find out that Duke Ellington also frequented this neighborhood!! I knew this would be the perfect place to propose; the intersection of our passions, Jazz and Race Relations. So while I was on tour with Marquis Hill’s Blacktet, we had a couple days off in Paris. Chaya and I were sight-seeing and visited the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and all the best sites. At the end of our day, we took an Uber to this cafe called Cafe Tournon (where James Baldwin and Duke both hung out), and I made sure to sit outside. (It was cold but not raining thank god). I asked Marquis and the band if he could show up at the cafe and surprise her with a Duke Ellington composition. They arrived exactly on time and surprised the hell out of her. That’s when I got on one knee and proposed!! She said yes.

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Braxton Cook
Will Vinson solo - Hindsight

My good friend Joel Ross (incredible vibraphonist in the NYC area) put me on to this Joe Sanders record called Introducing Joe Sanders. The album is fire!! We were on tour with Marquis Hill at the time and just chillin back stage. He put on some music and I was like "yooooo who is playing alto?!" He told me that 's Will Vinson. I was familiar with his playing but hadn't checked out other records he's guested on.  Long story short I started learning this solo and a few others. Vinson is a beast. Melodic, technically ridiculous, and phrases in a very clear logical and almost rap like structure. Hope y'all enjoy this one. 

Cannonball Adderley solo- Hippodelphia
Cannonball Adderley solo on Hippodelphia   This is one of my favorite songs of Cannonball and one of my favorite solos! This whole album is fuego truthfully. There are very alto players I like to hear more than Cannonball live!! Cannonball doesn’t get enough credit for influencing a lot of saxophonists’ sound. He’s a g.o.a.t!

Cannonball Adderley solo on Hippodelphia

This is one of my favorite songs of Cannonball and one of my favorite solos! This whole album is fuego truthfully. There are very alto players I like to hear more than Cannonball live!! Cannonball doesn’t get enough credit for influencing a lot of saxophonists’ sound. He’s a g.o.a.t!

Songwriting and Producing

I've been working in Logic producing and writing songs all year long. I don't necessarily aspire to be a producer per se but it's just become my songwriting process. I want to create good songs and demos in my room from start to finish that I can send to other artists and producers. I have A LOT of music in me and producing in Logic has become my way of getting it out.

When I was working on my album Somewhere in Between, I produced the entire project in Logic months before (January 2016- March 2016). This gave me time to work on the songs by myself without having to worry about organizing rehearsals with my band and also I could organize the project all before entering the studio. I worked on the song order, tempos, keys, solo order and honed in on the sound I wanted in the months prior. So when April 2nd of 2016 came and we entered the studio I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do. For anyone doing an album or project I highly suggest doing this...It's almost like making a MOCK-UP album. Then you can get advice and feedback from artists you respect on your MOCK-UP before you hit the studio....

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Working with Solange Knowles
Solange at The Guggenheim

Solange at The Guggenheim

So for those that don't know, my younger brother Bryndon (aka Starchild) is the music director for Solange. For years I've been wanting to collaborate in some way and finally some opportunities came through. A few months back I performed with Solange at The Guggenheim Museum. This was a historical moment... we have a black artist and all black band performing a very socially conscious project in the Guggenheim museum. Everyone in attendance had to dress in all white and the entire venue was packed. A jaw dropping visual to say the least. So I helped contract the other 15 black horn players and we performed "Don't Touch My Hair " and "Fubu" with Solange and the band. Solange's closing number was a super emotional piece where she falls out on the ground rolling around screaming and pouring out her soul. Meanwhile, the band is blasting bell tones in concert and the crowd is screaming full out. We got to the upper room (so to speak). Many people in the crowd were crying. I myself had chills and was choked up a bit by the visceral emotion. It was palpable. Easily one of the best moments of my life.

 

Things I took away from Solange's show was how meticulous she was about the look, feel, sound and aesthetic she wanted to create. Solange is very hands on and every moment of the show is choreographed. It was inspiring...

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New Favorite Artists
New Wave R & B

New Wave R & B

I've been listening to a lot of Alternative RnB and Urban RnB lately. I just wanna share what's been on my playlist...

Nick Hakim (amazing singer -songwriter from Maryland), Masego, Xavier Omar, H.E.R, Nao and Daniel Caesar. Have to say Daniel Caesar is incredible... I want to work with this man. That's gotta happen. Check out my favorite songs from these artists...

 

Playlist:

Nick Hakim - Needy Bees

Masego - Girls That Dance

Xavier Omar - Blind Man

Daniel Caeser - Blessed

H.E.R. - Focus

Nao - Bad Blood

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Anderson .Paak the Dopest Artist Out Now?
Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak

To those of you that don’t have Anderson .Paak’s album “Malibu” do yourself a favor now and get it!

While Anderson .Paak has been out for a while and grinding on the music scene for the past I don’t know how long, this album “Malibu” was his real introduction to the world. And what an introduction! He sings, raps, and plays drums all at once. Literally one of the most amazing acts I’ve ever seen live because he does all 3 on such a high level and with so much energy. Seeing this type of artistry that incorporates so many styles into one is so amazing to see. And even more amazing is to how it’s received by the masses. It’s inspiring to see these true ARTISTS make great art and it still be accessible by the masses. It just shows me that people are thirsty for good music and this excites me about the future. There is a wave happening in the music scene and across the world where more artists with talent and ability are getting more shine and the appetite for the masses is growing. The future is bright!

Thanksgiving – A Family Affair

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite time of year; the weather is perfect, the food is amazing, it’s my baby brother’s birthday and most importantly I get to go home and spend time with my family. (It’s pretty much the dopest time of year!) Like from music, family has been a constant in my life and a very important aspect of my life. For various reasons, our family has had to move numerous times and relocating throughout my childhood was very difficult. It had a profound affect on me. So music and my family became the only things I could really count on. For this reason, every year, no matter how busy my brothers and I get, we always make an effort to all be together a few times a year. Also getting out of NYC, even for just a little bit, is the most refreshing thing ever lol