One of the true marks of distinction for any major jazz festival is presenting artists, bands, and special projects that are fairly rare, often exclusive festival presentations; the kind of evenings you just wouldn’t experience at any other time of year. The former is certainly the case with the supergroup known as R+R=NOW. Part of our amazing triple-bill on what promises to be a stellar evening, Saturday, June 16th at The Anthem, R+R=NOW will join Tony Award-winning vocalist (for Broadway’s hottest ticket: Hamilton) Leslie Odom Jr., and the funkmaster saxophonist-bandleader Maceo Parker, what promises to be an incredibly diverse and uproariously entertaining evening.
So exactly who is this R+R=NOW? Please allow me to introduce this 21st century supergroup. On trumpet, coming straight from what also promises to be a DCJF highlight performance on our District Pier Stage, is New Orleans’ own Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. One of the true millennial keepers of the grand jazz trumpet tradition, Christian Scott hails from a Crescent City culture rich family. Nephew of the great alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, Scott will soon succeed his uncle as the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group (known in some circles as one of the famed Mardi Gras Indians assemblages), thus becoming one of only two virtuoso jazz musicians (besides Harrison) to “mask” in that rich tradition. The Grammy-nominated Scott is part of the next gen evolution of the jazz trumpet, playing what he has dubbed “Stretch music.”
Bassist Derrick Hodge is adept at both the acoustic and electric basses. In addition to his jazz-informed and tradition advancing recordings for the storied Blue Note label, Hodge has also switched gears and recorded with his Philadelphia homies Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and Floetry, in addition to touring and recording with revered rapper Common. Mentored by trumpeter Terence Blanchard (playing the Hamilton Live, Sunday, June 10th), Hodge has studied film scoring with Blanchard, which includes credits for Spike Lee’s film When the Levees Broke, and scoring the fascinating, deeply informative documentary film Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans.
R+R=NOW drummer Justin Tyson, who has drummed for Mos Def and Tyrese among others, is currently the drummer for Grammy Award-winning bassist-vocalist Esperanza Spalding.
Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Taylor McFerrin, released his much-acclaimed debut album “Early Riser” on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint in 2014. Taylor’s debut recording however came as a background singer on his renowned father Bobby McFerrin’s 1982 debut album.
Holding down the saxophone chair in R+R=NOW is the swiftly rising Terrace Martin, a member of the L.A. collective that introduced fellow saxophonist Kamasi Washington to the world. He is one of the architects of the distinctly jazz-informed sound that made rapper Kendrick Lamar’s debut recording “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which copped Martin a Grammy Award for his production work. More recently Martin has toured with the great Herbie Hancock and will produce the master’s next recording.
The most-noted member of R+R=NOW, and the cooperative unit’s nominal leader, is no stranger to DC JazzFest audiences, pianist-composer and multiple Grammy Award-winning Blue Note recording artist Robert Glasper.
There is absolutely no question that given that impressive assemblage of new millennium firepower, R+R=NOW will be one of the highlights of this year’s DC JazzFest. About this R+R=NOW project, Glasper told Billboard magazine: “Everybody’s sound is so different, but we all come from the same concrete garden. It's a very honest, fluid sound that rings of hip-hop, jazz, reggae… a bunch of cats that respect each other so much that we always pass the ball.” Above all… don’t sleep!
- Artistic Director Willard Jenkins