Vibes player Roy Ayers returns, DJ Anthony Valadez unveils mixtape
The man who wrote "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby," was born and bred in Los Angeles. Indeed, Roy Ayers is a native of South L.A. (then known as South Park). He graduated from Wadsworth Elementary, Nevins Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High while honing his virtuosic jazz chops in the shadow of the famed Central Avenue jazz world.
The story goes that Lionel Hampton gave Ayers his first pair of mallets, a gift that sparked Ayers' adoption of the vibraphone as his instrument of choice for the next five decades. Since his debut, 1963's "West Coast Vibes," the 71-year old has released enough records to keep the staff at discogs.com in perpetual revision. A few of the highlights: the soundtrack to "Coffy," "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," "Vibrations," and his collaboration with Fela Kuti, "Music of Many Colors."
Of course, when you discuss Ayers, you can't ignore his contributions to hip hop. In his musical explorations, he smoothy glided from cool jazz to disco to soul and funk, but his beats and ideas have been reappropriated by too many rappers and producers to enumerate. Sure, there's the legendary Pete Rock, who will accompany him during his Nov. 17 performance at Exchange LA. But his tunes have been sampled by everyone from Redman to DJ Shadow too.
In advance of the performance, KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez has created a stellar mix incorporating Ayers originals and their creative offspring. Appearances include the Roots, Ultramagnetic MCs, X-Clan, and more (the transition from Ayers and Carl Clay's "Shining Symbol" into Redman's "Creepin'" is masterful). But the Ayers effect has extended to a third generation. Also on the bill will be Thundercat, the Brainfeeder-signed fusion jazz artist who clearly channels the beautiful float of Ayers' most poignant compositions.
Information about the show on the 17th can be found here. The mix can be found below. It's the best 45 minutes you will hear all day.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Roy Ayers; Credit: RoyAyers.com