The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul: Jazz

The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul You Me NYCSaxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet have been playing rebellious and unapologetic Jazz for the past three decades.  Anyone familiar with this group is definitely aware of their high-flying improvisations that can launch at any given moment.  “The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” is a perfect example of freeform at it’s best with each instrumental voice being defined with purpose.

For 20 of those years, piano player Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis have been a staple in the group.  Drummer Justin Faulkner has been with the band for about 10 years respectively.  I have to say that the band has reached another pinnacle tending to a collection of moods with motivating commitment.  Faulkner’s chops are crisp and smooth.  Calderazzo goes ahead and smokes the ivories and Revis’s bass line is fluent and on point.  Marsalis outdoes himself on this album, his phrasing is sharp and endless.  Each member of the quartet compliments each other the way an improv band should.

“Life Filtering from the Water Flowers” is Marsalis’ one and only composition on this album and it is of true Marsalis form.  This arrangement displays a cleverly organized instrumentation with very moving and contained sax riffs only Marsalis can phrase.  Calderazzo’s piano playing and Faulkner’s drumming help convey the message Marsalis is bringing across.   “Life Filtering from the Water Flowers”, compliments the album as a reflective tribute to his late mother Delores Marsalis.

“The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” is a definite must-have for all Jazz fans.  The creativity of the improvisation tangents in each song is truly an original compilation that cannot be duplicated.  This album is an enjoyable and innovative listen that features some engaging moments of Jazz Improvisation.  This album serves as a perfect example as to why the Brandfors Marsalis Quartet is held in such high regard for the past 30 years.

Getting to Know ToniSteelz

Toni Steelz You Me NYCToniSteelz, Brooklyn born and raised, adult-contemporary hip-hop artist has been performing ever since she was a kid.  Considering she comes from a long line of performers in her family, performing comes naturally to her.  As busy as she is, she took a few moments out of her day to allow You Me NYC to get to know a little more about her.

A day for Toni starts with an early rise and a prayer.  Then she lets the dog out to take care of his business.  Next, she dedicates an hour or two to social media and emails.  Then breakfast, yoga to follow and then she takes a walk around the neighborhood to prepare for the day and kick off her creative flow.

Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Queen Latifah are her musical inspirations when it comes to creating her work.  Her process requires meditation, water, snacks, trees, a pen, paper and space.  Toni Collaborates with other artists as well and finds the process to be a bit more simple.  According to Toni, it’s easier to bounce ideas off of someone else.  She will definitely work with other artists in the future.

Toni loves her work, she loves to create, meet new people and adores her fans.  When her fans reach out she reaches back.  She can’t acknowledge all of her fans, but she does try her best.  She does, however, dislike the backhandedness and the judgments that come with the territory in this industry.  However, when asked if she ever thought about leaving the performing arts and starting a new career, she replied with an emphatic “No”.  Hence why she involves herself with other aspects of the industry such as acting, writing and producing.  She is also considering other genres, like, RnB/Soul and fake singing(jokingly) as well.

With all that is going on in her life, we asked if she ever has time for herself and her response, “I make time for myself”.  Unfortunately, she learned that the hard way, after she was hospitalized for dehydration.  Toni relaxes by going to theme parks, comedy shows, traveling, hanging out, enjoying a nice bowl of pasta(her favorite food), watching television(The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is her favorite show) and occasionally takes a “hit” of “weed”.

Toni Steelz You Me NYCConclusion

Be consistent, relentless, focused and always remember to have fun which is her advice to anyone trying to get into the game.  According to Steelz, “ToniSteelz” is the future and she plans on bringing her lady friends with her.  She sees herself creating and starring in films along with a few other business ventures.  Toni is traveling on a long road and she is excited to see where it brings her.  We at You Me NYC are delighted to be a part of that journey.

 

Check out ToniSteelz’s “Welcome to my Hood” and share with all you know.

Hip Hop Started out in the Heart

Hearing the theme music to Wayne’s Brother’s play for the first time changed my life forever. Electric Relaxation by the Hometown Heroes, A Tribe Called Quest. I guess you can say that’s when I decided to make it official with Hip Hop. No doubt about it, I was in love and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it. I’ve had crushes before but nothing like this, nothing I could put into words. Just a feeling I couldn’t and didn’t want to describe. Kind of like the first time you have great sex. A Tribe Called Quest You Me NYCA Tribe Called Quest in the early days. From left to right,
Jarobi White, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Phife Dawg.
Ernie Paniccioli/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

That’s what Hip Hop is to me, a feeling with such a vast everlasting stamp on this world. Too much to box in but just enough to recognize. However with any and everything, we need reasons to classify and define. If it doesn’t fall into the guidelines regulated by individuals not even responsible for its creation; it’s seen as blasphemy and should be punishable by law. Funny, I haven’t been on this earth as long as most people, however, I have never heard anyone debate so passionately about who’s the best country singer. Especially when it comes to content. There’s a certain kind of freedom allowed in other genres that I don’t see in Hip Hop. It’s always who did it first, who’s the king or queen? Who’s the strongest lyrically? No real room for growth, variety or inclusivity. Unless it’s being used for advertising purposes, then the lanes and streams are endless.  

Hip hop tends to get treated like the troublesome teenager with talent and promise that needs to be disciplined and watched constantly. That one kid all the students love and the teachers can’t stand. The kid with straight A’s who lived in detention really out of boredom unless you needed to show diversity on campus. Hip Hop is almost 40 years old and should be treated as such including the artists who continue to strive and create in this genre. 

I love hip hop but I hate having discussions about it sometimes. If you say more quote on quote conscious artists like Kendrick and J Cole then you get some form of respect but if you say Migos or Kodak then your musical choices are in question when there’s room for everyone to have a seat at the table. Like for BET to trash Nicki Minaj while congratulating Cardi B on her Grammy was disappointing. I’m actually not a fan of either personally but both women worked hard, created their lane and succeeded in it. That’s what Hip Hop is all about. Take out the competition, find the beauty in that. Get back to the heart.  

Beats By Keishh

Keishh

From playing around with “Fruity Loops” in her parent’s basement to producing tracks in New York City, where one landed on HBO’s “Insecure” due to features on “NPR”, blurbs on “Fader”, “Elle”, “The Cut”, and “The New York Times”, Keishh the founder of “Beats by Keishh” a fantastic music production company in the Brooklyn area, is on a mission to showcase her company’s talent through live performances and more visual projects.  When asked how she came about her name Keishh with an extra “h” she replied “I knew I wanted to always keep my real name in some way.  Funny story is I used to go by Killa Keish, and when I went to pick my twitter account it was unavailable.  So I threw on an extra “h” and it was available, so I went with it haha!  I saw myself making music forever so I dropped Killa but kept KEISHH with the extra “h” just because it was a part of me at this point.  keishh.com was available when I went to make my website which was cool, and it also makes it a bit easier to find me online.  So the internet kind of led me to this, but I like it”!

Keishh was born in Denver Colorado and raised in Central Maryland where she discovered her love of music at the age of six, while observing her uncle making and producing all kinds of beats.  Fast forward a few years, Keishh was listening to instrumentals on “You Tube”, where she saw some suggested video content on making beats.  With little to no formal music training outside of some basic classes,  she went ahead and downloaded “Fruity Loops” and began creating music patterns.  After that Keishh was hooked.

When asked who are her primary musical inspirations, her response was “Missy”, “Timbaland”, and ” Pharrell”.  Those three made most of her favorite music growing up.  Their versatility, signature sound, and how their production shaped the artist, is what she aspires most to do and emulate.  Whenever Keishh is feeling uninspired about music, she likes to listen to their instrumentals and get lost for a while and then found by a shot of ambition.

Amongst all of the projects she has worked on, her favorite one is an album she produced for an artist by the name of Miss Eaves, titled, “Feminasty” which also happens to be Keishh’s most successful thus far.  Keishh and Miss Eaves met via the “World Wide Web” and developed a wonderful relationship over time.  Keishh loved this project because at the time she was living in Maryland and Miss Eaves was living in Brooklyn.  The challenge was to communicate their visions to each other without being in the same physical space.  After the extraordinary production of “Feminasty”, both Keishh and Miss Eaves gained the confidence needed in each other to trust their ideas and execute them without any doubt, whether being in the same state or different countries.

Keishh is an amazing artist, producer and I can’t wait to see and hear what else comes out of her outstanding production company.  What really strikes me the most about her, aside from her amazing talent is how real she is.  When asked if there were any embarrassing moments during any of her production sessions she said “No”, however what embarrasses  her right now is when she listens to her early tracks and thought how she was creating fire back in the early times and then realized how far from fire it was.  Check out Keishh’s “SoundCloud” tracks below, you won’t be disappointed, I can assure you of that.