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Brandino and Friends Live at Seven Grand – All About Jazz

June 11th, 2012 — 10:33am


By Anthony Polis

When people talk about jazz venues in Los Angeles, downtown’s Seven Grand Whiskey Bar doesn’t usually come to mind. That’s unfortunate because this popular bar has featured jazz and blues Monday through Wednesday for over a year. It’s a classy yet hip spot to sip a cocktail and hear great music without the formality and tightness of a typical jazz venue. It’s nice to have an affordable laid back alternative.

Which brings us to Brandino and Friends—an exciting new LA-based jazz-funk outfit. On May 21, the acclaimed bassist/producer and his new band rocked the spot off its foundation. This was their fourth show here and the best yet.

Kevin “Brandino” Brandon is an accomplished musician and producer who’s spent 22 years as Aretha Franklin’s bassist. He’s contributed to numerous Grammy-winning and nominated albums including OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds and Mary J Blige’s The Breakthrough. He’s a beast, a truly versatile artist who’s trained in both jazz and classical music. Brandino has serious chops, relentless energy and possesses an effortless improvisational intuition.

Supported by a diverse crew, including up-and-coming tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington, also a member of Thundercat’s band (from Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label), Texas-born keyboardist Andy Langham and Brandino’s old school homie from Compton, Ronald Bruner Sr., filling in on drums for the insanely talented Oscar Seaton.

A sturdy foundation rooted in tradition with current attitudes and ideas makes this band unique. Taking a page from the Miles Davis playbook, Brandino understands the importance of young blood in the mix. His and Bruner’s experience combined with the fresh ideas of Washington and Langham creates a technically impressive and energetic experience. Kudos for putting together a great band.

Many young people today lament the lack of soul and youthfulness in modern jazz. This ensemble defies that notion with the force of a category five hurricane (Brandino has roots in Louisiana).

Speaking of Louisiana, I’ll never forget Brandino’s proclamation that meeting Louis Armstrong was a life changing experience. His soul, energy and joyfulness continue the tradition of The Big Easy. The group is more gumbo than fusion: mixing different cultures, traditions and styles into a pot and then lighting a fire under it. You can’t pin down their sound, except that it’s raw, skillful, funky and real.

During two sets the band performed a wide selection of material, but their unique version of the Weather Report’s “Birdland” stood out. This was an ideal choice for Brandino to showcase his raw energy, in which he delivered a massive solo that rattled my skull. Each member contributed a unique take on the band’s tough yet dynamic version of the classic, and Brandino’s thunderous solo was accentuated by various effects pedals which gave the song a futuristic feel.

The night ended with Mongo Santamaria’s timeless classic, “Afro Blue.” Most of us have heard this standard numerous times before but they flipped and twisted it in ways that I’ve never imagined. The group’s funky yet relaxed rendition captured the essence of Mongo’s spirit. It left your mind, body and spirit nourished after the preceding journey through hard bop, jazz-funk, fusion and everything else these guys threw into the pot. It was the perfect closing statement.

Brandino and Friends combine elements of jazz that rarely intersect these days: soul, improvisation, technical prowess and social relevancy. Give them a listen…

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Quote of the Day: Alan Eames

June 9th, 2012 — 8:36am

“For some ten-thousand years, women have maintained power in male dominated hunter-gather societies through their skills as brewsters.” -Alan Eames

LA Craft Beer Crawl tickets are on sale now at lacraftbeercrawl.com! Get them before they sell out!

Quote of the Day: “Water is good for only two things…”

June 8th, 2012 — 9:57am

“Water is good for only two things: floating ships and making beer.” -Anonymous

LA Craft Beer Crawl tickets are on sale now at lacraftbeercrawl.com! Get them before they sell out!

This Weekend with 213

June 7th, 2012 — 3:55pm

Friday, June 8th


Casey’s Irish Pub – The Terrapin

They are back! New singer Xiomara Cornejo. Everything else is still the same. And it’s just as fucking great! The heavy pop/experimental sensibility and wall of sound noise. If you missed them last year when they were at Casey’s you’re in luck! You can catch The Terrapin every Friday in June with a special guest each week. Showtime is at 10:30P and it’s free!

Caña Rum Bar – Native Wayne
Tonight Grammy-winning reggae luminary Wayne Hobson, also known as Native Wayne to his Indie 103 fans, will be behind the wheels of steel bringing us the good vibes via an eclectic set of classic reggae, dancehall, afrobeat, and whatever else he deems worthy of your listening pleasure. It’s Friday night, so if you’d like to ensure yourself a table or bring more than three guests, reservations are necessary. Right near the beach… Boyyyyyyyyyy!

Las Perlas – Natasha Chaney
Shawn Carter and Natasha Chaney met at a party, by the end of the night they were finishing each others sentences. Only three months later BEAUTY OF THE BEATS was born. BEAUTY OF THE BEATS are the vibe setters, tastemakers, and déjà vu creators! Natasha and Shawn, two friends brought together by another (we call her “Charlie”) and a common desire to bring quality, cutting edge, musical gems to any dance floor.

Broadway Bar – DJ Cleo
This coming Friday June 8th Broadway Bar Presents: DJ CLEO returning to get you dancing once more with her sultry combination of house, electro, nu disco, moombahton and indie dance vibes! With Cleo’s US Feature film debut around the corner, this will be the kick off to her whirlwind DJ promotional tour for the feature film Step Up Revolution! (in cinemas July 27th) Come early! This will be one party you don’t want to miss! From 10pm!!

Saturday, June 9th


Casey’s Irish Pub – Planets
In 2009, after writing together for 2+ years, filmmaker Adam Stilwell and guitarist Adam Cotton decided to turn their overflowing well of songs into a massive narrative, based on Stilwell’s dark stories and Cotton’s bottomless wealth of musical ambition. In a year’s time, the two-man show grew into a twenty-person production. Friends lent there talents and one by one joined the band, creating a one of a kind creative collective that performed rock operas such as “TheLandofTheNewGhosts” and “TheBigDrowningHeart” , and most recently, “TheDarkWoods” in the strange corners of Los Angeles.

Las Perlas – DJ Darren Revell
Las Perlas welcomes DJ Darren Revell from 103′s Big Sonic Heaven tonight. Darren will be spinning everything from Post Punk to New Wave to Eighties so grab your head bands and leg warmers and get on down here. We’ll see you then!

Caña Rum Bar – Music Selector Jose Galvan
Its time for you to stop living and start winning! What better way to do that than to join us @ Caña Rum Bar for Jose Galvan. Tonight and every Saturday night Jose joins us playing Latin Alternative, Funky Beats and Caribbean Rhythms. We will also be serving some of the most delicious rum cocktails ever to have touched your tongue. Get in here and get some!

Broadway Bar – DJ’s J-Cru, Digits & Tiffany Jimenez
The return of Live video Mixing @ the Broadway bar. Celebrating the Birthday’s of DJ J-Cru, DJ Digits, & Tiffany Jimenez. Sights and sounds will be provided by Coldfusion Live artist DJ B-Mix, DJ J-Cru, and special guest DJ Digits.

Casey’s Irish Pub – Stanley Cup Finals: Kings vs. Devils
The Kings have made it!!! They are one game away from becoming champions. Show your support by coming down to Casey’s for each and every final game against the Devils. The game will be showing on all of our giant flat screen TV’s with sound. Go Kings!!! And buy a drink too!