It was a night to remember! A Suite For Ma Dukes: J Dilla Tribute

It was a night to remember! A Suite For Ma Dukes: J Dilla Tribute

This past weekend recording artists Common, Talib Kweli and De La Soul’s Posdnous, Bilal, Dwele and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson teamed up with a 40 piece orchestra to celebrate the lyrical emotionality of James Dewitt Yancey’s (better known as J Dilla) music in front of sold out crowd at Cal State Los Angeles for the second installment of the Timeless Composer/Arranger Series.

“…for the audience that the series is aiming at, for the sheer level of creative challenge that Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño rose to to make this music work, to the sheer amount of love reverberating through the room last night…this was something that went beyond the music in honoring and celebrating Dilla.”

-Oliver Wang, Soul Sides
Feb 23, 2009

There was magic brewing on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles this weekend…the kind that puts a love spell on everyone who walks into its path. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and his 40-piece orchestra set the entire Luckman Fine Arts Plaza afloat on Sunday night with Timeless: Suite for Ma Dukes, their gorgeous re-imagining of J Dilla’s best known works. J Dilla’s mother was on hand as a special guest and the evening was dedicated to her.

“If you listen closely to the music, the possibilities are endless…” Ma Dukes

The energy onstage was infectious, and the audience was just as emotionally invested in the performance as the musicians. One could feel the grand swoops and shimmering intricacies of the music just by the motion of Atwood-Ferguson’s hands. When Dwele came out to do “Angel,” he had to stand back in awe for several moments to take in the beauty.

In true Dilla fashion, one classic begets another, and we got to see that progression take place right before our eyes. Diana Moreira led us through the bossa nova lilt of Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfa’s “Saudade Vem Correndo,” containing the famous hook Dilla sampled into the Pharcyde’s “Runnin’.” Minutes later, the orchestra changed tempo and transformed the bossa nova mood into Dilla’s inspired jam with vocal contributions by Amp Fiddler, Bilal and Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra. Bilal then sang “Reminesce” and brought the crowd to a frenzy.

The night rounded out when Posdnuous surprised everyone and did his verse of De la Soul’s “Stakes is High,” and then brought out Talib Kweli to assist. The chorus which included OhNo, Alchemist, Illa J, Frank Nitty, Rhettmatic, Ma Dukes, J Davey and Houseshoes sang out the refrain…”Love, Vibration” – eventually turning the mic over to the audience to sing along. An encore of Slum Village’s “Fall in Love” left everyone with the sweet high that only falling in love can bring about.

People will be talking about this majestic performance for years and blessed are those who were on hand to see it bloom.

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