The Rebirth of Cool in Crenshaw

Terrace Martin and company generate a soulful performance

terracemartin

Words and Photos by R. Ray Robinson   Staff Writer

With Black History Month in full swing, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall in Los Angeles had acclaimed jazz musician Terrace Martin perform on Feb.4. 

Terrace is known best as one of the jazz artists responsible for writing and producing music for rap superstar Kendrick Lamar. In 2015, he worked on the Grammy award winning song, “These Walls” from Kendrick’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly.” This time however, Terrace promoted his album, “Velvet Portraits,” which was nominated for Best R&B Album this year at the Grammys. 

In an interview, Terrace expressed his love for L.A.’s Central Avenue. With many African American communities rising, Central Ave. was the soul of the West Coast jazz scene during the 1920s to mid-1950s. Thanks to legendary musicians like Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Eric Dolphy, and Charlie “Bird” Parker, among others, the area was vibrantly thriving with marvelous musical majesty. 

When asked about which musicians inspired him, Terrace replied, “Eazy-E influences me and should be celebrated for putting West Coast rap on the map similar to Miles Davis and John Coltrane innovating jazz.” Not consolidating to the norms but shifting to a new tune, Terrace’s band charmed the crowd with some songs from his album. 

The band began conducting “A Tribe Called West”, a play on words inspired by hip-hop collective “A Tribe Called Quest.” Terrace slammed his keyboard while spitting soaring, synthesizing sounds on the mic that added a West Coast G-Funk fancy to his music.

Terrace thrilled the crowd more by allowing R&B singer Rose Gold to take center stage and cover “Real,” one of Kendrick’s classics from his “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” album. Her voice sounded rich as gold which sent a sublime sensation into the crowd of many fans.

 Later, Terrace and Rose added more flavor to the concert by sharing the stage with award-winning saxophonist, Kamasi Washington. He began blowing up jazzy tunes that were loud as thunder. Terrace soon snatched his own saxophone and performed together with Kamasi, showing how black music’s legacy is still alive.

They then covered Lionel Louke’s “Tribal Dance,” with Terrace and Rose on vocals, they sounded so spiritual. They sounded like ancestors blessing future generations with the inspiration to overcome today’s issue such as war. 

Later in the show, Terrace played with the Jonah Levine Collective. The collective performed a track from bebop jazz artist Thelonious Monk as well as and their own song called, “The Last Minute,” giving a great show. 

The concert finished with Terrace’s smooth, phenomenal finale called “Valdez on Crenshaw.” The song sounded like a futuristic fusion of inner-city blues mixed with funk, soul and astronomical tendencies. The crowd went crazy. 

Terrace has done a lot more for his community than most. Although Lala Hathaway ended up winning Best R&B Album at the Grammys this year, Terrace still rises. He is giving back to the city that fed him jazz as a young man by bringing back the “rebirth of cool” with his band. 

If you haven’t already, check out Terrace Martin’s “Velvet Portraits” in full swing.

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