VTech® Communications, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of VTech Holdings Ltd. HKSE: 303; ADR: VTKHY, and the largest U.S. cordless phone manufacturer), in conjunction with music production company Mochilla today announced “Timeless,” a four-part concert series honoring the arrangers/composers that have influenced hip-hop since the 1970s.
Beginning Sunday, Feb. 1, with a performance by Ethiopian composer Mulatu Astatke and culminating on Sunday, April 5 with a performance by legendary composer David Axelrod, each Timeless concert features full orchestra collaborations honoring a featured arranger/composer framed with sets by turntablists from around the globe.
The “Timeless” concert series, which will be held at the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex in Los Angeles, is a unique homage to arrangers and composers as the antecedents of today’s beat-makers. The series features a tribute to revered hip-hop artist J Dilla by chamber musicians Carlos Nino and Miguel Ferguson on Feb. 22; Brazilian folk-jazz artist Arthur Verocai with sets by Madlib and DJ Nuts on March 15; and Axelrod, whose heavily-sampled solo albums have never before been performed live, on April 5. Each international artist will perform their all-time hits, plus an exclusive new piece. The DJs/producers opening each concert will build their sets around the legacy and era of the highlighted composer.
Known as the “father of Ethio-jazz,” Astatke, who also provided the music to indie film hit Broken Flowers, will be joined by openers Cut Chemist, Quantic and Egon in the kick-off concert. In addition to being a recognized solo DJ, Cut Chemist was formerly a member of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. Tracks by Quantic, the English musician who now lives in Cali, Colombia, have been featured regularly in songs by other eclectic DJs such as Richard Dorfmeister and Gilles Peterson. Egon is the general manager of Stones Throw Records.
The “Timeless” concert series is presented by VTech, which recently launched a feature-rich streaming music and Internet radio device, the IS9181, and sponsors a variety of concerts and music events nationwide.
“Timeless is a one-of-a-kind concert series that celebrates diverse music influences and how they collaborate to create something truly unique,” said Tom Bacon, vice president of marketing, VTech Communications. “These international artists represent world music at its best, making this series a complement to our current involvement in the music community and a perfect venue to showcase our new Internet radio music hub. It’s a unique product that will untether music lovers from their computers with high-quality sound and other features to fully enjoy music from around the globe.”
Timeless is curated by production company Mochilla, which has previously developed campaigns for other tastemaker brands such as Adidas, Dickies and Vans.
“Today’s hip-hop music revolves around beat-makers and producers who often take their cues and samples from compositions of different generations and countries,” said Brian Cross (aka B+) of Mochilla. “Timeless brings these worlds together in Los Angeles – home to the world’s greatest musicians and session artists. Only here can we bring together such a diversity of music in this grand scale.”
Timeless Kick-Off February 1: About the Musicians
Mulatu Astatke is one of the most influential and important musicians from Ethiopia. During the 1960s, he studied music abroad in London, Boston (Berklee School of Music) and New York. Mulatu returned home to Ethiopia with a love of jazz and Latin music. He then remade the music he had learned abroad through a distinctly Ethiopian frame - he called his music “Ethio-jazz”.
Mulatu is first and foremost a composer and arranger but also a multi-instrumentalist, playing the vibraphone, keyboards and organs. He is credited with having introduced congas and bongos into popular Ethiopian music. Ethiopian music didn’t have congas; they had to travel from West Africa to Cuba and then New York into the hands of a young Mulatu to make the journey back to East Africa. However, as Ethiopian songs traditionally focused on vocals, his greatest contribution to the music of his country was introducing a new focus on instrumentation. His music veers from the sublime Tezetas to the most foot-stomping funk.
Since the early 1990s, Mulatu has been the center of renewed attention in the West. The award-winning and invaluable Ethiopiques series by Francis Falsetto has shed a new light into a vital and amazing music scene that existed in Addis Abbaba before the disastrous left-wing dictatorship of the seventies and eighties. The composer/arranger of that era was Mulatu. He is a central figure in African music in the way that Fela Kuti is.
The influence of Mulatu’s music, his tone and sensibility can be heard in much of today’s music. Cut Chemist, Quantic, Madlib, Kanaan all have felt the influence of Ethiopia on their music.
More recently, his music became a central character in director Jim Jarmush’s 2005 independent smash hit Broken Flowers with actor Bill Murray.
Cut Chemist has been recording and performing for more than 20 years. His roots lie deep in hip hop as a founding member of the rap group Jurassic 5. During this time, Cut also joined the Latin jazz/funk outfit, Ozomatli. Both groups have gone on to be staples in the L.A. music scene. With the involvement of both groups in tandem with one another, Cut has developed a taste for music and rhythms from all over the world while keeping his tradition for the hip hop approach. Eventually, Cut left both groups to pursue a career with Warner Bros. records where he landed his first solo LP, The Audiences Listening, in 2006.
In 2007, Cut landed an opening slot for Shakira’s Oral Fixation tour dazzling, her audience with his world music sense and multimedia presentation. After returning home, he joined long-time friend and collaborator DJ Shadow to headline the Hollywood Bowl for “The Hard Sell,” an eight turntable show using an eclectic mix of music all on seven-inch vinyl. While in rehearsal for this show, L.A.’s prestigious Walt Disney Music Hall asked Cut to be a part of “Pravda,” a concept night of DJs combining Russian classical music from the Stalin era with contemporary beats.
There is no place that Cut Chemist is afraid to go, musically. He constantly tries to integrate new cultures of music into his show while presenting it in a hip hop fashion. “I’ll never lose sight of my roots as a hip hop DJ,” Cut says. “It keeps me constantly inventing. I believe all music can be considered hip hop when it’s presented in a way that’s fresh to people’s ears.”
Since William Holland’s, AKA Quantic's, first album released in 2001, much ground has been covered. Over the last eight years, 12 full-length records have given him worldwide recognition. When he is not producing music that continues to push genre boundaries, he travels as a DJ or with his band spreading his unique blend of jazz, Latin and Caribbean rooted music. His track 'Mi Swing es Tropical' with Nickodemus further brought him to a global audience when it was featured in Apple's tropical iPod advertisement throughout 2007. Shortly after, Holland moved to Colombia to set up his South American studio 'Sonido del Valle' to work alongside a whole host of new musicians in Cali. The first release from his new band 'Combo Bárbaro' on Tru Thoughts Records will debut in 2009. The record comprises of work with Peruvian pianist Alfredo Linares and Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai. For more information please visit www.quantic.org.
Timeless Concert Series Dates and Ticket Information
The schedule for Timeless concerts at The Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex at the California State University, Los Angeles campus is as follows:
Sunday, February 1, 2009 – Mulatu Astatke with a 15-piece orchestra. Opening DJ sets by Cut Chemist, Quantic and Egon.
Sunday, February 22, 2009 - Miguel Atwood-Ferguson with a 39-piece orchestra with special SURPRISE guests. Opening DJ sets by House Shoes.
Sunday, March 15, 2009 - Arthur Verocai with a 30-piece orchestra. Opening DJ sets by MADLIB and DJ Nuts (Brasil).
Sunday, April 5, 2009 – David Axelrod with a 26-piece orchestra. DJ set by J.Rocc. Special Guests TBA.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Luckman Box Office with general admission starting at $22.50. Performances are open to all ages. For additional information on the Timeless concert series, please visit www.vtechphones.com/timeless.
VTech is one of the world’s largest suppliers of corded and cordless telephones and a leading supplier of electronic learning products. It also provides highly sought-after contract manufacturing services. Founded in 1976, the Group’s mission is to be the most cost-effective designer and manufacturer of innovative, high-quality consumer electronics products and to distribute them to markets worldwide in the most efficient manner.
Mochilla is a production company formed by photographers Eric Coleman and B+ in 1997. Ten years later Mochilla has produced five music videos, four documentaries, several ad campaigns, a remix album and more than 40 album covers and continues to grow. Both Coleman and B+ have taken their respective fields to new heights, selling films to the Sundance Channel, being distributed by Ninja Tune and touring Europe several times to execute campaigns for Adidas, Dickies, Alphanumeric and Vans. They both have successful solo careers but their continuing collaboration is housed at Mochilla.