Last night's jam session, the 4th in the series so far, was definitely the best. But then again, I've felt this way after every single The Roots Present The Jam at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. Each week, each time, I think to myself "it can't really get any better than this." And then it does. We will have more episodes of OKPTV coming your way, featuring snippets from the jams. Photos from the night c/o Mel D. Cole are below, after the jump.
These weekly jams are turning out to be history in the making. Taking after the Black Lily model of a free jam session where MCs, singers, song-writers, and musicians are encouraged to come play, The Roots have modified it a bit to make it their very own. Unlike Black Lily, this series is not solely focused on showcasing women in music, or anyone in particular, for that matter. The cast of characters who have come through and graced the stage have been a mixed lot – from rappers like Talib Kweli and Pharoahe Monch to singers like Chrisette Michele, Alice Smith, and Dede Bridgewater, to musicians like Tal Wilkenfeld, Vernon Reid, Karriem Riggins, and Gary Bartz. The music morphs from a hard-hitting west coast hip-hop beat to a reggae jam to a straight up gospel church diddy back to a soul inspired Dilla-style beat. You never know what to expect, and since the band has been rehearsing non-stop for over 2 months, due to their new "day job" on Fallon, they are tighter than ever. Last night The Roots tapped a street band called The Allstars that they've been seeing on 6th avenue everyday to open for them. They were fantastic, playing a handful of covers of old soul songs. Later in the night featured Black Thought spitting verses along with Dice Raw, Truck North, and Fashawn. The Stumblebump Brass Band (tuba, trumpet, and snare) made an appearance. Vernon Reid hopped up on stage and plugged in next to Capn' Kirk, and the two proceeded to murder it on electric guitar. Vernon's solo was simply mind blowing. Ayo performed with her acoustic guitar. Finally The Reverend Vince Anderson and his Love Choir (well, just two members – Jaleel Bunton from TV on the Radio on guitar and Moist Paula on bari sax) came on stage and had the whole room, Black Thought included, dancing to the sounds of gospel. Gregoire Maret killed it on harmonica. Yoshi Takemasa from Antibalas was on percussion, and Luke O'Malley, also from Antibalas, got up on guitar at the end of the evening. Luke ended the night with his spot-on rendition of The Doobie Brothers' "What A Fool Believes."