At a time where it feels like history is
repeating itself and the world has lost its way, drummer, composer,
educator and activist Jaimeo Brown asks, "What is
important?" For Brown, the answer is to tell the unheard stories in the
name of those who need them. To tell the stories of life and the human
experience. To tell the stories of the forgotten: to honor the workers
and the music of their lives. February 12, 2016 marks the release of Work Songs, the second installment in the Jaimeo Brown Transcendence series. "Work Songs represents us," Brown explains. "It's our human journey of transcending the difficult."
Jaimeo Brown Transcendence is the product of long-time collaboration between Brown and co-producer/guitarist Chris Sholar (who won a GRAMMY® Award for his work on Kanye West and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne).
Both emerging from a generation that appreciates the jazz in hip-hop,
the artists with whom this duo has collaborated with speaks for itself.
Brown, as drummer, has sat behind the skins for Stevie Wonder, Carlos
Santana, Q-Tip, Carl Craig, Kenny Garrett, Geri Allen, and Bobby
Hutcherson, among others. Sholar's work as guitarist and producer has
spanned the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, A Tribe
Called Quest, Robert Glasper, D'Angelo, Just Blaze, Common, Dr. Dre and
The digital tapestry that birthed Work Songs also hosts several contributors: Jaleel Shaw and JD Allen on alto and tenor saxophone, respectively; legendary soul and blues vocalist Lester Chambers; the Gee's Bend Quilters (who were the central focus of Jaimeo Brown Transcendence's debut album), and rising star keyboardists BIG YUKI and James Francies.
More than just music, Jaimeo Brown Transcendence
is a movement, a moment, and an imperative: home to a variety of
collaborators and contributors, from different eras and across the
globe. Work Songs is a call to action, a call
to transcend: transcend traditional limits of creativity; transcend
oppression; transcend to come together through the essential humanity
that unites us. Work Songs samples the unknown
laborer, the jailhouse, the coal miner, gandy dancer, and stonemason.
The album resonates with echoes of protest and rhythms of a call to
Photo Credit: Rebecca Meek
Borne of oppression and sung in conditions
of hardship, the music is visceral but inherently uplifting. It weaves
the present through the past to the future, teaching us how to transcend
an immediate suffering through strength and mutual support. "The music
of Transcendence, on a social scale, allows us to reach out to
communities and help restore culture and identity. Work Songs
tells powerful stories of perseverance and human ingenuity," explains
Brown. "Tales of enduring communities through song, from
African-American slaves to the stonemasons of Japan. These songs paint a
picture of struggle we still feel today."
In search of new sounds (which includes sampled sounds of construction outside of Brown's own apartment), Work Songs
deftly weaves together the acoustic and the digital, connecting jazz
and classic blues with contemporary rock, hip-hop and electronic music.
"My goal is to create something that feels
good, is soulful and speaks to hearts. Something spiritual and moving,"
says Brown of his creative process. "I hope that people will be moved in
the way I was when creating it."
Through an exploration of differing global "scenes" (as Brown refers to the tracks), Work Songs
depicts the tale of the human condition, that which make us all the
same. The album is sonic cinema. "For Mama Lucy" is a powerful
intersection between blues, rock and jazz. The track prominently
features a sample of Leroy Grant, a prison inmate from the Parchman Farm
Prison in Mississippi in 1959, grieving over a sick family member,
singing the multiple emotions associated with love and death. The
accompanying video juxtaposes Grant's cry and a driving guitar riff with
sensory-blowing visuals. Flashing images of oppression and injustice,
which echo several overarching themes of Jaimeo Brown Transcendence, overwhelm the video's protagonist.
"Be So Glad" showcases the divergent musical influences that typify Jaimeo Brown Transcendence.
It at once exhibits the soulful-hip hop influence that underpins the
group, highlighting also their drum and bass influences. The sample
sounds workers using hoes in fields under a hot sun. The emotional chant
repeats, the refrain lifting and falling with each effort.
"Safflower" imagines a young Japanese boy
listening to records in his basement, discovering a cultural tradition
of another lifetime, and celebrating it in his own time. The song also
pays tribute to the resilience of a country surviving the 2011
earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Jaimeo Brown Transcendence
was born when the drummer connected with JD Allen and Chris Sholar
while in search for new forms of musical expressions. With an MPC
salvaged from the garbage, the group sampled songs from the Gee's Bend
Quilters in Alabama for their debut eponymous album. The rest of the
project grew organically from there and continues to flourish.
recording, our aspiration is always to marry art, history and technology
so Transcendence can live as a music and movement that speaks to
tomorrow, as well as yesterday," explains Brown. "We created the album Work Songs
to explore the interaction between work and music. It's fascinating to
see the variety of ways that music and work actually weave together."
Brown's view of
the world is one of togetherness. His life, like his work, is a
patchwork of people, cultures and examples of the great human potential
for acceptance and integration. His early years were spent living on a
Native American reservation in Arlee, Montana, a community in which the
Native American voice was an ever-present part of the social dialogue.
Later, as a teen amidst the aimless youth and gang culture of the Bay
Area, Brown discovered multiculturalism within a west coast hip-hop
culture shared and celebrated by a broad group of minorities. Inspired
equally by the beats and samples of J Dilla, Dr. Dre, and DJ Premier,
and the raw eloquence of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Art Blakey, he
found shelter in creation: the epicenter of his spiritual awakening.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Meek
About Jaimeo Brown:
2013 marked the
international debut of Jaimeo Brown: a fearless renegade; an artist who
seeks new pathways for personal musical expression; an artist who
honors a deep and broad lineage of musical and cultural traditions. With
the release of Transcendence on Motéma Music, the drummer launched an
international career-playing festivals including The Love Supreme
Festival and London Jazz Festival-and garnered critical acclaim, earning
a spot on year end lists for NPR, The Los Angeles Times, DownBeat,
and more. Shortly after the release of the album, Jaimeo Brown
Transcendence collaborated with eminent producers Carl Craig and Q-Tip
to produce a promotional single with a radical recasting of "Mean
World," one of Transcendence's singles.