From KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole:
He folds his bandana, evenly, calmly, like it’s a ritual he has kept for years. He places it on the music stand next to the sheet music of the opening song. Miguel reaches down to pick up his viola while his ensemble — and over 4,000 people in the middle of Downtown LA — await the first note. If they were not devoted fans before that note, they were after.
On Friday, July 23rd 2010, KCRW and Grand Performances hosted the Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble. This outdoor, free, summer series always books amazing talent from around the world, but little did they know when they booked a local violist to put together his all star band, it would be one of their most attended and talk-about shows.
Miguel is no newcomer to performing, that was obvious by the relaxed, resolute smile on his face. It’s also obvious when seeing the A-list musicians and vocalists he compiled for what he considered his landmark show: Flying Lotus, Bilal, Sheila Govindarajan, Aloe Blacc, Thundercat, Chris “Daddy” Dave, Brandon Colemen… the entire ensemble were names that are synonymous with mastery in the music industry.
Everyone in the audience knew they were witnessing something special – from Sheila Govindarajan’s portuguese vocals on their cover of “All Night Long” by the Mary Jane Girls, to Bilal singing Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free”.
Emblematic of his character, Miguel honored some of his guests by adding their own music to the setlist, including Bilal’s “Reminisce” and pieces from Flying Lotus’ “Cosmogramma” masterwork, which also features Miguel on a few arrangements. The group performed a short tribute to the recently departed emcee Guru (of Gang Starr fame), and Miguel took the lead on an instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There” – milking every note with a passion that was understated yet undeniable.
Miguel is in many different groups, including Los Angeles spiritual jazz collective “Build An Ark“, and my own band “Musaics.” Every time I perform (or even rehearse) with Miguel he is totally present and devoted to making every gig, every song, every note the best it can be.
He wrote day-in and day-out for that concert and, once I experienced it, I heard the results of his dedication. If you didn’t previously know the work of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, do yourself a favor and follow his blossoming career – he is well on his way to a brilliant space.
Fellow KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd and myself were honored to host this amazing evening of music. A moment of musical love was shared by thousands of Los Angelenos, and a future memory was recorded into my soul.
– KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole
(See More Photos by Jeremy)