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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Experiencing a Virtuoso

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 10:33 AM

click to enlarge Karriem Riggins
  • Karriem Riggins

Yoshi's original Oakland spot was the place to be last night. Loads of scenesters were in the house, from ABB records honcho Beni B to KPFA's Weyland Southon to SF's beloved DJ RasCue to hip-hop professor Dawn-Elissa Fischer to photographer/videographers Brian Cross and Eric Coleman.

The occasion? The Karriem Riggins Virtuoso Experience, featuring pianist Mulgrew Miller and a very special guest, legendary DJ Pete Rock. Having stayed for both the 8 and 10 pm performances, I can report that Riggins -- who's played with everyone from Common to Diana Kraal to Herbie Hancock to Talib Kweli -- is indeed a virtuoso. As jazz drummers go, there aren't many current players better than him -- which is saying a lot, since the skill level for skin-pounders in that genre tends to be pretty high. Riggins handled complex rhythms with almost-casual flair, while his quartet played a succession of breakbeat "standards."

The highlight of the evening, however, happened when the band exited the stage, and Riggins and Rock "dueted," with Riggins tapping out live accompaniment to the records Rock spun. Riggins even busted a rhyme at one point -- which I don't think I've ever seen a jazz drummer do. The late show was more solid than the early show, which bodes well for tonight's repeat performance, also at Yoshi's -- this time featuring Common's DJ, Dummy. Click here for ticket info.


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Eric Arnold

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