Prior to the release of his most recent album, Velvet Portraits, multi-instrumentalist and producer Terrace Martin was enjoying the success of Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly. In between those two releases, Martin stopped by MoMA PS1 earlier this year to hold a conversation between jazz, hip-hop, and the climate of his native Los Angeles. The event was moderated by our very own founder Meghan Stabile and also featured trumpeter and Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1 contributor Keyon Harrold. Highlights from the event includes performances of songs off To Pimp A Butterfly, Martin’s Velvet Portraits, as well as a story of how a young Terrace Martin, Keyon Harrold and Robert Glasper met at jazz camp. Martin recalls the scene:
Robert Glasper is a dear friend of mine. We’ve been friends since [I’ve] been 15-16 years old. We all met together at this jazz camp… It’s some really nerdy shit. But, this jazz camp was different because there weren’t no nerds at this one. Jazz camps are cool, because they teach young musicians [that] you have to mingle with other people, you have to step out of your norm and everything.
So from Los Angeles, it was me and my friend named, Brandon Owens — I play with Brandon a lot now. We end up going to this jazz camp. You never know what’s going to happen, but all I remember was stepping off the plane and getting into this hotel. This random hotel had all the kids, they made all the kids meet up. I don’t know where anybody from, but I’m from South Central, Crenshaw. What’s happenin?! That’s my attitude!
So I’m walking in like this, because I just know that I’m the best. Me and Brandon are just looking. Everyone else is just playing and the other ones aren’t playing and we’re not playing either. Then the piano player, “Hey what’s up man? Ya’ll wanna play? “Passion Dance?” That was Robert Glasper. He was wearing baggy ass pants and a big shirt… So Robert gets on the piano and he don’t play. Then another cat — a humble cat and he’s always been cool though — but he had a trumpet. He’s like, “Hey man, I know that tune.” He’s just cool, so I’m like “He must be the whackest one because he’s too cool, he’s just whack.” That taught me a lesson that day.
So we’re in there playing “Passion Dance” — I was 15 or 16, but I remember feeling something that I still have never felt to this day. I’m still chasing that high… It felt like these were my brothers. It felt like we had the same mother and father. We had only been playing eight minutes in and these are the emotions I’m feeling instantly. That’s the power of music and art.
To hear more from Conversation and Composition With Terrace Martin, head over to Boiler Room.