The Midnight Hour, led by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and Adrian Younge, both pulled up to the stage of The Haunt on Saturday night in dapper fashion. Together, they boldly responded to the assertion, which is displayed on their merchandise that, “Jazz is dead.” Their response was illustrative, rhapsodic and convincing as their concert highlighted the beauty and power of jazz music and how widespread its influence truly is — showing how chords which originated from jazz compositions have been heavily sampled throughout R&B/soul and rap music.
Muhammed’s music career explosively launched in 1990 as a member of the group A Tribe Called Quest, which included the rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dog. A Tribe Called Quest is known for their upbeat pace, thumping bass and layered production — listen to their album The Low End Theory which came out in the fall of 1991, and you’ll quickly understand what I’m talking about. And after witnessing Muhammed strum some bass lines, his significance to A Tribe Called Quest’s production became evident. In 2013, over 20 years after the formation of his first group, Muhammed essentially restarted his music career by recording and touring with Adrian Younge.
In 2000, Adrian Younge, a self-taught musician and songwriter, produced his first album which aimed to be a soundtrack to the film Venice Dawn. Ever since, Younge’s experience and skill navigating through the music industry has improved significantly. Younge’s compositions have been used for a cartoon series on Adult Swim and been sampled by Timbaland for Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail. Further, Younge also built his own record label, Linear Labs, from scratch.
The Midnight Hour’s show at The Haunt kicked off with Jack Waterson (bass/guitar/vocal), Loren Oden (keyboard/vocal), Angela Muñoz (keyboard/bass/vocals/lyricist) and Malachai Morehead, their stellar new drummer whose talent will surely create an exceptional name for himself in the music scene. They delivered funky and psychedelic tunes which carried narrative lyrics and forced the audience to draw closer to the stage.
Waterson, has been producing music and writing songs for the underground music industry of L.A. since 1979 and has developed quite a prolific body of work. He was a founding member of the group Green on Red, where he played as their bassist from 1982 to 1987. Waterson eventually ended up collaborating with Adriane Younge under Younge’s record label, Linear Lab, releasing the album Adriane Younge Presents Jack Waterson in 2019.
Muñoz, a recent graduate from high school, had an incredibly powerful and skilled voice that effortlessly traversed up and down scales. Having been trained in the performing arts since middle school and having been an avid music collector since she was five years old, Muñoz’s ability to create and execute compositions was on display as she performed a song written and produced by herself — not to mention the fact she also learned how to play the bass guitar just weeks before the show.
Oden, having sung as a background singer for music giants such as Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu, presented his full vocal capacity to express his soul, his vulnerability and his purpose in life. After witnessing Oden capture the audience’s gaze and breath, the reason why he was chosen to sing alongside such influential musicians was made more than clear. In fact, Oden has even written and recorded for the likes of Snoop Dogg, Common and Ghostface Killa.
Right after the electric performance from the band led by Jack Waterson, Waterson made a very appropriate remark on what to expect from The Midnight Hour: “We are going to come together like Voltron.” The Midnight Hour, although led by Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adriane Younge, in reality is a mosaic of instruments and vocals that once assembled formed an impressive and dynamic force. With Oden and Muñoz that played during Waterson’s set now playing alongside Muhammad and Younge, the possibility for experimentation was endless. During The Midnight Hours set, blocks for expressive solos of the saxophone, the drums, the bass, the keyboard and the trumpet were spontaneously included. Even more impressive was viewing their ability to switch instruments on the spot and then proceed to flawlessly perform the next chord progression.
Jeremiah LaCon is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].