By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The “free” moments are simply that: the sound of shaking off shackles. At their November 12 concert at Royce Hall, opening for the mighty McCoy Tyner, BAA will perform seven compositions from the new album, plus “The Blessing Song,” by guest veteran jazz violinist Michael White, and an instrumental rendition of Neil Young’s “Expecting to Fly,” for Young’s birthday, that day.
It’s music that seeks to harness energy, the same kind that birthed his early love, hip-hop, which lured him with its “cultural, emotional outcry.” But Niño says he began to find it “largely non-dimensional” and lacking transcendence. “When the focus is on the material world, we’re missing the point.” He’s unaffected by the retro accusations, and unapologetically points to Coltrane and Lennon and “the era of messengers. If you look at Jimi Hendrix for five minutes, you go, ‘I don’t care if he was perfect or not, he was really alive.’”
Mark Maxwell, a member of BAA and host of KPFK’s jazz show RISE, says Niño “is very purposeful about music. He doesn’t like to waste time with stuff that’s purely for entertainment. It’s got to serve a function like lifting the spirit. I always enjoy being around the people in Build an Ark. There’s a contagious enthusiasm and it’s such a big ensemble that when we get together it’s like a party.” Ranelin points out that “I’m considerably older than some of the members. It’s apparent to me that Carlos likes the mixture of older members and a bunch of youth. He likes diversity in every way.”
Ranelin pauses for a moment and then adds, “And all tryin’ to get back to one.”
McCoy Tyner and Build an Ark perform at Royce Hall at UCLA on Thurs., Nov. 12.