Detroit Performs


Curated By: Alex White

Drummer, composer and writer Alex White showcases the musical prowess in Detroit on this episode of Detroit Performs Live From Marygrove. White performs with his non-traditional jazz trio, then the Trunino Lowe Quartet hits the stage with their enchanting sound, followed by the invigorating sounds of African drumming led by Ayinde Ananda-Fondren.

AIRED: November 03, 2021 | 0:26:37

- Hello, everybody.

I'm Satori Shakoor,

and welcome to Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove,

where Detroit's talented artists take the stage,

and share insights into their performances.

This episode, curated by drummer, composer, writer,

Alex White, brings a showcase,

and variety of gifted artists.

We begin with Alex on drums

with his non traditional jazz trio.

(drifty music)

Followed by the Trunino Lowe quartet.

(jazzy music)

Then the joyful sounds of African drumming.

(bouncy music)

So let's get started right here, right now

on Detroit Performs a Live on Marygrove.

- [Narrator] Funding for Detroit Performs

is provided by

the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

the Kresge Foundation,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council For Arts & Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you, thank you.

(upbeat music)

- Alright.

We are here with Alex White,

who curated the three performances you're gonna see.

So, Alex, thank you for being here.

- Thank you for having me.

- How did you choose the performance that you chose?

- Ah, there are, first of all, amazing,

incredible talents around the city.

Ian Finklestein and Rafael Statten, who are in my trio,

they're phenomenal musicians.

Trunino Lowe and his quartet.

They are all phenomenal musicians,

younger, from Metro, Detroit.

I've watched them grow up,

and have had opportunities to kind of work with them

on certain events, and help them grow.

And Ayinde, I've known him for quite some time,

and he's a phenomenal drummer.

- [Satori] What do you call the music?

- [Alex] Simply what Trunino's group and my group are doing,

it would just be referred to as black American music.

And Ayinde is just traditional African drumming,

bringing it all together,

and grounding it in its original roots.

- [Satori] Well, you got to get on stage.

- All right.

- And we're gonna have the pleasure

of hearing Alex White and his trio.

- I'll see you later.

(drifty music)

(drifty music)

(drifty music)

(drifty music)

(drifty music)

(drifty music)

- Well, we just saw Alex White and his trio,

and here is, ladies and gentlemen, Alex White.

- [Alex] Thank you.

- Oh my goodness.

(Satori laughing)

You look so cool, and calm,

and collected behind those drums.

Meditative almost.

- Ah, yeah, it's an expression of oneself, you know,

and you have to be calm and collected

to do something that has four different,

five different things going on at the same time.

- [Satori] Now does that piece that was performed,

does it have a title?

- Yes, it's called Windows.

- Windows.

- Yes.

- And what is it about?

- Windows is about a few things.

Windows, first of all, it sounds tranquil.

So kind of imagine you sitting in your house,

it's cool in your house, and it's raining,

and it's kind of gray outside,

but it's, you know that smell you get from the rain,

and you're, it's pleasing, it's relaxing.

So on and so forth, and the wet grass,

and wet dew, and so on, and so forth.

There's that, there's the,

just sitting down, and looking out of a window, period.

That's what I initially wrote it for.

- Alright, now Detroit has beats

just in the energy of the city.

Do you find that you are attracted to

some of the beats that the city produces

just on his own spontaneous loop?

- So there are motions associated with certain rhythms.

So if I hear someone walking, I'll be like, okay.

(Alex humming)

I can imagine what the song is,

or just from the motion that they're doing.

- [Satori] And one last thing, what would you like,

is there any message that you want to tell the viewers?

Anything you want to say to our viewers that you might?

- Okay, play music, love music,

respect the artists, and come to the shows.

That's it, and just listen, just listen.

- Thank you so much, Alex, Alex White,

for curating this wonderful show.

We're going to hear another performance curated by you.

And what is the name of that group?

- The Trunino Lowe quartet.

- Trunino Lowe quartet.

- Yes.

- Let's go.

(jazzy music)

(jazzy music)

(jazzy music)

(jazzy music)

(jazzy music)

(jazzy music)

(jazzy music)

That was a stunning performance by Trunino Lowe,

and the Trunino Lowe quartet.

And we are here with Trunino.

- Hi. - Hi, how are you doing?

- I'm good, how are you doing?

- I'm doing wonderful after hearing that.

- Ah, man, thank you.

- It was just like watching a conversation,

and you guys seem to be so delighted in each other.

- Oh yeah.

- How long have you been playing, and what was the song,

and what was it about, and how long have you been playing?

- Okay, how long have I been playing?

I started playing trumpet in the third or fourth grade.

And then, yeah, I just kept going.

The name of that tune was entitled, It's Up To Us.

Basically, being from Detroit,

we all know is like a musically rich city.

And basically I'm fortunate enough

to come up in the time that I did,

because it's a lot of musicians around my age,

and it's like a lot of us.

And it's like, I have mentors,

such as Maria Hayden, Galey McKinney,

Ralph Armstrong, Rodney Whitaker, just to name a few.

And it's just, they always tell us,

they been telling us this since we was younger,

but they always tell us, y'all,

when we're gone, y'all are gonna be the ones

to keep this going, and keep the music alive,

and keep the music going.

So it was like, I took that serious very early on.

And that's what the song is about.

It's up to us to keep it going.

- And what would you like audiences

to take from your performance?

What do you want them to feel or experience?

- You know, all my performances,

I use this art form to speak in ways

that I feel like is gonna be the most relatable

to everyone else.

So that means if I'm coming from a pure place,

or a genuine place at heart,

and I'm playing from that place,

and I'm really just speaking from my soul

when I'm playing my instrument,

I feel like everyone's gonna feel it, and relate to it.

And a lot of my songs, and a lot of my experiences in music,

or just experiences in life,

all of that comes out through the music.

I use my platform to just engage everyone,

and bring everyone to a common ground,

and also too like, I just want people to feel good.

I want everyone to have a good time, everyone to feel good,

leave 'em feeling better than when they came in.

That's mainly important to me.

- All right, well is there anything that you want to say,

or any message you want to leave to the viewers?

- Man,

you guys can check me out,

keep up with me on my website, I'm on social media,

Trunino Lowe, I'm all around the city, I play all over.

If y'all want to keep up with us,

that's the best way to keep up with us.

- Well thank you, Trunino Lowe.

And we're going back to the stage,

and hear some African drumming.

(bouncy music)

(bouncy music)

(bouncy music)

And we're here with Ayinde Fondren.

And you are the leader of the group,

the facilitator of the group.

And do you write the beats, the rhythm out?

How did you, how do you approach the drumming?

- Well, we play a lot of different rhythms,

but we focus on a lot of traditional rhythms.

The rhythm we actually played today was a so-called,

and it's a malenka rhythm from the foriegn region.

And just just play months before,

maybe a month before a boy's circumcision,

and it marks an event.

And you know, an event is like a time,

it's the one time you come together.

And so we wanted to make that a,

a point of coming here today.

- And what is the drum for you?

- The drum is a, it's a life force.

It is a vessel of energy.

What you put into it is what you get out of it.

And just like yin and yang,

you take energy from the Earth,

and you put it back into something.

And we fortunately put it back into the djembe,

and into the family of instruments,

the malenka instruments, that is.

- And what inspires you?

- Ooh, what inspired me?


There's a lot of different things that inspired me.

It could be not only the charismatic teachers that I've had,

but also, this our culture, because when we play something,

it is what we expect to be felt.

We do improvising, and it might seem like it's rehearsed,

but it's coming straight from our hearts,

it's what we play right then.

And sometimes it can be felt.

And sometimes you have to just,

I guess, look at your audience,

and see what it is that they're absorbing.

And usually when we perform,

it is a matter of bringing people in,

and making them happy, making them feel at home.

Making them feel like we're in Africa, you know?

At that point, or wherever we at,

where we are is where we at at the time.

So we just like to bring it home

through the means of West African drumming.

Basically, we're just here to cultivate

the African culture,

and make sure that it is a focal point,

at least in the youth, in the youth lives,

because it's no longer about us, who's coming behind us.

That's the most important thing

is worrying about the next generation.

- [Satori] It has been a privilege.

- Thank you.

- For me to be here, be in the theater,

witnessing, and absorbing,

and feeling, and experiencing the drum.

- Yes, ma'am, it's an honor, truly.

- And being released.

- It is, it's truly a total honor, I appreciate it.

- All right, well, thank you, Ayinde.

- Thank you so much, blessings.

- Fondren. - Yes indeed.

- Thank you for being with us

on Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove.

Alex White brought it

with a thrilling lineup of musical guests.

Did you relish the talent?

The experience of listening to the unique beats,

and oh, those African drums had me movin' on my way out.

Make sure to join us next time

on Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove,

where we promise to engage you with amazing performances

right here, see you then.

- [Narrator] Funding for Detroit Performs

is provided by

the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

the Kresge Foundation,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council For Arts & Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you, thank you.

(upbeat music)


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