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LA Phil: 2nd season, 7th ep - - Common

The seventh episode of the second season of Sound Stage was a collaboration with musician, actor, and activist Common. The concert was preceded by a conversation between Common, LA Phil artistic director Gustavo Dudamel, and comedian Kimberly Clark. She kicked off the conversation by playing a clip from her recent Netflix comedy special, where she talks about having a crush on Dudamel. So funny.

One of the highlights of the conversation was hearing Dudamel say “hip hop” in his Venezuelan accent. Common said that hip hop was one place where Black and Latino people could feel that they can speak their truth and be heard. Dudamel said that classical music has the same power to break through barriers.

His set with the Phil started with “The Light” and wow, talk about a rocking combo: Common’s hip hop vocals, the sung vocals (which I think were pre-recorded, I didn’t see a live singer), the guitar and drums, and the LA Phil – it all worked together gloriously. I was totally into it.

Clark asked where Common sees hope for change: he said he sees it in her, he sees it in Dudamel, he sees it in his daughter, he sees it in the way people voted in the last election. I got a little teary when he talked about the change and the healing taking place. Dudamel said that culture is an essential element of freedom. Clark asked what they were hoping to achieve with their collaboration. Dudamel said they wanted to build a bridge, from one style of music to another, from one community to another. He and Common both said this was the first of many partnerships.

The next song, “Get It Right,” was performed with PJ, who co-wrote the song with him. She had a cute voice, very distinctive. Once again, it was a delicious combo of all of the elements, it made me smile big time. I heard some pre-recorded backup vocals here and there - - I know the mixture of live and recorded music is part of the genre, but I would have liked to have heard the vocals live. A shout-out to the flute player in the Phil, a few tasty tweets! And yes, a nice little moment featuring the harp, thank you for that.

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