This CD/DVD package presents a singular occasion: the setting of legendary hip-hop producer J-Dilla's music for chamber orchestra(!) in a one-off concert event. Conductor & arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson does the heavy lifting here, often padding J-Dilla's minimalist masterpieces into arrangements more suiting the heft of the 60-piece "Ma Dukes" Orchestra. Ma Dukes is the affectionate nickname for J-Dilla's mother. Her stamp of approval was required for this project since J-Dilla passed away at a tragically young age from a lupus-related ailment. At times the members of the orchestra resemble an MTV casting call: these are beautiful people. I doubt they were recruited for their looks, but still -- it's notable that they don't look like gawky, music-conservatory bred nerds. Atwood-Ferguson has an unconventional conductor style, and this makes him a lot of fun to watch. Speaking of fun: I've never seen an orchestra visibly enjoy performing in concert this much. Most everyone bobs their head, smiles, and laughs knowingly when a telling musical wave emerges in the arrangements. A refreshing encounter. What a beautiful and gracious tribute by Atwood-Ferguson to J-Dilla's legacy. No doubt this took hundreds of hours to organize. He pulls it off.
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