January 20, 2012 in Friends' Friday
Today’s friend is Geoff “double G” Gallegos.
He is definitely one of the most respected and interesting people I was fortunate enough to work with in Los Angeles. In fact, I’ll say that the majority of my success and happiness in Los Angeles was rooted in getting calls to play with the man. Double G really knows how to inspire musicians and the listeners.
He runs two groups called “the daKAH hip hop orchestra” and a jazz ensemble called “Concert 9Net”. These were the 2 groups I got to play in a few years ago.
In my experience, if there ever was a modern equivalent to Charles Mingus’ “Jazz Workshop” (a jazz group with rotating members often dubbed a ‘jazz university’) Double G would be it. Jazz is not the only thing this man speaks, but he knows that the music that is popular these days is rooted in jazz and works. HE WORKS IT. Teaching string players how to swing, making bass players play ahead of the beat and making sure everybody is listening.
Anybody who has worked with G can tell you that not only does he have a deep rooted, honest passion for music, he is a hardworking well-educated and dedicated musician, composer, father, band-leader and director.
Here is a profile I found:
Los Angeles musician Geoff “Double G” Gallegos is known for “re-designing” the conventional hip-hop sound. Working with his 70-piece daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra, Double G combines the electronic rhythms of hip hop with jazz and classical music to create a new sound that seems to test the boundaries of traditional musical genres.
Initially trained at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as a saxophone player, Double G soon discovered his talent as a conductor and composer. Throughout his early career, Double G regularly played the saxophone at underground hip hop clubs while at the same time working under the tutelage of maestro Larry Baird. It was during this time that Double G began to explore the possibility of bringing together formally and informally trained musicians to create a new sound.
In 1999, upon moving to Los Angeles, Double G co-founded daKAH, which debuted as a 23-piece orchestra at Santa Monica’s Temple Bar. In the last decade, daKAH has expanded greatly and has become known for its blending of musical genres and cultural sounds. The daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra has now grown into an eclectic group of musicians, combining the more traditional orchestral instruments of strings, horns and percussion with turntables and vocalists. Under Double G’s direction, the Orchestra has played at venues including The Walt Disney Concert Hall, UCLA’s Royce Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl.
In addition to working with the daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra, Double G produces and arranges for well-known contemporary musicians including Outkast, India Arie, John Frusciante and Everlast. He has also completed work for companies such as Nike and Scion, and he has worked on films such as Dreamworks’ Head of State.
First off: Get hip to daKAH. If this doesn’t move you at all, then don’t read my blog ever again. Seeing daKAH live will shake you down!
Playing with daKAH breaks whatever you thought being a musician was all about…cause it ain’t about the fame or big break! ‘t’s about the music fool!
Soundtrack from “Hip Hop Maestro” by daKAH
For me, when I moved to LA, I answered a craigslist ad looking for a bass player to work with a jazz practice group. There I met a guy named Tracy Wannomae (featured sax player below), who basically was my link to Double G. Tracy told G that there was a new guy in town playing upright bass who could play and read. (That’s me!) So I got called in to cover for their bassist who couldn’t show up to a rehearsal with the Concert 9Net. I went in and got the biggest sight-reading exercise of my life trying to keep up with his killer bass part writing. The man knows the importance of a good bass part and milks it! Fortunately for me and my career as a bassist, I had already played Beethoven’s 9th with an orchestra, so when the cello/bass riff that he put in his arrangement of “Ode to Joy” came up, I nailed it.
That pseudo-audition rehearsal kind of secured my name in his book and he started calling me for 9net gigs. After awhile, I got called to play in the bass section of the daKAH hip hop orchestra. I had never played a funk riff with a bow on my upright bass till then. A few concerts later, after playing Disney Concert Hall, we did a show at UCLA and there I learned how to play a tumbao bass line with Chuchito, jazz pianist and son of the cuban piano legend “Chucho Valdes”. I had never learned how to play cuban music until then, so again thanks to G, I was in the right time at the right place and Chuchito called me out of the orchestra and showed me how to hang with cuban musicians! I use this skill regularly now in Tokyo.
In 2009, I got called for electric bass duty with daKAH, but this was more than just a one time show. It was a tour. G called and said “You got a P-bass?” “yeah” “Alright, you got the gig.” This was my first real hip hop like gig where I got to learn about playing behind the beat, laying back, laying in, pushing and being solid.
Enough about my experience with G.
daKAH has a website http://www.dakahmusic.com/
PROMOTE THE ORCHESTRA! Nothing like it anywhere.
Double G was able to succesfully raise money over Kickstarter to make this following concert happen. Check it!
I hope to be able to keep working with GG once I am back in LA. (fingers crossed!)