On the resume of every cool chic is a stint in the service game. Before moving to LA, Rena had been a bartender and cocktail waitress at top new millenium, NY nitespots including; Bungalow 8, Markt, Jimmy’s Downtown, Lotus and of course, the lounge in the basement of The Coffee Shop.
I arrive at chez Hazzard with Rena and Jaleesa asks me to name my poison. I go for a martini. Per my request, Rena makes for the kitchen and creates magic with the jigger and laces me with the perfect beverage. Shaken not stirred.
Due to a scheduling conflict, she is unable to join us for dinner and bounces after she pours. She threatens to return later but doesn’t make it back.
Karuna and The Epecurian will be coming through but have seperate previous engagements. The Epecurean has Mos Def business to attend to and Karuna has a standing date with the beach. Also expected is the third son of the Hazzards, west coast producer, DJ Khalil.
Jaleesa, her sister Traci and I are all in the backyard getting our taste on and listening to Cannonball Adderly, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Hartman, Trane, Coleman Hawkins and Miles on Coach’s i-pod. Coach is chilling and playing his position. It’s a decided contrast from the previous night’s show. As Thelonious Monk says to a sideman in the documentary, Straight No Chaser, “It’s so za-zu-zazz!”
Karuna arrives and I make with the intros. It’s time for a second Martini and she displays her previous experience in libation preperation. The second round is strong and dry.
The menu is classic Jaleesa; chicken, salmon, asaparagus, new potatos, candied yams, mozzarela, tomatos and basil, olive oil and bread. Before she got zen wit it and installed a fountain in the backyard, she used to grow her own collard greens. There are no home grown collard greens on the menu today. I take a moment and reflect on the price of aesthetics.
Dinner is served in the dinning room. We’re surrounded by family photos and art work by Bearden and others.
After dinner, Coach and I cut the tips off of two Domincans and get to puffing. Karuna shakes and pours a little more magic.
The Epecurean arrives with with two bottles of unpronouncable champagne. The flutes get broken out and we get a bit more festive when the champagning begins. He is served a plate and eats outside in the back. The sun is down, lamps are lit, Traci says good night and it’s about to go down.
DJ Khalil comes through. His Apple laptop with the Serato program is up and good to go in the living room.
DJ Khalil is in his mid thirties and an accomplished producer who has worked with 50, Jay-z, Nas and others. When I first met him he was in his mid teens and a diligent, aspiring young man with a dream. He was in the backhouse/home studio with two turntables a mixer a sampler and a drum machine.
He blew up as a mobile dj, started a group of his own, the well respected, Self Scientific, put in a bit of work as a leading player in the backpack business and is now one of Dr. Dre’s top trackmen. Tonight he’s here to play, after dinner, ol skool, NY hip hop.
The champagne is a wrap. Another martini is offerd and accepted. DJ Khalil, Karuna and I go into the living room. DJK has been working on a new project with a group of Canadian musicians. It’s been his habit since he was a kid to play his new shit for me. Tonight we continue our tradition.They call themselves, The New Royales.
It’s different, radically different. Three lead vocalists. A wispy, sexy Portugese female with a killer quality. A dude who’s heard every, Beatles record ever cut and sounds like one of the Gallagher brothers from, Oasis and a second guy with a less distinct personality.
All of it backed by top notch, super edgy, state of the art tracks that are a combination of hip hop, alternative and brit pop. The prodigal Tounge, Busta Rhymes is spitting a hot sixteen on a smash dance track.. Black Star refugee, Talib Kweli is on another jawn. I hear half a dozen different examples of excellence. They’re gonna do well.
THE NEW ROYALES
Jaleesa, Coach and The Epecurean join us in the living room. Another martini is served. Dinner was exceptional, the comapany is warm and the music begins to play.
DJK’s family nickname is Doc. Doc begins to play like a man posessed. It’s strictly ’80’s and ’90’s classics. Big Daddy Kane, De La, Tribe, Dilla remixes, Biggie, Supa Luva Cee and Casanova Rudd, Stetsaonnic, Biz Markie, Slick Rick. He’s killing us!
I’m in the hottest lounge that I’ve been in in years. The beats are crazy, the martini’s are now flowing. The Epecurean gets nostalgic and begins to give lessons in ’80’s black teenage dances. He starts to dance with purpose and breaks out into the wop. He’s worried that he’s not made his point and goes into the extreme wop. I’m wondering if he’s going to throw his back out.
We’re all falling over laughing. Doc plays, Mobb Deep’s, Drink Away The Pain. It’s well past 3am. The Epecurean gets his running man on. We’re all obligated to chant, “go Jayson, go Jayson.”
Doc is still putting it down. He plays an obscure, Brand New Heavies remix of their, Sometimes. He and I are the only two in the room who know this jawn. I’m compelled to sing badly. Lead singer, Siedah Garret and I are harmonizing poorly. I’m not discouraged, “talking ’bout a revolution or maybe just a change of mind.” The room is spinning faster than Doc is. Doc went on and on and on….
It’s about 4am and I go into the den. There’s a flat screen on one of the walls and Michael Phelps is on it and beginning his assault on olympic history. Karuna and Jaleesa join me.
After his time as a UCLA undergrad, Coach Hazzard spent a decade as a top notch, journeyman point guard in the NBA. The summer in between college and his rookie year, he was a member of the gold medalist, ’64 edition of the, USA mens basketball team. Jaleesa mentions that his medal is upstairs and asks would I like to see it.
She goes to get it and a digital camera. Somewhere there exists a picture of me sloshed and wearing a bit of history around my neck.
All of the martini consumption has been done by The Epecurean and me. Wisely, Jaleesa has stuck with wine, Karuna beer and Doc and his father drank water.
While high on vodka, laughter, hip hop and the company of family. The Epecurean says, “You know you gotta come to San Francisco. Right?”
RTB will be moving north the folllowing weekend. I’d packed for a three day turn around. but I was not going to let that keep me from pressing on.
to be continued
mad shouts to John Wooden, Ed Eckstine, AJ Calloway, Karen Kennedy, David Rabin and…The Wirk