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NAJEE’S NOTES: Looking forward to a night of music at the Hollywood Bowl

One of the best African-American musical events in the nation and the current hot topic talk of music fans who reside in South Los Angeles is back for a third year.

Black Movie Soundtrack III returns to the Hollywood Bowl Sept. 25, with Oscar-nominated Reginald Hudlin and Grammy Award-winner Marcus Miller serving as musical director and presenting the best in black film music.  Craig Robinson, one of the most talented comedians in Hollywood, will serve as host. I attended last year’s concert, which was also held at the Bowl and included performances by Common, Babyface, Lalah Hathaway, Earth Wind and Fire and I had the time of my life.

For those South L.A. residents who have never attended this musical event, it’s different than a jazz or musical concert. Black Movie Soundtrack III will feature themes, scores and songs that have set the tone for eight decades of black cinema with Chaka Khan, Charlie Wilson, El DeBarge, Meshell Ndegéocello, Raphael Saadiq, Dionne Farris, BeBe Winans and more providing the vocals and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra coming through with the musical backing for the tracks.

As a dedicated music fan, what’s most exciting for me is Hudlin’s continued collaboration with Miller who as a jazz composer, producer and bass guitarist is a musical icon. Miller has won several Grammy Awards over the years as a producer and worked with trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, singer Luther Vandross and saxophonist David Sanborn, among others.

Miller first came to my attention in 1984 with his performance on Sanborn’s track performed live called “Straight to the Heart.” Sanborn gives Miller a shout out at the conclusion of that track for writing the song which to this day I play weekly on my playlist.

Miller was also a member of the Saturday Night Live band in 1988 and 1989 and has played bass on more than 500 recordings, including those of Luther Vandross, Grover Washington Jr., Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, McCoy Tyner, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol.

He won the most valuable player award given by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to recognize studio musicians three years in a row and was subsequently awarded “player emeritus” status and retired from eligibility. In the 90s, Miller began to write his own music and make his own records, putting a band together and touring regularly.

As a composer, Miller co-wrote several songs on the Miles Davis album “Tutu,” including its title track. He also composed “Chicago Song: for Sanborn and co-wrote “‘Til My Baby Comes Home,” “It’s Over Now,” “For You to Love,” and “Power of Love” for Luther Vandross.

In addition, he composed and provided spoken vocals on “Burn it Up,” which was featured on Najee’s 1992 album “Just An Illusion.” Miller is without question a musical icon. I’m excited to see what he and Hudlin have in store for us at this year’s Black Movie Soundtrack III.

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And on a more serious note, there has been a recent surge in gang violence and murders the past two weeks in South Los Angeles. On Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Florence Avenue and Main Street I will be joined by a coalition of parents whose loved ones have been slain due to gang violence in South L.A. Organizations represented will include Justice for Murdered Children, Southern California Cease Fire Committee, Project Islamic Hope, and several gang intervention activists.

 I want to personally commend community activist Mustafa Jabril for beating me to the punch and taking the initiative to bring these mourning and grieving mothers of the community together as we all call for an immediate cease-fire to stop the carnage, we’ve seen play out in our community these last two weeks.

Someone must have the courage and conviction to stand up and call for peace. This isn’t the KKK or police coming into South L.A. killing us. This is black people killing other black people with no mercy shown.

Last week we had a young black man murdered in broad daylight outside a South L.A. elementary school in front of children. Earlier this week a young black woman was chased down shot and killed as she banged on an apartment door to flee her killers to no avail. The killing won’t stop until we help stop it!

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