Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Raydar Ellis

Raydar Ellis

Ambassadors Scratch the Surface in China

By: Jason Camelio, director of international programs

One of the most exciting developments in recent years in live performance for me is the mash up between electronic and live musicians.  Being on stage with turntablists, electronic musicians, emcees and acoustic musicians playing arranged tunes or improvising opens up a range of possibilities and heightens the interactive dynamic of the moment.  We had this in mind when we asked Stephen Webber to pull together the Scratch Ambassadors for Berklee’s first official concert tour of Beijing and Shanghai.

Berklee Scratch Ambassadors perform a showcase at Alibiba outside of Shanghai.

The Ambassadors, comprised of instructor Brian “Raydar” Ellis, Yaxin “Aries” Deng, Nick “Iron Fist” Zeigler-Heil, saxophonist/vocalist Vanessa Collier and professor Stephen Webber, were supported by associate director of admissions Alexia Rosari and a host of institutions and individuals in Beijing and Shanghai.  In just under 10-days the group presented clinics, master classes and concerts at a number of venues, including; concerts and clinics at Dulwich College (Beijing and Shanghai) as part of the Diversity Project program and in honor of Daniel Pearl World Music Day for the U.S. Department of State, concerts and a video shoot for the Communications University of China, clinics and a jam with a Mongolian ensemble at the University of Culture, clinics at the Central Conservatory of Music and a concert at the campus of Alibaba outside of Shanghai.

Take a moment to check out the CTV YouKu video from Alibaba and photos from the Scratch Ambassadors Tour for more details.

As a follow up to the Berklee Scratch Ambassadors’ tour, dean of admissions Damien Bracken, professor of guitar Jim Kelly and I traveled to Beijing and Shanghai to conduct auditions and interviews and to support the Dulwich College Music Festival.  The Festival was held at the Dulwich College Shanghai Campus in Pudong where they hosted students from a number of their campuses in the region, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul and others.  Students were combined into a concert choir, symphonic orchestra, big band and small rock bands.  They worked with instructors and the Berklee team for three days and then presented two nights of concerts.

Late fall on the Great Wall in mid-November.

In the fleeting moments between clinics, concerts, meetings, and auditions and interviews members of the Scratch Ambassadors and our team did manage to take in a bit of the culture.  Some of the locations included getting out to the Great Wall, visiting the Drum and Bells Towers in Beijing, taking a quick walk on the Bund and visiting Jinling Street (music street) in Shanghai. Jim even got the chance to sit in with an excellent pop cover band at the Nashville located on Lucky Street in Beijing.

The life and rich culture of China, which is moving ahead at light speed, would need a life time to truly experience.  To be honest, we barely scratched the surface.

When LA and NYC Came to Valencia – Re:Tool 2012

2012retoolgroup1cropBy: Jason Camelio, director of international programs

There was a new sound echoing in the halls of the Berklee Valencia campus this weekend. First you felt the kick. Then you heard the snare. The bass hit you in the your gut and made you want to move. Rhymes flew by at light speed with tasty turntable fills and horn and synth lines filling the air. As you peeked through the doorway of B-81, Needle-Juice, Raydar, The One and Kai are “holding forth” in an epic scene that brings world class producers, DJ, MCs, composers, electronic artists together from Los Angeles, New York and Boston to teach a group of students from 13 countries to learn the craft of utilizing music technology in production and live performance.

For me, this is a long time coming. I have had the amazing fortune of knowing, listening to, learning from and performing with these amazing teachers and musicians. Having traveled with them separately to many places around the world, I thought it would be incredibly hip to bring them all together for the first time at the new campus in Valencia, Spain. Let me introduce this amazing crew of the 2012 Re:Tool program.

• Professor of Music Production and Engineering Stephen Webber (aka Needle Juice)
• Berklee Alum, Faculty Member in the Ensemble and Songwriter Departments and Artist in New York City Brian Ellis (aka Raydar)
• Berklee Alum, Assistant Professor of Electronic Production and Design Kai Turnbull
• Grammy Award Winner Producer, Berklee Alum and Artist based in Los Angeles Dawaun Parker (aka The One)
2012retooldemoThe experience levels of the students in the program have run the gamut for those just beginning to approach the world of technology in music to those that are working a DJs and electronic musicians. The students have been treated to an amazing series of lectures, master classes and a faculty showcase. The topics ranged from Listen Like a Producer to the Art of the DJ to production master classes where the faculty members listen too and critiqued student works. Stephen Webber also show a pre-pre-premiere of his truly innovative Stylus Symphony. Additionally, the attendees had the chance to get their hands dirty with some amazing new gear — both analogue and digital.  Huge thanks goes to Stephen for working closely with Berklee Alum Tony Lamond and everyone at Numark-Alesis-Akai for sponsoring the program.

2012retoolgroup2

Raydar Ellis, Stephen Webber, Dawaun Parker, Jason Camelio, Carlos Ballester, Greg Badolato and Kai Turnbull (not in picture Sam Skau) - 2012 Re:Tool Crew.

Re:Tool is the last in the series of 4 programs produced by the Office of International Programs with the help of our colleagues in the Office of Summer Programs at the new campus in Valencia this summer. Most gracious thanks to all of the faculty members, artists and staff members that supported this event. It has been an amazingly collaborative experience.

Keep your eyes open for more International Programs coming up later this summer, fall and next spring. A few things are on the books, including Hong Kong, Helsinki and Sao Paulo. As detailed come available, we will blast them out. Be sure to connect with is on Facebook.”

Spalding and Bieber to Collaborate?

Now that got your attention! It’s not entirely irrelevant, I swear…

Arriving at SXSW on Wednesday, the day before the start of Berklee’s events – read more and watch videos here – I hit the convention center to catch a few panels before the craziness started. Looking through the SXSW Directory – which was about as thick as a mid-sized-city’s yellow pages (but who uses one of those anymore…) – I saw that two Berklee alumni were on an upcoming panel, so I headed over.

The Intersection of Jazz and Hip Hop was moderated by Berklee alumnus Brian “Raydar” Ellis ‘05, now an instructor of turntablism, and included alumna Meghan Stabile ‘06, founder of the Revive Music Group and online music journal the Revivalist. The other panelists were producer Erin Davis, son of Miles Davis; Vincent Wilburn Jr., CEO of Nefdrum Productions (and nephew of Miles Davis); Andre Torres, editor of influential music magazine Wax Poetics; and noted turntablist DJ Logic.

Torres, Ellis, Stabile, Davis, Wilburn, Logic. Best I could do without a flash...

I didn’t see the whole panel, but much of it focused on Miles Davis’s enduring influence on jazz, hip-hop, and pop music in general. Ellis opened up with

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In the Brooklyn area? Check out the J Dilla Ensemble in action.

Tomorrow (July 10, 2010), Berklee’s own J Dilla Ensemble will take the stage at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. The festival takes the cake as the largest hip-hop cultural gathering in the NYC area; last year, the festival drew over 8,000 people. The ensemble is performing from 3:00 p.m. -3:25 p.m. and will also perform between other artists’ sets from noon-2:45 p.m.

A few weeks ago, I caught up with the ensemble’s faculty advisor, Brian ‘Raydar’ Ellis, and even got some of their rehearsal on tape.

Two students in the group, Taylor Gordon and Dane Orr, were also kind enough to let me catch them on the flip cam, too.

(View all the videos in one place after the jump.)

Anyone Brooklyn-bound this weekend should check out the ensemble for a show that’s not to be missed!

Student Dane Orr Interview

Student Taylor Gordon Interview

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Sneak Peek: J Dilla Ensemble Rehearsal

Hello, I’m Liz Burg, one of Berklee’s newest staff members. Earlier this week, I caught up with Berklee’s J Dilla Ensemble as they rehearse for their upcoming performances at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. Yes, you read that correctly; in a matter of days, Berklee’s own J Dilla Ensemble is taking center stage at what promises to be one of the largest cultural gatherings of the hip-hop community (last year’s festival drew over 8000 people!).

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