By: Oct. 09, 2018
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Skateboarding has been around a long time. When I was a teenager, living in Miami, besides attending school, tons of dance and other training, I was a surfer, and, out of necessity (there aren't really many rideable waves on Miami Beach) also a skateboarder and skiff or skim boarder.

It has evolved into an Olympic sport and grown into a a thriving industry. It is a young person's sport, although not limited to any age, as witnessed at the Ford Theatre on Saturday, September 29th, 2018.

Blending and fusing free-form Jazz, with an assemblage of top-notch musicians, a prolific rapper with an inventive vocabulary, and an array of skateboarding hot-shots and seasoned professionals performing their expertise, it made for a stellar, high-energy, exciting evening in the outdoor theater with the lush, natural backdrop and surrounding landscape, part of L. A. County Parks, and the series Ignite @ The Ford.

The Jazz Artists kicked off the evening with a lively round of improvised solos and jams. The notable craftsmen were Bennie Maupin on sax; the leader, arranger and keyboard player of the group, labeled THE BANDWAGON, Jason Moran; Daru Jones, on drums, who played the whole performance grinning from ear to ear, an obvious tell that he digs what he does; Tarus Mateen on bass and Chuck Treece on guitar. Each artist took solos on and off and are all extremely accomplished musicians in their own right.

The skateboard stylists who jammed with the band were Kenny Anderson, Jordan Hoffart, Vanessa Torres (the only female), Simon Lambey, Brad McClain, Jaime Reyes, the OC Ramps Team: Greg Lutzka, Dave Bachinsky, Ryan DeCenzo, Cody McEntire, TJ Rogers, and the AWSM KIDS, Sky and Ocean. Review: FINDING THE LINE ~ A SKATEBOARDING FUSED WITH JAZZ EXTRAVAGANZA  at The Ford Theatre

The Rapper, a.k.a. Benevolence, used intelligent, savvy, really cool lyrics, messages and rhymes on several numbers, with specific lyrics that were about skateboarding and positive messages.

Center stage was a concave, or half-pipe ramp, provided by OC Ramps, which sloped up on either end, giving the boarders a great space to show their abilities. After a great intro with the musicians, they began doing passes from one side to the other, one at a time, switching sides, lining up at the top of either end. As the show progressed, and the more warmed up they got, the tricks got more and more difficult and daring. There were many times when the pass wasn't completed, but, if you're a physical artist using a prop, in this case a skateboard, that's just the nature of the sport, and you just tuck-roll out of it, stand back up and continue.

The skateboarding part is started at one side, at the top, scooping down and up, and at the opposite top comes the trick, including 180s where your back heel tips the board up, and the spin happens from there, then landing the front of the board back down to cruise down the slope again back to the other side, often doing multiples passes without stopping.

Review: FINDING THE LINE ~ A SKATEBOARDING FUSED WITH JAZZ EXTRAVAGANZA  at The Ford Theatre More difficult maneuvers included stopping at the top, stepping on the back of the board but then leaving the board in the air and jumping up above it, with bent knees, while the board does a spin-around on it's own, and catching the board as it lands back down with your feet, and off you go again. Sometimes the board does it's own double 180 before your feet come back down to meet it. Almost beyond belief, somehow after getting to the top, both feet leave the board as it flips upside down and around, sometimes twice, before the rider has turned to face the other way before landing back on the board.

With no helmets or knee pads visible, you have to have a strong center and upper body, incredible balance, nimbleness and be able to feel the board under you, besides quick reflexes while moving briskly and a keen sense of awareness.

The rhythms the musicians were playing kept changing, and the boarders hit the accents in the music with each change of tempo, really highlighting the synchronicity of both forms of art. Review: FINDING THE LINE ~ A SKATEBOARDING FUSED WITH JAZZ EXTRAVAGANZA  at The Ford Theatre

There was a pretty wide age-range among the skateboarders, with some styles more smooth and gliding, some with more daredeviltry and theatrics. I noticed one goofyfooter (always starting with the left foot at the front of the board) who was swift, skillful and dexterous.

The musicians and skateboarders seemed to challenge each other, which built the passion of the performances, blending their techniques in harmony and unity, accomplishing their goal of mixing and matching up these very different artistic endeavors.

It would have been nice if, at the very end, they had staged some sort of finale, with everyone climaxing with their most difficult tricks to a set piece of music just to put a button on the end!

The audience thoroughly enjoyed this very unique display of talents.

Photos Courtesy of The Ford Theatre


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