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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Putting On Ayers: A 'Soloist' No More?

At E&P, I assigned early on a piece about Steve Lopez, the L.A. Times columnist who was writing about a gifted, homeless classical musician he had found on the local Skid Row. He turned it into a book, The Soloist, which became a 2009 movie starring Jamie Foxx as the musician, Nathaniel Ayers, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lopez. I posted numerous Web stories and blog items about all of that, plus the movie trailer and so on.

Today, Lopez writes that "Mr. Ayers" as he calls him has gone into the studio to cut his first CD, with the help of two players from the L.A. Philharmonic -- and Flea, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There's even a video. Lopez writes:
I picked him up on skid row and packed his bass, cello, violin, guitar, trumpet and flute into my car. He left his viola, French horn, keyboards and trombone in his room, perhaps saving them for his second CD.

On the way to Silver Lake, Mr. Ayers was nervous but game. He wanted to know how the day would play out, and I reminded him there was no strategy other than for him to jam on as many instruments as he cared to play. Steven Argila, a pianist and owner of the studio, had met Mr. Ayers before and was ready to go with the flow, and the same was true of Stephen Krause, the recording engineer.

Bass player Flea and drummer Scott Gold, my mate at The Times, beat us to the studio. I think it's fair to say Mr. Ayers had never met anyone named Flea at Juilliard, but musicians are musicians, and they were all playing together before long.

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