A Love Letter to Leimert

As each year winds down, we reflect on what we've accomplished and look forward to plans and projects to come, but lately I've been thinking about what's left on the cutting room floor - the works that only saw the drawing board. 

"These modest proposals achieve a greater clarity because they weren't forced to go through the bother of becoming real....but which end up teaching us who we are, and who we might still become."   -Alan Hess, review of Never Built Los Angeles

In 2016, there were aspects of my project entitled Common Culture: Across the Water that never came to fruition. Nevertheless, the afternoon spent documenting two of Leimert Park's most celebrated drum and dance matriarchs was such a beautiful experience, I felt compelled to put some of the footage together and put it out into the world.

Photograph by Jaimie Milner

Photograph by Jaimie Milner

Leimert Park is one of the most iconic black neighborhoods in Los Angeles. This area is the birthplace for many influential LA hip-hop icons and is one of those rare places that has sparked (and continues to ignite) multiple creative movements. This clip features footage from an afternoon in Leimert Park with both Nzingha Camara + Ballet Kouman Kele, along with Mama Nene's drum class at The World Stage. Throughout history, many of the African drums have been male-dominated so Mama Nene's work of teaching women the drum is subversive in itself, believing that women should not be denied opportunities based on ancient ideologies.

I am honored to have experienced the beauty of Leimert Park since the early 1990s and am humbled to share a piece of it with you.


Astral Progressions Portraits

Some People Are Artists. Some, Themselves, Are Art.

Photographer, Jaimie Milner, captured the beauty of the audience at Astral Progressions last month. Astounding beauty in every portrait. 


About the photographer

Born and raised in Southern California, Jaimie Milner discovered photography through a high school elective. After high school, Milner attended the University of Southern California and received her Bachelors in Communication. In her studies at USC, she learned about the portrayal of race, gender and sexuality in the media and the effects it has on our society. It was then she realized she could have a direct influence on how people saw themselves and each other. Milner combined this new found knowledge and her love for the art of photography to capture the essence and stories of a people and their individual characteristics. Milner uses photographic portraiture as her primary medium by which she aspires to capture, empower and inspire the human spirit. 

Read an article from the LA Times about her work entitled, The Gifted Project >>>


Activism in Action


What does activism in action look like? For Go As If, one way is being intentional about where we put our dollars. At Astral Progressions last week at the Ford Theatres, backstage catering was provided by Asmaa's Kitchen - a new arrival family from Palestine that I met through Miry's List and New Arrival Supper Club. Asmaa puts so much love into the food with things like za'atar from the mountains of Palestine, homemade ghee and baklava like you cannot imagine.

Go As If is proud to have created the new logo for New Arrival Supper Club! Miry's List has accomplished so much in service to newly-settled refugee families thus far and I am honored to serve their non-profit in this way. 

Enjoy this video about Miry's List's New Arrival Supper Club and consider donating on a regular basis to our new neighbors resettling in the US. 

Astral Progressions at the Ford

Photos by Timothy Norris courtesy of Ford Theatres

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Astral Progressions with Josef Leimberg + friends at the historic Ford Theatres. So many beautiful faces and warm, friendly smiles. From portrait photographer Jaimie Milner taking flash portraits on the plaza, a pre-show performance on "The Zev" terrace by Kobie Dozier and Gina Ramirez and a stellar performance by Josef Leimberg and his Astral Progressions Ensemble. Concert-goers were transported to an otherworldly atmosphere filled with horns, intricate drum patterns and soaring vocals from Bilal, Jermaine Holmes and Jimetta Rose. See the full photo album here>>>

Beauty and the Bass

Gina Ramirez is a 20 year old student at Herb Alpert School of Music Cal Arts, a school that offers a vibrant mix of programs that allow students the musical fluency to work across conventional boundaries. Notable alumni include Ravi Coltrane, son of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, and Astral Progressions headliner, Josef Leimberg

I’ve always been keen on how music affected me. When I was 9 years old, my very lovely neighbor offered to teach me classical piano. That’s where my musical journey began. When I entered junior high, I joined beginning band playing trumpet. This is where I learned about different instruments and how you can combine them in music. When I entered high school, I discovered jazz. At the time, I was still playing trumpet and classical piano on the side. But when this genre came into my life, I also discovered jazz bass. I felt a huge connection with that instrument than with any other. At 14, I was gifted an electric bass and I soon taught myself the fretboard and how to read. I would take home jazz charts and try to read the bass parts, I would learn cool bass lines by ear, and I would just try to learn as much as possible about bass. At 16, I composed my first jazz piece. This is when I decided that jazz and composition is what I wanted to do with my life. I enjoy composing, and I enjoy playing bass. So now, here I am in college, studying to become the best I can possibly be at my dream career. I want to strive for greatness.   --Gina Ramirez

Some of Gina's most notable performances include a 2014 performance at the Hollywood Bowl w/ Juanes feat. YOLA Orchestra and 3 years of the Playboy Jazz Festival and Central Avenue Jazz Festival with as well as the 2015 Leimert Park Labor Day Festival with Ashley Taylor. Recently, she's played Little Tokyo's own Blue Whale Jazz Club with her jazz trio.

Gina's accomplishments to date include prominent Awards that include: ASCAP Herb Alpert Jazz Composer Honorable Mention (2017), Herb Alpert Music Scholarship (2015), Music Center Spotlight Promise Award (2014), NAACP ACT-SO Regional Gold Medalist (2014) and an RDJF Music Scholarship (2012). 

On Sunday, Sept 17th, Go As If presents a night of cosmic jazz under the stars entitled "Astral Progressions." Trumpeter, composer and producer Josef Leimberg, known for his Grammy award-winning work on Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" will bring along some of his favorite collaborators including soul singer, Bilal. Catch a special pre-show performance on the new "Zev" Terrace, (part of the theatres' completed $72M renovation) featuring Gina Ramirez on Double Bass and Tree Academy graduate and 1st year Hamilton High School student, Kobie Dozier. Don't miss this special evening of cosmic jazz and soul music. Tickets on sale now.

Pay it forward and donate to the 100 community members attending the show free of charge! Together, we can remove obstacles to high quality arts experiences for underserved communities.