"Onyx Ashanti is insane! – in the special, essential way that makes certain brilliant musicians....having crossed from the US to Berlin, he’s a rare virtuoso of wind instruments and electronic improvisation, the kind of musically-free soul who can just let loose live. But his latest project really crosses into some new territory." Peter Kirn- CreateDigitalMusic.com Feb. 2011Beatjazz is what you get when you cross a sci-fi obsessed electronic jazz artist with a futurologist instrument inventor. the result of 20 years of conceptualization that has taken Onyx Ashanti on a conceptual journey from mississippi to California to London to NYC and finally to Berlin, where he now resides. Beatjazz is a completely live, improvised form of electronic music with no boundaries. Onyx creates all aspects of his self-created style, live, from scratch...nothing pre-recorded or pre-concieved. he plays each part, one part at a time and builds one-of-a-kind sonic-architecture. So, to aid in this concept, he also created a one-of-a-kind musical instrument to play it with. he calls it a beatjazz controller. with it, every motion, every breath is creating sound which he transforms into space-age funky grooves.
Onyx sounds like the offspring of Roger Troutman, Timbaland, and John Coltrane, getting pulled into a black hole and discovering that it can be played. having cut his teeth playing the southern California rave scene in the late 90's, he spent the first half of the the 2k's playing and recording with the likes of Soul II Soul, Basement Jaxx and Marshall Jefferson. the last 3 years has seen him take on the challenge of creating a new form of music for a new age. a form un-encumbered by genre. armed with a computer full of his own custom designed synths and effects, onyx can construct any style of music imaginable and quite a few that aren't. The beatjazz "exo-voice" controller, which Onyx designs and "prints" at home using a Reprap 3D Printer, is really a three-way wireless sensor network that converts his finger, hand, and breath movements, into musical control data, which allows him to play synthesizers with dance-like movements and saxophone-like fingerings. In addition, Onyx created a robotic light based “element narration” subsystem that relates sound types and functions to robotic movement and light color so he and the audience have a better idea of which part of the arrangement that Onyx is playing at any given time. the system was designed specifically for beatjazz and the combination of the two together create a never before realized marriage of sound, light and motion.
Onyx has now begun his new sonic journey in earnest and plans nothing less than to change the entire infrastructure of what the world calls music and to inject a much needed "live-ness" to electronic music culture by not only performing beatjazz, but also sharing his concept with the world as an open source project-controller plans, as well as musical concepts-, so that beatjazz may virally find its way into every aspect of modern music. Beatjazz is the natural progression and result of the atomization of music culture.