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Arts and Entertainment

'Soloist' Ayers Teams Up With Music Pros to Record First Album

Nathaniel Ayers (Photo by R.E.˜ via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Homeless musician Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, the subject of the book and film The Soloist, has recorded his first album, and today LA Times columnist and longtime advocate of Ayers Steve Lopez tells the story of the tenuous process.Over the past couple of years Ayers would vacillate on his comfort with the project, Lopez explains, remarking "he'd back off one day, calling it a terrible idea. And then he'd be ready to roll the next day." But a few weeks ago in a Silver Lake studio a number of tracks--of varying quality--were put down with the help of some well-known local musicians.

Collaborating on the album, which the "soloist" and multi-talented musician named "Putting on Ayers, included the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea (nee Michael Balzary), and the LA Phil's pianist Joanne Pearce Martin and violinist Robert Gupta. Gupta recently told LAist that working with Ayers has been a powerful experience for him:

When I saw Nathaniel and understood the affect that music had on Nathaniel, I understood what the whole point of playing music was. Why do I play? For the fact that this paranoid schizophrenic, sometimes violent man, who used to be a musician and is suffering from all of this on the streets for 30 years here in LA- that music soothed him. Music is his medicine, where medicine itself had failed. This was very poignant for me.

"Putting on Ayers" features Ayers on "violin, cello, bass, piano and trumpet," in some of the "moments of brilliance," culled from the recording sessions. It will be available in the coming weeks via the Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation, and the proceeds will support "arts programs at mental health agencies."

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