Great show with organ, guitar and drums, no bass. D’Vonne Lewis amazing, playing around and against the beat, adding so much texture while others soloed. The organ, played by Delvan Lamar, had the walking bass covered as well as explosive organ solos. Guitarist Gregg Belisle-Chi with this buttery tone, spidery solos and thoughtful comping.
They played a Monk tune, also Coltrane Afro Blue. Another tune called “I got it bad and that ain’t so good.” And a Grant Green tune too, which is interesting cause on Wikipedia it sez Grant Green often played in a trio with an organ and drummer. Really loved the sound these guys got that night, in front of a small appreciate crowd on a rainy Monday night at Tulas.
Was a big Enon fan back in the day, so had to go check out John Schmersal’s latest incarnation at the Croc. Very Enon-like really, although even less of a pop hook. Lots of effects, crazy set up, including Ableton Live, vocal synthesizer, a rack of strange keyboards, pedals galore. Schmersal played bass mostly, only on guitar a little bit. Lee got some strange sounds out of his many keyboards. Drummer was tight and the sound overall was angular, crisp. Best quote was Schmersal: “We are the only surveillance-core band in the world.”
Opening was Half Kingdom, some nice building climactic songs. They were young compared to the 40 something crew that was Crooks On Tape and the smattering of Enon/Brainiac fans that were there in attendance. Oh and everything went down in the back bar of the Croc, which worked for the number of people that were on hand.
Fun show to a full house. He’s been coming to Jazz Alley since 1975. Damn. Perennial favorite indeed. Lots of great players in the current configuration of 8 guys on stage: trumpet, trombone, saxophone, percussion, drums, bass, piano and of course Pancho on the congas. The percussion all blended with a constant rhythmic undertone as different soloists got chances to shine. As did the percussionists, one dude getting in a sweet bongo solo in and then the drummer with a crazy drum solo that was fast, fiery. Closed with two covers, first “Afro Blue” made famous by Coltrane and then “Shotgun” by Junior Walker.
Here’s a rad photo from his website with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
Not necessarily in any order:
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Waited for this record for many years. The songwriting is superb, living up to the bar she set on the last two records. Both structurally and lyrically, the record is full of surprises and bears many repeat listenings. And the production is exquisite, layered. Hope it doesn’t take this long for the next one.
Steve Lehman - Dialectic Fluorescent. Caught Lehman as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival and got hooked on his brand of avant garde jazz. Record on repeat in the car for months, making sense. Love the covers of Coltrane and the tune “Pure Imagination.” In fact, his playing is reminiscent of Coltrane, modal and abstruse. The record is definitely out there, pushing the boundaries of tone, melody, rhythm. Love it.
Father John Misty – Fear Fun. Hat’s off to the producer, Jonathan Wilson, who took these songs, which are good, and helped make them great. Great backing band, great arrangements. Heard one of the songs in Seatac the other day piping through the airport.
Hardcoretet – Do It Live. Local musicians shine on this record. Love how the compositions unfold, morph. Can really hear the dynamics between the players on the tunes.
Lorde – The Love Club EP. Gotta include it, even though “Royals” has been played to death. The rest of the songs on the EP are great. Shout out to Joel Little, responsible for the production.
They play @jazz_alley every year. Lucky Seattle. Rightfully dubbed all stars. Consider the folks they’ve collectively played with: Blood, Sweat and Tears, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Billy Cobham, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Parliament-Funkadelic, Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, David Sanborn, Horace Silver, Frank Zappa, John Mayer, Sting, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, Diana Ross, Faith Hill, The Blues Brothers Band, Leni Stern, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, Richard Bona, Chris Botti, Wayne Krantz, Rudder, Harry Belafonte, Oz Noy, Larry Carlton, Clay Aiken, Rascal Flatts, Paula Abdul and Grover Washington Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Pat Metheny, Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack, Chick Corea. Damn.
They served it up to a packed Tuesday house at Jazz Alley, both floors nearly full. (The top booths are a pretty sweet incidentally.) Played about five songs that each lasted 15 minutes, odysseys and long solos, musicians really got to explore. First cut was “Out of the Blue” then followed by “Avenue B.” Didn’t catch the name of any other tunes. Third song was very major scale sounding, maybe a little mixolydian.
Stern was playing his signature Yahama guitar with Boss pedals (digital delay and overdrive) run through a Yamaha XPS 90 and then pushed to dual Fender Twin reverbs. See here for more on his set up. Great sound, killer tone and of course sweet technique. He did a lot of vocalizing with the melody, also some cool digital delay moments, and of course blistering, expressive solos mixed with some super pretty moments.
Bassist Anthony Jackson pioneered the six string bass, which he calls the contrabass guitar. super cool to see in action. Quite a range on the instrument tonally. It is tuned B-E-A-D-G-C. He did a lot of chording and played the hell out of it. Fun to watch him play too.
The drummer Keith Carlock was mesmerizing. Pushing the band with the beat and taking insane solos. He had two snare drums; similar set up as Steve Smith.
Overall, a great show. They kept it dynamic, lots of different modes and styles, musician configurations, just killer jazz fusion show. Catch their second show tonight!