Posted by flotz on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 | Live Review

Another Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 mind melter and they’re playin again tonight.  Matt Slocum Trio is Slocum on drums, Danny Grissett on piano and Darek Oles on bass. Once again, monster players with monster chops.  John Gilbreath introduced them, giving a shout to Tula’s – love that place – and then givin these guys props as up and cmoing masters. Wearing suits and looking snappy, they stayed a little more inbounds while they explored these tunes, enfolding themselves around tradition – doing things like trading 4s, or 8s, or at one point the trade just became a conversation between drummer and bassist.  Or moments of Slocum just playing a swing beat on the ride. But plenty of broken time. Such proficiency. Jazz musicians are Jedi.

They played two sets, mostly Slocum tunes, closing the second set with one called “Catalyst.”  Also played a Grissett song in the second set called “Viennese Summer” – what a melodic pianist he is, just so adept on the keys, unbelievable chording, beyond modal. Oles with emotive solos and so driving when all three were playing. Slocum getting some nice solos in, one all brushes. Real pretty tune in the first set dedicated to his girlfriend.  And another one about the Passaic River in New Jersey. Closed the first set with a Monk tune – they sent it. Also a couple tunes by some other composers. 

Kept thinking about interview with Eric Harland from James Farm, where he said:

Yes, when we play a song with a structure, we have the ability to float off away from that or remain in the structure.  But we all make the journey together and then whoever brings the song back, it’s not like there’s someone holding anyone back , like a ball and chain. You have the liberty to freely explore where you want to go. And we’ll go there with you and come back together. That’s the secret.

Posted by flotz on Friday, October 14, 2011 | Live Review

Well, it’s that time of year again in which mind blowing musical experiences await you in abundance: yes, Earshot Jazz Festival kicked off.  Caught the opening night performance by Endangered Blood.  Holy shit.  Was in the front row with three other drummers, all of our mouths agape at Jim Black’s prowess.  Not to mention Oscar Noriega (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), Trevor Dunn (bass) and Chris Speed (tenor saxophone), all of whom shredded with aplomb.  But it wasn’t just technical proficiency – it was the collective sound and energy of the band as a whole.  There wasn’t meter so much as a pulse, like the shoreline, everyone in tune to it but no one needing to reference it directly. We all know the ocean is there. Songs were journeys, going off in all directions, then coming back, rising to skronking heights and descending again to earth.  The occasional nod to genre but mostly going to brave new worlds.  As listener, flipped between tuning into a single player and then absorbing the collective sound produced, all four instruments greater than the sum, a force.  Reminded me a bit of James Farm: similarly mind blowing performance.

Posted by flotz on Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Live Review

Go see James Farm tonight/tomrrow ‘cause they were off the hook last night, just like last year: super hero players, rock star musicians, jazz virtuosos tearin it up.  Good sized crowd in attendance, appreciative, calling for an encore, giving them a standing ovation.  All players got their time in the limelight but also many moments of all four playing madly.  Kept thinking about the interview with drummer Eric Harland as I listened to them, his comment:

“When we play a song with a structure, we have the ability to float off away from that or remain in the structure.  But we all make the journey together and then whoever brings the song back, it’s not like there’s someone holding anyone back , like a ball and chain. You have the liberty to freely explore where you want to go. And we’ll go there with you and come back together. That’s the secret.”

You could hear that dynamic last night. Aaron Parks, the pianist, went some interesting places, very major key, even major pentatonic, although modal.  His solo w/o the other players was super emotive.  Harland too had a spot in the light w/o anyone else playing, super cool inventive drum solo. Joshua Redman tore it up of course, climaxing to a frenzied peak and then walking off to the side of the stage upon completing his statement. Didn’t catch the names of all of the compositions, but included “1981” by Parks into “If By  Air” by Redman, “Unravel” by Parks, “Coax” by Matt Penman, “Pollywog” by Redman, “Chronos” by Parks and a couple more I might have missed. Most of these are on their record, which is on Nonesuch, kinda cool to see that label signing these guys.

If you are a fan of jazz, get yrself to Jazz Alley Wed/Thurs of this week to catch a band at the top of their game.

Posted by flotz on Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Live Review

Raucous night at The Comet (as are most nights at The Comet) starting with Kled –, but only caught the last song and a half, which involved chanting USA, drummer in a grandma dress. Which inspired recounting of Obama/Osama joke about the black man who shot the elderly guy with dialysis.

Ocelot Omelet was next. That drummer wasn’t in a grandma dress but was freaky nonetheless.  Kept it creepy.  Chick doing interpretive dance up front (later doing interpretive dance by the bar during Smooth Sailing). 

Hidden Number next, their vinyl release show, playing their cerebral stew of composition, including Theremin of course and plenty of wack time signatures alongside occasional anthem rock. Killer video footage of ship at sea bashing into big ass waves, Orca whales eating seals. 

Last up was Smooth Sailing who garnered the biggest crowd, most of which head-banging to their metal. Cool lighting, cool sound. Headbanger’s ball y’all!

Sweet artwork on the new record by Hidden Number.  Ask nicely and you’ll get special Hidden Number multi-sided die when you buy the record:


Posted by flotz on Monday, February 7, 2011 | Live Review

Super group of players at Jazz Alley right now in a rare configuration that may not be seen again. Known as Spectrum Road, Jack Bruce, John Medeski, Vernon Reid and Cindy Blackman (Santana) played last night at Jazz Alley. It is in tribute to Tony Williams Lifetime, who Bruce played with back in the day. They play again tonight. If yr a fan of aggressive jazz fusion of the sonically mind bending variety, go!  (For a little more of the back story about the band and Tony Williams, check this article out.)

Saw last night’s late set and they tore it up. Cindy Blackman is a titan on the drums.  She walked onstage wearing jeans, leather jacket, carrying her purse and then proceeded to rip it up all night long. She unleashed on the kit, letting Bruce hold the foundation while she went off.  She’s fierce – Reid commented as much when he introduced the band.  Most of the songs were wild rides, psychedelic, textured, syncopated, these monster players all contributing to a heady stew.  Didn’t catch all the compositions, but were tunes both by Jan Hammer and Larry Young.  Bruce sang a couple times, once weird incantations that were maybe Gaelic, maybe something else.  Reid is such a shredder. Occasionally you could he and Blackman lock in and go off. Medeski can coax crazy sounds out of his keys, adding mad texture to stew. Final song was less challenging on the ears, a groove that let them funk it out. Came back out for encore and played a Miles Davis tune from In A Silent Way.

Here’s a pic of Reid’s pedals – look at the spread of digital effects boards -- not just analog pedals for him!