Posted by flotz on Thursday, January 31, 2013 | Live Review

Dr. John did his Dr. John thing last night to a packed house at Jazz Alley. Not sure if he’s sold out for the weekend or not; if it isn’t, definitely worth checking this legend Friday or Saturday.  He’s playing with an all new band of top notch players that are funky as hell.  Dr. John shuffled out rocking a purple suit, sun glasses and a tooth necklace.  Swapped all evening between a Nord keyboard and a grand piano (with a skull on it) doing his signature stride sound with signature singing, including weird Dr. John voodoo incantations.  For one tune, he stood up and busted out an electric guitar, playing some sweet licks. No doubt, he still has guitar chops.  But he really shines on the keys. (Check out this session with Mary McPartland if you want to geek out on jazz piano.) He played obscure stuff and the hits, including “Right Place,” “Such A Night,” “Good Night Irene,” “Iko Iko,” “Let The Good Times Roll,” “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark” plus a bunch off his most recent record.

The backing band, comprised of Sarah Morrow (trombone), Bobby Floyd (organ), Joel Johnson (guitar), Dwight Bailey (bass) and Reggie Jackson (drums), was stellar. You could tell they were new to the tunes and arrangements, which was cool, cause you could literally watch them as they found the grooves and enjoyed the changes.  They were all monster players, but subservient to what each song needed. Jackson on drums was dialed in, never overplaying, laying down the backbeat, occasionally bustin out, especially with Johnson on guitar, whose solos ventured into weird jazz territory often, when he didn’t play it straight.  Would love to see these two in a different context, bet they’d shred. Overall, the whole set was just damn professional, the way the songs were arranged and rendered. Great night.

Posted by flotz on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 | Live Review

Gold standard on a Tuesday, can’t go wrong with McTuff.  Started with an xmas carol, Good King Wenceslas God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. At some point the guitarist Andy Coe quoted the Star Wars theme. He’s such a melodic player. Can get lost in his lines. They played some originals and then busted out “Human Nature” from MJ.  Love the drummer Tarik Abouzied who tears it up and is the force that drives the band. He never lets up and accents around the beat whilst keeping the groove.  And of course Joe Doria who eschews a bass player for his own left hand. Only complaint is the new layout of the Sea Monster – miss the sofas. It’s good for them (more people, serving food, more business, more $$$) so makes sense, but selfishly bummed at the change.

Posted by flotz on Saturday, November 24, 2012 | Live Review

Got hip to Garfunkel and Oates 3 years ago (here’s the proof). Saw that they were playing at the Snoqualmie Casino (!) and figured it’d be worth the trip.  It was.  Casino very nouveau riche in a Northwest way, weird really, especially the fact that you could smoke inside – forgot about that part of the casino scene. With 502 passing, assume you’ll be able to light up a fattie in the casino in couple days here.

After eating some super-sized sushi and having a Dan Savage celebrity sighting, sat at the piano bar with Primo Kim who let the standards rip – heck he studied with the same teacher as Barbara Streisand. Could’ve sat there a long time sipping cocktails, mesmerized watching the inner workings of the piano (it was a baby grand with a see through top) and lulled by Kim’s crooning.  But had a show to go to and was herded into the ballroom (had to dump cocktail into a plastic cup) where Savage introduced the duo, who lived up to expectations, performing their hits with amusing stage banter betwixt. Duck fucking homos, handjobs, weed cards, smug pregnant women, college experimental lesbians: their song topics read like comment spam.

Posted by flotz on Friday, November 16, 2012 | Live Review

Had not been to the racer in awhile.  Good to see it full of folks. Walked in and the bar was filled, not a seat to be had, people watching old episodes of The Twilight Zone, laughing. Got the East Coaster as always. Caught the first half of Ecstasy in Numbers. Killer jazz fusion. Guitar player tearin it up on a strat, drummer right there pushin it forward and bassist on a five string. Way tight. Complex pieces and they were dialed. Cool band. Hope they play out some more.

Posted by flotz on Sunday, October 14, 2012 | Live Review

October = Earshot Jazz Festival = mind altering jazz in unlikely venues.  From NYC, two trios who lived up to their reputations at SAM. First Trio X (reedman Joe McPhee, bassist Dominic Duval and percussionist Jay Rosen), McPhee tearing it up on the horns, hollering, even a bit of singing. And making some otherworldly sounds come out of his instrument. Duval doing wacky stuff like jamming a drum stick through the strings and less wacky things (but still unusual) like using his bass as a conga drum, and in the end bleeding all over his bass. It was a tribute to Ornette Colman.  Players locked in.

Second trio was Matthew Shipp Trio (Matthew Shipp, Seattle bass player Michael Bisio, and drummer Whit Dickey). They didn't stop between songs but played one continuous flow, ending with this punishingly and jarring head -- can I have another sir? -- Shipp's polemic.   Shipp's tone and style mesmerizing and Dickey completely befuddling as a drummer. All the cliches of avant garde jazz apply: pushing boundaries, eschewing convention, head nods to the past while blazing the future. (Pretty good review here waxing poetic on Matthew Shipp.) While some of the preciousness that surrounds these players can get tiresome (note to festival organizers: just introduce the band without all the hyperbole and aggrandizement), they truly are monster musicians that challenge, entertain, bedazzle, and demand you rethink how you listen to music and what music can be. It ain't always four on the floor. Thank god.