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Night 4 Recap with Karl Denson, Jennifer Hartswick and The London Souls :: Marco Benevento and Jennifer Hartswick Tonight!

The fourth night of Bowlive took place at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg last night to a sold-out crowd of dedicated Soulive fans. Drummer Alan Evans, guitarist Eric Krasno, and organist Neal Evans took it easy as guitarist Tash Neal, bassist Stu Mahan, and drummer Chris St. Hilaire opened the evening with a hard-rocking 30-min set. This was Stu’s second live performance with the London Souls and he couldn’t be a better fit. Tash is an aggressive guitarist and Chris’s powerhouse drumming makes you want to full on head bang. Perhaps you have heard their song “Steady As You Ready” off of Mob Wives, which they killed last night! Eric Krasno could be seen in the audience bopping his head to one of his favorite bands in our scene. The London Souls return to Bowlive on Saturday, March 10th.

When the endless lines outside the Brooklyn Bowl had finally been let in, Soulive took to the stage and played “El Ron” with such a fierce level of energy, shouting out musically that the weekend had begun! In that first song, Krasno was at the edge of the stage on his tiptops shredding his guitar into the faces of those in the front row. Keeping up the energy, “Dig” followed with teases of Snoop Dog and Lettuce mixed in.

The first tribute of the run was to the great Melvin Sparks. Soulive’s highly anticipated latest release, Spark, had only just shown up in Vinyl form that morning to the Brooklyn Bowl. Melvin Sparks was an American guitarist who passed last year. His soul jazz, hard bop and jazz blues influence can been seen in every one of today’s talented guitarists. Spark is a collaboration between the members of Soulive and Karl Denson. That pretty much is all that really needs to be said to convince you to check it out.

Flutist and saxophone player Karl Denson was special guest for his second night. He joined the stage for the song “Spark,” which had audience members fully engrossed. Karl added a gorgeous level with his flute while drummer Alan Evans, once the drummer for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and the rest of the stage passionately layered their sound atop one another. A lovingly delivered tribute to the end.

Trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick, the second special guest billed last night and the first female presence to grace the stage for the run, joined for another song of Spark titled “Povo,” another head banging rock song that at times turned psychedelic is an instrumental by Freddie Hubbard. Krasno and Hartswick bantered playfully with their instruments and Karl now back on his saxophone. When Jennifer took her solo, she slammed the audience so hard with her talent that afterwards, the place erupted! Female Power!! A beautifully executed “Nubian Woman” was the choice off their latest cd with a more psychedelic jazz flavor. The members on stage were feeling the Melvin Sparks vibe flowing through them freely.

When Jennifer Hartswick moved from horn row to the front stage, those in the audience who realized the treat they were in store for began screaming. Saxophonist James Casey (The Shady Horns) also joined the stage. The musicians teased Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” as Jennifer hummed the tune to warm her voice and to tease us with her sultry sound before delivering  the goods. Her voice shook the rafters on the high notes and as the cool James Casey rocked the audience a killer solo, the shades on his head fell over his eyes in true rockstar fashion.

“Bowlive Staple,” as Krasno called him, Nigel Hall joined the stage now as the entire vibe was slowed down for a song that would, regardless of it’s slower speed, would trigger fond memories and raise the energy of the minds in the audiences. Tears for Fears cover “Everyone Wants to Rule the World” is a song that Soulive has perfected with their own style. Something every artist hopes to accomplish, especially when it’s a cover. Nigel Hall on vocals was heart melting as always while Alan and Krasno filled in the backup vocals. Towards the end of the tune, Nigel flowed seamlessly into “The Light” by Bobby Caldwell. An absolutely gorgeous, mellow, yet powerful mash-up to end the set.

Soulive opened up the second set with the fuly raging “One in Seven.”  Neal Evans, who has been on fire this entire run, continued his trend while brother Alan was then left on stage for a calculated isolated drum solo. After witnessing his drum solos each night, it is fun to enjoy the different tricks Alan pulls out of his bag to ensure that we get a taste of his various abilities. And then it was back to close out One in Seven.

Tash Neal (The London Souls) was the next guest invited out on stage to perform the famous Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Ohio!” Unbelievable guitar rage between he and Krasno. The Evans brothers were crushing it as Karl Denson couldn’t miss this wonderful performance and ran out on stage grabbing a tambourine. Tash and Karl left as the trio, now alone on stage, executed a gorgeous rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Lenny,” a beautiful love song Vaughan wrote for his wife and performed beautifully and emotionally by Krasno.

Karl Denson joined for the raging “Turn It Out,” where he delivered a beautiful flute solo. They continued on into “For Granted,” where he was joined by James Casey, Jennifer Hartswick, and Nigel Hall on keys with Neal. The playful song gave each artist a dedicated two minute solo to showcase their instruments. Starting with Krasno establishing the musical chorus, Karl followed, then Hartswick, and James Casey, who crushed it so hard Karl Denson began fanning Casey’s fire off with a towel giving him the props he rightfully deserved.  Nigel Hall solo followed with Neal filling in the blanks. Each solo established that these musicians had chops. That they were the best in their game and at that time, they were making sure we recognized that fact.

Neal Evans, now alone again on his rig, started off “Jesus Children” with a heavy, deep organ rage, before Hall started singing. It was here the set ended. The flavorful Wyllys, a DJ and Jennifer Hartswick’s husband, would be following the show so the high-energy of live music had to end. However, Wyllys has an extensive vinyl collection of some of the hottest tunes and with the help of Quincy Jones and other amazing samples, he got everyone back on the dance floor and fully engaged.


A killer beginning to what is going to be a jam-packed weekend of Delicious Soulive rage, the party continues tonight with Jennifer Hartswick and her band coming out for her second night with new special guest unique jazz improvisational keyboardist Marco Benevento. Seriously? The excitement of seeing Marco and Neal together is going to be worth the measly $15 it will l take to experience the musical magic!

 Karen E. Dugan
– Photo courtesy of Phrase

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Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

Neal Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

The second night of BOWLIVE III at The Brooklyn Bowl started similarly to the previous evening with Soulive members Eric Krasno and brothers Neal Evans and Alan Evans taking the stage alone for the first two songs.  “Shaheed,” from band’s 2001 album Doin’ Something, and “DIG,” from their 2003 self-titled album started the set. With the members of Soulive choosing to open the sets themselves, they took on on the entire responsibility of pumping up their audience. They fully succeeded.  By the end of the second song, audience members were whispering that this night was even hotter than the last.

Eric Krasno (Picture by Phrazz)

Eric Krasno (Picture by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

For those who couldn’t make this night due to responsibilities, I understand your pain. This evening would be one that would go down in Soulive history. For those of you who chose to come to the first and not the second, purely on issues related to laziness, I know you feel pissed enough. I won’t rub it in. Seeing how Luther Dickinson and John Scofield didn’t get on stage together with Krazno in the first night, one could logically assume that following day would see our hope delivered. All three guitarists on stage…at the same time!!

Luther and Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther and Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

John Scofield, considered one of the “big three” of America’s current jazz guitarists, joined the stage for a second night with a pink guitar and giant smile.  “Nealization,” off their 2003 album Turn It Out, which Scofield performed on the album for this song, was next on the energized set-list. The energy level for a Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Bowl that was two-thirds full was stellar. The players on stage had picked up where they left off the night before and continued to elevate throughout the entire night.

Nigel Hall, the soulful vocalist and keyboardist from The Warren Haynes Band, was a much larger presence last night coming out on the Billy Cobham and George Duke tune, “Stratus.” Hall’s passion for the Fusion genre, especially George Duke, runs DEEP so you can only imagine how tight, invested and amazing he was performing the tune. Absolutely CRUSHING with Scofield distorting his rock-oriented sound! John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Provo” followed.

With Nigel still on stage, delivering a fun Moog solo half way through, they performed the Scofield original, “Hottentot.” Alan Evans was clearly feeling this song as he threw in slight change ups in his beats that altered the style and sound in a great way, if only for a few seconds. His eyes closed and his lips pursed during the intense moments of connection to his instrument, Alan Evans was fully engaging and stood out as a leader on stage that night.

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson (Photo by Phrazz)

Ending the set with Nappy Brown’s 1957 cover made popular by Ray Charles, “The Night Time is the Right Time,” Soulive and guitar god history was made. Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), John Scofield and Eric Krasno were all on the stage at the same time, for the first time. This was the moment that the die-hard fans were waiting for.  Nigel Hall sang the bluesy love song while the audience witnessed the three guitarists take their turns playing in their own unique and respective styles in a solo.

Luther Dickinson eventually left the stage as the song continued. Then, what I definitely considered one of the most interesting guitar banters of the musical run, took place. Scofield and Krasno played off each other’s rifts in one of the most unusual and gorgeous ways this super fan has ever witnessed. The Evans brothers lightened their presence, tapping a little lighter and recognizing the moment that was taking place. It was almost as if the two guitars were holding a conversation. The audience was silent when the song ended and then they erupted. THIS WAS WHY THESE MEN DO WHAT THEY DO! These rare moments of musical collaborations are what define Bowlive.

During set break audience members engaged in the Brooklyn Bowl’s amazing Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, played a game of bowling and could be heard comparing the two evenings. Everyone was in agreement that this night kicked the previous night out of the water.

The second set started with Luther Dickinson joining the stage immediately for “Outrage” and stayed on stage for the entire set. “Bubble” and “All Night Long” were simply fantastic. There was no warming up this time, no taking it slow and simple. It was a full speed ahead.

Luther Dickinson and Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Luther Dickinson and Eric Krasno (Photo by Phrazz)

Nigel Hall (Photo By Phrazz)

Nigel Hall (Photo By Phrazz)

Neal Evans was a force to be reckoned with during the second set with his heavy-handed organ play sounding excellent partnered with Dickinson’s slide guitar for “Shake Your Momma.”  Nigel Hall came out on stage once again to perform Muddy Water’s “Champagne and Reefer,” which had the audience laughing in agreement to the lyrics.

Alan Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

Alan Evans (Photo by Phrazz)

The encore was spectacular. Leaving the stage for only 120 seconds, Soulive and Luther Dickinson literally ran back on stage to perform “Spanish Castle” by Jimi Hendrix.  Their excitement was evident as Dickinson sang the verses and Alan Evans sang the chorus. No one wanted the show to end but the audience accepted the fact that these talented musicians needed their rest.

We had eight more days to go and Soulive’s passion and desire to strive would ensure that the coming nights continue bringing straight fire. Tommorrow’s rage would consume me with the FUNK as Karl Denson, Big Sam and Rahzel continue where Luther Dickinson and John Scofield left off.

Download Night 2 Sound Board Audio Here!

Pictures by Phrazz

Videos by Marc Millman and mkdevo

Words by The Tiny Rager

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Tiny Rager with Questlove, Christian McBride and Gary Bartz. SO HAPPY!!!

Tiny Rager with Questlove, Christian McBride and Gary Bartz. SO HAPPY!!!

Questlove Presents Mo’ Meta Blues I ft. Booker T, Eric Krasno, Gary Bartz, Charistian McBride & Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (06.21.11)

Questlove – Drums
Eric Kranso – Guitar
Booker T. Jones – Organ
Gary Bartz – Saxophone
Christian McBride – Bass

Surprise Guest:
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Vocals
Nigel Hall – Vocals

The Blue Note Venue Front

The Blue Note Venue Front

The Blue Note is a venue name that is known around the world for housing some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians in it’s various Milan, Tokyo, NYC and Nagoya locations.  For true NY music goers, we aren’t always fond of this venue but no one can deny that some of our city’s greatest music is made inside that sardine-packed tourist trap.

For 30 years, The Blue Note has brought us some of the most phenomenal music played by phenomenal collections of musicians.  This year, to celebrate their 30 years dedicated to music, The Blue Note, along with Jill Newman Productions, has put together a month long calendar of music around the city, creating the inaugural Blue Note Jazz Festival.

Over the past month The Festival has featured numerous high-profile acts within the walls of the Blue Note  such as Dave Brubeck, Chris Botti, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Roberta Flack, Brian Wilson, Medeski Martin & Wood, El Gran Combo, McCoy Tyner, Bill Frisell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Madeleine Peyroux, Chaka Khan, and many more. As well, numerous acts have been held around the city’s various outdoor spaces such as Parks and other music venues.

Questlove @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Questlove @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

For two nights, famed drummer Questlove hosted Mo’ Meta Blues 1  featuring a collection of amazing jazz virtuoso musicians to include guitarist Eric Kranso and bassist Christian McBride.  The group was completed with legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz and Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer organist Booker T. Jones (Booker T and the MG’s).

I was terribly excited for a performance mixing the old school with the new school.  It is performances like these were I wish there were more youth in the audience. More young musicians who have deliberately sought out the best in the scene; sitting in the audience watching how it’s done.  Looking around, I couldn’t help but wonder how in a city like NYC, there were not more musical savvy teenagers. Where is the disconnect? Is it because our music isn’t on the radio? Just something I always ponder while sitting waiting for shows to begin.

Booker T Jones latest Cd: The Road From Memphis

Booker T Jones latest Cd: The Road From Memphis

Tonight’s musicians would be performing a selection of songs from Booker T’s new album, The Road From Memphis, a wonderful collection of songs with collaborations with Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones and Lou Reed and The National’s Matt Berninger.  Produced by Jones with The Roots’ ?uestlove and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith), Memphis was recorded by Daptone Records mastermind Gabriel Roth with backing by The Roots.  Enjoy Booker T’s video for his cover of Lauryn Hill‘s “Everything is Everything.”

The new school rhythm section alone could have kept my attention for both sets. Questlove has been drumming since he was a little boy on tour with his famous 50’s doo wop father, Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & the HeartsQuestlove is best known as the drummer for the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots, which is now the in-house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Christian McBride, Questlove‘s high school homie, is considered a virtuoso bass player and is one of the most recorded bassists of the last 20 years. He has performed and recorded with a massive number of artists, jazz legends and ensembles including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Joshua Redman, as well as with hip-hop, pop, soul, and classical musicians like The Roots, Kathleen Battle, Carly Simon, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, and James Brown. His sound is liberating and intoxicating.

“Half the fun up here is the fun music trivia we all have and finding the fun in referencing it in the music we play up here.  I am just warning you all now, there will be a lot of inside musical jokes on this stage.” ~ Questlove

Booker T Jones @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Booker T Jones @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Then you had Booker T. Jones from Booker T and the MGs.  Booker T. & the MG’s were the house band for the famous Memphis Soul music label Stax Records.  They recorded with all the Stax Records artists, including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes, but they also recorded their own material between sessions.  The song they are most famous for is Green Onions, a song they played every set during this run. My favorite and earliest memory of hearing this song can be seen right here:

All the Blue Note sets had the same set lists, in varying order:

  1. Down In Memphis ( Booker T on vocal, #5 on disc)
  2. Rent Party (#7 on disc)
  3. Walking Papers (#1 on disc)
  4. Everything is Everything (#6 on disc)
  5. Hip Hugger (Old Booker T Song)
  6. Gentle Smiles (Gary Bartz Tune)
  7. Born Under A Bad Sign (William Bell cover)
  8. Can’t Find Love
  9. Green Onions
  10. Melting Pot
Look at Those Happy Faces @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Look at Those Happy Faces @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Both nights, Questlove was the first to enter on stage.  He sat at his drum kit and announced each artist individually as they waited patiently at the top of the stairs. Questlove‘s sense of humor came out immediately.  “Please welcome Mr. Eric Kras-NOW,” as he emphasized the last part with a huge smile. “Please welcome Mr. Gary “Blow Your Horn” Bartz!” And so it continued till each member was on stage and the show could begin.

Down In Memphis ( Booker T on vocal, #5 on disc)
Rent Party (#7 on disc)

They stated the set with Down In Memphis with Booker T. on vocals.   His signature plunking Organ keys sounding just like I remembered.  Rent Party followed with Eric Kranso taking the lead on the solo. During the song, Kranso took the guitar licks and changed them up slightly, causing a jubilant stir from Booker T. and QuestloveBooker T. could be caught glancing at Kranso with looks of interest and obvious delight as Kranso took the song to level Booker T. probably wished was on his new cd.

Eric Krasno @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Eric Krasno @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Walking Papers (#1 on disc)

“The next song selection and what not is…You know we gotta be classy, this is the Blue Note after all!  The next song selection and shit …..” ~ Questlove as the venue erupted in laughter. Probably the one and only time I will hear cursing on the stage of the Blue Note from time to come.

The third selection was Walking Papers. Questlove described the song titles as “the papers that your angry wife gives you.” The song broke into a funky beat and my friend and I all complained about being forced to sit through this danceable set.

Whole Group @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Whole Group @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Everything is Everything (#6 on disc)

Booker T.‘s cover of Lauryn Hill‘s Everything is Everything followed. This song should have been sung by Nigel Hall who was waiting in the rafters during the first set while this song played but was sitting at our table for the second.  However, Booker T. played the vocals on his organ. No words. Personally, I feel that it is the words of this song that make it powerful and I loved how this elder artist was playing the younger tunes but it was general consensus around my table that it should be sung, not played.  Watching Gary Bartz, I wondered when he learned the song and how long it took him to learn it.  Did he really like it?  On the new cd, Booker T. also covers Gnarls Barkley‘s Crazy.

Hip Hugger (Old Booker T Song)

The best thing about being on this stage the past few days has been our ability to vicariously feel like we are in each others bands. We all have so much respect for each others bands and projects. This next tune will make us honorary MGs”  ~ Questlove introducing HipHugger.

As they segued into HipHugger, Christian McBride took the lead.  He shot out the gate with his solos on this song each set. His smile infectious, his playing addicting.

Gary Bartz @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Gary Bartz @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Gentle Smiles (Gary Bartz Tune)

At this point I should tell yall a little something about the magnificent Gary Bartz as he was the reason this show was even taking place!! When Jill Newman approached Questlove with the list of musicians that might want to take part in this project, Gary Bartz‘s name was what stopped him.

Gary Bartz is a Grammy winning alto saxophone player who first touched down on ears in the mid 60’s.  He played with epic jazz musicians like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Charles Mingus’ Workshop and McCoy Tyner before even reaching the 70’s.  His music became influential amongst many genres and soon Gary’s music hit Questlove‘s ears as he followed the rise of hip-hop.

If you were a fan of hip-hop in 1991 then you might have known of a song called Gentle Smiles but might not have known it was a Bartz original.  A Tribe Called Quest famously used this sample for their song Butter on the “The Low End Theory” 1991 album. Everyone knows that album, or rather they should. Questlove dropped some serious licks while playing this song, probably having played it in his head over and over for years coming up in the scene.  It was a slow, downright sexy rage.

Gary Bartz’s Gentle Smiles:

A Tribe Called Quest’s Butter, sampling the song:

Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

“And now I’d like to introduce you to the last member of our clan. A person who has his graduate degree in soul walking and Jamesology.  I’ve given him new monikers each set. I need help giving him one for this set,” said Questlove as he looked at the rest of his band. Nigel Hall was introduced by Questlove last night as Nigel Baptiste, Nigel Cosby was his name for tonight’s first set and Norman Huckstable Hall was thrown out this time by Christian McBride.

This was Nigel Hall‘s first paid performance at the Blue Note. As we stood at the top of the stairs and chatted he was wringing his hands and seemed slightly nervous.  So endearing.

Celestial Blues (Gary Bartz Tune)

As Nigel Hall began his next song he spoke of the Maine State Slogan being “They Way Life Should Be” and how the song he was about to sing is more tactical version of that statement.  “so meditate and contemplate”  Gary Bartz raged thru his solo.  Gary Bartz is the reason Questlove went after this gig.  When Jill Newman,  the lady who helped fund the Blue Note Jazz Festival, read Questlove the list of musicians who were interested in the super jam…this is the name that solidified the deal.

Whole Group raging The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Whole Group raging The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Born Under A Bad Sign (William Bell cover)

There was more banter and The Temptations Get Ready was teased by the rhythm section, another inside musical joke. Nigel Hall went on to sing Born Under A Bad SignNigel went off in the song, getting lost in his own voice. We got lost as well.  Having been part of The Warren Haynes Band for a few months, Nigel Hall has fused this song to his blood line.  And as always, I heard people asking “who was this guy,” questioning with the biggest smiles possible!!!   The night before, I was unlucky enough to miss Dee Dee Bridgewater, who came out in the second set to join Nigel on this song.  Amazing.

“Let’s give fun a round of applause ~ Questlove

Got To Get Some > Cant’ Find Love

As they began to play the next tune Got To Get Some, Questlove stopped and I think might have broken something as he said “well, they are gonna charge me five bucks for that! ” Nigel responds, “Sounds alright.  So long as its tight, its alright.” Nigel sang soulfully through Got To Get Some and Cant’ Find Love.

Whole Group w/ Nigel @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Whole Group w/ Nigel @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Green Onions & Melting Pot (Booker T Covers)

Nigel Hall bounced off the stage as the remaining group broke into Green Onions.  Christian McBride is such an amazing bassist as he kicked his bass so deep during this song.  Seeing this song performed live was truly special.  With these musicians, who were having so much fun on stage, they brought the song to life and I have to admit that it was one of my fav parts of the set. Just hearing the opening immediately made me smile. It’s impossible not to love this song.

The super group ended their exciting set with Booker T’s Melting Pot from his 1971 studio album.  Here is the studio version of the song. There were certainly to many restrictions on picture and video taking at The Blue Not like always.

When super groups like this gather, it’s always a shame to miss the magic. I hope this brought you into the moment, if only a little bit!

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