Posts Tagged ‘Medeski Martin & Wood’

Bowlive IV Recap Including Day & Night 8 Reviews

We’ve officially been “Bowlived” for the fourth year as Soulive reached the finish line of their 4th Annual residency, Bowlive, on Saturday night. It’s a bittersweet feeling; similar to the feelings you get when you have to leave an amazing few weeks at summer camp. For the members of Soulive, seeing the regular faces and New York City fan dedication is a wonderful energy for them to play off of throughout the run. In turn, fans get to see their favorite artists night after night, performing exquisitely executed originals and crushing covers with spectacular guests. All the while, both fans and band dance around with each other, their friends, and other musicians in the audience who are there just to bare witness. Everyone smiles and engages each other, soaking up every glorious note. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is hard to fall away from after being dipped so deeply for eight nights. So, when the end comes, we must remind ourselves that these residencies are special because they only happen once a year! Soulive reminds themselves that they have something special to look forward to as much as the audience does. And each year, the audience witnesses the unfolding of a beautiful musical dynasty that Eric Krasno and brothers Neal and Alan Evans have created.

 Unlike the three previous year’s run, Soulive chose to focus their energy into eight shows instead of ten. This choice applies great pressure to any band who chooses to change the formula of a well-established and respected event. Bowlive fans expect a certain caliber of guests, a high level of surprise sit-ins, and some spectacular musical experiences that sometimes end up being a once-in-a-lifetime moment.  Soulive knows this to be true and always takes the time to consider such factors. How about having Mod dancers bust out into the bowling lanes during the second set of Night I?! It was just go time at that point!

Over the course of eight nights, guitarist Eric Krasno, bass keyboardist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans provided a stage and support for fantastic and exciting artists. They played endless jams in multiple styles across the musical spectrum, which is an important goal of the residency every year. Special guests included rocking Southern Blues brothers, guitarist Luther Dickinson and his brother, drummer Cody Dickinson, the 1970’s soul vocalist, Lee Fields and his modern day counterpart, Nigel Hall. There was the unmatched pedal steel slide guitarist Robert Randolph, legendary jam scene DJ, DJ Logic, and The Shady Horns lent their wall of sound during the second week with the help of crushing saxophonist Bill Evans one night. Some of America’s most outstanding keyboardists, 1970’s Memphis blues keyboardist, Booker T. Jones, mad scientist and keyboard wizard, John Medeski, and the ever experimental Marco Benevento, dominated their time on stage. Stepping in to melt faces on guitar was the astonishing Los Lobos’s David Hildago and The Meter’s Leo Nocentell. Soulive closed out their epic week playing with America’s most famous funk bassist, George Porter. Jr.

Another exciting element of Bowlive each year is the choice opening bands Soulive picks to set the audience’s mood each night. Due to a benefit at the Brooklyn Bowl on Night Six, there were only seven opening groups, all delivering a variety of musical power. The ridiculous ragers who make up Kung-Fu opened the run with so much fury. It was a perfect choice. The rocking Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, The London Souls and Leroy Justice got the dance floor grooving. It was also a great pleasure to see two powerful females amongst the male-dominated residency by way of Alecia Chakour (The Alecia Chakour Band) and Arleigh Kincheloe (Sister Sparrow). The soul and flavor of love got shot to our hearts with The Nigel Hall Band, the Alecia Chakour Band and Cocheme Gastulum’s The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow. You’re encouraged to read about them all in the previous night’s posts.

Then, you have the unannounced guests who are a separate list of continual, crushing talent. The Allman Brother’s southern rock guitarist Warren Haynes and slide guitarist Derek Trucks surprised the audience with a secret full third set on Night Two. Trombonists Sanders Sermon (Tedeschi/Trucks Band) and Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastatio Band) and trumpeters Maurice Brown and Igmar Thomas, and saxophonist Cocheme Gastulum (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings), enhanced the wall of horns over the run on various nights. Behind everything, the chemistry and talents of Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Alan Evans, are what make Bowlive possible.

Perhaps the most special show for many Soulive fans is the Kids show. Soulive held another KidsBowl performance early Saturday afternoon from 2pm to 3pm. These specific types of shows bring Soulive’s music to both the fans children and the unknowing adults who bring their kids to bowl on a Saturday, not knowing what a treat they are in for.  For dedicated Bowlive fans, the kids show is a wonderful way for the individual dancing alone at night to bring his or her family to meet one another.  The reality of life becomes evident as the adults were in “parent” mode, not “party” mode. Babies were crawling on the dance floor and children of all ages were running around in bowling shoes. The lights were on and bumpers were out. In their hour, they performed a few Soulive originals and brought Meter’s bassist, George Porter, Jr. It was when the set was over that the real raging began, however, when the children were allowed on stage to play with instruments and dance.

KidsBowl Set:

Uncle Jr.


Hat  Trick

Turn It Out

Hey Pockey Way (w/ George Porter, Jr.)

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

 It was back to party time with the evening show and The Alecia Chakour Band opening. Her blues siren vocals backed by Neal Evans on keys, bassist Alex Chakour, drummer Caito Sanchez, saxophonist Cocheme Gastulum, and trombonist Dave “Smoota” Smith, were perfection.  After a lovely instrumental intro, Chakour sang seven band originals, including “Runaway,” “Over Again,” “You Didn’t Tell Me,” and “The Sun.” Each member of her band taking solos and leads amongst her sweet sounding vocals. This was a fantastic group of soulful musicians and a perfect choice to transition into the funk-filled evening.

Opening Set:

1. Instrumental

2. Runaway

3. Over Again

4. You Didn’t Tell Me

5. The Sun


7. Shirley

8. Everything Time I See You (Stevie Wonder Cover)

The important point of all of this, simply, was the music. Music that creates a passion within Soulive and luckily, that passion is extended to the fans. For the final evening of their amazing residency Soulive would play host to their mentor in funk, Meter’s bassist, George Porter Jr. But not before bringing it home for the Soulive purists, proving once again what a sick power trio they truly are.  The first set was pure fire, and with help from the Shady Horns, there was nothing to divert our thoughts from what was most important.  The set was full of sick Soulive originals, “Uncle Jr.,” “Aladdin,” and “One in Seven.” “Lenny,” a Stevie Ray Vaughn cover and highlight of any set, allows Krasno to open up a can of whoop ass upon your ears. He broke his string during his ripping solo. Enough said. The London Souls’ Tash O’Neal (guitar and vocals) and Chris St. Hilaire (drums) joined for the a “cover” of their own “Steady Are You Ready” then stayed on to help deliver a crushing version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killin’ Floor” in the vein of Electric Flag’s version. Remember, as we learned on Night Four, Krasno is a huge Tash O’Neal fan, so you can imagine the chemistry.

Set I:

Uncle Jr. (w/ Shady Horns)

Aladdin (w/ Shady Horns)

Come Together (Beatles cover)

Lenny (Stevie Ray Vaughn cover)

One In Seven

Steady Are you Ready (London Souls cover w/ Tash O’Neal & Chris St. Hilaire)

Killin Floor (Howlin’ Wolf Cover…Electric Flag Version w/ w/ Tash O’Neal & Chris St. Hilaire)

 Soulive performed a beautiful rendition of “El Ron,” before George Porter, Jr. was introduced for Set II, continuing on as one of Bowlive’s greatest musical mainstays.  During this tune, the Shady Horns, with the help of guest saxophonist Cocheme Gastulum, broke off into an extended improvisational blowing session with Alan supporting on drums. For lack of better words, it could best be described as a drum line for horns. A Hornline, if you will?! The entire second set evolved into of slew of classics from The Meter’s catalog.

“People Say,” kicked off a funk-fueled set with James Casey delivering a rousing solo. Casey has carried a saxophone around his next all week and when he plays, it’s clear that he was meant to blow a horn.  However, it must be mentioned that over the run, Casey provided grooving percussion on the congas for many songs. It was a dance party for “Hey Pockey Way,” as Porter announced that, “Everyday should be Mardi Gras!!!”  Then, audience participation time for the fun tune, “Hand Clapping Song.”  The next Meter’s original, “Out in the Country,” was performed in the style of Porter’s slow emotional arrangement from his It’s Life album. This was a gorgeously played ballad that tugged at the heartstrings of the crowd in a deep way. From a personal perspective, it brought tears to my eyes, almost opening the floodgates until I reeled it back in.  I wasn’t alone in this outpour of emotions. Again, acknowledging that this super-stimulating, night time version of summer camp, full of friendly faces, is like ending an addiction cold-turkey. Bowlive is an institution in the Jam Band universe at this point, it lasts longer than many music festivals, and it’s not easy for the die-hards when it ends.

The set ended and no one moved.  There was just endless screaming and shouting of Krasno and the Evans brother’s names. Then, Brooklyn Bowl owner, Peter Shapiro, stepped onto the stage. On the last night of every Bowlive, right before the final encore of the run, Peter Sharpio does something special for Bowlive’s loyal audience in an effort to show his gratitude for their support of live music.  At the end of the first Bowlive, 700 shots of tequila were handed out from the stage.  He kept it entirely mellow last year by passing around Aromatherapy plants: Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, asking that the audience to grab sprigs of each plant and inhale. This was to encourage a revitalization within our body, mind and soul for the energy to dance on for one more song. Not missing a creative beat, Peter Shapiro took the mic on this final night and thanked us for our loyalty in proper rockstar fashion. He alerted the audience that this was a milestone 40th show for Bowlive and that the he had had made t-shirts with “40” on the back and “BOWLIVE” on the front. XL shirts went flying around the venue and Shapiro asked that the audience put them on right away before Soulive would deliver us our double encore of “He Bite Me (The Dragon)” and “Ain’t No Use.” The gifting of the shirts was a smart and fun way to end this year’s Bowlive.

Set II:

El Ron (w/ Shady Horns and Cocheme Gastulum)

People Say

Take A Chance

Hey Pockey Way


Hand Clapping Song

Out In the Country


He Bite Me (The Dragon)

Ain’t No Use

Soulive has truly cemented their reign as a musical dynasty. A talented trio on top of their game in this unforgiving musical bastion of NYC. The magnitude of music overheard during the last two weeks was dynamic and inspiring.  The guests and the musicians solos were magnificent, diverse and captivating. Soulive always gives us something to look forward to every single night of Bowlive and this year was nothing less.

On personal note, I hope these reviews have helped supplement the wealth of musical knowledge that Soulive bequeathed upon us during Bowlive IV.  It is a delight and a  privilege to witness Bowlive every year and count Soulive and the Brooklyn Bowl as part of my local music scene. It also goes without saying that it is an honor and a true highlight of my career to be blessed to write for this amazing phenomenon called Bowlive. Thank you to Peter Shapiro, the Brooklyn Bowl, all the staff and production crew. Thank you to Royal Family Records for the opportunity to cover such a delightful event. A giant thank you to all the guests who lent their sound to the stage. Finally, the biggest congratulations and thank you to Alan Evans, Neal Evans and Eric Krasno for making it all possible. Your fans eagerly await to see what you have in store for Bowlive V!

Karen Dugan


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Bowlive IV Night 6 Recap w/ John Medeski, Bill Evans, George Porter Jr & Shady Horns : Tonight Porter, Leo Nocentelli & Shady Horns

To many New Yorkers, Thursday signifies the start of the weekend. Music venues bulk up their staff and bands slated to perform anticipate an audience that is ready for a party.  Last night was the sixth night of Soulive’s Brooklyn Bowl residency, Bowlive IV. The foundation was set for a rocking night of music with the Brooklyn Bowl stocked with staff and Soulive ready to throw it down.

With so many amazing musicians sitting in with Soulive over the past six nights, it has been challenging to ensure proper love is given to everyone. Especially during residencies, focus on special guests and their performances become the unexpected highlights of the articles and sometimes people forget to focus on the core members of the residency themselves. Credit must be given where credit is due.

Guitarist Eric Krasno, drummer Alan Evans and Neal Evans, along with the Brooklyn Bowl, have created something extremely special and unique for the New York music community. Since it’s inception in 2010, Bowlive has turned into a musical Superbowl that pushes the skills of the best of the best. For eight to ten nights, these three rock stars provide a fusion of styles that showcase numerous artist and instruments with Soulive’s distinct sound providing the base. The shared respect between musicians to musicians, and musicians to fans amps the frenetic creative energy that flows from the first downbeat to the final bow. Eric, Alan, and Neal are all at the top of their game and are now standing out among the greats, using the glory of Bowlive to cement their place as a musical dynasty. A dynasty that began in 1999.  It speaks volumes that the trio can support an eight to ten night residency that packs the house every night and attracts some of the biggest names in live music. Last night continued the tradition of amazing collaborations with keyboardist John Medeski and saxophonist Bill Evans.

The power trio had to make a few changes to the musical formula last night. Due to a benefit concert earlier in the day, last night was the first and only night of the run where the power trio did not have a rocking opening band to set pace. Without an opening band, Soulive was tasked with pumping up the eager crowd that was filled up with party animals, packing the dance floor to the brim. By doing so, they completely reinforced to the fans why any of us were there in the first place. Soulive original, “Aladdin,” began the set, providing the first platform for Krasno to open up and slay his guitar.  Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” followed, a song that everyone can geek out on, especially the musicians playing the tune. After six nights, the guys were thoroughly warmed up and just crushing solos left and right on The Beatles tune, “I Want You.”

Enter The Shady Horns, consisting of trumpeter Eric Bloom, saxophonist James Casey, and baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, for “Backwards Jack.” These three horn players provide a platform for the trio to open up and rage. Over the run, Eric Bloom has been experimenting with a guitar Wa Wa pedal during his trumpet solos, while James Casey has broken out the flute and provided percussion on many songs.

Continuing his guest appearance from the fifth night, London Souls guitarist Tash O’Neal joined the stage for the Beatles, “Get Back” and a slow “PJs.” Quality choices off their 2010 album, Rubber Soulive, made up the bulk of the first set before the audience was hit with a special unannounced guest.  Alan spoke to the crowd, “I am sorry for those of you who can’t come tomorrow night. You know, it’s a real shame that you won’t see George Porter, Jr. tomorrow. But it’s ok! Because you can see him now!!!” This was special.

Bassist George Porter, Jr. is an icon, legend and mentor, not only to the members of Soulive, but any true musician or music lover who loves funky, deep, in-the-pocket bass lines. A member of the legendary group, The Meters, Porter’s unique sound can be heard on recordings for Warren Haynes, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, David Byrne, Johnny Adams, Harry Connick Jr., Earl King, and Tori Amos, to name a few. Soulive is so well-versed on Porter’s catalog that the end of the set list simply read, “Whatever GPJ Wants!”  They cranked out Meter’s covers “Check Your Mind” right into “Funky Bitch,” without missing a beat.

Soulive continued to descend upon us with new musicians, adding keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood) and saxophonist Bill Evans to their Bowlive IV roster for the second set. A set that is hard to describe in words. Let’s just start with knowing the fact that Bill Evans was in Miles Davis’s band at the age of 22 and John Medeski was asked to perform on Jaco Pastorius’s 1981 tour while still a teenager. Along with Soulive and the Shady Horns, Medeski and Evans played a mind-blowing set.  Medeski’s avant-garde jazz quality added an incredible layer of sound to the stage, either filling every empty space with a melodic note, or simply striking one key and locking eyes with Neal. The set was filled with songs from Spark, a collaborative album with Karl Denson, released in March 2012. “Spark!,” the title track, kicked it off with Bill Evans crushing a sick solo on his soprano sax. Trombonist Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band) was the next unannounced sit-in who lent her sound on “Povo.”  “Nubian Lady” and “Liquid” followed, sounding exactly like the names suggest. The musicians were so tight, fluid, and everyone on stage was cranking out their notes in improvisational ways, yet sounded as if they had been rehearsing the same songs for years.  Unannounced drummer ?uestlove, who holds a standing DJ set on Thursdays for the Brooklyn Bowl, snuck in for “Nautilus” and proceeded to slam our heads into the beat of the song.  It was inspiring. Soulive encored with an extended, jamming “Tuesday Night Squad.”

Tonight’s jam sessions will start at 8:30 with Leroy Justice opening. Special guests will include bassist George Porter, Jr., guitarist Leo Nocentelli and The Shady Horns will be back in full effect to give their fans one extreme night of funk and fury.

Karen E. Dugan


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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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