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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

http://tinyrager.com

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As my fifth New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival gets closer, the anticipation gets stronger. This year is a little different- I have two friends coming to Jazz Fest on my say so, so I’m a little stressed, wanting to make sure they tell me what they want to hear, making sure they love it as much as I do. So in prepping for my favorite week of the year, here are some things you don’t want to miss:

At the fairgrounds:

Thursday, May 3rd

High School Gospel Choirs: I like to open my fest with the McMain Singing Mustangs – every year, these kids bring some serious firepower to the Gospel Tent.  McDonogh #35 High School also does some incredible stuff later in the afternoon.

New Orleans Music Legends: Bassist George Porter Jr. has probably played on your favorite album, whether with Tori Amos, David Byrne, being the bass line sampled for tons of hip hop classics, or with his own groundbreaking work with the legendary Meters. Do yourself a favor and see him. While you’re at it, check out piano virtuoso Henry Butler, and the boys and girl in Dumpstaphunk. All of em will make you wish you lived here and saw em more often.

Home Grown Up and Comers: I saw Mia Borders in a tiny club with a leaky roof on the lower east side last year and she was amazing. Probably got an awesome band with her, including NOLA saxman Khris Royal (who’s probably with George too), and her cover of Bill Wither‘s “Use Me” was just bananas last year.

2012 Fantasy Map

2012 Fantasy Map

Friday, May 4th

The One Woman Army, now with backup: Theresa Andersson is a tremendous singer, fiddle player, and all around musician. This year, she’s got a great krewe of musicians with her, including Hannah Krieger-Benson, a fantastic trumpet player and singer who’s doing her own stuff (Hannah KB Band) and some ska too (The Local Skank)

Pick your own Jazz Adventure:  Three amazing jazz sets happening right after Theresa, at the same time. I have no idea how I’ll do all three.  Big Chief Donald Harrison will be mixing his bebop and modern jazz skills with R&B and NOLA classics, ala the amazing cover of “Indian Red” he did for the Treme Season One Soundtrack.  Or, you can get your fill of low end saxophonics, with Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) leading three Bari Saxes and a Bass Sax for Baritone Bliss (which was fantastic last year).  Or, you can see Preservation Hall trumpet man Mark Braud do his own thing in the Economy Hall tent.

Holy People: Bet on Mavis Staples, who was already among the top reasons we went with this weekend, to put on a ridiculous set at the gospel tent in honor of her friend (and ours), the late great Levon Helm.  I’m sure her set is going to be so great, I’ll probably miss Deacon John‘s killer cover of “Many Rivers to Cross” to get a spot. However, if I were you, I wouldn’t miss much else of his set.  Local music legend, a fantastic performer, a great singer, a helluva guitar player, just amazing stuff, see Deacon John.

Mahalia Jackson - Historic Jazz Fest Picture

Mahalia Jackson – Historic Jazz Fest Picture

Saturday May 5th

Family Preservation: Loads of famous families in the New Orleans tradition – on Saturday, the Brunious family represents in Economy Hall. A few hours before Mark Braud (nephew to the late John Brunious) takes the stage (and hopefully passes out some ice cream) with the
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, his other uncle (and brother to John) Wendell Brunious will step up to the stage- Wendell was on fire at BAM a couple weeks back, sitting in with Dr. John, so look for some tasty trumpet goodness all around.

Raisin’ Hell: Another scion of a famous musical family takes the Fais Do Do stage, Rockin Dopsie and his Zydeco Hellraisers.  I feel like a lot of my favorite Zydeco bands all seemed to be packed into first weekend, but Rockin Dopsie is a notable exception.

Local Greats to Look For: Anders Osborne is a beast on guitar, and his new album is a great mix of sweetness, of sadness, of blues and power.  Not sure who’s playing with them, but see it.  Paul Sanchez’s Rolling Road show is always packed with local stars, Joe Krown with Russell Batiste and Walter “Wolfman” Washington is a tight organ guitar drums trio that does it right. John Boutte‘s voice, which you may recognize from the theme song from Treme, is tremendous to hear in the Jazz Tent – he may spoil us with a great cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah”…if we’re lucky!

The Cafe du Monde stand between the Jazz and Blues tents, around 5:30pm.  Good time to hydrate and get some iced coffee.  Hard to see ending my Preservation Hall second line early, but gonna need to refuel. And what better place to do it? Herbie Hancock and his band in the Jazz Tent on your right, the Warren Haynes Band (with tinyrager.com faves Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour, as well as Dr. John, playing out) on your left in the Blues Tent.

Jazzfest 1975 Historic Poster

Jazz Fest 1975 Historic Poster

Sunday, May 6th

Sunday is always the most packed day, the closing day of the festival.  Of course, I can tell you to park at Gentilly Stage all day, or don’t miss Galactic, but hopefully you already know.  Here are a few things you might not know about:

The Family that Prays Together: Remember that John Boutte guy from Saturday?  He’s bringin’ his whole family to the gospel tent. You should get there too.

Arieal

Arieal

Glen David Andrews: Cousin to Trombone Shorty and James Andrews, the fire-breathing trombone player’s got an incredible performance you don’t want to miss.  Why he’s not taking his rightful place closing down the Gospel tent is beyond me, but at least it makes the FOMS (Fear of Missing Something) to close the festival a bit easier.

Camping at the Jazz and Heritage Stage: I don’t know the higher heights, but every other group at the Jazz and Heritage stage is a smoker, starting with War Chief Juan, the TBC Brass Band, Los Hombres Calientes will be incredible (why not in the Jazz tent?), and

Big Chief Bo Dollis: It’s not clear if the Big Chief is going to make it, he’s fallen ill, so I expect the boys to rock it out hard for him even if he can’t make it.  Look for Brooklynite turned Orleanian Billy Iuso wrecking shop on guitar (if not here, with Anders on Saturday), he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Close out with the Hall: Okay, so you’ve got 8, count em, 8 amazing sets lined up to end your fest. My pick is Preservation Hall – they’re going to have a lot of friends on stage with them and it’s going to be a lot of fun.  Also, I have no idea why they put Sharon Jones in the Blues Tent when she’s going to want the crowd up and dancing.

The night shows are a whole other animal, coming for part 2…

Words by Guest Writer: Russ Agdern

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Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

(179 McDougal Street)

(w/ Higher Nebulae, D.V.S., & Orchard Lounge)

Show Pamplet

Show Pamplet

In my mind, I consider myself just beginning to learn about (and possibly appreciate) these late night NYC music scenes.  A scene where the music doesn’t start until 11:00pm, maybe.  A scene where, unless you asked for help, you can’t find the door to the establishment, a scene hidden under the bowels of the city streets.   I normally rage a live concert where the doors open at 6pm and the show start at 8pm.  And THEN, if I have the energy (if?…who are we kidding?), I end up in a dark and grimy basement venue for the remainder of the night.  Most of the time it’s because a friend has talked me into raging harder and not because I feel as though there will be true talent on a stage.  To me, these are the times to mingle and dance till your a puddle of water on the floor.  I have no idea what is going on music wise as…how do I put this….it doesn’t register to me as live music.  It just doesn’t.

Rage Equipment!

Rage Equipment!

Dj-ing is clearly an art.  Sampling music, producing sounds, splicing tunes, putting them back together like a puzzle.  I get it.  I can see the DJs gears working in my mind’s eye when I hear some of the get-down beats we dance too.  And when they rage, I stop dancing and I embrace the lift in the room’s energy, nodding my head in recognition that they just mixed a dope track that got the floor jumpin’.  So, I love it, don’t get me wrong.  I do dance into a puddle and I have fun but it’s not the same thing if it’s just a person and their turntables.  It doesn’t drag me in and make my jaw drop.

Now, take that atmosphere, with that talented puzzle maker and throw in a live instrument.  Like Break Science who has Adam Deitch on the drums bringing forth that extra layer that makes it intoxicating, or The Sullivan Street Shakedown, which combines DJs with numerous live instruments rotated each month.  It lies in the fact that it’s alive to me at that moment.  It’s organic.  I can see it being created.  Tonight, I would be enjoying the performance of Jeff Bujak and he brought me exactly what I needed to have my jaw drop.

Rage equipment!

Rage equipment!

The show was held at Club Love.  Never having been before, I immediately was drawn to the name, wondering what it must look like.  I imagined it being dimly lit, a loungy-vibe with bright tones like purples, yellows and reds.  Slightly Disco-esque with plush couches and anything you would find in a Austin Powers movie.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

With no sign to the establishment and the entrance being a door hidden by on of those large gate walls that businesses pull down when they close up shop, I only knew I was in the right spot thanks to the store owners around the area.  The show was to start at 10pm but I don’t think the doors even opened until 11pm.  I went across the street for a beer with the three other people foolish enough to come so early…see, I am still learning.

Rage Equipment!

Rage Equipment!

Upon entering Love, you head down the stairs into a dark, concrete floored, cavern-like basement and are forced either left or right.  If you choose right, you are met with the room that would be throwing us the get down grinds.  Probably holds about 250 (??) comfortably, one wall had bench style seating but that was it.  This was a room for dancing.  Period. There was a bar set up with caution tape around it, I assumed to give the waitress some room?  Flat out, not cool waitress.  I bought a $7 beer, gave her a $10 and she just ran with it.  When I asked her for my change, she was like “What? You want me to give you back 2 bucks?”  First of all, take a math course and Poor Service!!!  Seriously? Does it matter?  I used to be a waitress and I was a friggen princess even when I wanted to kill someone.  I will NEVER get used to the poor customer service practices in New York City.  There is TRULY nothing comparable in terms of shitty attitude .  Needless to say,  I was not amused.

Dancing and Hula Hooping

Dancing and Hula Hooping

There was no “stage” per say, just a portion of the floor that had been utilized for the equipment.  As well, there was an elevated portion that held the DJs booth.  I got to be sadly honest and admit that the front of the DJ booth was so high, I could barely see the tops of the DJ’s heads, let alone see them do their thing.  That made me sad.  But I am sure the rest of the world saw the Dj’s as they are all over 5 foot zero!!

If you took a left from Love’s entrance, you are taken to the restrooms, another bar and a separate room that looks cave-ish, like the walls were made of crappy styrafrom, the other walls were glass so that the patrons in the room were viewable from the bar area.  This room was for those who might need to take a rest from the intensity in the other room.  It is small but with stadium seating, more like concrete stairs.  It’s always good to have one of these rooms to retreat into when you have partied to hard.

Higher Nebulae started the night off with some dirty dance beats. There was some gospel layers and rock layers all with some deep whoomping bass.  When the bass beats were dropped we were given some familiar rock favorites and unexpected old school gems such as Metallica‘s “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

D.V.S.

D.V.S.

Like I said, it’s hard for me to focus on the music when it’s just the DJs so I was wondering around trying to catch a buzz with the $10 beer in hand and attempting to get in the right frame of mind to dance into that puddle I was talking about.  The Banana Mafia was out in full force greeting what appeared to be half the venue who had come under his list.  He brought the energy, he brought in the dancers.  I appreciated that!  However, this Mafia member was without his Banana Suit?  Is that even allowed?  Am I supposed to be outing him over the internet?  Opps.  Either way, he raged all over that dance floor, as well as his friends, and we all had a blast together!!

D.V.S. was up next, his real name being Derek VanScoten.  Where as Jeff Bujak uses a piano to layer on top of his electronic beats, D.V.S. uses a Telecaster guitar.  I stopped my mingling and started focusing on D.V.S..  His music mixed Hip-hop, Soul and even Motown.  He sampled Jimi Hendrix‘s “Foxy Lady” and raged a great guitar during his samples.  He has recently toured as a solo artist supporting Ana Sia, Big Gigantic, Beats Antique, Boombox, Lynx & Janover, JFJO, and M80 Dubstation.  Honestly, not sure if I cared for him that much.  It didn’t do anything for me.

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Let’s talk about Jeff Bujak, the man of the hour!  Duuuuude.  Having just discovered him earlier this summer at Rock The Resort, I was VERY eager to see him again live.  Jeff Bujak is a true musician.  A truly technically talented piano player who, from the moment I stepped foot into his performance at RTR, has had me hooked.  To me, when I listen to his music at home, Jeff reminds me of a mix between Tori Amos and Bruce Hornsby. I could come up with a ton of combination but seriously, his music is beautiful and quirky and demanding with organized chaos and it is all his own! He has coined his music “Intelligent Dance Music.”  Intriguing, no?

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff comes armed with everything needed to run his one-man show including light, sound, and smoke.  Cables and pedals everywhere, there is a laptop, a sound deck and his dual level keyboard at the helm of his personal electronic monster.  There is a row of lights above his left shoulder flashing us the light show in various colors and mixed to rage with the beat. His shoes were off and the show began.

The set list:

SET 1
Utopia > Kicker > Crowd > Machinist > Slimmy > Cascadation > Sunny’s Song* > PUTV > Mutator

* written by Benevento-Russo Duo (section of)

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Utopia got it started with a synthesizer drop and a deep beat. Very quickly the layering of faster beats were released and right away it was a dance party.  His songs have catchy samples, this one, sampling Cake’s The Distance by using the lyrics “Reluctantly crouched at the starting line…”  After a while, amid the heavy beat of smashing cymbals, I feel a reggae vibe that quickly turns back into a deep electronic beat.

Kicker into Crowd brought us the classical, straight out gorgeous technical chamber piano skills that I adore him for.  These gorgeous notes layer over the rest of the dance worthy beats.  They are hit hard, there are sounds of electric guitars playing but I know that is Bujak manipulating the keys.  The sequenced drum loops made it sound like the drummer was in the room with us at times.  Then we got a little more of the pure keys, nothing manipulated, just beautiful piano sounds.  It’s a gorgeous mixture of electronic and organic.  I mean, there is just GORGEOUS composition amongst his hectic beats.

So, being that I am a romantic female, I found it to be just lovely music and I was pleased to see mainly men in that basement dancing.  In reality, I wondered if these wookies heard what I heard.  They were certainly dancing to the beats but I wonder if they realized just how good he sounded in that basement.  Club Love is rumored as having one of the best sound systems, so perhaps that helped.  There are parts of the songs that got so slow and so sensual.  Preferring to be a stand alone dancer at most shows I attend, it was my pleasure to dance intelligently with some dudes that night to this intelligent music.  A real pleasure. 😉

The music pierced my ear drums and so my ear plugs remained in the entire night.  I love my ear plugs because they helps break down the sounds and I can hear the music very clearly.  I recognized that I was in a grimy basement but being raised on Broadway shows and Classical theater and concerts, I was able to close my eyes and get thrown into the plush seats I imagined earlier.   The raging beats faded away and all I could hear was the gorgeous classical technical training he was throwing at us.

The music sounded like this (around 5:15ish mins he busts out the chamber piano):

But my mind would shut out parts and I would just hear something that sounded like this, beats faded away…just gorgeous:

Machinist is a song that amuses me. I imagine being at an Insane Clown Posse  or 311 show raging out and then Jeff layers some beautiful unmanipulated organized piano playing over it.  That is what does it for me.  I know I always say I love my horns, but I grew up listening to my father plays his piano every night after dinner while I cleared the table and did the dishes.  This fact also makes me overly critical towards keys players and I don’t have a single negative thing to say about Jeff’s work. It was a complete package, a complete pleasure.

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Jeff Bujak @ Club Love

Slimmy was mainly a synthesizer song and pretty sure I heard some Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” in the mix.  It was HEAVY, deep, and a raging dance song.  This producer/composer really does delivers a vibrant sound so full of melodic energy it stirs even the most timid of dancers. No one was sitting. I make my way up to Jeff’s side, watching him play…oh the essence of a musician when they are in the zone.  Sometimes I swear can feel their energy radiate off them.  It’s what brings tears to my eyes sometimes.  We stand in the audience in love with these musician’s music but what we have to remember is they either love or hate what they are playing as well and you can fell it, you can see it.  The lights and the music and the venue were helping big time.  It was so beautiful and overwhelming.  One man was making all this happen.

I stepped outside for an adventure during Cascadation so I can’t tell you anything about that song. That is one you will just have to go and see to experience 🙂  I came back in towards the end of Sunny’s Song, partially written by Benevento-Russo Duo. Pretty, melodic, slower then the rest.  PUTV gave us a manipulated synthed start to the song with samplings from Eric B. & Rakim’s “Pump Up The Volume” gently layered on top of the rest of the tune.  He goes back and forth between the manipulated sounds and the organic sound the ivories make.  Again, the looped drum beats are stellar and fast forcing Bujak’s fingers to go full blast.

Mutator was last for the evening. To be honest, I wasn’t sure when one song ended or began.  My notes are full of lines where I believe one ends and another beings, arrows shooting up the page because I felt as if he had gone from one song to another and back again, not sure.  Sometimes it was clear and other times it was so well-played that if the change occurred, I had no clue where it was.

Here is the video I took of Jeff @ Club Love…sorry for the sound quality. I had my ear plugs in and it sounded GORGEOUS and crisp in my ear…you get the point 🙂

Orchard Lounge raged our faces off for the rest of the evening but I will have to review them another time.  Jeff was what had brought me here tonight. I had come with the intentions of leaving after Jeff’s set but there was NO WAY. Not only was I one of the first people to arrive that night, I ended up being one of the last people to leave.  Jeff hung out a bit and, when we weren’t dancing, I wandered with my dance partner, getting in to trouble here and there, totally full of energy.  It was a great night and all thank to Jeff….thanks Buj 🙂  Be sure to check out Jeff Bujak’s newest full-length released on Harmonized Records:  “Alive Like the Spine

And as I hit PUBLISH, the irony is not lost on me as I listen to my neighbor begin giving one of her lovely piano lessons…..life is magnificent!

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