I started to write a post today about how the dude from Linkin Park is now the lead singer in Stone Temple Pilots, but then I realized how much I don’t care about that. Sweet mercy, do I not give a shit. You want to see the largest gathering of complete douche-bags who have absolutely no concept of what good music is? Then definitely check out an STP show this summer. I’m sure whatever gig they play in my old home state of Connecticut will sell out in 60 seconds. Instead, I thought it’d be better for everyone involved if I just posted my review of Medeski Martin and Wood from a couple weeks back – essentially the biggest flip-side of musical taste and talent as you can get from the prior bands mentioned. I hadn’t seen MMW in years, as the last gigs I had seen with them were somewhat boring, but this one friggin’ launched me. Check it…
When Shack-Man first dropped half of my lifetime ago, listening to it felt like I was garnering the greatest universal street-cred I could ever muster. Seriously, during high school I’d listen to it while ripping joints in my Mom’s Geo and feel like the coolest kid on the face of Earth. But frankly, over the past decade or so the MMW shows I’ve attended have never quite moved me akin to the absolutely disgusting performances of the late 90′s. So when it was first announced they’d be playing an all acoustic gig for Portland’s Soul’d Out Music Fest, my first reaction was “another one of them sleepy MMW gigs.” But it turns out this show would be the one to make me remember… “oh yeah, John Medeski can straight up murder a piano.” I’ve somehow wrongly forgotten the power that this trio holds, and the entirety of this gig was on a next-level of amplified and unified tri-force telepathy.
While it was odd for the Roseland Ballroom to line the floor with chairs for the night, it brought a level of centralized focus on the performance, and I’ve never heard the room sound better. I’m not going to pretend like I could tell you the names of any songs played, but I can tell you that the band had the entire room at their mercy. Each tune went every which side of deep, rolling from moments of mouth-gaping syncopation to pulsing throbs of beastly devouring. And sure, when Medeski just keeps attacking those piano runs, you realize he’s one of our greatest living assets, but it’s still just the way he hits a single note that gives you the chills. Just one note — that’s all you need to hear from the man to be able to find him in the dark… READ MORE
“Trying to keep up with all the rotating members of Snarky Puppy is a lot like trying to keep up with all the new flavors of Pringles — there’s too many to keep track of, and no matter what variety you get you’re guaranteed to have a rumble in your ass.”
“Justin Stanton would flip between the keys and the trumpet like a stoner jumps between nachos and a Snickers bar — bringing a unique flavor to each but acting like either one was the defining piece of his existence.”
Read the full review HERE at State of Mind Music, and definitely jump on seeing these cats the first chance you get. Here’s footage of them a week prior at the BK Bowl.
You know those moments in life when you’ve got to pee so fucking bad, but whatever you’re doing at the time is so massively epic that you just unnaturally push through? And then you just remind yourself, “OK, I’m not going to remember the urinary implosion part of this memory.” Well, this Sexmob show almost reached that point. It actually came to a close just at the moment when I was like,” OK, I might have to make a move here.” It would have been tough too – because it was a sit-down show in a really small theater and I was sitting dead center - not only would the entire row need to stand up for me to exit but the band would have totally watched me go as well. Oh well…anyway… Steven Bernstein and his slide-trumpet have led Sexmob on some unique voyages over the years, but this performance of songs all from Fellini movies was some next-level shit. I’ve never nodded my head so fiercely to such quiet music, and then sat so still for such raging music – it was a twisted world of dichotomous magic. Read the full review HERE at State of Mind Music, and here’s a tidbit…
…You want to talk about getting taken for a ride? This was easily one of the most intense 75 minutes of my music listening history. Be it Kenny Wollesen’s sexual escapade with his drum kit‚ or Briggan Krauss’ harmonic exploration of his muted saxophone‚ this was four unstoppable talents breathing as one. But not only pulsing with one another‚ but with the room and the crowd. Every murmured grunt from the room was taken in by the band and reverted into acknowledged echoes — pure mutual absorption and true artistic foreplay at the peak of fruition. I entered that room thinking of Sexmob as the guys that do cool novelty covers. I left knowing them as a unified link to the divine…
The music world has had to say farewell to two influential acts in the past few days, and before you call me completely fucking nuts to mention a modern, humorous, Brooklyn rap group in the same breath as one of the most influential jazz pianists of all time, just hear me out for a second. Both Dave Brubeck and Das Racist have been essential pieces of the framework of American music. Essential. Where we sit right now at the end of 2012 would not sound or look the same without either of them. But at the same time, neither of these acts’ passing should be met with mourn or sadness.
Dave Brubeck would have turned 92 today. Ninety-fucking-two. And he was still performing concerts up until 2011 – to say the man led a full and extended life is the understatement of the year. In 1959, Brubeck completely changed the shape of jazz and sound with the release of Time Out. Now this is the same year that Miles Davis released Kind of Blue which frankly sounds like a snoring grandfather compared to the explosive punch of Brubeck’s release. Some of my earliest memories as a young child are of my father playing “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” on our baby-grand piano, and I’m fairly confident that having the odd time signatures of those tunes ingrained in my DNA at such a young age helped prep me for a lifetime of enjoying the eccentricities and odd specifics of both music and life. When I hear great piano players today, I can always hear the touch of Brubeck in their work – his striking of the keys and his embrace of the attack is something that all amazing pianists have tried to take into their soul at some point. Hell, I just mentioned him last week in my piece about the amazing Austin Peralta. So last night when I was listening to some of my favorite Brubeck tunes far past the midnight hour, with a glass of fine scotch by my side, I realized I wasn’t sad – I wasn’t mourning. In fact, it felt just the same as every late night that I’ve spent like that over the years. His music is transcendent – of stillness and time, of joy and pain, of life and death. And when I flip through the neurons of my existence, “Blue Rondo a la Turk” will always be speeding through my brain.
So again, why the fuck would I include Brubeck’s passing in the same blog where I talk about a bunch of sarcastic jokers from Brooklyn breaking up their half-serious hip-hop act after only 5 years? Because this is good ole’ America. And in the same place where 50 years before, a white jazz player could flip the lid on his whole scene and be angry that he gets more notoriety than his black counterparts, a Afro-Cuban American and Indian American could flip the whole lid on their own scene by sarcastically mocking the racial profiles that circle around our popular society. Heems and Kool A.D. are both those dudes that you smoke a blunt with at a 3 A.M. party in a tiny BK apartment while they totally rag on and destroy your drunk buddy puking in the corner. In a time when hip-hop had almost reached the extent of its shelf life, we needed some guys to come in and tell us to lighten the fuck up – all the time subtly and geniusly pointing out everything that’s wrong with all the shit we take so seriously. And like Brubeck, this is not the time to mourn the passing of Das Racist. They accomplished their mission. They kicked shit back into gear and helped rise a whole new brilliant independent rap scene from New York. They’re not pissed at each other – they’re not sad – they’re just moving on. They have every right to do whatever the fuck they want to do, and their residual ripple will continue to last as long as one can in our modern attention-deficit prone society. So I say long live America. Long live Das Racist. Long live Dave Brubeck. Long live us, and everything that makes us suck, and everything that makes us amazing.
Hearing one of your favorite instrumentalists add vocals to their music for the first time is like seeing your aging mother buy her first pair of Uggs. In other words, sometimes the game doesn’t need to be flipped on its’ head that drastically. I’ve been a fan of Marco Benevento for nearly a decade now, and have always been enamored by his artistic attack of simplistic melodies. There’s even been times when his songs have held such a strong grasp of a melodic pop vibe that you can almost hear the unspoken lyrics float on top. I always thought this especially on “You Must Be a Lion” off of 2008′s Invisible Baby. In my head I always hear…”You must be a lion, because I can’t see, you being anything else.” But that’s the whole thing – the magic of the pop sensibility lied in my own personal and imagined connection with the music. If I had ever heard actual lyrics to the song, then it would have broken that spell.
Thus I’ve been quite torn by Marco’s choice to include vocals on the 1st two tracks of his recent release, Tigerface. First off, the vocals are provided by Rubblebucket‘s Kal Travers, who has quite an askew blandness to her tone. She always reminds me of the female version of the Hal 9000. But secondly, and most importantly, is how the inclusion of her vocals dispels the magic a great deal. It’s like when you read an amazing book, and it conjures this dreamy, hazy vision of the book’s reality in your head – one not defined by specifics and limitations. Then somebody makes a movie out of that book, and suddenly your own dream-scape connection to the story is squashed. That’s how I feel listening to “Limbs of a Pine” and “This is How it Goes” – like any chance I had of making a personal connection with the music has been automatically thrown out the window.
And listen, I love the album, but I can’t stop myself from starting it time and time again on Track 3. Marco learned a lot from his one-time teacher Brad Mehldau, and the biggest thing was the power of a simple melody. These vocal tracks seem like a step in the wrong direction – almost an admittance that the melodies aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. Of course, I applaud Marco on taking the risk, but I hope he never goes down the vocal path again. Try it out for yourself…
And here’s “You Must Be a Lion”
I always feel like a complete douche when it’s somebody’s passing that makes me aware of their life, but such is the case with the late, astonishingly great pianist, Austin Peralta. And as shitty as it sounds, I’m thankful that anything happened to allow his music to enter my life. Son of the legendary Z-Boy Skater Stacy Peralta, Austin died 4 days ago at the absurdly young age of 22. No cause of death has been given yet, and that makes one assume it was something really shitty. Regardless, the kid played the piano like a young Dave Brubeck if there was a gun being held to the head of his first-born child. His attack was merciless, his flow was seamless, and his joy and passion for his art was undeniably bombastic. I watched about 20 videos last night of his performances, and in each one he gives his band-mates that smile like they just won the Little League World Series.
This shit is really fucking sad people. Austin was beyond talented – he was magical. And we as Earthlings can’t handle losing any more fucking magic these days. It’s really one of those things that makes you question the nature of destiny, and wonder if his fire burned so bright so young because it wasn’t bound to be held for long. He was pushing the frontiers of music forward – above and beyond. The fact that he was on Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder Label, and that he collaborated with modern production wizards like Lotus and Thundercat was a sign that boundaries truly were non-existent anymore. So for humanity’s sake, raise your glass to this kid, feel some sorrow for the Peralta family, and put your children in front of a musical instrument.
Here’s my 2 favorite videos I stumbled upon – The first is Austin at the Tokyo Jazz Festival when he’s only 15 years old. 15 fucking years old! Sweet mercy, it’s incredible. The 2nd is from last year of him going ridiculously deep on a cover of the Flying Lotus track he played on forCosmogramma.
Sometimes these jazz/R&B crossovers just don’t work, but surprisingly the 80′s hip-hop/pop star completely reinvents herself on this album and things fall right into place. Odd choices of covers somehow seem ideal, and Cherry’s voice with a saxophone on top of it just makes you want to melt into the couch cushions. Read the full review HERE at MV Remix.
The last time you listened to Neneh Cherry, probably both you and she had at least one piece of neon spandex in your wardrobe. If you do remember when “Buffalo Stance” was on the radio though, you’ll probably be relieved to hear that The Cherry Thing features none of the euro-pop grooves that Cherry so embraced in the late 80’s. Her voice however, is still as sultry as ever and it finds ideal bunk-mates with the modern jazz masters of re-definition, The Thing. With dark-souled covers of tunes by everyone from MF Doom to The Stooges, the Nordic trio locks so perfectly into an eerie pocket with Cherry on The Cherry Thing that it makes their previous releases sound half-empty…
So for the past 10 years or so, nearly every time I’ve seen the Beastie Boys, they have played the same dope outro track after every concert. They usually have just thrown down a massive “Sabotage,” the entire building will be on Cloud-11, and this smooth mother-fucking jam comes on and just makes you so pumped to figure out where you and your crew are gonna go get some post-show cocktails. If you’ve seen the MSG Awesome, I Fucking Shot That DVD, it’s the music playing over the credits. However, the listed credits on there have the correct band, The Jazz Crusaders - a sly as all hell jazz-pop outfit from the early 70′s, but they had the wrong song listed. So I initially had given up on figuring out what it actually was til I woke up the other day with this song on loop in my head. Had to find it, did a little more sloothing, and here it is – “Way Back Home.” If you’re at home on a Saturday night – get up, make yourself a cocktail, twist up a fat one, sit your ass back down, and listen to this tune a good 7 or 8 times – it’s guaranteed to make you feel that everything is OK in the world.
A couple weekends ago, the glorious Brooklyn Bowl played host to the two-night rock party thrown by the NYC Freaks known as Freaks Ball 12. The highly OVERRATED Portugal, The Man headlined on Friday, but Saturday was an expanded jam-night of sweat-staggering proportions. Featuring The Duo, Warren Haynes, and members of Soulive to name a handful – much of the evening consisted of instrumental versions of Beatles tunes. The post-words I heard about the show highlighted the epic 14 man take on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” but I’ve been digging this sweet gem below from early on in the evening.
At this opening portion of the night, the band was a four-piece consisting of Joe Russo on drums, Hagar Ben-Ari of the Dap-Kings on bass, Eric Deutsch on drums, and the oft-forgotten guitar shredder of the indie-jam scene, Scott Metzger on guitar. Now if you switched out Deutsch for Marco Benevento, I’d call this band a true force to be reckoned with. Eric is insanely talented, but Marco has that twist for the obscure that gives the needed flair to vocal-less rockers. Regardless, this line-up dwells in a slanky-as-all-hell pocket that they’ll be reprising at the Bowl tomorrow night (2/9). If you’re in the BK, I’d highly recommend it. But take a minute and scope one of the sliest cuts of “Day Tripper” anybody’s ever laid down – it must be really early in the evening because that crowd looks lame as spoiled-Peking.
These two have become fucking monsters! It’s funny – I read a review of the San Francisco show from last week, which said the crowd was sleepy and not that into it, and the show was fairly tame. Then the same band comes up to the Doug Fir in Portland 3 days later, and fucking slays it. That’s the road, I suppose. I’ll tell you though, being in a comfortable spot with sick sound like the Doug Fir, having a few beers with your friends while Marco is crushing it 5 feet in front of you…that’s how you make a Northeast fella feel at home. Anyway, Reed Fuckin’ Mathis was positively evil on the bass the other night. There’s a snippet of my review and a link to the full one at StateOfMind below, and a majority of it is about him shaking the timbers of the place. I think if you get Marco on keys, Mathis on bass, Joe Russo on drums, and like….Jimmy Herring on guitar, you could create the most insane 4-piece imaginable on the planet right now. Make that shit happen. Here’s a clip of “Atari” too – from 3 years ago, with Andrew Barr on drums.
“…and the other stage’s wonder-child Reed Mathis on bass — who was sporting some old‚ little bass that he paid 150 bucks for earlier in the day‚ and was positively milking the groove from the prodigal womb with it all night long. The thing sounded amazing… The one sure thing is that the inebriating envelope of the Doug Fir drew more and more of the crowd toward Reed Mathis’ side of the stage as the night went on‚ called upon by the destructive ooze that was pulsing out of his cabinet. A magical take on Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” would be the climatic showing of his JPJ-ness (Paul Jones) throughout the night. You could put him‚ Marco‚ and a bowl of soup on drums‚ and it would still sound fucking phenomenal.”