Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe @ The Brooklyn Bowl
There are certain artists, that when you say their name, you expect everyone in the vicinity to know that name. You expect them to register your statement with a big bright smile on their face in recognition of the greatness of said name that just escaped your lips. When I say Karl Denson, I immediately expect people to raise their heads, their glasses, and their hearts in salute to THE MAN who can manipulate a saxophone with the best of the best. Often times, this doesn't happen! Many of the greatest artists on the scene are, for lack of a better word, hidden, for those of us willing to seek them out.
On the other hand, if I were to say Lenny Kravitz, everyone would know that name. He is plastered all over the radio and TV and I don't ever turn those contraptions on. What is a radio again? But, saying Lenny Kravitz's name, it would register, even with the most uneducated of music lovers. What a lot of people do not know is that Karl Denson was in Lenny Kravitz's band years ago and where his fame grew. Now, not to knock him by any means, but I have and never will go to a Lenny Kravitz concert. Karl on the other hand...I will NEVER EVER EVER miss a Karl Denson show. This past weekend at the Brooklyn Bowl, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe brought THE HOUSE DOWN with funky goodness two nights in a row. I honestly, don't know where to begin...
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe @ The Brooklyn Bowl
I arrived at the venue with my friend. We thought we were running late but there was not even a line at the ID check and it was already past 9pm. OK? Again, my point being made that people don't know good music when it come and hits them in the face. But no worries, the slow start gave us plenty of time to talk with friends, maneuver to the front and lay down our belongings, setting up for the rager that was about to take place. Standing around a little while longer, still nothing so we took a trip outside. While hanging out in the fresh air, a taxi pulls up and chills by the stage door. My friend and I continue our conversation and see Pete Shapiro, owner of the Brooklyn Bowl and in my opinion, probably the luckiest man on earth, come out talking to a roadie. "I have to pay the taxi," he says, as Karl Denson steps out of the taxi and into view. "Hi Karl," I say, "JAM CRUUUUISE!" He turns and smiles :) My friend and I quickly turn away to make our way inside because NOW the show can commence!
I am at the Brooklyn Bowl so often, it seems funny to have to describe it in every review. All I am going to say this time is that it is the coolest venue in all of New York City. Hands down. Period. End of story. Get your fannys there as soon as you can. Members of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe took the stage sometime between 10:10pm and 10:30pm. OK, right up front, I am telling you this is a long review, even for my standards...the show was three hours of straight raging funk from one of my favorite artists...it's a doozie and worth the read! :) The stage was set up as follows, from left to right:
David Veith (keyboards)
Chris Littlefield (trumpet)
John Staten (drums)
Karl Denson (saxophone/flute)
Chris Stillwell (bass)
Brian Jordan (guitar)
Oh man, what a line up. Karl has put together a talented group of musicians who all deserve to be fronting their own bands. I just truly love every single player in this group and I don't say that often. Karl came out in a jacket and slacks, Brian Jordan began strumming his guitar, Karl picked up the microphone and immediately blasted into Sister Jane. And at that point there was "nothing going on but a FUNKY SONG!!" Good lord! He just slammed right into it. The horns went at it. He beckoned us to warm up our pipes and join the song. There was shouts into the audience and we returned them. "Ahh, Yaa, Yeah, Yoooo!!" Karl fiercely laced into his saxophone, screaming at us with that blessed thing then throwing it down to pick up the tambourine. First song into the night and I almost broke into tears!
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at 1:17 AM
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We wrote about the BoCoCa Arts Festival back in March but thought it was time to do a follow-up as June is around the corner. A lot of exciting things are happening in their second year! BoCoCa has partnered with the Brooklyn ArtWalk, another annual event that happens June 5th and 6th. If you stop by Atlantic Avenue, you'll most likely see performers from BoCoCa and get some information about the festival.
They've also confirmed a lot of outstanding performers this year. There will be a theater production called "Stephen King's High School: The Musical," which satirizes the popular "High School Musical" franchise. There will be visual artists with installations all around the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill. There will be "Podcast Plays" from the Conflict of Interest Theater Company.
And there will be music from a few of the groups we've talked about on this blog, (Illard Scott, Ganessa James, BR and Timebomb), as well as some other exciting bands and soloists: Rawson, a soul/rock quartet from upstate NY with a not-to-be-believed live show; Colorform, an acoustic trio (vocals, guitar, cello) that performs with a live visual artist; Gallons to Ounces, a blues/funk trio from the D.C. area that has some great live clips on Myspace and many more! What's even better if you're not getting regular stock dividends is that some of these shows are free. Check out the BoCoCa website soon for a full schedule.
at 2:08 PM
Monday, May 24, 2010
We wrote about BR and Timebomb a couple months back, just because we dig them. We said it then, and we'll say it again: their live show is BANANAS. Trumpet, violin, dope mc'ing, and a tight rhythm section that keeps the crowds dancing. And now we hear they're heading out on tour. Starting this weekend, the 'Bomb is heading out to Ohio and Chicago, then back to NYC for a bunch of outdoor shows. If you're in the Midwest and reading this, thank you. Now go find this band.
at 8:09 AM
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Red Baraat is a band we recently came across and they are pretty unique, something we can't say very often. They describe themselves as "the first and only dhol 'n' brass band of its kind in the States melding the infectious North Indian rhythm Bhangra with brass funk and expressing the human spirit through improvisation and a powerful live sound." They are based in Brooklyn, which is where we caught them when they performed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for Target First Saturdays. The mixture of five horn players (clarinet/saxophone, trumpet, bass trumpet, trombone, sousaphone) and three percussionists makes for a PARTY. To us, it seemed like the Indian music was mixed with New Orleans second line. Their leader, Sunny Jain, is a very enthusiastic performer who keeps the crowd hyped.
We picked up their debut album, "Chaal Baby," last week. Although it is not as exciting as their live show, a real band should be better live and their jazz roots show up well on the recording. Our favorite track, by far, is "Punjabi Wedding Song," but "Tunak Tunak Tun" and "Hey Jamalo" are also really good. They've got a bunch of upcoming dates around NYC and you need to go check these guys out.
at 2:06 PM
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Jazz Fusion!!! FUUUUUUUUSION!!! This was to be special night of music. First night of fusion music all year. God that word alone makes me tingly….There are certain things that are constantly stirring in the back of my head on any given day. Oddly enough, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of fusion…of artists like Al Di Meola, Zawinul, Stanley Clark, Chick Corea, George Benson, Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke. Just their gorgeous sounds…I hear it in my head all the time…Oh dear lord, I’m getting heated. If you have never listened to these artists, I DEMAND you download anything by them…IMMEDIATELY!....
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at 10:13 PM