Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A San Francisco Jazz Show, Banjo-Style

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones have a short residency at the Blue Note starting Wednesday, December 17th. If their show at Yoshi's in San Francisco last month is any indication of what to expect, then their gigs here in New York should NOT be missed. Although, with these guys, it's hard to ever know just what to expect...

written for CabaretExchange.com:

What does it mean to defy expectations as a jazz quartet? It means to feature, even star, a banjo instead of a guitar. Two banjos, in fact: an acoustic one and a purple electric one. It means to play the banjo with such silky delicacy and to illicit notes from the electric bass at such extreme ends of the musical scale that the absence of a guitar goes unnoticed. It means to open a set with a song deeply rooted in funk music, move into a medley of Christmas songs and then add some sprinklings of bluegrass here and there to taste. To defy expectations means, at the end of the day, to play like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Keep reading...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why 'The Hot Left' is Hot...

Music is starting to trickle through town from Brooklyn band The Hot Left, especially now that they have officially released their first album. The collection of ten songs starts off with a bang and moves through diverse musical styles and lyrical themes to end on gentler, more contemplative fare. As a whole, the songs feature catchy guitar hooks (with lead singer David Feddock on guitar and Chris Olson on electric bass), driving tempos (from Pat Van Dyke on drums) and ambitious vocals (despite the occasional unbalanced harmonies). Feddock has written lyrics that are witty yet still reveal an appealing vulnerability behind his rough-edged vocals.

What is most unique (or Hot?) about these guys is their ability to dramatize everyday activities in Brooklyn, charged with toe-tapping rhythms and energetic melodies. From the pain of "It's eight o'clock in the morning and the landlord's running the vacuum", to the familiar relief of "I crack a little smile as I jump the turnstile... right on time again [for the Q train]" to the upbeat but bluesy lamenting of "Stuck in Brooklyn all alone", these songs are like a bright soundtrack for the lives of anyone dealing with the trials and tribulations of New York City.

Photo of David Feddock (left) and Chris Olson (right) from their MySpace photo album