15 June 2010

RIJF 2010: Day Four and Jeff the Brotherhood

Rushed to get in line for another fill of Bassekou at Kilbourn Hall and arrived as the line was already shuffling in. So guess I didn't to rush in for that one, the place was empty. What gives? Even at peak it was only a little over half full. Sitting up close I got a new perspective on what I had seen the night before. I would also make it back for the late set (had to drag my friend over to see what was what). The early set matched very closely the early set from the Big Tent, but the late set was almost entirely different, so I was glad I made it for an unprecedented third set. Last year I definitely made a point to hit as much as I could, constantly moving around, but so far this year I find myself sticking around longer at one artist instead. And I have to say, it's been working out great. Typically with this type of music (though what I have seen so far has been anything but pigeonholed to one "type") the whole is greater than the sum, meaning, stick around and get the whole picture and you will be rewarded. Anyway, in the late set a woman from the audience got up on stage to sing some traditional American blues and scatting over the background of the Malian blues that were being played. It seemed to be completely unplanned as Bassekou's wife who was sitting in the audience for that number came on stage, whispered in his ear, and next thing you knew this woman was on stage. Haven't seen it noted anywhere who she was. Her friend also made it on stage for some African-style dancing later in the show. Definitely something different. The singing was very cool to see, a nice juxtaposition. I won't go into detail here, but seeing the instrumentation and the techniques up close was eye-opening and intriguing. Someone told me they were "horrified" by the men playing gourds with strings. So wrong on many levels... The crowd for the late set grew in size during the set and they finally got enough of an ovation to coax an encore.

From there stopped in for Stanley Jordan at the Harro East. This set is getting a ton of buzz, though I may be the lone dissenter on this one. I have some preconceived dislike for him from previous experiences, so take this for what its worth. Yeah his playing and technique are unique and at first unbelievable, I find artists like him (and yes, there are others with similar styles) to get overburdened in style in detriment to the music. I would rather hear all of the compositions he played in a different manner if given the choice, style alone can't wow me. But anyway, yeah, he is amazing at what he does. Hadn't seen him mix in the piano before, that was cool to see.

Moved on to Amy Lavere at Abilene. From complex to simple. Some bands have a way of reminding you that the formula for great music can be a pretty simplistic one. Write great songs, assemble the right pieces, and play them well. There is nothing sexier than a female bass player. And it doesn't hurt if she is beautiful and has a great voice. It would be great if Amy could go through life singing instead of talking, because her speaking voice was oddly childish, high pitched nasally or something weird. But her singing voice was reminiscent of the old-time country singers. At the Abilene Stage the music is way to quiet and the chatter is way too loud and persistent. Nonetheless, with some straining of the ears, I could make out that the acoustic portions of the set were the best. The guitarist in the group absolutely ripped on acoustic. He wasn't too shabby on the electric either, but whew, the acoustic was hot.

Stopped in for a few tunes from Trombone Shorty and was seriously disappointed. For the 15m I was under the Big Tent with him it was nothing more than a very good wedding band. I plan to give him another shot or two in the next couple of nights since he is playing for three nights, I can only hope it gets better.

I finished off the evening by giving a big middle finger (figuratively) to jazz and headed to the Bug Jar to check out Jeff the Brotherhood. Yeesh, talk about a 720 degree turn, my head spun around a few times after a blistering guitar solo opened the set for this guitar/drums duo. Shredtastic and LOUD, really could have used some earplugs. They proceeded to pound through my eardrums and chest and had my neck on a vertical swivel for the next 30m. On any other night I would have been disappointed with the brevity, but it was the perfect dose on this evening. During the last tune the guitarist sauntered through the crowd manhandling his axe and like any great rocker kneeled and laid down on the ground, when a woman from the crowd in a short slinky dress straddle him and danced over him slowly. Rock and roll through and through. Ears still ringing...

Download the previous night's show from nyctaper.

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