Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Alice Lee at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 1/23/09

The once-and-future Brooklyn siren has been on the road (or more accurately, across the waves) a lot, and consequently local gigs have been few and far between. Last night at Pete’s Alice Lee, backed by legendary ex-Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone and a percussionist playing cajon, shakers and “the world’s smallest tambourine,” reminded how much she’s been missed around these parts. Soul music is her stepping-off point, sometimes moving toward an edgy new wave feel, other times more expansively into jazz. And the tropicalia fixation she’s harbored for the last couple of years is still in full effect, as evidenced by a casually sultry cover of a song by Brazilian crooner Lenini.

 

The trio opened their too-brief, barely half-hour set with a ridiculously catchy new number perhaps titled We’re Checking, slinking along on a trip-hop beat flavored with eerie, Syd Barrett-inflected chords, Maimone’s fat bass pulse growing more melodic and deviously counterintuitive as the song went on. Another new song, a 6/8 ballad featured the percussionist on harmonica, Maimone deftly and effortlessly carrying the tune with slides and hammer-ons as it built: “Me with your face in my hands, you take a lover’s stance and I am defeated,” Lee sang with an astringent, sardonic bite.

 

They closed the set with a couple of big crowd-pleasers from back in the day. The catchy, soul-inflected survivor’s anthem I Breathe, from Lee’s sensational 2004 cd Lovers and Losers (look for this one on our upcoming 200 Best Albums of the Decade list) was all sinuous groove, Maimone strikingly shifting from melodic lead lines to a simple, insistent pulse as the song wound down at the end. They closed with the samba-inflected Could This Be Love, perfectly capsulizing the tension in Lee’s music, lush romanticism in constant collision with the jarring rhythm of reality:

 

Are you the one, my sweet,

To save me from my resolution

To find the one who’ll make me cry

Just keep me safe and sedated

 

The only thing missing from the set was more songs. But maybe that’s all they’d been able to rustle up for this show. Former Cordero and Bee & Flower lead player Lynn Wright’s intriguingly noir project …and the Wiremen were scheduled to headline, but there were places to go and things to do.

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January 24, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews

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