Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Randi Russo and Lenny Molotov at Sidewalk, NYC 1/30/09

Randi Russo’s latest cd is called Shout Like a Lady, and it’s aptly titled. This stripped-down, all-acoustic trio show with longtime lead guitarist Lenny Molotov and Molotov’s bassist JD Wood made for a great opportunity to experience the elegant understatement of Russo’s brooding, occasionally vitriolic outsider anthems. Molotov alternated between dobro and acoustic guitar, lending a more minimalist, rustic tinge to the songs, compared to the fire and roar he delivers playing electric with Russo and whoever she happens to bring along. Among the show’s many high points were a couple of new, hypnotic, Velvets-tinged numbers, the first a bitter, wry alienated number: “I wear failure like a shirt, or so it seems,” Russo sang sardonically. The second new song took the familiar point of view of someone considerably battered and bruised (Russo is a champion for anyone who feels that way), Molotov flavoring it with some beautifully jazzy fills as Russo cut loose on the chorus: “Swallow every little dream, every protest and scream.” They closed the set with the scorching, angry deadend-dayjob chronicle Battle on the Periphery and then a terse version of the strikingly optimistic, hypnotic anthem Ceiling Fire.

 

Molotov followed with an equally good set, backed by Wood along with reliably brilliant blues harpist Jake Engel as well as a cornetist on a few numbers. Their best song, titled Mark Boyd’s Blues – arguably the best song of the night – was a big 6/8 anthem set to a gorgeously dark descending series of chords, with a modified version of a poem from the 15th century for the lyric. They also premiered a vividly metaphorical, ragtimish boxing tale, Watch Out Bomber with some smartly tuneful solos around the horn – no wasted notes in this band. Molotov switched to piano for an especially incisive version of his bitter Jelly Roll Morton tribute, Faded Label Blues, then later took his amnesiac’s lament Ill Moon Blues and built it to a stomping, caffeinated crescendo, his virtuosic fingerpicking giving it a ringing, overtone-driven, hypnotic bite. Watch this space for upcoming shows; Russo plays another acoustic show at Pete’s on Feb 15 at 9:30 after Sasha Dobson’s weekly 8:30 show.

February 1, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews

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