Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Menacing Masterpiece and an Annual Halloween Celebration from Pam Fleming’s Dead Zombie Band

Trumpeter Pam Fleming‘s Dead Zombie Band are the inventors and possible sole practitioners of a relatively new and incredibly fun style of music: Halloween jazz. Fleming, who’s played with everybody from Natalie Merchant to roots reggae legend Burning Spear, brings her signature eclecticism to the band’s album Rise and Dance, streaming at cdbaby. Leading an all-star cast of New York talent, she’s playing the band’s annual Fort Greene Halloween dance party starting at around 6 PM this Saturday on Waverly Avenue between between Willoughby and DeKalb Avenues. Take the C train to Clinton-Washington.

The band slowly rises, as if from the grave, as the album gets underway, Fleming’s somber trumpet leading the funeral procession. And then they’re off on a wry reggae pulse, Tine Kindemann’s singing saw flickering in the background. Fleming’s fiendishly fun vocals are the icing on this orange-and-black cake. Fleming’s trumpet, Karen Waltuch’s viola, Jenny Hill’s tenor sax and Buford O’Sullivan’s trombone all have chromatically delicious fun. It’s a lot more Black Ark noir than it is Scooby Doo.

Zombie Drag is a slow, muted, misterioso carnival theme: the way Fleming slowly marches the horn chart out of the mist, then back and forth, is Gil Evans-class inventive. Pianist Rachelle Garniez goes for icy Ran Blake noir on The Bell behind Fleming’s whispery, ghoulish recitation. Then Garniez – who’s also playing Barbes at 8 on Nov 5 – takes over on the similarly crepuscular Two Lovers and winds it up with a gorgously ghostly improvisation that dies on the vine far to soon.

The narrative gets very, very ghostly for a bit, Fleming’s ominous intonement backed by Ursel Schlicht brushing the piano strings, a “cackle cocktail party” and then the band goes up into Satan Is Waitin’, a mashup of saloon blues, Danny Elfman soundttrack shenanigans, jajouka (dig Jessica Lurie’s alto sax solo!), Jimmy Smith (that’s Adam Klipple on organ) and oldschool soul. After that, there’s some storytelling – imagine a Dr. Seuss Halloween tale set to Hollywood Hills noir boudoir soul.

Klipple’s droll roller-rink organ anchors some pretty joyous solos from tenor saxophonist Lily White, Hill (on baritone now), and Martha Hyde on alto throughout the reggae-soul number Rise and Dance – hey, if you were a zombie, you’d be pretty psyched to be getting out of the cold ground at last. Forget anything you’ve heard before: this is the real Monster Mash.

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October 29, 2015 Posted by | funk music, jazz, Music, music, concert, reggae music, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brent Canter’s Urgency of Now Drives Its Point Home

Don’t let the endorsement fool you: Kenny Burrell is a fan of jazz guitarist Brent Canter, whose latest album Urgency of Now is out on Posi-Tone.  And the elder statesman is on to something. As with virtually every jazz guitarist, it’s no secret that Canter has listened to Burrell –  but he doesn’t ape him. Burrell is right in saying that this is a good album, frequently a great one, but most impressively, it’s an original one. No bass here; instead, a B3 organ, but there’s not a single funky shuffle in sight. Instead, a midtempo, frequently pensive groove.

You wouldn’t think that the generically circling Afrobeat-tinged riff that opens the first track would be the springboard for as catchy a tune as the one that morphs out of it…and the tasty Seamus Blake tenor sax solo that follows…and the big High Romantic chord-punching that Canter segues into, either. But it happens. They go brooding and Brazilian-tinged with the ballad Meet Me Halfway, with a blippy, slightly Burrellesque solo that follows a predictable but rewarding trajectory. A slightly phantasmagorical Pat Bianchi organ solo picks up the pace.

Settle Down, an expansive yet pensive early 60s style organ-and-guitar mood piece a la Grant Green is followed by A Long Way from Home. Weather Report might have sounded like this if they’d had a Hammond instead of Jaco: Canter takes it up with a long, acerbic, fat-toned solo and then passes to Blake for the basket, organist Adam Klipple warping from 4 AM to high noon in a split second. Transitions, another ballad, very subtly mines a lazy indie rock riff, Klipple moving in majestically and then carnivalesque, for psychedelic ambience. With Eyes Closed is as funky as they get here, Klipple going more for a straightforward, incisive feel, drummer Jordan Perlson prowling playfully in the underbrush.

If Marina Del Rey is meant to evoke a casual, breezy Cali milieu, it’s accurate, with spiraling organ and a surprisingly upbeat solo from Canter. They close the album with the title track, Canter taking on bit of a sun-blistered tone, organ flailing a little, and then down and out they go with an insistent, triumphant series of guitar riffs. This album is more than solid – it’s one of the better ones to come over the transom here this year.

August 9, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment