Lucid Culture


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.


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

CD Review: American Waltz by 3Play+

All over the stylistic map, this collection of jarring segues and first-rate melodies by the new group 3Play+ positions keyboardist/composer Josh Rosen somewhere between the Americana jazz of Bill Frisell (notably the deceptively simple title track, which becomes less simple and absolutely gorgeous as it gets going) and maybe Danny Elfman. Rosen’s compositions are considerably more sophisticated, but throughout this mix of alternately melodic and more tonally abstruse jazz , there’s a recurrent tv theme sensibility ranging from sly and funny to warmly, indelibly tuneful. To pull it off, Rosen has assembled a first-class band including the reliably counterintuitive George Garzone on tenor, Phil Grenadier on trumpet, Mick Goodrick on guitar, Lello Molinari on bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums.

Garzone is his usual surprising self, taking a briefly haunting, modal turn on the cd’s second cut, Buttah – a Sonny Rollins revision – then turning it inside out, fluid and optimistic. The vivid nocturnal ballad How Do I Know What I Don’t Know has Rosen playing comforable, Floyd Cramer-inflected country lines to which he adds a subtle undercurrent of disquiet. Another ballad, the aptly titled Old Fashioned mines a vintage fifties cool jazz vibe with Grenadier out front, expansive and soulful, Molinari’s bass establishing a striking Indian-inflected riff as it winds to a conclusion.

Part boogie, part latin, Soupy’s Comin’ Home works electric versus acoustic piano, morphing into a brisk, bracing walk around the block. The cd ends on something of an Abbey Road feel with the twenty-minute Bulletrain, which is anything but speeding: it has the feel of a bunch of catchy, unrelated choruses mashed together, kicking off with the subtlest of lower-register melodies that bursts into flame triumphantly as it finally gets going, eventually linked by a reggae vamp. In between, there’s a pointed conversation between Grenadier and Garzone, some horror-movie cadences, a little swinging blues and some understatedly Middle Eastern-tinged guitar from Goodrick. It’s an appropriately multistylistic , hypnotically captivating way to end an intriguing and rewarding effort. Headphones are a must – and not those lame little earbud thingys either.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment