True People`s CEREMONY for TOHOKU Disaster
Confirmed Artists: John Medeski / Billy Martin / Steven Bernstein / Club d'Elf featuring Hassan Hakmoun and Brahim Fribgane / Wicked Knee / Marco Benevento / Marshall Allen plus more to be announced soon
Heavy Grooves and Healing Energy:
John Medeski, Billy Martin, Club D’Elf, Hassan Hakmoun Raise Funds for Japanese Earthquake
Victims, May 24 at Brooklyn Bowl
“Big in Japan” may be a cliché, but behind it stands the intense appreciation Japanese
presenters and music fans have for deep and edgy music. Now a group of U.S.‐based friends and
collaborators from the experimental, transcultural edges of funk, rock, and jazz are returning
the love, by raising funds for the victims of the recent earthquakes and nuclear disaster.
Moroccan psychedelic travelers Club D’Elf, groove‐oriented explorations from MAGO (John
Medeski and Billy Martin), and the rag‐time funk of Wicked Knee are leaping to the aid of
veteran Japanese presenter Taichi Komatsubara to stage the first multimedia True People’s
CEREMONY for TOHOKU Disaster at Brooklyn Bowl on May 24, 2011 (for full event info, see
All proceeds go to the Think the Earth Fund for the Japan Earthquake, which channels money
directly into the hands of a dozen frontline NGOs working with the most vulnerable and stricken
disaster victims. In addition to the artists above, the benefit will feature musical performances,
film, dance, and other creative offerings to support the Japanese people.
“In Japan, music fans listen differently. They get into the nuance of the music,” reflects master
of the keys, John Medeski, an admirer of Japanese culture from childhood. “The last time
Medeski Martin & Wood visited Japan, we did an acoustic show and played one of our sweeter,
ballad‐like pieces. It wasn’t the kind of thing that would have gone over well at a U.S. festival.
But there, the audience was utterly silent. People had tears pouring down their faces. Their
reaction really hit us in the heart.”
Medeski and drummer Billy Martin will revive the first spontaneous musical encounter that
launched their longtime friendship, engaging funky Hammond‐based grooves as MAGO. They
hope to raise spirits and awareness, as well as funds. “The nature of a lot of what we do is
spontaneous,” Medeski continues. “We’ve trained ourselves to make music in the moment.
We’ll be creating music as a prayer for the people of Japan.”
For Club D’Elf instigator, bassist, and sintir (camel‐skin bass) player Mike Rivard, Komatsubara’s
call for help also struck a powerful chord. During a 2010 tour of Japan, where the group’s double
album Electric Moroccoland/So Below was first released, Rivard had been wowed by the
audience response: “Japanese listeners are completely committed,” recounts Rivard. “They are
so present, and channel so much energy to performers. We’d like to channel some energy now
to them in their time of need.”
Though freely mixing everything from psychedelic rock to turntablism, Club D’Elf’s musical core
springs from the striking traditions of Morocco’s Gnawa people. Joined for the benefit by
Gnawan innovator Hassan Hakmoun, the group draws on distinctly North African sounds and
the spirit of healing that pervades the trance‐inducing music and movement.
“The music I play is healing music, and it really helps a lot,” explains Hakmoun. “It can bring
people closer to the divine or just help them relax a bit.” Hakmoun will be joined by close friend
and New York‐based Japanese tap dancer Chicako Iwahori for collaborative dance pieces
showing the unexpected connections between rhythm tap and Gnawan moves.
This kind of free‐flowing creativity springs naturally from musicians like Medeski, Martin, and
Rivard, and has long been savored by Komatsubara and the music lovers he serves. In his first
U.S. venture, Komatsubara hopes to bring the same sense of the sacred edge and the grooving
experimental he has been sharing with audiences in Japan for decades. All while raising
desperately needed funds for hard‐hit Japanese communities.
When asked why he chose to call the event a ceremony, Komatsubara muses, “I really think that
when these very spiritual musicians make music in goodwill and love, that is a ceremony in
For more than a decade pianist/sound-sculptor/songwriter Marco Benevento has been amassing an extensive resume of composition and collaboration. His studio albums have set forth a vision for music that connects the dots between Explosions In The Sky and Tortoise on one side, Brian Eno and Brad Mehldau on the other, while in the live setting his performances reverberate with pulsating dance rock energy. The 34-year old artist takes the next step forward in this evolution with his latest album, TigerFace, on which he paints his songs in a myriad of sonic colors, shimmering with acoustic piano, synths and analog keyboards. The tunes themselves seemingly conceptualized from every wisp of melody, hook and cadence that's ever tickled his ear.
Recorded and mixed by Tom Biller (Silversun Pickups, Fiona Apple) and Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Akron/Family), TigerFace features a stellar cast of musicians recruited to help capture his ideas, including drummers Matt Chamberlain (Bill Frisell, Pearl Jam), John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea & The Cake) and Andrew Barr (The Barr Brothers), bassists Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) and Mike Gordon (Phish), violinist Ali Helnwein (Traction Avenue Chamber Orchestra) and saxophonist Stuart Bogie (Antibalas, Superhuman Happiness). For the first time, Benevento presents vocals, inviting Kalmia Traver (Rubblebucket) to sing on the infectious dance rock rave-up "Limbs Of A Pine" and the pastoral psych rock meditation "This Is How It Goes." Other standouts include the angelic Arcade Fire meets The Flaming Lips anthem "Eagle Rock," the soaring garage psychedelia of "Going West," the piano riff rock jaunt "Escape Horse," and the happily lilting "Fireworks."
As anybody who's seen Benevento perform live can attest, the pianist is a satellite to the muse with eyes closed, smile wide across his face and fingers free-flowing across the keys. Indeed, TigerFace, is the commitment to this pursuit; a record that rides the yes wave and in the process becomes a soundtrack for fellow travelers with their eyes set on the horizon.