Bowlive V featuring Soulive

Bowlive V featuring Soulive

with Special Guest Bill Evans, The Shady Horns, WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

This event is 21 and over

Advanced tickets for this show have SOLD OUT! Limited admissions will be available at the door at 6pm, first come first serve, no re entry. Admission means it is only a stamp, no hard tickets will be given day of show. CASH only!

Soulive
Soulive
Soulive has never made any bones about what they do best; it’s right there in their name. Since forming in 1999, the trio of guitarist Eric Krasno, drummer Alan Evans and keyboardist Neal Evans has carried the torch for the soul-jazz organ trio—that venerable, funky institution pioneered by the likes of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes in the late ’60s. Rest assured, when the Evans brothers first brought Kraz by their Woodstock studio, there was plenty of old vinyl spread out on the floor.

In their 16 years together, Soulive has followed the muse in the direction of hip-hop, R&B, blues and rock, collaborating with the likes of Chaka Khan, Dave Matthews, Talib Kweli, John Scofield, Derek Trucks, Maceo Parker, Susan Tedeschi, Robert Randolph, Joshua Redman, Kenny Garrett, Fred Wesley, The Roots, Ivan Neville and so many others, even going so far as to record a full album of covers by The Beatles (Rubber Soulive). But, no matter how they push the limits of the organ trio, they always come back to their bread and butter: blistering solos and grooves that don’t quit.

Their latest, a four-track EP entitled, SPARK, deserves a place on your record shelf right between Booker T. and a bottle of some damn good single-malt. Recorded over a day and a half with saxophonist/flautist Karl Denson (The Greyboy Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), the record captures the smoky vibe of early-’70s-era CTI Records releases by the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Grover Washington Jr. and George Benson. It’s the stuff Denson grew up on. “I’m older than the Soulive guys,” he says. “When I heard those records being sampled back in the late 80s, early 90s, popping up in clubs when I was over in Europe touring with Lenny Kravitz, that’s what really prepared me for this whole thing we’ve been doing for the last 20 years. It was a natural progression for me to finally do something in the CTI vein.”

Each tune was ultimately just a vehicle for the musicians’ playing, so, sticking to this formula, the quartet used very few overdubs. “Back in that era,” Krasno explains, “you bought a piece of vinyl and it had two tracks on either side. The grooves were kind of dark but really open and each musician got a chance to breathe.” Denson continues: “SPARK is really about the playing, less about the tunes. It’s the four of us collectively getting back to more of a jazzier thing than we’d done in recent memory.”

The first side opens with Yusef Lateef’s sultry Nubian Lady, featuring Denson on flute. It was a mutual love for Lateef that brought the quartet together to begin with—Kraz having studied with the legend and Denson having idolized his records. The laid-back tempo lets the group simmer on the theme until Kraz decides to slice the whole thing open with some Middle Eastern fretwork, leaving Karl to pick up the pieces. Denson describes the sound as “Something a little more chilled out but funky at the same time.” Povo is a perfect evocation of the era, first recorded by Freddie Hubbard on CTI in 1972, featuring some of Kraz’s most sinewy lines and a caterwauling climax on tenor from Denson. When the two lay out, the Evans brothers remind the listener why an organ and a drum kit have always been plenty good for funky jazz. “We’ve always loved James Brown and music that’s going to make you groove,” says Krasno. “But there’s so much more vocabulary from jazz that you can put in it.” Art Farmer would have agreed. The band’s rendition of his 1972 tune Soulsides slips plenty of ideas into the deep pocket, putting Neal Evans out front on piano.

Spark, the only original song on the record, was written in homage to legendary soul-jazz guitarist Melvin Sparks, who passed away only days before Soulive entered the studio. Known for his fleet fingers and deft sense of the blues, Sparks made his name backing organists like McDuff and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Krasno grew up listening to Sparks play at a regular gig in New Canaan, CT, and credits the guitarist with inspiring many of his own sensibilities. When Denson asked Sparks to open for the Greyboy Allstars’ first East Coast tour in 1994, it revived his career. “We totally got along and had a great time over the years,” says Denson. Sparks joined Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe to record Dance Lesson No. 2 in 2001 and “just annihilated it. He was a great cat and a total musical mentor.” So, it was with sadness that the four musicians collectively penned the tune and with reverence that they perform the slinky strut, while dedicating the EP to his memory. Denson eulogizes on both flute and tenor while Krasno’s tone impeccably channels the musician he calls, “one of the great guitarists of our time and the coolest dude I knew.”
WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger
WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger
You’re at a nightclub one night a few years ago—the Lovin’ Cup in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, to be exact. Your favorite local singer is on the bill, so you got there early and grabbed the best table. You wait for the gig to start…You wait a little longer…

The singer’s backup band—guitarist Scott Metzger, bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Floreth—file onto the stage. Then comes the announcement: The singer never showed up, so tonight it’s going to be instrumental music only. Oh, and all of it’s going to be made up on the spot, since none of these guys thought they’d be performing on their own. In fact, they never even thought of themselves as a band at all.

What do you do? Well, you might get annoyed, give up you seat and stomp out into the night — which would have been a big mistake. Or you might stay where you are, curious about what could happen, and witness the birth of one of the most innovative ensembles in music today.

This trio is known now as WOLF! In some ways, they’re still doing what they did that night at the Lovin’ Cup—creating music on the spot, though now in front of audiences that stay put because they know they’re in for a few hours of daring, evocative and unpredictable performance. And, yes, they’re still working without singers.

What has changed over these past few years is that their telepathy with each other has strengthened, their horizons have dramatically stretched…and they’re about to release one of the most compelling albums by any band in recent times.

1-800-WOLF! represents everything that eludes chest-thumping power trios and even many small jazz ensembles. Nobody shows off. There are no fireworks, no screaming solos. In their place, the music of WOLF! overflows with atmosphere—a wisp of Parisian swing in “Oaxaca Ox,” a dreamy seaside mist in “Bohemian Grove,” a Tarantino moonlight spell on “Furry Freedom,” a creamy, gorgeous texture on “Denim Love Affair,” where Metzger’s solo, as always unadorned by effects, is so spare it’s almost not there. And on every track, silences speak as eloquently as the notes they surround.

Clearly, the guys in WOLF! feel they have nothing to prove. “And that’s why WOLF! doesn’t sound like anything else,” Metzger agrees. “Some guys get up onstage and just play what they’ve been practicing. We’re the complete opposite of that. We play what serves the song.”

Who exactly are the well-matched members of WOLF!? First of all, they’re all Brooklyn natives, an important point by Metzger’s measure. “In Brooklyn, you’ve got some of the best in the world playing pretty much any genre you can imagine,” he says. “The bar is high here. Nobody wants to hear your flashiest shit. Nobody’s going to be impressed. If you’re going to play a solo, you’d better really say something. Otherwise, nobody cares because everybody here has heard it all.”

Just as important, all three broke into music as sidemen — professional musicians rather than wannabe stars. Metzger has performed countless sessions and shows with artists as diverse as Trixie Whitley, Phil Lesh & Friends, Moby and Nicole Atkins, while also holding down lead guitar duties for summer festival favorites, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Shaw has anchored the bottom end for Cass McCombs, Shakey Graves and Sharon van Etten among many others. Floreth emerged from New York’s Collective School of Music and has since played shows with blues innovator Bill Sims Jr., guitarists Jim Campilongo and Avi Bortnick and singer/songwriter Kelli Scarr.

As they established themselves as go-to backup players for New York artists, Metzger, Shaw and Floreth inevitably crossed and recrossed paths. As their instincts for playing together grew, they began getting booked as a unit. Still, it never crossed their minds to step out on their own until that fateful night in Williamsburg. At the end of that initial gig, when the club owner offered them a weekly booking as an instrumental three-piece, they finally realized they were onto something good.

Branded with the name WOLF!, they evolved into a unique musical entity — and then kept evolving. “Our early stuff was kind of contained,” Metzger says. “As the years have gone by, we’ve learned to represent more influences. We can introduce a noise aspect or free jazz elements. We’ve become a lot less about guitar solos. In the beginning, we saw the guitar as the voice that was leading us. Now we’re more about creating arrangements on the spot as opposed to melody/solo/melody. I’m not thinking, ‘OK, I’m gonna solo now.’ It’s more like, ‘Let me compose a cool part for where a solo would traditionally go.’”

In 2015, Royal Potato Family released WOLF!’s self-titled debut. This year they follow with 1-800-WOLF!, featuring tracks recorded in one afternoon at Marco Benevento’s studio in Woodstock and the rest over three days at The Creamery Studio in Brooklyn. Each song was written in true WOLF! fashion, before audiences at gigs, with the exceptions of “Furry Freedom,” was was improvised and recorded in one take at the studio, and “You’re No Longer My Friend, My Friend,” a Buddy-Holly-Meets-Pulp-Fiction composition that Metzger admits to writing after watching an old kung-fu film titled Lady Snowblood.

The point here is that WOLF! is not afraid to acknowledge its influences, from an echo of The Ventures on “Furry Freedom” to old-school electric blues with an actual guitar solo on “All Dressed Up (Nowhere to Go).” Yet there isn’t a derivative moment on the record. Instead, the trio’s antecedents enhance the distinctive sound they continue to build together.

“To be honest, we’re trying to sound more like our influences than what actually ends up coming out,” Metzger says. “It just always comes out sounding like the three of us.”

As 1-800-WOLF! proves and as the band’s upcoming plans to tour will demonstrate in venues throughout America, WOLF! stands alone even among innovative artists in its dedication to conjuring moments of unique and edgy beauty.

“It takes a lot of guts to get up each night and not know what’s going to happen,” Metzger concludes. “Each night we play is completely different from every other night. I think it comes down to musical confidence and trust. The fact is, we can do whatever we want with this thing. And we’re just getting started.”
Venue Information:
Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.brooklynbowl.com/

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