Bowlive VII featuring Soulive with Special Guests George Porter Jr., Marcus King + The Shady Horns!
Friday, June 16th, 2017
Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmBrooklyn Bowl
This event is 21 and over
Advanced tickets to this event are SOLD OUT! We will have a limited number of admissions available to purchase at the box office on the night of the show starting at 6:00 PM. All admissions at the door will be first come first serve, one ticket per customer, with no re entry. $30 at the door, cash only.https://www.brooklynbowl.com/event/1442437/
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.”
About three seconds into opening track “Baby, You Can’t Have Both,” with its playful, dancing piano and guitar lines, Los Colognes announce the intention of Dos. Influences ranging from JJ Cale, the live Dead, and Dire Straits are all worn proudly, with its six members, and particularly the core songwriting duo of drummer Aaron “Mort” Mortenson and guitarist/vocalist Jay Rutherford, making jam music for fans of songwriters, classic rock for a younger generation.
Los Colognes dates back some 15 years, to Chicago, where Mortenson, Rutherford, and bassist Gordon Persha began playing both together (and apart) in a series of “church bands, punk bands, high school bands, and any other kind of band,” learning the language of playing music with other people from a young age. Mortenson and Rutherford eventually departed from Chicago to Nashville, in search of an atmosphere that supported spontaneous music creation, where oppressive weather and overpopulation wouldn’t make it difficult to get musicians in the same room on a regular basis.
“Jay and I decided to make the move to Nashville in 2010 in search of like-minded musicians,” Mortenson says. “The fact that we are big JJ Cale fans played into it. We were intrigued by his history here, and Emmylou Harris’, and John Prine’s. We figured there had to be ghosts still floating around here, their stories, and maybe players from those sessions.”
In Nashville, the rest of the band took shape, with keys player Micah Hulscher recruited in a piano boogie bar and Persha moving down from Chicago to join the group. The band’s history of playing in rotating bands proved useful as a number of Nashville singer-songwriters needed temporary backing bands for local gigs and tours, making Los Colognes “working musicians,” having graced the stage with the likes of Caitlin Rose, Nikki Lane, Kevin Gordon, Johnny Fritz and RayLand Baxter. With Rose, the band spent half of 2014 touring with her as both backing band and support, allowing them to showcase their original material to Rose’s dedicated audience.
2013’s debut LP, Working Together, saw success on a measured scale. “It was all this random shit that just kept happening,” Rutherford jokes. “Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 tweeted out that "Working Together" was his song of the day, which was hilarious, and six of the songs were featured in nationwide Starbucks shops multiple times a day for a year." The band also played ACL and Hangout Fest, opened for The Head and the Heart in Los Angeles and garnered radio attention from Whisperin' Bob Harris at BBC Radio London and Greg Vandy at KEXP Radio in Seattle.
With Dos, the band doesn’t shift gears away from the Cale and Prine songwriting they have idolized, but, rather, try to refine their skills, develop their sound, and further incorporate influences that include the live incarnation of the Grateful Dead. “We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel,” Mortenson says, “we are just trying to get really good at our version of it.”
Still, the album does sound refreshing, and part of that is the retro sound and unabashed display of music that scoffs at ideas of trends or hipness. Instead, Los Colognes make music for the barrooms, for dusty music halls, and for the road. It isn’t a coincidence that song titles pull from these concepts, with “Backseat Driver,” “Drive Me Mad,” and “One Direction” reflective of their greater sound.
Rounded out by second keyboardist Chuck Foster, whom the group describes as an encyclopedia of Southern rock, and Wojtek Krupka on guitar, Dos finds Los Colognes coming full-circle, “skirting the line of what a jam band has been and can be.” Whether sentimental on “Hard to Remember” and “One Direction” or mischievous on “Golden Dragon Hut” and “All That You Know,” moods on Dos are not fleeting, and strike universal reference points that satisfy on both casual and close listens.
“So many jam bands I encountered in high school were just stoner rock,” Rutherford says, “but there weren’t any songs there, and the lyrics were garbage. Give me Dylan any day. But now, taking these sort of Cale-like arrangements and opening up the songs live, not playing the same eight songs the same way every night... it is just having fun and not necessarily jamming for the sake of jamming.”
By putting songwriting at the forefront of their band, Los Colognes have put this philosophy into practice on Dos, making their upbeat anthem “Take It” almost self-referential when they sing “it takes a time or two… you better take it, before it takes you.”
61 Wythe Avenue
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