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Tag: jazz-funk

Reut Regev and R*Time Jam Out Some Murky Stoner Funk

[It’s always useful to have a sister blog that will send some good stuff over at the end of the month when you’re busy putting together the next month’s NYC concert calendar…]

Reut Regev is one of the ringleaders in minor-key jam band Hazmat Modine’s wild brass section, and a unique, original voice on the trombone. She’s got an eclectically fun new album, Exploring the Vibe, out with her stoner funk band, R*Time, which blends elements of jazz, no wave, Ethiopian and Balkan music, among other styles. Regev got the inspiration for the project at a festival in Germany where she had the chance to play with guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly and realized that the chemistry for a good album was there. The rhythm section here is Regev’s husband Igal Foni on drums and Mark Peterson on bass, with cameos from Kevin Johnson on drums and Jon Sass on tuba. As you would expect, there’s a hypnotic, psychedelic aspect to this; at the same time, Bourelly and Regev utilize a lot of space, judiciously choosing their moments over an undulating groove. Much as a lot of the music has a restlessness and unease, a wry sense of humor pokes out from time to time. It’s a fun ride.

Bourelly plays mostly with a tinge of dirty, natural distortion when he’s not adding subtle ornamentation with his effects. Regev is a very incisive, rhythmic player, although she also likes ambient, shadowy colors. Peterson’s work here is hook-oriented – there are several passages where the drums drop out, or there’s skeletal percussion rattling around and that’s where the bass carries both melody and rhythm. Foni likes the rumbling lows, but like the rest of this crew, he doesn’t waste beats.

The opening track, Drama Maybe Drama, is a tongue-in-cheek diptych, Bourelly going off on a completely unexpected, early Jimmy Page-tinged open-tuned tangent midway through. They follow that with a buzzing, loopy, unresolved interlude and then Montenegro, which hints at reggae, funk and disco before finally hitting some Balkan riffage and then a Middle Eastern-flavored bass solo. Bluegrass and Ethiopian tinges sit side by side in Ilha Bela, a minimalisti but catchy tune with doppler trombone from Regev. Madeleine Forever, a tribute to Foni’s mom, illustrates someone who could be severe but was also very funny, winding up with biting Big Lazy-style skronky funk.

Blue Llamas makes a good segue, again evoking Big Lazy with its allusive chromatics, stomping, spacious blues, hard-hitting guitar and hypnotic rimshot rhythm. OK OJ coalesces toward a camelwalking East African groove with some neat handoffs between the guitar and trombone and a tongue-in-cheek “let’s go” outro. Raw Way, ostensibly a Junior Kimhrough homage, sounds nothing like him: way down beneath all the rumbling and shrieking and free interplay, it’s a terse blues. New Beginning is a weirdly successful, catchy attempt to merge New Orleans funk and Hendrix. There’s also a wryly bluesy guitar miniature and a bizarre stoner soul song sung by Bourelly. Who is the audience for this? Obviously, jazz fans, although people who gravitate toward the more psychedelic side of funk have an awful lot to sink their ears into.

Original Funky Psychedelic Sounds from Jesse Fischer and Soul Cycle

Jesse Fischer and Soul Cycle have been one of Brooklyn’s best party bands for a long time. Their latest album Retro Future is aptly titled: they take a sound indelibly associated with the 70s – jazz-funk with electric keyboards and guitar – and update it for the present. But not in a cheesy way, with autotune and samples, or in a dorky way, with the studied awkwardness and ineptitude of indie rock. This time around, they bring echoes of Ethiopian and Balkan music along with more straight-up jazz than their previous albums.

The first thing you notice about Fischer is that he’s fast. Whether whirling through a Bernie Worrell-style portamento solo, hitting a crashing series of piano chords or rippling through the highs on Fender Rhodes, Marc Cary style, he has ferocious technique. But he doesn’t overdo it: those simply serve as high points in the lush, psychedelic, atmospheric arrangements, this time out alongside David Linaburg on guitar, Solomon Dorsey on bass, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s Gabriel Wallace on drums, Brian Hogans on alto sax, Jean Caze on trumpet, Corey King (of Esperanza Spalding’s band) on trombone and Shawn Banks on percussion.

The dancefloor thud that opens the album is a trick. Titled Tanqueray and Tonic, the citrusy ambience creates a party, and within a minute Wallace has a funky swing going, Fischer’s spinning synth solo echoed memorably by Hogans (whose razor-sharp, smart solos are the high point of this album). Moon Ship takes an easygoing mid-70s Crusaders groove and gives it a big cinematic arrangement with rippling trumpet and a pulsing, suspenseful interlude with the electric piano mingling hypnotically with the sax.

One of the best tracks here is Digital Savanna, which with its enveloping atmospherics and reverb-toned, glimmering upper-register Rhodes evokes a 70s Roy Ayers’ soundtrack piece. Then suddenly it goes doublespeed and segues into Cyberphunk, a trickily rhythmic number (these guys have no fear of “odd” tempos) that hits a high point with a biting, searingly crescendoing Hogans solo. Hogans also wails memorably against the late 70s Weather Report-style ambience of Gotham Underground and does that yet again on the album’s best song, Midnight Dancer, a brisk Ethiopian-flavored romp. The last of the originals is the incisively bouncy Keep the Faith: if you can’t smile at the sheer ridiculous fun of Fischer’s frenetically tone-bending synth solo, you have no soul.

There are three covers here. Age of Aquarius, with Rachel Eckroth taking a breezy, low-key turn on vocals, gets a stoner trip-hop arrangement. To the band’s credit, they don’t try to outdo Hendrix on a similarly low-key, more funky take of Electric Ladyland. The album ends with a mashup: just as you notice that, wow, they’ve just made Radiohead funky, that nauseating Fleetwood Mac song that every first-year guitar student knows enters the picture. Aside from that, it’s all good here. Oh yeah – everything here, you can dance to. There’s also all kinds of free goodies and live tracks up at their Bandcamp site.