GREYBOY & MMW | 04.14.07 | DENVER

Listen to Greyboy Allstars on Rhapsody...

Words by: Haig Assadourian :: Images by: Tony Stack

Greyboy Allstars/MMW/Cut Chemist
04.14.07 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: Denver, CO


Cut Chemist :: 04.14
It's been ten years since the Greyboy Allstars last released an album. After over three years of "reunion" concerts teasing faithful fans, it's a pleasant surprise to discover a new album of material (What Happened to TV?) being supported with a national tour. Co-headliners Medeski Martin & Wood joined the bill in Denver to celebrate their own recent release, Mago (a duet from John Medeski and Billy Martin). Apparently, the jazz funk scene has legs.

Cut Chemist got the groove started early Saturday night with a mesmerizing set of booming bass lines, old and new techno funk, masterful scratching and dual video screens of morphing surreal images. The small but growing crowd buzzed around the venerable Fillmore as I reacquainted myself with the hundreds of photographs and posters from decade's of legendary performers that cover the walls. During set break, Medeski, Martin and Wood paced quickly past me and soon emerged for their set.


MMW :: 04.14
Medeski's nasty funk Hammond organ, the trademark of this trio, quickly filled the hall while Billy Martin kept time on pots and pans. The band primarily worked through older material but also unveiled newer pieces like "Hanuman" and "Tequila & Chocolate." They ran through a diverse mix of styles in their eight-song set, including an Italian pizzicato serenade followed by a loungy game show theme song. This wasn't the most exploratory MMW set I've heard but it certainly offered compelling variety.

After a brief break, the Greyboy Allstars appeared. It's the original lineup with the exception of longtime drummer Zak Najor, who is not touring despite playing on the new album. Guest drummer Eric Kalb filled in superbly. Familiar Allstar jams soon gave way to new material, which is less heavy but just as funky. Guitarist Elgin Park did his best to sing a high pitched lead on "How Glad I Am,"


Greyboy Allstars :: 04.14
a catchy pop song rendered a bit more capably by the Living Sisters on the new album. Park is almost convulsive as he works his guitar, and he may be the unsung hero of this group. On less charged material, he fills just enough space with subdued harmonies around Karl Denson's horn and flute to not step on them. Robert Walter, who can take over a show with his masterful keyboards, showed remarkable restraint, content to complement the others throughout the set.

Denson and Walter have proven to be more than capable bandleaders and songwriters. Walter, who recently spent several months touring with Steve Kimock's band, just seems to get better by playing with as many great musicians as he can. To see them flourish in a collective as equals with Park, Chris Stillwell (bass) and Kalb was impressive. No one player dominates, and the solos never drag. The entire set smoked. At one point, I turned aside and noticed Willie Nelson's smiling face on the Fillmore wall during a particularly well polished jam. I had to agree with Willie on this one.


Elgin Park - GBA :: 04.14
The spaced out introduction to Denson's "Check Out Your Mind" welcomed out local trumpet player Hugh Ragin, who blasted a mighty solo to the crowd's delight. The two-song encore included the Beatles' "Get Back" and a "Quantico VA" finale that brought the house down.

This superfunk extravaganza was a highlight of the Denver concert year. MMW's unique compositions were an excellent appetizer for the Allstars, who sounded as fresh today as they ever did. The individual members of the Greyboy Allstars have obviously benefited from their various side projects. It's clear the band is still hungry, and one hopes GBA can sustain the creative energies that drew them back together for years to come.

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[Published on: 5/11/07]

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Comments

boxofrain Fri 5/11/2007 07:45PM
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That looks like a hell of a time! All 3 of them should do a full tour!!!

Rich Lieberman starstarstarstar Fri 5/11/2007 07:56PM
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Rich Lieberman

Nice review... With all the great shows that cone through Denver, that is saying a lot if it was the highlight of Denver's concert year. I'm looking forward to seeing the GBA's tomorrow in NYC.

scooterdjembe starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/11/2007 11:06PM
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scooterdjembe

Good review a photos. Just saw Greyboy in Charleston. Erik Kalb from Deep Banana Blackout did a funkin hell of a job. Good stuff need more.

Greatwaves Fri 5/11/2007 11:12PM
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Greatwaves

this would be a super fly tour, can someone in charge please make it happen>please

timgregan Fri 5/11/2007 11:14PM
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Check out your Mind is actually a curtis mayfield song not a karl denson song. these guys are top notch players, glad to see them on the up and up.

Marcsmall Sat 5/12/2007 01:47PM
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Marcsmall

True, the Denver-Boulder area has the best shows in the country, NYC and SF included.
And the best nugs.

Peace

thombo Sat 5/12/2007 02:26PM
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i am a fan of the greyboy allstars, and mmw is one of my top five bands.
this is the first review of either of the denver shows that i have read that is at all positive. everyone else that i spoke with about the shows (over 20 diehard fans) said that the fillmore shows were a waste of money. after hearing the tapes, i can am happy i didn't dip into my rent money to get down to catch this amazing marquee.
mmw played an exceptionally short and uninspired set, and it is said that by the time greyboy took the stage, the crowd had lost interest and they weren't able to win them back.
i do hope that people enjoyed this show, and i am not saying that this is a poor review.
i due feel a need to say, as a fan and musician of improvised/jam music, that if reviews of shows are soft-balled, both the fans and the bands are cheated. i say this because i have read so few negative reviews of jambands, and i can not help but to feel that some reporters fluff their accounts of shows out of respect to the artists.
if a reviewer does not accurately report on a show, he/she is doing a disservice to both the fans and bands. by giving an undeserving positive review, fans will have inflated expectations that won't necessarily be met. bands will lose an invaluable reference and the quality of their work may decrease. Even worse, they will develop the mentality that they can urinate in the ears of their fans (thanks trey) and everyone would go on loving them the same. please, be honest with your reviews of art for the sake of our community.

Maestro starstarstarstar Mon 5/14/2007 05:25AM
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Maestro

Can't wait till Friday night...HOB, Chicago. They better come to play, and blow the flippin roof off!

danpfunk Mon 5/14/2007 09:22AM
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Saw Greyboy last week in St. Pete, and it was smokin'. Great way to get your groove on.

Dizon311 star Mon 5/14/2007 10:18AM
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Dizon311

I was there and I thought Greyboy ROCKED! MMW didnt throw down like I thought they would.. I thought all threw out.. man this could be sicker.. then They started end of the world party and I though oh hell yea.. but then it wasnt that sick. The album throws down harder. I will rethink the next time I drive 4 hours to see a concert.

vespuchi2 starstarstarstar Mon 5/14/2007 11:16AM
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vespuchi2

i was thinking of goin to this show, but stayin in fort collins for lotus instead. i think that was the right move. highlight for denver this year? ...who knows i wasnt there, but if you were at any fillmore cheese in march, you might think again.

johnnygoff starstarstar Mon 5/14/2007 05:28PM
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johnnygoff

Great new album from GBA. Extremely pleased despite being able to fit on a 50 min disc. This line from the above review: "Robert Walter, who can take over a show with his masterful keyboards, showed remarkable restraint, content to complement the others throughout the set." ----I've noticed the past two times I;ve seen Walter play (once w/ Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing and the other with GBA New Years in D.C.) His B-3 drives the dancin fever and when Walter doesn't have it pinned at 80 mph, some feel jaded by him simply "complementing" the other GBA's.


MMW: what else can you say? Sometimes, heads want a bit more energy than the trio offers live, but MMW can sometimes only step on the pedal during shows occassionally, leaving some bored with their experimentation spurts.
Either way, this lineup is masterful booking by joining the west coast boogaloo with the east coast grinder jazz. Thanks for the review and look forward to catching either/or GBA/MMW in the coming months.
the_goff

Matty Boh starstarstarstarstar Mon 5/14/2007 10:48PM
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Just saw them at Rams Head in Baltimore, and even though I was wearing sandals my socks were thoroughly rocked. The boys were even cool enough to do a meet and greet afterwards and I got my cd signed by all 4 of the allstars. Can't beat a greyboy show, and I'm jealous of the MMW co-bill. Amazing.

letshavesomefun Tue 5/15/2007 08:03AM
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Its not like MMW could throw down before Greyboy went on. Otherwise they would be taking away from their fire. Even though they were both co-headlining, MMW had to take the back seat. They have to start the show off slow in order for it to gradually get better.

saba Tue 5/15/2007 09:44AM
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saba

nice photos. they seemed to have lost a little quality with the resizing though (which is obviously not in the photographers control)

theivywall starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 01:30PM
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theivywall

Yeah I agree with some of the above posts concerning MMW. Not every show can be a mad, discursive, funked up foray like most of their shows in the 90's were. They're older now and probably their more laid back live shows just reflect a more laid back mentality and state of being right nah. I saw em at Langerado and they didn't really bust out the funk-nastiness too much but it was still definately an awesome display of laid back, jazz musicianship. Can't let expectations get the best of you, I've never seen a bad or even average MMW show, some just don't blow me away as much as others. I saw Greyboy at Langerado and saw Walter play with Karl in the KD Trio another time and both times I was funkified beyond being able to stand in place if I tried. Definately going to try to catch them Friday here in the Chi

DrEricFautstein starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 02:29PM
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DrEricFautstein

Great Read. Loved the part about glancing at Willine Nelson's smiling picture, that cracked me up. I would have to agree with Willie myself im sure.

MMW are no slouch. They can play any style of music and play it well. One of the best shows ive ever seen was a Medeski Scofield Martin Wood show. to describe some of their stuff as Italian pizzicato serenade and loungy game show tunes is so true. They remind me a lot of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (JFJO) at times.

Greyboy is also a fine collection of well...allstars. DEnson and Walter together is a duo from outer space and Elgin is one of the funkiest, smoothest and bad ass guitarists that can complement a band of funk,jazz,soul,rock dudes.

foxs241 starstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 10:46AM
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Seen MMW more times than any other band and they have ruined me for other music. I have been to shows that are maybe not as memorable, but never disappointing. At the shows/ festivals where they play before the headliners, I always leave after they finish because the headliners cannot match the energy from MMW. Huge GBA fan as well, and was also at Langerado '07 Both bands were excellent. Managed to record both sets and cant disagree more that MMW is getting old. Just because they dont get heavy in the funk, dosent mean they are not as good. They throw down deep groove in their own way. All 3 of them are master musicians. GBA were as great as they always were back in the day like they never took time off.

chooglin starstarstar Sat 9/22/2007 11:27AM
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i havent really seen anyone who went to the previous nite's show. no review or anything...GBA opened for MMW and both sets were funky. medeski tore it up and raised my hopes for the second nite (this article pertains to) and just as the reviews state, i too was disappointed to not see the funkifaction of another set, but its not to say it wasnt good.

the denver-boulder scene is very nice, just slow right now