Project Logic | Bullfrog feat. Kid Koala
Bowery Ballroom, NYC | 11/07/01
A packed Bowery Ballroom got fed some DJ food as two of the scene’s most prolific selectors flipped it for the NYC Heads, spotlighting their projects in further advancement of the turntablist movement. Bullfrog, led by the un-Aussie Kid Koala and DJ Logic’s Project Logic took it the funk out as these two ropeadope record salesman got things moving proper into the late hours.
For 10 long years, Kid Koala’s Bullfrog has been doing their thing up north. With a tight hip-hop flavor, often crossing it over to the Latin-soul groove and then back again, the Frog is now out repping their first self-titled release on ropeadope. Keeping with the soul of hip-hop elemental, Koala and his five-piece crew are just plain smooth. With a little Q-Tip in his voice and a little Mos in his flow, MC James 'blurum 13' Sobers held it down and got much respect from the backpackers in the house while the band dropped “Express Yourself” straight from the books of Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Rhythm Band and the samples of NWA. Showing what he’s got, Kid Koala took the spotlight for a bit as he laid down an old-time swing record, cutting a trumpet over the song and in his own, becoming the soloist. Bullfrog’s final tune, “Snakeskin,” was undoubtedly the nicest of them all. Drummer Massimo Sansalone and percussionist Joanna Peters were given some and they straight up took it giving bassist Peter Santiago room to move, bringing the head back with perfection. A warm reception was given to the Bullfrog as they ended their set, clearly marking out that they are quite good at going their thing.
Suspense was in the air waiting for Logic and the most special guest of all, Mr. Vernon Reid. The room now full, an anxiousness to move was beginning to set in but in the DJ tradition, you must wait to get turned on. Beginning in ambiance and space, Logic immediately cuts into some downtempo breaks with Casey Benjamin blowing on some Trane & Ayler sound dissension as it was taking some time for the audio system to be properly set. These troubles did not impede on the rhythm section, however. Bassist Lamont McCaine and drummer Stephon Roberson, the foundation of this project, held things down in the back allowing Logic to take the lead, dropping the supreme head bop. Touching up the audio dimensions, the band fell into an elliptical groove found on the likes of the K+D Sessions as Mike Weitman was ever-flowing on the Wurlitzer, initiating a trading symposium with Logic. A smooth disco number followed as Casey Benjamin’s Rhodes work inked in the Mwandashi, and his woodwind soloing highlighted the changing ideas of the music, leading things out and back again. Covering Herbie’s “Watermelon Man,” the spotlight finally fell on Vernon Reid to tear it up, but his soloing was inaudible due to some poor management by the house engineers. Up to this point, things seemed to drag a bit. The band seemed to have it together but their ventures into analog psychedelia failed to grab the hips... but all that was soon to change.
Dipping into some solid breakbeat/trance movements, bassist McCaine dropped the hard funk as Benjamin ripped up the lead sax line from “Don’t Sweat the Technique,” Mike Weitman getting ill on the clavinet. The time was now upon us, the dance party had begun. As the band swamped it up a bit and the sound people finally got Vernon’s levels in check, opening it up for the righteous bluesman to absolutely shred the house down. Bassist McCaine threw down something Bootsie-style, bringing it all way up. Peaking this groove into dissonance, Logic dropped “Bubblehouse” and it was on. Like their predecessors, the Project hit the double time techno on point and ended it punk.
Now it came time for a woman’s presence. Featured on Logic’s ropeadope release, The Anamoly, Opera singer Mary Clear joined the Project for a couple numbers and eased things back things a bit. Some tribal, R&B and drum n bass flavor complimented the transcendent vocal layers treating the listeners a collaborative phenomenon of its own kind, crossing over musical boundaries seemingly worlds apart but only a few years ago.
Exploration ending and history lesson beginning, the Project dropped into a tune Logic modeled after NOLA’s French Quarter that could have been a cut on any Fat Boys record. Vernon got his thing moving, lying back in the cut and giving it up to the funky drummer. Bassist MaCaine filled with probably the most comped tune I have heard in recent times, “So Fresh, So Clean,” getting the band and the crowd hyped up for more straight hip hop. It was now time for name that jam as the Project laid down classics like “Rapper’s Delight” and Sly’s “Thank You”, getting the late-nighters to sing the chorus. All those daydreaming of Summer Tour got spoiled with “Cars, Trucks, and Buses” as Vernon really laid into the groove and ripped it as only he can.
Most thought this was going to be the last, but because the two-night stand was shaken down to only one, the band it seemed had all the time in the world. Inviting James Hurt, friend of the Project who had his left hand in a cast to play keys, the Project sent the music off in an Afrobeat style giving Hurt the floor to do what he pleased; taking it down into a little more drum n bass and then into a straight soul groove, Hurt led the Project to its last notes of the evening, keeping it on the high plane they were riding for most of the evening, spoiling those who stuck it out.
Both DJ projects rocked the body rock, using instrumentation tastefully and stretching the possibilities of musicianship. Each act complimented the other with Bullfrog keeping in the soul groove manifesto and Project Logic delving into more of an outer-world sound more keen to contemporary DJ culture. Both illustrating advancement in musical style and the influence that musicians, a term no longer lying in the traditional sense, have on each other and progressing toward the future in the present.
JamBase | New York City
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Thanks to Dino Perucci for the photos!
Check out more of Dino's stuff at DinoPerrucci.com