Aggie Theater | Fort Collins, CO | 06.14.02
On Friday night I was invited to spend an evening with the Flying Lu as they opened for Cabaret Diosa at the Aggie Theater. I was able to catch their set, and spent some time rapping with drummer Todd May about everything from the approach the band has been taking in the past to the visions it plans on manifesting in the future. The show was only their second billing as the Flying Lu with their current, more permanent line-up. What impressed me the most about the ensemble of characters was that they were all very devoted, seasoned musicians with an admirable agenda that stretches beyond the playing of music itself. The band is based around the power-trio of Todd May, Scott Hall on guitar and Will Robertson on bass, with Ari Devorn adding more ethnic, funky layers on the saxophone and flute. All members are weathered musicians that have spent their past in other bands and projects, essentially gaining knowledge and experience to invest in a newer, more mature venture that has formed around this freshly found chemistry. The Flying Lu is introducing itself on a limb. They have spent their time and energy forming a band of substance, one that is musically endowed as well as financially, logistically and fanatically prepared to endure the world of touring acts, without having yet launched an official tour past their garage door.
They played to an ever-growing audience as people filed into the Aggie Theatre. When they first took the stage and began playing without introduction or warning, I got the sensation I had just found myself in an elevator commencing my climb from the twentieth floor. An airy, too-funky-to-be-elevator-jazz-type arrangement to a Beatles tune kicked off the show in a nice, tranquil yet attention-grasping way. By the second song, most people were either dancing or en route to doing so. The music, either adapting to or originally motivating the aforementioned phenomenon, had soared up a notch. Bring forth their uninhibited musical voice they really showcased their individual skills and the Flying Lu’s own dynamic. Manning the drums, Todd May played with the type break-beat brand jazz style that had quintessentially spawned from jazz from the beginning. To keep it versatile and appropriately danceable, elements of rock n' roll and funk were tossed into the mix. Roberson, who has apparently just picked the bass back up after a hiatus, played in a very liberated smooth style, filling the empty air of negative space and keeping a tight unity within the quartet, and somehow dancing around the established grooves and melodies. The drum and bass section was solid and pleasantly interesting within its own right, laying down a stable, tangible platform for the melodic section to toy with. It blew up when the majority of Cabaret Diosa showed up onstage to add a deeper groove for the duration of the extended song.
Scott Hall is a virtuoso guitar player, no doubt. His riffs were highly textured, giving what I like to call a more "groove-per-capita" sound to the band. Whilst shredding about the scales of his guitar he plucked the funk out of the muddy waters of NOLA blues with a rocking unique jazz style he’s patented. Ari played a huge role in the band’s achievement of more layer-per-capita ratings by playing a versatile saxophone and fluttering flute. His presence really brought out the funk nature of the band but his individual playing style was ferociously beautiful. He gave an extra coating of energy while adding an element of ethnicity along with amazing showmanship.
And, to be honest, this is what the Flying Lu is: another showcase of talented jazz-funk-fusion musicians who’s combined playmanship has formed a sound just unique enough to tweak tradition and demand attention. They all come out of one speaker together, floating through fittingly chosen compositional arrangements, improvising within and without structure, building concise ever-layering jams that heed their instruction. While the various genres they fuse together may not give them the most distinctive sound in the scene, their sound differs in the proportions that they add into the mix - an ever-changing recipe in the live medium. There is a sense of maturity to this certain ensemble that intrigues me.
Having to leave unfashionably early due to extenuating circumstances, I exited the building with the festive, Latin-fusion sound of Cabaret Diosa chasing me out the door and down the street, giving me the an odd sensation of guilt combined with musical euphoria. The two bands billed together nicely and the Flying Lu proved to be well worth checking out. Their mainly official debut will be at the High Sierra Music Festival, so be sure to check them out and get down for a while as you wander through the musically saturated festival grounds.
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