Fox Theatre | Boulder, CO | 07.13.02
My favorite show in 2002 was the Sunday, May 5 House of Blues Soulive Review
(members of Soulive, plus Trombone, 2-sax and various special guests).
That is, until I got a HEAD of LETTUCE!
Leaving Denver's LoDo festival early, we jumped in the car and rushed back
to Boulder's Fox Theatre, arriving just in time to catch Lettuce. We had
unfortunately missed the opening set of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, but heard
stellar reviews from local music fans.
If you are unfamiliar with Lettuce, you might recognize some of the players:
Eric Krasno on guitar and Sam Kininger on sax from Soulive;
Adam Deitch on drums from John Scofield Band's Uberjam tour; Adam Smirnoff
on guitar; Jeff Dhasker on keys and Moog; Ryan Zoidis on sax; and Erick Coomes on bass.
Though I am unfamiliar with Lettuce song titles, they started the night of
with a HUGE wave of nasty funk. This wave kept pounding at the crowd until
the entire place was moving back and forth like water on the shore. Lettuce
is not the standard jazz/funk fusion I was expecting. These guys
are pure, unadulterated, nasty, booty shakin', rump slammin' funk! Three
songs into the night and the entire place was drenched in sweat. Not one person was standing still during the sets. If this music doesn’t move your body, you’re broken.
Having been fortunate enough to see Adam D. play with John Scofield’s band,
I thought he was even more impressive with this lineup of funk all-stars. Having the opportunity to take several solos, he was hitting
beats that I thought were only possible to achieve with drum machines. His
hands are so fast they are blinding. You would need time-elapsed video to see what his hands are doing.
The most impressive facet of the evening was the lightning-fast fingers of Erick Coomes on bass. I had not previously had the chance to see the mastery of this artist’s work. A fan of the funky bass, I am often left very
unimpressed by the jazz/funk bass players I have seen. Erick Coomes
made up for all of those "unimpressive" players. Erick’s fingers were all over the six-string bass. This guy was throwing licks and riffs in between notes, flying up and down the neck of the bass, keeping it all together while making every note ring. When he picked up the four-string bass things got even funkier. Erick played that nasty slap-style bass. His hands were
bouncing up and down on the strings at such a furious pace, I wasn't sure if
he was playing percussion or bass. My list favorite bass players is Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck, Vic Wotten Band), Oteil
Burbridge (Col. Bruce, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Oteil and the Peace Makers,
Allman Brothers Band) and Tye North (Leftover Salmon, Comotion Porterhouse,
Theory of Everything). Erick Coomes is another name I will add to that list.
Eric Krasno’s jazz styling blended well with Adam Smirnoff’s funky rhythm. Both sax players were off-the-hook, trading licks and blowing the crowd's mind with brass power. Ryan’s fingers danced across the keys while his hand worked wonders on the synthesizer, adding just the right amount of psychedelic and disco sounds. At one point, the band layered rhythms and sounds on top of each other until they exploded into the mind-blowing sound of psychedelic confusion, until Eric and Adam brought the rhythm back together.
Unfortunately for some music fans, Lettuce is still an unfamiliar name. That was evident as the Fox Theater was not crowded. But as I looked around at the packed dance floor, not one person was standing still. There was a smile on everyone’s face, and in some people’s eyes, you could see the look of amazement as this seven-piece funk monster took us through the night.
Purchasing the new Lettuce release Outta Here as I left the show, I couldn’t wait to hear what the studio release would sound like. Awakened this morning by the hot Colorado sun, I put the album’s title track on. Written by Adam Deitch, the song was a mirror of the live funky sounds that I had heard the night before. As I listened to the rest of the album, songs like "The Dump," "Squadlive" and "Nyack" reminded me of the amazing musical evening I had last night. If you like the new sounds of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe or Galactic, if you like that old-school funk of Tower of Power or Rick James, RUN out and buy this album. If Lettuce is playing with in 500 miles of you this July tour, buy your tickets in advance. Once people get word of this band, once they hear the sounds of this funky outfit, tickets will be hard to get.
I for one am looking forward to the next Lettuce tour, and I am hoping this will become a full-time project. It’s been a while since I have seen live music that moved me as much. The power and energy that Lettuce exudes while they are on the stage is refreshing. The band seems to have well-matched musicians, which is evident by the comfort and ease with which they play. It was a pleasure to have witnessed the fun these guys had on stage. Now go out and get yourself a HEAD of LETTUCE!
JamBase | Colorado
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