The music never stopped at the Ropeadope New Music Seminar at the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night, as the neverending set featured bands Louque, Marco Benevento and Joe Russo, Skerik Syncopated Taint Septet, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, and the solo presences of DJ Logic, John Medeski, Stanton Moore, Skerik, Jessica Lurie, Adam Deitch, Cheme Gastelum and Mike Dillon! There was literally no down time, no set breaks, and no chance to leave, so we all sweated through the full moon and an invisible meteor shower on Tuesday to some of the best non-stop creative improvisation this city has seen in some time.
After a slow but tasty dinner at Little Charlie's, entered the Bowery to the end of newcomers Louque, who kicked it off a little before 10. After that warm up, all of the sets simply melted into each other. What a concept! I mean, is this the kind of show you are ever NOT looking for? Each band gets their own mini-set, and the intro and outro to that set are creative improvisations with different artists, each spontaneously showing how to rock the house in their own way and as part of a collaboration.
Marco and Joe did their Zoo Yawk Duo plays Zeppelin thang, but this time in front of a full house, settling us in for a long night on the left corner of the stage. If you've seen them, you know "The Duo" takes it to another level when they turn into "A Trio," so on cue certified madsaxman Skerik stepped out and did both an Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne impression, and fit in nicely with The Duo. (Unrelated side note, don't you wish Marco and Joe's names were actually Ronnie and James, so they could be the Ronnie James Duo?)
The ropeadope family got a little wierder this summer, as Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet was released last month. So Skerik brought his 'Freakus Piniatus' tonight, this time in the form of an octet. The Taint Septet plus one, adding Seattle percussionist Elizabeth Walker for a blazing run through music that seemed to rest uncomfortably in between cohesion and insanity.
As if Skerik didn't have enough of his horns on stage, within a half hour all of Antibalas and their horns came out and there were twenty some bodies on stage as the mood turned deeply afrobeat. Call and response rumpshaking and persuasive perspiration persisted as horns soloed and beats were thumped.
Antibalas did what they do so well for as long as one band was allowed to, and slowly Jason "DJ Logic" Kibler (sporting new ropeadope gear, of course) snuck into the DJ box behind the horn section and quietly eased his way into the evening. Antibalas and Logic magically coexisted, and soon the stage got more focused, decreasing from 20 to just one man spinning two discs.
The Wizard of downtown NYC himself, John Medeski, joined Logic and they layed down subtle groove after groove, taking me back to the Shack Parties of 1996, my first visual of Logic gettin' into it, easing into the goodness still to come. As this DJ/Organ duo played with the willing crowd, Stanton Moore set up his drums and bobbed his head along, getting fired up to be in the mix.
Logic set up the beat for him like a tee-ball, and Stanton beat up the set, tearing into his kit, taking it up another notch. With a solid backbeat holding it down, Medeski unleashed a beautiful fury on Benevento's B-3. Logic also rose to the occasion, providing color and texture to the locked in groove of two of the scene's more recognizable figures. This trio needs to do more time together, they exist on that cerebral musical plane that many aspire to, but not many do.
A free-for-all ensued, with Skerik joining this trio and planting himself at center stage, joined by the saxes of Jessica Lurie (Living Daylights, Jessica Lurie Ensemble, Cheme Gastelum (20th Congress, The Motet)and Jordan McLean, the trumpeter from Antibalas. Drummers Adam Deitch (Lettuce, John Scofield Band) and Joe Russo (Benevento/Russo, 20th Congress) joined in and swung their sticks 'til the wee hours of the morning. What a great night of music, mad props always goin out to ropeadope for creating a night vision with their New Music Seminars, and for standing stronger than ever in '03.
As if it couldn't get any better (or wierder) for ropeadope, they release Mike Gordon's Inside In next week.
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