The Rebel Alliance Jam :: 04.20.05 :: Cervantes' Masterpiece :: Denver, CO

The Rebel Alliance Jam :: 04.20 :: Colorado
While there were certainly plenty of top-notch shows around the country on 4/20, it seems to be a safe bet that few could match the talent contained at Cervantes' Masterpiece in Denver, which included Steve Kimock (guitar), Kyle Hollingsworth (keys for The String Cheese Incident, Reed Mathis (bass for Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey), Dave Watts, (drums for The Motet) and Peter Apfelbaum (sax from former Trey Anastasio Band).

It was absolute mayhem.

Cervantes' was fairly packed for a Wednesday night, but a jam of this caliber was bound to bring people out of the woodwork. The venue busted out the green Christmas lights to mark the occasion, and from the start it was clear that everyone was in for some fantastic music.

Steve Kimock (Rebel Alliance) :: 04.20 :: Colorado
A lot of times, all-star collaborations can have trouble getting off the ground, but not this time. The one common thread for the musicians in the Alliance is that they thrive during constant change. The music is open-ended by nature, and virtually everyone onstage prefers it that way. Going into it, many had expected Kimock to play more of a leading role, but the sound remained remarkably balanced.

Peter Apfelbaum is a warrior. Phish fans may recognize the name from his work with the Trey Band, but others would be quick to point out his work with other groups - the TAB tours didn't even make it onto the guy's bio. If anyone took responsibility for the direction of the improv, it was Apfelbaum. He seemed to be able to jumpstart the jams at will. Regardless of what they were playing, Apfelbaum managed to add texture to the sound when some was needed and sent the song into hyper-drive on a number of occasions.

Mathis (left) & Apfelbaum (right) :: 04.20 :: Colorado
Steve Kimock ran the point guard spot for most of the night. He clearly could hit it if necessary but was content to bring others into the game and spread things around. Though the majority of the songs came from Kimock's catalog, his soloing was sparse.

To me, the drummer has the toughest job in any collaboration. They have to be able to form the backbone that holds everything together, but in a situation where the band members are only somewhat familiar with one another, it becomes more difficult. Dave Watts proved to be more than up to the task, however, and was aided greatly by the masterful playing of Reed Mathis.

Out of the entire band, Reed Mathis was the most impressive. It was obvious he was having the time of his life, and while his playing was inspired, he was cautious not to overwhelm the sound. As is the case with JFJO, Mathis oscillated between the more traditional playing of the bass and his own approach of treating it as a multi-functional instrument. The end of the first set brought about a fantastic bass/drums breakdown with Mathis and Watts freely exchanging musical thoughts before effortlessly bringing the others back into the song.

Kyle Hollingsworth (Rebel Alliance) :: 04.20 :: Colorado
The set-closer also saw Kyle Hollingsworth make his grand entrance onto the scene. While he certainly had his moments during the night, he didn't really fall into place until about an hour into the evening. Again the band broke things down to Ground Zero, and Hollingsworth led the others for a few minutes after being prodded along by Kimock.

Also helping the band out was Jans Ingber. Ingber offered up some smooth vocals on a few tunes and filled out the bottom end with congas on other songs during the night. The entire show had enough variety in instrumentation to keep things interesting, and the well-chosen covers ("Medicated Goo," "Taxman and "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around") gave everyone something to smile about.

Let's face it - the lineup speaks for itself. The setlist below also speaks for itself. As the master poet Jay-Z put it, "What More Can I Say?"

Setlist :: 4.20.05 :: Cervantes' Masterpiece :: Denver, CO

Set I:
Weapons of Moose Destruction
7th Step
The Bridge
8 Years
Thing One
Medicated Goo

Set II:
Cole's Law >
Tangled Hangers
Into the Mystic
Five B4 Funk
When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around

Tongue 'n Groove

Words by: Nathan Rodriguez
Images by: Tobin Voggesser
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 5/9/05]

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jamespl starstarstarstar Mon 5/9/2005 05:21PM
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what a lineup! i can only imagine being there. They really need to get together more often.

tylerblue starstarstar Tue 5/10/2005 12:38PM
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I just listened to the show on a nice road trip and I can confirm that this was an extremely special collaboration which hopefully will continue on some level. Perhaps the best Cole's Law I've ever heard which is saying a lot!
Good story Nathan. Someone had to write about this show.