Cochemea's Conundrum :: 04.11 :: The Cutting Room New :: New York, NY
Words by Gabriela Kerson :: Images by Greg Aiello
Throughout the winter, music addicts in New York City got their kicks at a little club called Scenic in the East Village, the highlight being Adam Deitch's Tuesday night jam. Regulars included Sam Kininger Band's hot female drummer Nikki Glaspie, some MCs from Harlem, and Erik Krasno, who you could usually count on seeing if he was in town. But as spring emerged, Scenic closed for renovations, leaving us confused, lost, without a good Tuesday night scene!
Cochemea Gastelum :: 04.11
Finally to save the day, enter Cochemea's Conundrum. Cochemea Gastelum had just returned from a quick Colorado tour with super group Fully Loaded, and during a short break before heading to Europe, he treated us junkies by popping up at intimate New York City gigs. Gastelum seems to know everyone, and his ability to blend during these impromptu appearances is always a pleasure to watch.
His "Conundrum" was a last-minute, word-of-mouth gig. Text messages and e-mails flew as the details emerged. It featured Adam Deitch on drums (Fugees, Scofield, Fully Loaded), Adam Scone on organ (MOFRO), and Alan Street on guitar (Sugarman 3). They performed in the back room at the elegant Cutting Room at 19 West 23rd Street. A pack of exiled smokers clearly marked the entrance on this warm spring evening. Organized at the request of Rich Egan from San Francisco-based Boom Boom Presents, Gastelum chose his cohorts because, "Well, they all have an amazing sense of pocket. It feels HEAVY, you know? And they are all just so fun and creative. When I look and see these guys on stage together, it just gives me joy."
Just before the second set got under way, with special guests waiting excitedly in the wings, a cake and candles were brought out for a dedicated fan. The audience was a tight-knit group of photographers, road warriors, dancers, and music junkies who see each other often.
Skerik & Lurie :: 04.11
Starting the second set with "Hot Pants Road" into "Fathom 5" and then "Impala '73," Gastelum was joined by Jessica Lurie, Skerik, and David Luther, a dream team four-person sax section. Lurie is a funk goddess. She holds her own with the boys, laughing and charging ahead. While Gastelum conducted, visually and with his notes, Lurie and Skerik exchanged smiles, winks, and trills. All four passed the notes from horn to horn and then blew together.
Compared to the flair and comfort that Deitch, Gastelum, Lurie, and Skerik displayed, Luther was a little reserved, as were Street and Scone. Deitch was full of flavor all night. His sexy, sassy beats kept a solid hold for the flying sax vibe, underwrote the organ and guitar, and stood well alone, as usual. Organic talented jams like this created the NYC Freaks (a group of hard-core music fans). As the horns reached a crescendo, the audience raged, moving in unison to that hard personal dance of absolute music infusion.
Those three songs would have been enough to make it a legendary evening, but Gastelum had more up his sleeve. As Lurie, Skerik, and Luther left the stage, Street took a break and Eric Krasno moved into his place, recreating three-quarters of an old group, The Fantastic Four. Maybe you've heard of the missing member, Robert Walter?
Cochemea's Conundrum :: 04.11
Krasno lounged on an amp, laying out licks that Gastelum matched and raised. They didn't look at each other. The inter-stage musical conversation was quick and fluid. They jived, each pushing the note a little bit more until the sound was overfull. Bodies tensed in the audience as we waited to see where it would go. What else could happen? It could stop.
Deitch switched to tambourine, letting Nikki take over the drums. As they moved into "Inner City Blues," Gastelum quoted Marvin Gaye, "Playing the Blues makes us feel better." The last song of the night was "Ain't No Sunshine" with two guest vocalists, a male and a female. The standards seemed to loosen, and the ever-playful Deitch moved to the keyboard, prompting Krasno to take a seat at the drums while Nikki held the guitar. Teasing the audience, they played a few notes, but we knew that was the end of the line.
Clustering around the stage to say goodnight, I saw Nikki was sporting a shirt that read "Music Saved My Life." So true.
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