By Josh Potter

Sam Kininger Band :: 02.08.07 :: The Stone Church :: Newmarket, NH

Sam Kininger
It's a crying shame that alto sax powerhouse Sam Kininger has to include the tag "formerly of Soulive" on his show posters to draw a crowd. Maybe it's a curse peculiar to the funky alto-man. Maceo Parker really only got his share of the limelight when James Brown (God rest his soul) told him to blow. And, like Maceo, Sammy K's got chops to spare. It's lucky for Kininger (and us, really) that backwoods hotspots like The Stone Church are still around, because, otherwise, who else is gonna give 'em some?

Finding the Stone Church can be a trick. Through a sleepy town, up a steep hill, past residential driveways lined with minivans and lingering Christmas decor, and into the dirt parking lot of a quaint New England church. If it were not for the sole dready jewelry vendor out braving the cold, one might mistake the event for a parish pancake supper. Needless to say, the night was not still young when Kininger and Co. finally found the place and hastily set up shop. But, in classic roadhouse fashion, with nary a soundcheck, the band got right down to it.

Sam Kininger Band
Soulive and JB comparisons aside, Kininger's brand of soul-jazz is nothing new. A cringe-worthy "Chameleon" in the first set bore testament to this fact. Even before the first note dropped, it was clear that things are a little different in this band. Besides Kininger, there's Aaron Bellamy (bass), Amy Bowles (organ) and Nicki Glaspie (drums). By the time the first groove was established, another thing became apparent - this is more than the Sammy K Show. A lone alto saxophone is hardly a horn section, but Kininger's modus operandi is not (as the vocal chant during the second set opener suggested) to tear this mother down. Although his solos continually surpassed those of his band mates in complexity and cohesion, it was his supportive stabs - a kind of hype-horn - that best highlighted the real attraction, which is his band.

Having cycled through various incarnations of the Sam Kininger Band (and sided periodically with Soulive, Lettuce, and the Brotherhood of Groove) Kininger may well have stumbled upon a formula that works. Glaspie, the young Brooklyn drummer, carried the night. Her rhythmic discombobulation of Soulive's already-off-kilter "One in Seven" was the show's highpoint. Her mellifluous vocal work pervaded the evening, often spontaneously echoing Kininger's horn and Bowles's clavinet. If anyone was tearing that mother down it was this funky drummer. By the time the band wrapped up in the wee hours this much had become clear: Kininger's days of collaboration and sideman-ship are over. This time he's got something he can really call his own.

JamBase | New Hampshire
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[Published on: 3/2/07]

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toestothenose starstarstarstar Fri 3/2/2007 03:31PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice - I love the stone church - a little NH love on the Base is a rarity these days.

rulosa01 starstarstarstar Sat 3/3/2007 03:36PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"Nice - I love the stone church - a little NH love on the Base is a rarity these days."


shinjuku starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/4/2007 04:30PM
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Yes the Stone Church is a gem of a venue. I consider myself very lucky to have it block away! "lingering xmas decor" - thanks the big bean! Kinnninger rocks good see exposure there also.

johnnygoff starstarstar Sun 3/4/2007 07:21PM
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NIce piece Josh Potter on a group that really deserves more public props. Sam Kininger Band is excelling in a very modest demographic of east coast funk/soul/jazz fused with jam influences. Similar to Greyboy owning this influence on the west coast, it's safe to say Soulive now owns on it on the east. Not to say however, that Sam Kininger Band hasn't reached the point, where they deserve their shot also!

GetliveXC starstarstar Mon 3/5/2007 10:26PM
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Kinninger rips it hard and his band deserves much more attention. I think they're better than Greyboy, but then again I never caught Greyboy live and have only heard a studio recording. Nikki Glaspie is incredible and one of the best young drummers out there. She actually plays in Beyonce's band as well.... gotta pay the bills. And it doesn't mean she grooves any less. This band rocks. Thanks for the article.