Lesh, Krasno And Russo Play Surprise Set In Central Park

By Scott Bernstein Nov 9, 2013 11:50 am PST

For the second year in a row Peter Shapiro brought 30 bands to 30 locations in NYC’s Central Park to play songs off the same setlist for Jazz & Colors. While the 30 bands who performed around the park came from nearly every scene within the jazz world, there was a particular treat in store for jam fans. Phil Lesh, who is currently in the middle of a run of shows at NYC’s Best Buy Theater with his latest Phil & Friends ensemble, teamed up with guitarist Eric Krasno and drummer Joe Russo for a 30-minute set near Sheep’s Meadow.

[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]

The trio’s set was not announced and wasn’t listed on the maps given to attendees as they entered Central Park. Word spread on social media before the set began, but when Lesh pulled up there were no more than 30 people standing around. After a quick set up, in which we saw Russo’s guitar skills, the newly-created band started off with a jazzy excursion based on a key Lesh called out. It was easy to tell Phil was extremely impressed with Krasno’s skills as the bassist sported a goofy grin. The improvised music the trio came up with was unlike any project Phil has played in and showed off Lesh’s roots as a jazz musician.

Following the free-form jam, Krasno kicked off a cover of The Beatles’ “Get Back” similar to the one on the guitarist’s Reminisce debut album. Russo did his best to adapt to the situation and played at a lower volume than usual as his band mates were using portable amps. By the middle of the 30-minute set, word had gotten out and the crowd had tripled in size. Still, you were able to walk right up to the action if that was what you wanted to do. While the other bands in Central Park stuck to the same setlist, this trio played by their own rules. It seemed their time was up after “Get Back,” but Lesh wasn’t ready to call it an afternoon. Phil, Eric and Joe brought the set to a close with another jazz-tinged improvisational odyssey. Let’s hope today wasn’t the first and last performance by the exceptional trio.

Here’s the full set thanks to Gairy Garcia:

Watch a snippet of the performance:



[Taped by Seaweed and Shared As Lossless Files On bt.etree.org]

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