Daniel Powell 1:30 p.m., Nov. 19
Smokin' in the East Village: the Erik Deutsch Band
Fusing the rhythms of rock with the improvisational skills of jazz, Deutsch even brought a very special surprise guest to ice the cake.
The power of music to revive long dormant memories and bring them into laser focus, as well as its celebratory ritual ties with the universal concept of motion we call groove burned brightly in a knockout Fresh Sound (by Bonnie Wright) show at Space 4 Art featuring the Erik Deutsch Band.
Keyboardist Deutsch and his associates, bassist Jeff Hill, drummer Tony Mason and trumpeter/vocalist Jon Gray inhabited the rhythms of rock, blues and funk with authenticity without ever abandoning the concepts of open-improvisation that characterize real jazz in a concert that referenced work by Neil Young and the Rolling Stones in treatments that evoked Miles Davis, Eddie Harris and, at times, Sun Ra.
Deutsch began alone, conjuring cloud-like Fender Rhodes textures before launching into the one-chord vamp that birthed "Funky Digits," a piece with tight unisons, gurgling sound-effects and compact, flowing solos from trumpet and keys.
Gauzy chords with a Gospel feel introduced "Creeper," hovering over the in-the-pocket rim-shots of Mason while Gray sprinkled piercing squeals and turgid sub-tones into an otherwise conventional solo. Suddenly, the band segued into a heavy, electric-era Miles groove for a raucous exploration of the Harry Nilsson piece, "Jump Into The Fire," which Gray sang with a soulful burr before the band pushed Mason into an absolutely viscous funk drum solo that had people screaming.
"Wild Horses," from the Stones' seminal album Sticky Fingers was recast with dreamy bell-tones and pensive trumpet without losing any of the ballad's salient components.
"Future Burger," came out smoking, sounding like a second cousin to the Herbie Hancock opus, "Chameleon," all fat backbeat and strutting, syncopated unisons before transitioning into a dual-solo between Deutsch and Gray that toggled between call-and-response and uncanny guesses.
"Lovers Eyes" began slowly, with keening trumpet and phase-shifted harmonies, morphing into a wicked distorted racket then taking a wild turn into what became "Don't Let It Bring You Down," featuring neat contrapuntal keyboard harmony that led into a free-improvised section on an "A" pedal. All of a sudden, I was whooshed back into 1971, when I would sneak into my brother's room to listen to his forbidden stereo and records as often as he left the house. Young's After The Gold Rush, and that tune, were among my favorites.
To close the concert, Deutsch unexpectedly summoned his piano mentor Art Lande to the stage, completing another one of life's mysterious circles for me. One of the first jazz concerts to really make a vivid impression on me in the late '70s was a performance by Lande's band Rubisa Patrol at Sherwood Hall in La Jolla. Seeing him appear out of nowhere to join the band on melodica was a delightfully surreal experience.
Romping through a blues, "The Stuff You Gotta Watch For," the Deutsch band traded short solos and brought the house down.
"Fresh Sound," indeed.
Photo by Bonnie Wright