This past week the post-bop quintet Kneebody was joined by Wayne Krantz, Busdriver and Daedelus for four straight nights at Southpaw in Brooklyn, NY. The shows each featured a classic Kneebody set followed by a collaborative jam session with one guest artist. The final product—four phenomenal concerts and an inside look at brilliant musical minds working together, some for the first time.
Kneebody, officially formed almost a decade ago in 2001, can is as a crossover band pushing the boundaries of common genres. Elements of funk, indie rock, and hip-hop collide with the band’s standard jazz instrumentation—trumpet, saxophone, Fender Rhodes and rhythm section. Kneebody’s sound is constantly expanding through the use of various effects and pedals applied to the Adam Benjamin’s Fender Rhodes as well as the trumpet (Shane Endsley) and tenor saxophone/melodica (Ben Wendel).
The atmosphere at Southpaw was nothing near the ordinary vibe of most New York jazz venues: no drink minimums or lethargic applause accompanied these ripping solos as hundreds of listeners filled the standing room venue to the brim. The audience persistently howled and danced its way through both sets, carefree of Nate Wood’s complex odd meter drum grooves tripping up dance steps left and right.
This anti-typical-jazz mentality is the very mission of SearchAndRestore.com, which booked the event and served as matchmaker for these collaborations. Co-founder of Search And Restore, Adam Schatz, has been booking similar double-bill concerts for over a year in attempt to make the jazz scene in New York more accessible by offering cheap admission and unique shows. The site is also developing an archive of HD footage of their shows of which there are more than 200 expected during the next year.
The sets themselves were unreal, as per usual when it comes to Kneebody. The majority of tunes featured fast tempos and high-energy solo sections, always involving each member of the tight-knit group. However, the dimensionality of the band made its way to the stage during various ballad sections. One tune during the first set featured ethereal siren-like outtro reminiscent of Sigur Ros created by the horn players recording, looping, and playing over themselves—clearly not what’s expected of a jazz setting.
The collaboration with Daedelus in the second set yielded an unexpected cohesive sound. The complicated forms that both Kneebody and Daedelus employ in their music are presumably impossible to jam to on the spot but what they produced was an enormous success. The set also invited drummer Mark Guiliana onto the stage adding elements of dueling drum solos above Daedelus’ own electronic beats. After performing Daedelus’ “A Bloodworth” off North/South/East/West, the Victorian era outfitted DJ commended the band, saying that Kneebody is the only band that can keep up with the song’s odd time signature. Hopefully Saturday’s performance won’t be the last collaboration we’ll see between the two aurally stunning groups.
Kneebody is expected to return to the US in the spring after its upcoming European tour and the Gene Harris Festival April 7 in Boise, ID. HD Footage of Kneebody at Southpaw expected on SearchAndRestore.com soon.