Thursday, March 20, 2008

Scotty Hard Benefit @ Highline 3/19/08

Last night was everything I had hoped, but probably more. I thought they did a great job putting on something that diverse. I’m also very impressed at the level everyone played at. It can be hard to pull something like that off, and it definitely didn’t look that way last night.

It is a little fuzzy, and I’m probably wrong on some of the details, but here’s my best attempt at summarizing:

I was happy I had a physical ticket and could bypass the long willcall line to get in. I got in just as Scofield and Medeski were joining the first band, which included DJ Logic, Vernon Reid and a bass player. It was great. I think they did 2 songs. Then, they did a little bit of seemless switching of people for the Medeski, Martin, Scofield, Rivard, Logic set. And what a great little set that was, probably about ½ hour. I usually get bored with Scofield after a bit, but I was enjoying it last night. Medeski was on as always. We would be seeing a lot of him throughout the evening. There was one great bluesy song with a horn section that included Briggan Krauss, Steven Bernstein, and Mike the tenor, who I don’t know his last name but have seen before.

Then it took a bit of time to do the changeover, early evening snafus or whatever. And then we got the one bad, somewhat painful set of the evening. It could have been great, it was the bass player that ruined it for me. He was way too loud and I hated his sound. He was a Bootsy Collins wannabee, but couldn’t hold or get anywhere near a candle to Bootsy. Too bad, because there was also Bernie Worrell, Graham Haynes on trumpet, and an electronic guy. It could have been a great funkdown. Fortunately, that set wasn’t too long.

Next was a really nice jazz ensemble. A nice way to cancel out that horrible bass from before. There was a murmur of talking for a while, until the horns kicked it up. It was easy for me to drown all of that out and enjoy the jazz.

Next up was A Big Yes and A Small No, a band with Joe Russo and Kevin Kendrick. It was fun watching Joe on the drums, but not my type of music. I guess that’s why I haven’t bothered to check them out. I’m glad I got to see a few songs and realize it’s not for me, so I don’t have to bother.

Then it was Vijay Iyer, Marcus Gilmore, an upright bass, and Liberty Ellman. That’s when everything went to a new level. I had plenty of enjoyable moments before that, but from here on in was greatness for the rest of the night. Liberty Ellman was the star of that very long song. His solo was unbelievable.

Sexmob was phenomenal. They played a few tunes that Scotty Hard produced. Steven Bernstein mentioned that he was most proud of producing Sexmob. It wasn’t the regular sexmob. I don’t know that bassist was in place of Tony Scher, but he was great. There were lots of extra horns up there and Medeski and Logic. It was blown away amazing.

Tommy Hamilton, Joe Russo, and another guitarist from American Babies were great. I often don’t like it when Joe Russo plays guitar, because I prefer him on drums. But, I really enjoyed that mini set. I now have a mental note to catch American Babies at my next opportunity. It was also a nice time to have them on. I liked the switching around of genres.

Next was the best Soulive ever! I must admit, I try them and often have to leave early. But, this was Neil, Kraz, and Deitch! It was smoking! One song, and it was great.

Then, even better, Russo, Benevento, and Hamilton do a song that was just perfect.

Then, we get all 6 of them up together. Finally, 2 drummers on the stage at once! I felt like I was being teased all night with those 2 kits all night. And, if you’re gonna have 2 drummers at once, Russo and Deitch is a great choice. I’m still stunned from that kickass Zeppelin. I mean when I think about it now, I’m again blown away. That alone was worth the whole thing last night.

Antibalas was grooving and great. They had extra people like Medeski, which took it to a new level. There was no encore jam because they ran out of time, but that was OK. There was plenty of jamming all night.

I’m leaving a lot out, but I will say there was lots of Medeski on the stage, Cochemea was out there a few times, Briggan Krauss had his baritone sax, and I was very happy with DJ Logic.

It also worked on me. I was very touched by the outpouring of love for Scotty by all these stellar artists. I ended up getting a great cd, “Scotty Hard’s Radical Reconstructive Surgery”, a bar of soap made by Steven Bernstein’s wife, and even a comfy HardWear T-shirt from Ropeadope to help support the cause.

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