ERFTONES – Dispatch (WEPA Records)
by J Hunter
The word “Dispatch” has several meanings. One is that it is a type of message, as in “a dispatch from the Front.” Another is to dismiss someone or something, like when Mandy Patinkin holds up a sword to the villain’s throat in The Princess Bride and says, “Shall I dispatch him for you?” Dispatch, the latest disc from the Erftones, is not only a welcome “dispatch” from the musical Front, it also “dispatches” the persisting notion that jazz is best left in a historical stasis that begins and ends with Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington.
You don’t get eased into the Erftones’ world. Before you can catch your breath, you’re strapped into a Ferrari on a downhill run with no brakes. This is bassist Jon Cohen’s Ferrari, but he’s got some phenomenal horses under the hood, led by Keith Yaun’s screaming guitar and a Tower Of Power-quality horn section featuring Ben Acrish on trumpet and Tim Williams & Brian Patneaude on reeds. The first three cuts of Dispatch – “Adam’s Tao”, “New Tune” and “Potential” – make it abundantly clear: This is not your grandfather’s jazz. This is jazz that rocks and funks. This is jazz that you can dance to. This is jazz that’s fun!
Remember fun? You know, that thing we used to have before it was decreed that jazz should be worshipped but never touched? Little touches of irreverence – the prolonged amp buzz at the end of tunes, the byplay between the musicians and engineer Seamus McNulty, the non-sequiters tossed around during “Collage” – show this band is here to have fun. “This is music now,” Cohen intones before “The Unruly Garden”. “This is serious!” C’mon, Jon! You don’t sub-reference the theme from The Munsters (as the Erftones do in “Collage”) if all you want to be is serious.
The only question is whether the horns can keep up with the blistering pace set by Yaun, Cohen, and percussionist Chad Ploss. Acrish answers the question easily on “Popcorn in F7” and “Ode To Cat”, while Patneaude and Williams shine throughout the disc, together and separately. In fact, while I loved every inch of Dispatch, I was mildly disappointed when the horns laid out and the trio carried the ball. Those guys are great, but it’s the funked-up horn charts that make the Erftones something beyond established norms. There is a commitment to the unit, a commitment to the sound, a commitment to be something unique.
Dispatch is not just great music; it is also encouraging, in that it continues a trend of slipping jazz through the back door of the current generation of music lovers. While I couldn’t see the Erftones in the staid atmosphere that is Jazz At Lincoln Center, I could definitely see them sliding right onto the bill at Bonnaroo, the jam-band festival held every summer in North Carolina. The jam-band movement has opened its arms (and ears) to Charlie Hunter, John Scofield, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. The thought of the Erftones joining that roster is not far-fetched. Of all the things I hope will happen soon, that is one of them.
J HUNTER is a former announcer/producer for radio stations in the Capital Region and the Bay Area, including KSJS/San Jose (where he was Assistant Music Director/Jazz programming), Q104 WQBK/Albany, and WSSV/Saratoga. He has also written music and theatre reviews for the Glens Falls Chronicle. He currently resides in Clifton Park.
SAT. 5/7 9:00 PM
THE JIM WEIDER BAND II
The Jim Weider Band II represents Jim’s newest musical venture into a powerful groove & atmospheric guitar driven band. JWB blends rock&blues with funk & jazz groove’s combining modern drum loops and samples, to playing beautiful melodic ballads. JWB is an all Star Line up playing Jim’s original new cd ” Percolator” plus other tunes from his previous cds and always improvising them differently at every show.
Jim Weider, a master of classic telecaster guitar, is renowned for his rock and blues-based signature sound. He is among a select group of musicians with an endorsement from Fender® and, for the past three decades, he’s earned enormous respect from fellow musicians and music fans throughout the world. Born and raised in the famed arts colony of Woodstock, NY, Jim received great acclaim during his long tenure (1985-1999) as lead guitarist (replacing Robbie Robertson) for Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees, The Band. During 15 years of international touring with original members Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko, Jim was featured on numerous albums, films, videos and television appearances. Jim has written songs and produced for many artists and has made three solo albums Big Foot, Remedy and his newest cd, Percolator and has been touring under his name since the mid 90’s. Percolator is a new musical direction for Jim, Big Guitars with Modern Grooves! A powerful show that’s both exciting and mesmerizing!
The new Jim Weider Band II consists of Randy Ciarlante (drums), Jesse Gress (guitar) and Jonathan Cohen (bass). Randy’s been playing professionally since the mid- sixties. His eclectic musical taste ranges from R&B and blues to Latin and Jazz-and his strong back beat and creative grooves is the foundation for JWB. In addition to his tenure as drummer and percussionist for THE BAND (1991-1999), Randy has toured internationally with CBS recoding artist Eric Anderson, Levon Helm, Albert Lee, Taj Mahal and Michelle shocked. He and Jim have been composing and playing together for 20 years.
Jesse Gress’s guitar playing is the perfect match for Jim’s music, his big ambient sounds to fat distorted power chords and leads, to funky rhythm, and always improvising keeps things exciting. Jesse has toured with Todd Rundgren and Grammy-nominated Tony Levin Band.
Jonathan Cohen’s powerful bass playing…the newest member of JWB…Jon’s a Berkley graduate and composer who has toured thru-out the northeast. His wide range of musical influences can heard as he drives and jams the music of JWB.
“Jonathan Cohen’s mongrel jazz, rock, hip-hop collaboration has just finished recording its second album and is rearing its ugly (and we mean that in a nice way) head on the live scene again, too. Cohen is a monster talent, whether thumping on the bass or on the stave paper.”
Albany Times Union 8/7/03
“…The album…fuses Cohen’s disparate influences, from new jazz and fusion to 20th-century classical to hiphop, into an upbeat, thick-grooved, primarily instrumental mix…”
By asking the hard questions no one else would dare—or, really, even think—to ask, Metroland gets behind the music of 14 local notables…
Bassist, the Erftones
What did you want to be when you grew up? Jury still out/will advise.
What’s your favorite album of all time? I have fond memories of the Clash’s first album, but it has to be the Beatles’ Revolver.
What was your first live concert experience? Joan Jett at the Palace.
What’s the first album you bought? Rush, Fly by Night.
What’s your guiltiest musical pleasure? Either disco or AC/DC.
Who would be in your dream band? James Brown, John Scofield, Herbie Hancock and Billy Martin (the one in MM&W, not the one in the Yankees).
Who’s your dream groupie? Carol Brady. She’d bring me cookies and coffee and go home early.
What’s the best thing about the area’s music scene? It’s wealth of eclectic and talented musicians.
What’s the worst thing about the area’s music scene? The majority of its venues are lackluster.
I can’t imagine living without . . . pizza.
Most people don’t know that I’m actually . . . Adrian’s older brother.