April 18, 2010

Different Bands, Different Grooves. ~ Mary Panton

Perpetual Groove Headlines Boulder Theater.

I heard Supercollider, a local Boulder jazz band, was playing at the Boulder Theater last night so I took the opportunity to see how they would fit into a jam band bill headlined by Perpetual Groove.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn.

It turns out that jam bands have a jazz groove these days and the fans melt into their own form of interpretive dance instead of the old school jam band shake, as I used to call it.  The lyrical tunes are few and far between leaving plenty of instrumental to get your groove on.

Supercollider warmed things up with a 7 piece band including Greg Harris (vibraphone and keys), Zack Littlefield (drums), Jon Stewart (saxophone), Jon Gray (trumpet, keys and vocals), Garrett Sayers (bass), Mark Donovan (guitar) and Dan Schwindt (guitar).  They were tight-knit, onstage and in real life.  They talked to each other, kept the music live and in the moment and brought an old school jazz feel to an otherwise jam band bill.  The horns led up front with particular attention to Jon Gray who was red hot on the trumpet.  Just when the horn reached its peak and let go, the band caught the rhythm and brought you back down.

Dechen Hawk added a cameo singer performance with Supercollider and I knew he was a bad cat when he hopped up on stage from the audience instead of the traditional backstage entrance.  His song was tight, his vocals rivaling Jason Mraz, and it was a highlight of the night on the big stage.

Yamn, a Denver-based progressive-electro-trance-fusion band held the stage next in an almost Rush-like setting from the ‘80’s.  Completely back lit, the four musicians, Brian Hamilton (guitar, vocals), Adam Ebensberger (drums, vocals), David Duart (bass, vocals), and Ryan Ebarb (keys, guitar, vocals) held their positions on stage while smoke fused with the light show and the crowd really started grooving.  The most notable highlight of their set was the hypnotic series of measures with seamless transitions that set the pace for the night.  The call and response of the guitar and keys was a worthwhile conversation that engaged the crowd and added life to an otherwise uneventful set.

By the time Perpetual Groove hit the stage, the crowd was in their groove, trancing to the beat laid down by Yamn.   The Athens, Georgia-based band, Adam Perry (bass), Brock Butler (lead guitar / vocals), Albert Suttle (drums), John Hruby (keyboards), kept the trance rock jam going into the night.  Their newest album sports some new lyrical tunes but by the time this reviewer left the building, the trance jam was in full effect and the crowd was in a world all their own.

I live for the moments when art comes to life and sets your spirit free.  The trance-jam band genre doesn’t so much have moments of interaction but set the beat for you to find that place inside yourself.  The opening act of Supercollider and Dechen Hawk had a very live, intimate feel and expertly brought the audience in on it.  The esoteric hypnosis of the jam bands left me empty but the dancing throng seemed quite happy to groove in a world all their own.

Jon Gray on red-hot Trumpet


Dechen Hawk


All photos by Jim Beckwith.

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